Psycho Essay, Research Paper
This paper s intent is a bare bones interpretation of most of the compelling parts and elements of Psycho. The title itself, which Hitchcock aptly heeds in his films, tersely signals the viewer of an experience within pathology; to get a feel for it so to speak. The central meaning can be culled in the first part of the plot, right through to Marion s murder and disposal in the far swamp. Within this first part, most meaningful is the interaction between Marion and Norman, even though he appears only minutes before the murder. Their personalities and backgrounds could be labeled as opposite, yet they share differences, and simultaneously, likenesses. And in this comparison they point to morality: how, in shades, the apparently affable can in nature be depraved, and vice versa. Psycho may be a film about manifested human frailties, opened by inner and outer conflicts. What cannot be repeated too often is the importance of stressing this by the use of black and white film. Its quality is stark, holding differences in sharp contrast; always giving life or a story about some element in life a grainy, harsh truth in a more open analysis, which makes the traditional themes of the horror genre native to it. In this caustic line is the motif of the bird in Psycho (and in other Hitchcock films; The Birds of course). Birds by nature are sharp-sighted and of secret predation. To the benefit of
appearances, ironically the majority are slim and sleek. Constantly, they forage and feed in order to substantiate their fast heart rates and motion, and to keep their bodies in even temperature. So what they see, in a way, they pursue or own. Duality is allegorically explained within the character names too. Norman Bates: the name Norman easily suggests normalcy, perhaps referring to the true expression of his nature. Bates as a surname hints at a lure or trap, or possibly the game itself used to dupe would-be-predators. (Maybe both are possible together. The names are juxtaposed.) In first encountering Marion, Norman appears vulnerable in his nervous courtesy. Almost certainly he s never been with a woman before, relating to Marion that he s about to dine on sandwiches and milk, of all drinks. And after preparing a tray for her, he balks when she merely smiles congenially to invite him into her room. He can t even utter the word bathroom in acquainting her to the room s furnishings. In her presence he s vulnerable, particularly by his arousal for her. But this circumstance complicates further because Marion s attractiveness makes her an obsessive target for Norman. Marion’s last name of Crane refers to the graceful, long-limbed bird of the same name. From the outset of their meeting, she maintains the social control by her sexual effect on Norman, or she seems in plain measure to determine the course of their interaction, though he truly guides it in his passive insistence to, ounce by ounce, persuade Marion into his parlor of stuffed trophies. Here occurs their true play of characters. Despite their different backgrounds; Norman growing up isolated in a luxuriously beautiful country home able to maintain the Bate’s Motel long after the line of customers become almost extinct; Marion coming from a world of financial frustration and very secretive about her strong sexuality; they both learn that in the spirit of the quick and easy flight of a bird, they both pine to escape their worlds. Marion implies to Norman that she has to return home to deal responsibly with a serious mistake. Norman sternly laments “We’re all in our private traps that never budge an inch.” He should know, what with the imprint remaining in his long dead mother’s bed covers, though he’s the only one living in the house. This indicates that Norman is farther down the road of helplessness than Marion, probably to the point of no return. Even though she’s in a rut, Marion, on the other hand, still has a chance at moral redemption. In either case, they both must travel the same road as all must: in confronting ourselves. Norman strains to leave his mother’s grip. This is why he possesses a fascination with bird taxidermy and tries and fails to assert individuality beyond his mother’s ironclad demands to desperately hunt and love women. He can never be more than a component for her. Drawn into his parlor, Marion has entered the world of Norman Bates with no way out: she falls for his trap of a small meal. Her last gesture, as she slides down the
shower wall, is to reach out for absolution. She then falls, gripping and tearing off the shower curtain, her last protection.