Emotional and Physical Isolation in Marilynne Robinson´s Housekeeping and Alfred Hitchcock´s Rear Window

Emotional and Physical Isolation in Marilynne Robinson´s Housekeeping and Alfred Hitchcock´s Rear Window

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping both demonstrate isolation through interaction between neighbors, dialogue, setting or mise-en-scene, framing, close-ups, and camera cuts. People can be close to one another in a physical sense, but, on a deeper level, they are disconnected. They may interact and it will only be in passing. While the novel and film both demonstrate isolation, their methods in doing so differ as there are certain things each medium can do that the other cannot.
The neighbors in Rear Window rarely interact throughout most of the movie. Jeff surveys the courtyard and he sees the Sculptress leave her apartment to sit in a chair. Above her, the Bird Lady leans out of her window and says, “Good morning.” She must repeat herself before the Sculptress responds. The Bird Lady then takes her bird into her window and does not reappear. The Sculptress does not acknowledge the “good morning” the first time because she does not expect any of her neighbors to talk to her. Even though they exchange the ‘good morning’s there is no further interaction, it is only a superficial relationship that goes no further. The Sculptress takes her turn at interacting with her neighbors when she walks over to the staircase to talk to Thorwald. The Sculptress is separated from him physically as she must lean over the staircase and the fence. This boundary is a physical manifestation the emotional boundary between the two individuals. The interaction between the Sculptress and Thorwald emulates the interaction between her and Bird Lady but this time she has taken over the Bird Lady’s role. She is speaking from above to someone who does not expect interaction. Thorwald does not want the Sculptress’ help, as he ...


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...ter he has seen her in a context that is apart from himself that Jeff learns something about Lisa that he did not previously know. The two must have been intimate with each other, as the nightgown she brings insinuates, along with Doyle’s glances at the nightgown which suggest that he knows Jeff and Lisa engage in sexual activities with each other.
While the neighbors in Rear Window live next door to each other, they are not very familiar with one another. Sylvie and the girls live even closer together than the neighbors do, yet sometimes they too are nearly strangers to each other. Throughout the film as well as throughout the novel, certain instances show how individuals are not always connected to each other no matter how close they may be physically. Sometimes the people nearest to us are as unfamiliar as the ones we have only ever said hello to occasionally.

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