An Analysis of the Final Scenes of Alfred Hictcock's NOTORIOUS

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 1996

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After viewing Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious for the first time, the

film did not strike me as particularly complex. Nothing specific about the

film lodged itself in my brain screaming for an answer--or, at least, an

attempted answer. Yet, upon subsequent viewings, subtle things became

more noticeable. (Perhaps Hitchcock's subtlety is what makes him so

enormously popular!) Hitchcock uses motifs and objects, shot styles and

shifting points of view, and light and dark to help explain the relationships

between Alicia, Devlin, Sebastian and Mrs. Sebastian, and an overall

theme of being trapped. An analysis of the film from the first poisoning

scene to the final scene in the film shows how the above tools lead to a

better understanding of the character's motivations.

The most obvious recurring object in the final scenes is the

poisoned coffee cup. In the first scene of the portion being analyzed,

Sebastian suggests to Alicia that she drink her coffee, and Hitchcock

zooms onto the object as she slowly takes a sip.

In a later scene, Mrs.

Sebastian pours the coffee into the cup for Alicia, and sets it on a small

table in front of her. Here, Hitchcock not only zooms in on the small

teacup, but heightens the sound it makes connecting to the table, includes

it in every shot possible, and shows us not only the full coffee cup, but the

empty cup as well after Alicia has drank it. Again, the cup is zoomed in

on after Alicia realizes she's being poisoned. Because the coffee is

poisoned, the coffee itself becomes a metaphor for life and death,

supported by the fact that the poisoner herself ours it, and the shots of the

full and empty teacup. In this way, it also suggests Alicia's inability to

escape her situation--whenever she drinks the...