Laura Irony

Laura Irony

Where's Waldo's Desire?

One of the greatest ironies of the movie may well be that it is about a man who kills a woman so that no other man may have her, despite the fact that the killer has no sexual desire for Laura at all. Not only is Waldo Lydecker assertively “coded” as a homosexual, there is never—not even once—any scene presented in the movie which indicates that Waldo possesses on iota of sexual desire for Laura. And yet he kills her to keep other men enacting their own sexual desires out upon her. What gives? An irony to be analyzed deeply, for sure.

Murder of Laura Hunt

The entire first half of the movie is ironic. Det. McPherson is investigating the murder of Laura Hunt—and everybody thinks that Laura is actually dead—but it turns out that the murder investigation was entirely ironic since it was not Laura who had her face blown off with a shotgun at all.

The Resurrection of Laura Hunt

When Det. McPherson falls asleep only to be wake up to the image of the resurrected Laura Hunt turning out not to be dead at all, but merely having been away, one very credible way of interpreting the last half of the movie is that it all takes place in a dream state of the sleeping policeman. Under this interpretation, the entire movie from the point of Laura’s seemingly coming back from the dead can be read as ironic since nothing that seems to occur actually did occur. Another level of irony is that McPherson is only able to solve the seemingly unsolvable murder of Laura while a fantasy state.

“I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes.”

One of the most ironic moments in the entire movie occurs when social-climbing gigolo Shelby Carpenter makes this assertion about himself. Not only is this statement ironic, it is actually doubly ironic. In the first place, Shelby can hardly afford a blemish on his character since he practically is universally assumed to have no real character at all. Most of those who know him recognize him as weak-willed and overly ambitious to live off the riches of single women. In the second place, because he is himself without money, his assertion of not being able to afford a blemish on his clothes is ironic since he can’t even afford to buy his own clothes.

“In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject so worthy of my attention.”

Waldo Lydecker says this of himself, but it is clearly a case of—perhaps unrealized—irony. Oh, sure, Waldo is most assuredly self-absorbed, but to suggest that he has never discovered any other subject so worthy of his attention belies the entire plot of the movie if the second half is to be taken at face value. Why murder anyone else for any reason if you can get by simply by turning the focus of your attention inward?

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