Hitchcock: The Suspense of Sexuality

Despite carrying the nickname “The Master of Suspense,” the films of Alfred Hitchcock are not only comprised of typical thriller elements; they are also brimming with themes of perverse sexuality. These themes often underlie the entire conflict of his films, and analyzing a cross section of his works reveals their ubiquitous presence in his filmography. Antagonists Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940) and Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train (1951) both represent homosexuality, which was often villainized and framed as perverse in Hitchcock’s films. Miriam Joyce Haines from Strangers on a Train symbolizes promiscuity, which was also maligned in the work of Hitchcock. Little Charlie and Uncle Charlie from Shadow of a Doubt (1943) represent a distorted, romantic form of familial love. L.B. Jefferies of Rear Window (1954) embodies voyeurism, and in doing so implicates the film’s viewers into his actions. All of these characters reveal that the true undertone of Hitchcock’s films is that, despite being set in worlds filled with brutal murderers, sex is their most dangerous feature. Their antagonists embody sexuality, and the conflicts of the protagonists are based in sexuality.