North by Northwest Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Hitchcock make use of the camera angle to symbolically represent the situation?     

    Hitchcock makes use of shots from great heights to emphasize Roger’s isolation and flight across the country. The two most notable examples of high exposures are the shot in which Roger is seen running from the United Nations and the scene in which Roger waits alone to meet with Kaplan. Hitchcock also uses the camera to signify emotional distance. There is a fairly long exposure in which Roger and Eve stand roughly 30 feet apart talking to one another in the woods. This is to point out the fact that they are not out of danger yet, they cannot yet be “together”. There is a similar shot where Roger stands across the road from the man he believes is Kaplan. Even when he can see the man, there is still a divide between Roger and “Kaplan”, who represents the solution to Roger’s troubles. Once Roger crosses the road, the reason for the separation becomes apparent; the man is not Kaplan.

  2. 2

    What is the significance of the title “North by Northwest”?     

    The obvious interpretation of the title is that it roughly tracks Roger’s flight in his search for Kaplan. The title, which refers to an intersection of sorts, is also symbolic of Roger’s conflict, he has, quite by accident, “intersected” with Kaplan’s identity. Searching desperately for the truth, he continually finds himself in situations where he is mistaken for someone he is not. He also continues to “run into” various characters, sometimes seemingly by mistake, including Eve, Vandamm, and his henchmen.

  3. 3

    How does this movie point out society’s misconceptions of identity?     

    Identity is the overriding theme of this film, and it can be analyzed in various capacities. The most prevalent identity storyline of course is Roger’s mistaken identity as a government agent. Despite all of his denials, he cannot escape this false persona, based solely on circumstantial evidence. As one of Vandamm’s henchmen puts it, “You respond to Kaplan’s name, you live in Kaplan’s room, you answer Kaplan’s telephone, and you are not Kaplan?” Roger’s identity has been established by his actions. Likewise, Roger, Vandamm, and the hotel in which “Kaplan” lives is thoroughly convinced of his existence simply because he has clothing, belongings, and seemingly human habits. Society’s misconceptions of identity take on a lethal characteristic when Roger is mistaken for a murderer. In society’s eyes, he is seen talking to the murdered man, and he is photographed with the knife; he is undoubtedly an assassin.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.