- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Psycho by Alfred Hitcock

Essay by   •  November 13, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,087 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,586 Views

Essay Preview: Psycho by Alfred Hitcock

Report this essay
Page 1 of 9


A running theme that is presented to the audience in Psycho is the opposition that exists between good and evil. This is shown throughout the movie among the different characters. Examples can also be taken from conflicts within the characters. Certain conflicts and how the characters deal with them and each other are what shape the structure of the movie. The perception that the audience receives of the characters change throughout the movie by the different conflicts that arise. These conflicts show the audience many sides of good and evil portrayed by the different characters.

One of the first impressions of evil in this movie is the character Tom Cassidy. His character is an affluent middle aged gentleman. He portrays society's perception of America's upper class, snobbishly rich. Cassidy flaunts his money in Marion's face. He talks of his eighteen-year-old daughter who is getting married the next day. As her wedding gift he is buying her a house with forty thousand dollars cash. He claims that she has never had an unhappy day in her life. Though this is unrealistic, he proudly boasts about how his money is to thank for this. Another thought from Mr. Cassidy is that money does not buy happiness, but it buys off unhappiness. His interaction with Marion was brief but very vital to the next turn of events.

Mr. Cassidy asked Marion point blank if she was unhappy. Her reply "not inordinately" shows that she is not completely happy with her life(Hitchcock). The major source of her unhappiness is the fact that she can not marry her beloved Sam until he gets his feet on the ground financially. She then takes Mr. Cassidy's advice on using money to buy off her unhappiness by stealing his money. Marion never makes a clear-cut decision. Packing her suitcase suggests that she has decided to go through with taking the money. People are able to commit acts they know are immoral only if they inhibit their conscious processes (Rothman, 262).

Leaving the money on the bed while she packs suggests that she is unsure of her decision. Forcing herself to just "do it" she packs her car and leaves, heading for Sam's hometown. While stopped at a stoplight she sees her boss and Mr. Cassidy crossing the street. This is the first sign to Marion that her attempt to steal the money is futile. Her thoughts are becoming less and less rational and more and more desperate. When she is awakened by the police officer she is once again reminded of the futility of her situation. At this point the audience is drawn towards Marion's flight. They want her to succeed. Her goals have become the viewers' goals. With Marion, the audience loses all power of rational control, and discovers how easily a "normal" person can lapse into a condition usually associated with neurosis. After her encounter with the cop, Marion quickly loses her ability to think rationally. She starts to imagine conversations, and knows that Sam will never accept the money. This fact itself shows that her sense of logic is gone. A rationally thinking person would have realized that she would never get away with the crime. As Marion drives on into darkness rain begins to fall heavily. The viewers' begin to feel as Marion does, hopeless and weary. Her endless journey takes a turn due to an illumination on the side of the road.

Marion exits her car at the Bates motel and finds a deserted office. She then turns to discover a large Transylvanian type house on the hill above the motel. A shadow is seen walking past an upstairs window, then a young man is then seen running down the stairs to greet her. He introduces himself as the proprietor of the motel, Norman Bates. As he is checking her in the two begin to converse. Norman finds out that Marion is very hungry. He offers to fix her dinner in the kitchen of the house on the hill. He shows her to her room and tells her to make herself comfortable. He said he would return once dinner was done. As Marion is left alone to unpack she hears a quarrel between Norman and his mother. The impression left by this first appearance of Norman's mother is that of an overprotective old-fashioned woman.

Norman then comes down from the house with a tray of sandwiches. He offers her dinner in the parlor behind the office instead of up in the house. As he brings her into his parlor she notices that Norman has a very unique hobby. Taxidermy, the art of stuffing animals, is what Norman does to fill his time. He informs Marion that he only likes to stuff birds because he does not like how other beasts look stuffed. He also draws a parallel between caged birds and himself. His talk of being trapped makes Marion realize the extent of her present condition. Norman tells her, "We're all in our private trap. We scratch and claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it we never budge an inch"(Hitchcock). The viewer is compelled towards Norman despite his withdrawal that seems due to his circumstances. They pity him for his situation of devotion and self sacrifice for the benefit of his mother. Norman saves Marion from further problems. A simple question was asked of her by Norman, who had no idea of the profound effect that his question would have on the young woman sitting across from him in his parlor. Norman says to Marion "We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?" (Hitchcock). To which Marion replies, "Sometimes just one time can be enough. Thank you" (Hitchcock). The thank you at the end of her sentence implies that Marion has regained a rational state of mind. She is thinking more clearly now and realizes that she needs to return the money. After she thanks Norman for dinner she returns to her room, and prepares for a shower.

The audience sees Marion under the showerhead. Her movements are almost ceremonial. Her facial expressions show the relief she feels of washing away her guilt. As she is bathing, a shadow can made out from behind the shower curtain. As the figure rips away the shower curtain, the audience is appalled to see Mrs. Bates attack the defenseless bather. The attack continues until Marion is seen reaching for the shower curtain as her last salvation. Her death is as irrational and as useless as the theft of the money.

Following the attack Norman's voice is heard panicky, over finding his mother with a bloody knife. Concern for the young woman in cabin one makes Norman run down the hill to the motel. He is horrified at the slaughter his mother committed. After almost becoming ill, he begins the unpleasant task of cleaning up. He does this because he feels it is his duty to fix his mother's



Download as:   txt (11 Kb)   pdf (130.4 Kb)   docx (13.3 Kb)  
Continue for 8 more pages »
Only available on