Gaze theory, which attempts to explain the power of spectatorship and of the eye, is usually supported by the role and power of pleasure. Clifford T. Manlove argues that attributing the power of the gaze to pleasure, as Laura Mulvey does, minimizes its meaning. He argues that the gaze, in three specific Hitchcock films, is actually about women as the true heroes trying to resist the male gaze and make sense of the world around them. Mulvey characterized the feminine gaze with “nostalgia and repression.”
He argues that there is a split between the gaze and the eye. The gaze becomes the invisible and the eye is the real. In Vertigo, Scottie's vertigo is the gaze and other objects or characters, such as the nun at the end, is the real. In Blackmail, it is Alice's gaze because the knife used to kill Crewe and the real is the portrait of the jester that reminds her of her shame. Manlove asserts that if the gaze could be verbalized than it wouldn't be a gaze resulting in death. If Alice had been able to express herself, would she have had to reach for the knife?