Family in Shadow of A Doubt

Hitchcock loves to show and comment on families in his films.  But, Hitchcock in his film, Shadow of A Doubt,  also focuses on the “idea of disgust” in families(McLaughlin).  The relationship between the main character Charlie and her Uncle Charlie is very unnatural and almost sexual. This is not like the typical relationship between an uncle and a niece.  At one point in the film, Charlie says “We’re more than an uncle and niece, we’re sort of like twins”(McLaughlin).  Charlie, in fact, does not actually find anything wrong with her almost incestual relationship with her uncle until she starts to figure out that he is a murderer.  This shows that Hitchcock gravitated towards more dysfunctional families in his films. The kind of relationship we see in Shadow of a Doubt would never be deemed normal in our society.  Throughout many of his films, Hitchcock showed destructive and abnormal families that have haunted and intrigued audiences decades later.

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Also, later in the film we see how Charlie’s father is not a strong family leader as is expected of most men.  No one really respects Joseph(the father) and everyone really not noticing or paying attention to him shows “the father’s inadequacy”.   When Uncle Charlie comes into town, he takes the father’s place and becomes head of the family, as shown in the dinner scene when Uncle Charlie is at the head of the table and Joseph is sitting with the other children.    Young Charlie,throughout this film, feels a need to cure her family, which tells the audience along with the actions of the characters themselves that this family is anything, but normal.  However, in the end Charlie does choose to stay with her family and try to have a normal/domestic life.  I believe that Hitchcock is trying to show here that no family is  perfect.  At that time, families in movies and in television seemed almost too perfect and “cookie-cutter”.  Hitchcock, I think, wanted to show that families in real life are not like this.  For example,  your father may not be the typical strong head of the family .  Families can have their own problems, but just because they aren’t perfect does not mean that they are dysfunctional.

 

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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