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Through the Looking Glass: Reflexivity, Reciprocality, and Defenestration in Hitchcock's Rear Window

From: College Literature
35.1, Winter 2008
pp. 16-37 | 10.1353/lit.2008.0008


The importance of the gaze in Rear Window has been appreciated for quite some time, and many interpretations of Hitchcock's film and career note how the framing of multiple narratives implicates the spectator in the ethics of watching. This article draws upon the insights of previous studies of this phenomenon, but it also emphasizes the ways in which seeing and being seen are important reciprocal processes within the social dynamic. Examining the voyeur's resistance to being seen, its impact on his interpersonal relationships, and the implications of that resistance on the structure of urban life, this article's analysis will show how urban spaces are figured as zones of subjectivity and objectification that the voyeur relies on to maintain his privileged position as observer. When he is finally dislodged from his safe position as subject, he is able to overcome his resistance to being seen by others and to be interpersonally connected to others.