Analysis Assignment #2 – Psycho Scene

Laura Mulvey’s theory “The Gaze” and Representations of Gender is a theory of her’s that identifies three “looks” or perspectives that occur in film dealing with relations of men and women. These “looks” are the perspective of the characters, the perspective of the spectator and the gaze of the camera. I feel that depending on the situation, it could go either way. Sometimes the male dominates the female in some cases and vice-versa in other cases, however generally a majority of the time the man and the male perspective seem to have the most influence in film. Such an example could be found in the film Psycho.

In the scene where Norman Bates and Marion Crane share supper at the Bates Motel, Norman tells Marion how she eats like a bird and says that birds eat a lot. The conversation in itself is ironic because most of the room they’re in is filled with stuffed birds and he also shares some stories of his hobby of stuffing animals. After that, he talks of how people are sometimes caught in traps they can’t get out of and that he was born in his trap, but doesn’t mind, which Marion then comments “you should mind it,” to which he then replies “Oh I do, but I say I don’t.” Marion then talks of the conversation she overheard between Norman and his “mother” then Norman goes onto say that he wishes he could tell her off and be free of her and that shes “ill” from having to deal with the death of his father as well as her lover. Marion inquires why doesn’t he put her someplace and Norman feels by “someplace” she means put her in a mental hospital, which seems to offend him greatly and almost subtly seems to drive him almost mad in a way and also says she just goes mad sometimes and that everyone goes mad sometimes. Marion then goes back to her room and undresses to get ready to take a shower, completely unaware that through a little peephole in the next room Norman stalks her. When Norman leaves to go to his house Marion gets completely undressed and gets in the shower where we see her getting herself washed up until she is then murdered and oddly enough as we come to find out later on in the film by Norman. What’s just as strange is how he constantly contradicted himself throughout most of their conversation and it’s almost as though he was stuttering while they were talking.

Norman seems to pour the charm by giving Marion kinda of a giving what he probably felt was a compliment by saying she eats like a bird and in a way almost tries to play the victim while in that he talks of how he has to constantly look after his mother and describing how bossy she is and won’t allow him to live his life. Marion’s expressions and reaction displays a kind of pity and compassion you would ordinarily find in a woman. Norman also throughout the conversation looks at her as though he were fixated with her and his fixation becomes more obvious as the scene continues, particularly when he sees her through the peephole. The way he gazes at her makes it seems as though he’s met an angel and thus feels lust for, but is unable to cope with or deal with those feelings because of the struggle with his split personality and his “mother” finds Marion as a threat to his well-being and that she must be removed from the picture. At this point the film shifts from the character of Marion Crane, who it seems the film would revolve around to Norman Bates, especially since Marion is murdered and that brings a certain curiosity about him and brings the question of who is he and what is he all about? In that sense from this point, he ends up becoming the most dominating figure in the film.

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4 thoughts on “Analysis Assignment #2 – Psycho Scene

  1. This is one of my favorite scenes! You do a good detailed breakdown of the dialogue, but I’d love to see more visual analysis– how does Hitchcock put all three of those gazes you identify in motion in the sequence? How do those gazes push us toward different positions of identification?
    Thanks for all your hard work this semester.

  2. I agree with what your saying that Norman’s gaze of Marion is evidence of his fixation with her. this is subtly hinted when he is choosing the keys and decides the one next to his office and is truly revealed when he looks through the peephole to see her.
    In a way Norman’s gaze in Psycho is a sub-category of the male gaze one that is about lust but also has a stalkerish quality

  3. Excellent observations! I Enjoyed ready your analysis because it discussed the Lauren Mulvey’s male gaze, the representation of gender, as well as analyzing the film.

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