Abstract

The article uses Stanley Cavell's claim that tragedy be thought of in terms of avoiding recognition of the other as a way to discuss a genre - film noir - which is usually ignored by tragic theorists. A close reading of Billy Wilders classic film Double Indemnity serves to present a way to think tragedy not just as a narrowly defined dramatic genre, but as a mode or structure of feeling, with the femme fatale as a particularly resilient contemporary example of tragic sensibility. For in the world of film noir she elicits fantasies of omnipotence, supporthing the hero's desire to stave off knowledge of his own fallibility at all costs. At the same time she performs a tragic acceptance precisely by assuming responsibility for her fate, because she comes to discover freedom in her embrace of the inevitability of causation. This article thus claims the femme fatale is not merely a stereotype, symptom or catchphrase for dangerous femininity but rather the subject of her narrative, an authentic modern heroine.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 103-116
Launched on MUSE
2004-04-13
Open Access
No
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