Rear Window

Rear Window Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Describe the similarities between Lisa and the other single women around the courtyard. What is the significance of these varied portrayals?

    Each of the women in Jeff's courtyard represents a different possible outcome for Lisa's life. Miss Torso is a young, beautiful single woman, like Lisa, but she is not in love with any of her wealthy admirers. Miss Lonleyhearts is single, desperate, and terribly lonely, which is how Lisa sees her life turning out if Jeff does not marry her. There is a sense of desperation around the woman with the hearing aid, as well, who divides her time between sleeping on her lawn chair and creating sculptures. The sculpture that she calls "Hunger" resembles a human torso with a giant hole in the middle of it, right where the heart should be.

  2. 2

    What is the central message of Rear Window on the topic of voyeurism?

    Even though Jeff turns out to be right that Thorwald is a murderer, his discovery leads to punishment instead of triumph; he ends up stuck in his apartment with two broken legs. Also, Jeff's motivation for watching his neighbors is self-satisfying; he never seems to be as concerned with the fate of the victim (Mrs. Thorwald) as he is about having his assumptions proven correct. Ultimately, Hitchcock seems to be advocating what Stella says during her first scene with Jeff: "What people ought to do is get outside their house and look in for a change."

  3. 3

    Is the Thorwald murder the main plot of Rear Window? Why or why not?

    The Thorwald murder is merely an avenue through which Hitchcock explores the dynamic between Jeff and Lisa. The entire first act of the film is about their relationship; we don't even learn Thorwald's name until halfway through the film. Hitchcock does not attempt to arouse the audience's sympathy for Mrs. Thorwald at all. Ultimately, Jeff is focused on the world outside his window because of his inability to open his mind to marrying Lisa. Lisa, then, makes the decision to insert herself into Jeff's obsession in order to prove her marriageability to him.

  4. 4

    What is the effect of Hitchcock's subjective shooting style and how does it connect to the underlying themes in Rear Window?

    Through his shooting style, Hitchcock makes his audience members into voyeurs alongside Jeff. We only see what he sees, which increases the tension of the film - we are always eager to find out what happens next. However, Hitchcock is simultaneously indicting his audience for our voyeurism. Because our understanding of the lives outside Jeff's window is so limited, we draw the same conclusions Jeff does. For instance, it is a surprise to both Jeff and the audience that Miss Torso happens to have an ordinary-looking soldier for a beau. By setting up the audience to expect one thing and then delivering another, Hitchcock warns us not to judge everything we see based on a view from a distance.

  5. 5

    Why does Lisa decide to become Jeff's accomplice in his amateur sleuthing?

    Jeff doesn't only draw snap judgments about his neighbors - he has done the same thing to his girlfriend. He believes that since she likes fine clothing and nice food and lives on Park Avenue that she could never be married to a middle-class photojournalist who thrives on danger and excitement. Lisa keeps trying to express to Jeff that these things are not what matters in a marriage, but her opinions fall on deaf ears. Ultimately, she has no choice but to show him. Therefore, she takes advantage of the fact that Jeff cannot get up and investigate the Thorwalds himself, and puts herself in danger instead. As soon as Jeff realizes how much moxie is hidden behind Lisa's $1,100 dress, he sees her in a whole new light.