Through The Glass DarklyThe Reflection Of Society

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Through The Glass Darkly:The Reflection Of Society Essay, Research Paper The arts, whether through words, film, melody or watercolor, have always reflected the society that created them. Within these renditions, the role of the women holds a great importance. Women have long been seen as the silent backbone of the family, and the family is itself the most basic unit of society. The interaction of this unit, primarily between husband and wife, is the microcosm for the interplay of man and woman as a whole. The genre of film noir relied heavily on that intercourse to comment on society. The portrayal of women in Touch of Evil, essentially through the roles of Susan Vargas and Tanya, utilized the film noir genre and the concepts surrounding this juncture of Modernism and

Post-Modernism to critique gender issues developed by the stereotypes of the time as to the woman’s place in the world.Film noir developed as a Modernist medium but Touch of Evil took place in the ambiguous territory between Modernism and Post-Modernism, an important and underlying facet in the foundation of it’s world view and importance to our analysis. Modernism, as defined by Hassan, is a vertical institution. It has a defined hierarchy, with reliance on a specific structure, synthesis and traditional symbolism. Looking at Lyotard, the reliance on a meta-narrative is present. The meta-narrative is just that, the grand narrative, the big story. The meta-narrative is very much like the Force in the Star Wars series by George Lucas but in this case it serves as the

institution that verifies knowledge. Knowledge is the ever-present currency of humanity. Film noir was Modernist because it had a specific meta-narrative, a dark and macabre Force that connected the grand narratives with each other. It also relied on an untraditional structure that was standard for the genre and a particular brand of symbolism. Touch of Evil has a foundation within these norms of the film noir genre but through its deviations from those it also has Post-Modernist aspects. This is scene most specifically through the shift in imagery of the “marrying women” and “femme fatale”. An examination of film noir itself is required before an examination of these themes can continue.Film noir developed as a criticism of society prior to and following World War II

that encapsulated the worldview through dark and often disturbing visual images and thematic content. According to most critics, film noir originated with the motion picture The Maltese Falcon in 1941 but the genre did not reach its height until the post war years. Film noir inherently questions and critiques current government and social institutions. One of its favorite targets was women, who represented a key component of the basic family structure, a microcosm for society. At the dawn of the film noir era, women were experiencing new freedoms brought about by the economic necessity created during World War which required women to work outside the home. This freedom transcended to other areas and women were no longer content to remain in their traditional stereotypes. In

response, film noir created the “femme fatale”. By the time of Touch of Evil, women had again returned to the home while America was experiencing the baby boom and were increasingly seen as more of a threat towards men from their traditional role of expecting wife and mother. Again, film noir responded with a new role: the “marrying women”. (Blaser)Three types of women were represented through film noir in reference to the women existing in society: the “femme fatale”, the “good women” and the “marrying women”. The “femme fatale” was the most revolutionary of the women represented in film noir. She refused the traditional role of women in society. She denied marriage and reveled in sexual freedom. In fact her sensuality is one of her defining