Family in Shadow of a Doubt

In Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, he makes an interesting comment on the dynamic of the family. Hitchcock depicts the average family as being more complex than one might think. McLaughlin’s essay “All in the Family” makes a valid point to back up this argument; “The façade of the Newton family home in Shadow of a Doubt is composed of sweetness and sunshine; behind it, however, lies, in the words of Uncle Charlie, ‘a foul sty’ (145).” On the outside the Newton family looks rather normal; there are three kids, a mother and father who both work normal jobs to support the family, and they live in an average-sized typical American home. Mrs. Newton’s actions demonstrate that she is trying to prove to the outside world that this is the case, especially when the detectives come into the home. Charlie’s classmates are in awe over Uncle Charlie, and see a perfect uncle-niece relationship. However, once we get to see what is really going on within the family, we see how strange and abnormal the relationship is between these two characters. Charlie and her Uncle’s behavior appears to be very intimate with a lot of touching, and they believe that they have a much deeper connection than just an uncle and niece. In addition, Uncle Charlie gives Charlie a ring in a manner that looks like he is proposing to her in order to establish control over her. Beneath the perfect looking family, there is one especially strong, unsettling relationship taking place.

McLaughlin, James. “All in the Family: Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.” In A Hitchcock Reader, 145-155. Second ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2009.

 

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