The following sample essay on how Hitchcock has used irony to portray the theme of duality. By using irony Hitchcock is portraying the theme of duality because, irony has two meanings, which is similar to the theme of duality. In the parlour scene Norman says to Marion that it is a “dirty night”. This is ironic because Norman means that it is “dirty” because of the weather but Hitchcock knows that it is a “dirty night” because somebody, Marion, gets killed, this is “dirty” because her blood is spilled.
Irony portrays duality because when Norman says “dirty night” he is viewed by the audience as a normal person as he is in his natural human form; however what Hitchcock is implying by “dirty night”, is what actually happens, when Norman is in his psychotic and murderer state. Therefore Hitchcock has used irony to portray the theme of duality. An example of how Hitchcock has used irony to portray duality can be backed up by what Norman says when talking about his mother.
Norman wishes that “he could apologise for other people”, meaning his mother. This is ironic because Norman is his mother, it is he who is keeping her spirit alive by pretending to be her although she is dead, and therefore duality is shown by this phrase because it is ironic.
Duality is also portrayed through the use of metaphors; Norman says to Marion “you eat like a bird”. This particular phrase shows duality because a bird is a predator to smaller animals and a prey to larger birds and animals.
This is parallel to Marion because she is the predator when she steals the money and becomes the prey of Norman when he kills her. Here Hitchcock has used metaphors to portray duality by comparing Marion to a bird which has two sides to it comparable to Marion.
Not only are the bird used to describe Marion but they seem to always be somewhere throughout the film. In the very opening scene the camera shot is a panning and reminds us of a bird, flying down towards the window of the motel. There are also birds in the parlour scene, which Norman has stuffed; they are in positions of flight and attack. The birds are a symbol of duality because they are in the film in a physical form, however as they are dead they are not actually involved. They see everything from a perspective different to that of the characters but the same as the audience; however they are in the film and not in the audience.
They also portray duality by being in these positions of flight and attack because when an animal flies it is alive but since the birds are stuffed it is not really flying just being portrayed as alive. This shows two sides to the bird so therefore Hitchcock has used animal imagery to portray duality. Since these are just minor ways which portray duality, as an audience we can assume that the characters have a deeper meaning than what is shown. For example Norman is shown to be the owner of motel with an elderly mother, but the deeper meaning is that he is the killer of his guests to the hotel, and he is his mother.
Psycho is probably most famous for its exceptional shower scene. It is here where a lot of the duality falls into place. The audience never actually sees the killer’s face. We only see a shadow. Through analysis we can assume that since we have seen shadows before, but with their owner, and now we see them alone, we are only seeing one part of the story. The human form has been lost. Since, we realise that Norman has killed Marion; we must assume that he is not in the state we have seen him in before, and therefore he must be in the state of the killer, mother and a woman. Hitchcock has used the mother to carry out the killing to show that there is a strong theme of duality in Norman’s head.
Norman can not bring himself to commit the crime, so has used his dual side to so for him. The shadow Hitchcock has used to portray Norman is very dark, and shows up clearly against the white tiles, however the shadows of Marion is a lot lighter, it is almost a grey colour. The colour portrays that Marion’s dual side is not a strong as Norman’s as he has been living his dual lifestyle for so long that it has become a part of his life which is why his shadow is so dark. A reason as to why Marion’s shadow is so light could be because she is dying as well as her other side.
Overall I think that Hitchcock has portrayed the theme of duality through the use of costume and colour symbolism of costume: white representing goodness and innocence and black representing evil and deceitfulness. Shadows and lighting are also used to portray duality, by giving Norman poor lighting and a large shadow Hitchcock has given him a larger secret to hide and a bigger dual side. In the car journey Hitchcock has used weather to portray duality, when Marion leaves her home it is sunny and when she arrives at the Bates Motel the weather is “dirty” and rainy.
By giving Marion a new identity when she arrives at the Motel duality is shown and accepted by the character. However, it is probably in the parlour scene where most of the symbols Hitchcock has used to portray duality are shown. The use of furniture, irony, animal imagery and metaphors are used to portray the dual side in both Marion and Norman. By using so many conventions to represent the single yet complex film of duality Alfred Hitchcock has managed to create a film which will grip audiences for many years to come.