Alicia is clearly being self-conscious about her promiscuous lifestyle. She draws a parallel between herself and the notorious dancer Mata Hari. Mata Hari was an exotic dancer famously known for her sexual allure and her job as a spy for Germany during World War I. She was executed by a firing squad for her traitorous actions. By comparing herself to such an infamous woman, Alicia is bemoaning her reputation as a promiscuous woman. She sarcastically compares herself to the infamous courtesan and shows some self-awareness as well as some self-loathing.
“All these questions are merely the expression of your own jealousy, just as you have always been jealous of any woman I ever shown interest in”
This quote provides insight into Madame Sebastian’s character. She is a domineering and protective mother who wants to keep her son under her iron thumb, free from the influence of any other woman. The image of a domineering mother is a recurring motif in Hitchcock’s films, playing an even larger role in later Hitchcock films such as Psycho and Marnie. This quote establishes Madame Sebastian’s character in the audience’s minds, and serves to prepare the audience for her seemingly unending and ruthless cruelty. Here, Alexander Sebastian bemoans his mother's dominance and her controlling demeanor.
At this point, Alicia is dangerously ill after having been continually poisoned by Sebastian and his mother. However, here she deliberately conceals her illness to Devlin, lying that she has been on a drinking bender again. The quote shows that Alicia is becoming world-weary and is resigned to her unhappy fate, and also that she is too angry with Devlin and prideful to admit her vulnerability to him. Feeling abandoned by her true love and trapped in a bad marriage, Alicia demonstrates a disillusionment with the world with this quote. Rather than tell Devlin the truth, she lies and insists that she has a hangover, even though he doesn't quite believe her.
“I want to make it eighty and wipe that grin off your face”
Alicia says this to Devlin when she is intoxicated and driving Devlin in the car on the night of her party. They flirt in a sarcastic tone, and she becomes annoyed with his knowing expression, threatening to drive more quickly in order to make him stop smiling at her. This quote shows Alicia's stubbornness, and the ways that her self-destructive proclivities towards drinking too much lead her to make poor decisions. Rather than admit that she is too drunk and does not have control of the car, she elects to speed even faster down the road.
"Go away and leave me alone. I have my own life to lead. Good times. That's what I want, and laughs with people I like. And no underhanded cops who want to put me up in a shooting gallery, but people of my own kind, who treat me right and like me and understand me."
Alicia says this to Devlin when he offers her the job of being a spy for the U.S. in Brazil. She insists that she has no interest in the mission and that she just wants to have a good time, sticking to her hard-partying ways with people who want to affirm her desire to live a fun life. After so much scandal in her personal life (her father was a Nazi traitor), she just wants to forget about her troubles and not get tangled up in political dramas or put her life at risk. She wants "good times," not the deception of "underhanded cops" and espionage.
"I don't know if she'll do it...Well, I don't think she's that type of woman."
Devlin says this to Prescott when Prescott proposes that Alicia ought to get romantically involved with Sebastian. Having just fallen deeply in love with Alicia (he is carrying a bottle of champagne that he plans to bring back to her apartment for a romantic dinner) he is crestfallen to hear that the proposed mission is that she seduce a Nazi. Rather than explicitly reveal to Prescott that he and Alicia have fallen in love, he obliquely suggests that Alicia doesn't seem like the kind of woman who would do that sort of thing just for the sake of the mission. This is about as close as Devlin can get to revealing his true feelings about Alicia.
Alicia: Why don't you give that copper's brain of yours a rest? Every time you look at me, I can see it running over its slogans: 'Once a crook, always a crook,' 'Once a tramp, always a tramp.' Go on. You can hold my hand. I won't blackmail you for it afterwards. Scared?
Devlin: I've always been scared of women, but I'll get over it.
Alicia: Now you're scared of yourself. You're afraid you'll fall in love with me.
Devlin: That wouldn't be hard.
This exchange occurs between Alicia and Devlin early on in their trip to Rio. They are spending a lot of time together in a picturesque place, and Alicia teases Devlin for treating her like a "loose woman" whom he cannot trust. Sensing that he is beginning to have feelings for her, Alicia invites him to act on his feelings for her, but Devlin is a pretty cold specimen, suggesting to her that he never trusts women. This is a somewhat lighthearted banter, a flirtatious exchange, but it also reveals the differences between the two spies. While Alicia is willing to take the leap of faith and express her feelings, Devlin is more tight-lipped and reticent, keeping his thoughts to himself.
"I don't know why I should feel so bad. When he told me a few years ago what he was, everything went to pot. I didn't care what happened to me. Now I remember how nice he once was. How nice we both were, very nice. It's a very curious feeling as if something had happened to me and not to him. You see, I don't have to hate him anymore or myself."
Alicia says this to Devlin on the plane to Rio after he tells her that her father took his own life in prison. She speaks from her heart and tells her about the conflicted feelings she is experiencing on hearing about the death of her traitorous Nazi father with whom she had a poor relationship. She is perplexed by the fact that his death makes her sad, because they had such a bad relationship while he was alive. Now that he is dead, Alicia doesn't feel like she has to think ill of him and his politics anymore, and can remember him as a good man. Now that he is dead, she is liberated from their relationship and he can live on as the father that she remembers, rather than the evil Nazi that he became. This quote reveals more about Alicia's conflicted and confused emotional inner life.
"I'm taking her to the hospital to get the poison out of her...How'd you like your friends downstairs to know? They've yet to be told...You haven't forgotten what they did to Emil, have you Sebastian?...You've got your chance here and now. Tell them who she is."
Devlin says this to Sebastian as he carries Alicia down the stairs towards his car. He knows that the fact that Sebastian married Alicia without realizing she was an American spy will ruin his relationship with his Nazi cohorts—particularly the vengeful Mathis—and that they will undoubtedly kill him for his misstep. He lords this knowledge over Sebastian, telling him that if Mathis finds out that Alicia is an American spy and that Sebastian has been poisoning her slowly to get her out of the way, they will kill him, just as they killed Emil Hupka. He taunts Sebastian, inviting him to reveal the circumstances to his already suspicious associates.
Alicia: You idiot. What are you sore about? You knew very well what I was doing.
Devlin: Did I?
Alicia: You could have stopped me. Just one word. But no, you wouldn't. You threw me at him.
Devlin: I threw you at nobody.
Alicia: Didn't you tell me to go ahead?
Devlin: A man doesn't tell a woman what to do. She tells herself. You almost had me believing in that little hokey-pokey miracle of yours. If a woman like you could ever change her spots.
At the racetrack, Alicia gives Devlin some information about Sebastian, but they also engage in this quarrel. Each feels betrayed by the other. Here, Alicia expresses to Devlin that he could have prevented her from taking the job spying on Sebastian, to which Devlin replies that he could not have prevented her from taking the job. He insists that "a man doesn't tell a woman what to do. She tells herself." In that, he means that Alicia ought to have said that she didn't want to take the job, and stayed with him. In his eyes, that would have been the respectable thing to do, and would have demonstrated that she had changed her promiscuous and morally loose ways. By taking the job as a spy, Devlin insists, Alicia demonstrated that she is still promiscuous and that she could not "change her spots" i.e. reform her old ways. This conversation reveals the misunderstanding between the two sensitive lovers.
Notorious Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Notorious is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.