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The females in the movies "Psycho" (director Alfred Hitchcock) and "The Graduate" (director Micke Nichols) are drawn as being very immoral. They could be easily charged with stealing money, adultery, incest, and even murder.
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Marion Crane (actress Janet Leigh) is young and pretty, she works as an estate secretary. During her lunch breaks she meets her lover, Sam in cheep hotel rooms. He comes all the way from Fairvale only to spend a little time with her. She is obviously very much in love with him, but very unsatisfied with her current life. She considers the lack of money the reason why she cannot marry Sam. She lives with her sister, and seems to wish very much to have her own house. She is not pleased any more with their short escapades and she obviously wants more. After a brief afternoon with her lover she returns to the office. It is in the office where temptation occurs. A very arrogant, very pleased with himself, customer, Mr. Cassidy, enters the office. After a conversation, in which Mr. Cassidy, brags about how he kept her daughter happy all her life, Marion is entrusted to put 40.000 dollars in a safe deposit box at a bank. Observing the customer who talks to her so highly and praises himself, thinking that he can buy anything with his money, even his daughter happiness who is supposed to get married the fallowing day, she starts to think that maybe she is far more entitled to the forty thousand dollars than his spoilt daughter. Thus the idea of stealing the money is triggered by the loyal wealthy customer, Mr. Cassidy, who also flirts with her. When Marion's office colleague offers her a pill for her headache, her answer is: "you can't buy happiness with pills", but she is convinced that happiness can be bought with money.
At home she packs a luggage. While she packs she thinks about the money, about how they will be a great help to her future wit her beloved. It seems she is analyzing whether to run away with the 40.000 $ or not. From this moment on, the character's actions are driven by the heart. Marion's love for Sam is a final point in her determination to steal the money and leave for Fairvale. It is a moment of madness, she seems very determined to start a new life with her lover. So, she grabs her luggage and starts her trip to Fairvale. On her way, she is spotted by her boss, while driving the car. He knew her in bed suffering from a severe headache. The movie is slightly filled with tension. Her mind slowly slips away. She imagines what Sam will say when she will reach him; she has doubts about her action. She knows it is wrong and immoral to steal, but she is desperate to gain her well deserved happiness. She is depicted as a "knight" on his way to save his love; she is out of control, not able to handle her apparently mentally ill behavior.
The next morning she wakes up in her car and a policeman is bothering her with uneasy questions. Her soul is haunted by guilt and this fact seems to reflect into the policeman's dark glasses. Continuing her trip she imagines her being captured. Her face is illuminated by the oncoming cars resembling interrogation spotlights. The rain is pouring; her deteriorating mental state and self-destructive conscience lead her, unwillingly, to Norman Bates' (actor Anthony Perkins) hotel and eventually to her death. Mr. Bates (or Mrs. Bates as the viewer later on finds out) apparently is a likeable, peculiar and rather childish character. He delightfully welcomes his new client offering her a comfortable room on a rainy night. Marion is vulnerable, physically tired and she is not capable of reading the sings of a mentally ill person any longer. She turns into an easy pray for the young "hawk", Mr. Bates, whose conception is that "we all go a little mad sometimes". She overhears what was supposed to be a fight between Norman and his ill, old mother. It appears that Norman's mother, Mrs. Bates is not too thrilled about her sun taking dinner with a strange woman, or any woman. Yet, after a strange dinner with Norman Bates, Marion retreats into her room, alone with her thoughts, thinking about her next step. After carefully meditating and calculating her situation she decides to take a shower. It is not clear if she decides to give back the money, and repent for her crazy act, or continue on the road to Sam and maybe to gain her happiness.
The shower was supposed to wash away her guilt. She feels reborn and full of energy as the water is coming down her body. Marion finds her death in the shower, stabbed several times by a figure that looked like an old fashioned woman.
At the end of the movie the viewer finds out that the murderer is in fact Norman, influenced by the woman from his mind, his dead mother. The character of this female is depicted through her son, Norman. She probably was a very wicked, possessive woman, who loved to use the power she had over her son. Maybe not being capable of fully understanding him, she was the one who implied to Norman the fact that he was weird, instead of offering the love he urged for, from his own mother. He feels abandoned and unimportant when his mother decides to remarry. Her lack of love for him, her constant lack of satisfaction when it came to him triggers the matricide. Norman kills both her and her lover. The murder is unbearable to him, thus he resurrects his mother in his unstable mind. She continues to dominate his life long after her death. This might mean that she was a very cruel, cold, maybe even selfish person. Her voice seams to be brought back from hell. Anyway, the only hint of incest is in the words of Norman: "A son is a pour substitute for a lover". At this point the viewer is uncertain whether the mother was so immoral as to force her own son to fulfill the duties of a lover, or Norman was so mentally ill as to rape his own mother. Her possessive, bitter nature might be the reason of Norman's criminal actions. "The graduate" presents another type of immoral woman, the common type, this time; the one who commits adultery. Mrs. Robinson (actress Anne Bancroft) is married, and the Robinsons are very old friends with the Benjamins, a wealthy family. Benjamin (actor Dustin Hoffman) is fresh out of college and extremely confused about his future. Under these circumstances, back home he is faced with a brand new experience. The married Mrs. Robinson, not so young any more, but still attractive, tries to seduce him, and eventually succeeds.
Mrs. Robinson is depicted as a very "sad" female character. First of all the viewer finds out that she has a drinking problem, and on top of it, she also smokes a lot. She is thus giving tributes to several vices. She doesn't have a happy marriage. She confessed that she got married after she found out she was pregnant with her daughter Elaine. She married the wealthy Mr. Robinson, but maybe she didn't wish for it at all. She plays the role of a victim very well, she makes Benjamin drive her home, where she lures him into the house under the pretext she is scared of the dark. She has the attitude of a very confident person, resembling a business woman. Very persuasive, she is very cool and firm in her tone unlike Marion, who is not very cool and determined in her actions. Benjamin is left inert and confused faced with Mrs. Robinson's sexual seduction. She is sexualy aggressive, obviously neurotic and cynical. She is very good in twisting Benjamin's words, and making him feel as if he is the one who flirts with her and not the other way around. This makes Ben feel very uneasy because clearly, not one moment did he intended to seduce a woman old enough to be his mother.
Benjamin accepts his affaire with Mrs. Robinson as a symbol of his struggle to save himself from sinking in a materialistic society. Mrs. Robinson is interested only in the physical relationship; she is not willing to give away anything more than her body. She is miserable, and she can't bear to see the ones around her being happy. She is aware that, if Benjamin will meet her young daughter Elaine, they would fall in love. She is selfish; she doesn't want to see her daughter happy, marrying from love and not having an arranged marriage, like she did. Thus, when Benjamin in joking that he will invite Elaine out, Mrs. Robinson grabs his hair, becomes rather violent, and demands to be promised that he will never take Elaine out.
She feels useless, the only thing she feels secure about is her beauty, and that is slowly fading away. Her fling with Benjamin supposes to compensate for her meaningless life. She admits that the only thing she is looking forward to is her hotel encounters with Benjamin.
Mrs. Robinson obviously has a very low esteem herself, she considers herself to be a "sick and disgusting person". She feels pity for herself, but admits that her affair with Benjamin is pleasant. She is confused about her life; the only thing she feels confident about is her beauty. She is afraid of getting old and ugly and she doesn't want her daughter to be thought as more beautiful than her. She threatens to divulge her affair if Benjamin will date Elaine. Very scared of losing Benjamin, who is her "toy", and who obviously means very much to her, she is prepared to risk her marriage, and get Ben into a great deal of trouble.
In contrast with her mother, Elaine is depicted as a very sensible creature. Very innocent, she has no clue of how mean her mother could be. She is nice and friendly although at the beginning she is humiliated by Ben who is very confused about how he should act during their arranged date. Elaine is a good listener; her inner purity sparks Benjamin's confession. Ben is capable of speaking to Elaine, about his worries and confusions regarding his future. In the end he realizes that Elaine is the only one he could talk to, that she is different from all the others, who are stuck in their materialistic, meaningless life. So he confesses his love for her.
The women described in the two movies are winding through a bourgeois, rather sick world. The perfect word describing this society is provided by Mr. McGuire when he gives a piece of advice to Ben: "plastics", meaning an artificial society. These women might find an excuse for all their immoral actions. Marion steals the money because she wishes a better life with her lover; Mrs. Robinson seduces a twenty one year old graduate, old enough to be her sun, because she is unhappy and disappointed about herself and her marriage. In conclusion, the main theme of both movies could be resumed to the female inner struggle to regain a psychical balance and their strong influence on the ones that surround them.
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