Modleski, Tania. “Femininity by Design: Vertigo.” Post-war Cinema and Modernity 2001, 275-286.
Google Books. University of Pennsylvania Library, Philadelphia. 10 Apr. 2008. <http://books.google.com/
Tania Modleski finds that Vertigo is in reality a film which questions masculinity. She notes that Scottie’s interaction with Midge in the female clothing scene provides a humorous link between his vertigo condition and femininity. She also finds this connection imbedded in the film’s use of high locations and suggests that a link between femaleness and fear of heights can also been seen in North by Northwest. Modleski continues on to explain how Scottie becomes possessive of Madeleine. His failure to cure her is a substantial blow to his masculinity. He experiences a dream where he “actually lives out Madeleine’s hallucination…and he dies Madeleine’s death.” Failing to cure her, his mind falls into a “feminine” world of madness and death. Scottie is devastated when he learns that Judy was part of Elster’s plot to murder his wife. The essay explains that his pain stems not from her actual death, but from the fact that she had been molded and used by another man. Fashioned for another purpose. Up to this point, Scottie had believed that he was in control of her. That he had the “power” which the film associates with masculinity. The author says that “like a woman, he is manipulated and used by Gavin Elster.” The essay goes on to provide further details to these principle claims.
Modleski’s essay is important because it shows critical response to the themes of masculinity and femininity in Vertigo. By focusing on Scottie’s perceived failure to live up to the expectations of a man, we are given considerable insight on how women are treated in film. The essay supports the finding that Hitchcock’s film shows an objectification of woman. In failing to live up to his masculinity, Scottie is forced to take on the implied lesser role of a female.