Power of sex

In the girl with dragon tattoo, sex is connected closely with control. In this book, women are depicted as at a disadvantage comparing with men most of the time. As the fact that it is hard for them to outwin men physically, women develop sex as the weapon to gain control over men.


In stereotype, men are dominating ones in sexual relationship. Women are expected to be passive and submissive. Yet Salander does not follow the norm. She has got the right to pick up her sexual mates. The book says that “…sex had always occurred on her conditions and at her initiative” (257). She met her partners mostly from the pub. She never falls for any man – in other words, she keeps her relationship under absolute control. Also, she cares so much about her initiative in a relationship that when she found out she is mildly irritated with Blomkvist; she decided to seduce him and have sex with him. And she knows that she will not miss it because Blomkvist is “one of these guys who can’t keep his hands off women”(434) according to her background report. She only takes action when she can predict the outcome.


Yet on the other hand, Cecilia, another woman Blomkvist has sex with, feels losing control as their sexual relationship develops. She is frustrated with the fact that she cares more and more about Blomkvist though she is the one who initialized this relationship. She acted as “a lovesick teenage girl who could not control herself” (279). She has been used to Blomkvist’s company so she feels even more at a loose end when he is leaving for sentence. So she decided to leave him for good to regain her control. Thus it turns out that refusal to have sex with a man can also be an option for woman to control.
However, the power of sex can be easily abused by certain men in the form of rape, which does harm to women more mentally than physically. Salander chooses to take revenge at Bjurman by making him suffer from the same thing as he did on her after she is raped by him instead of taking other ways because she wants Bjurman to realize the humiliation caused by power of sex.


Voyeur on both sides of the lens

Magazine photographer Jeffery broke his leg by accident. His daily life is taken care of by his beautiful girlfriend Lisa. Only able to sitting on the wheelchair, Jeffery’s biggest interest is to observe what his neighbors are doing through the lens.  Each window contains its own story. But something unusual is happening in the apartment at the opposite of his rear window. He was suspicious that one of his neighbors killed his wife. At that time, he has already sunken into this quirk fondness. Actually, we audience are also as eager as Jeffery to find out what is going on. Everyone shares a trait that being born to be a voyeur because of the emptiness inside his or her heart. That’s what helps Hitchcock succeed in this movie – it is about voyeurism on both sides of the lens.

With only a few number of given camera angles, Hitchcock really made such thrilling  suspension out of  a small space. The main plot line may be the murder, but there are still lots of subplots are going on at the same time – each window indicates a different storyline just as our real life.

Hitchcock successfully captures our inner desire to peer what others are doing.  The Rear Window also reminds me of a film called Dans La Maison I watched earlier this year. It is about a writing teacher who asks his student Claude to observe and record what he saw about one of his classmates. Claude’s description is so fascinating and realistic that the teacher can’t help but keeping reading his assignment just like peering Claude’s classmate in person. What Claude writes offers the teacher another rear window to learn everything that’s going on. A voyeur may take different form to spy on others. But what is the main motivation for voyeurs?

Just like we are never tired of browsing our friends’ even strangers’ homepage on various kinds of social network, watching other people’s lives seems to be usual(like watching a TV show and we always want to know what next episode tells). Bound to bed due to his broken leg, Jeffery chooses to look through the window to kill the time. Yes at first it may be out of curiosity for him to do so. Yet as things develop, he find it more interesting to observe others’ lives than living his own one. Lisa and the other nurse whose name I forget persuaded Jeffery to do something else more than once and they show little interest in peering because they have their own meaningful life. In contrast, the emptiness inside Jeffery’s heart can only be filled by his craving to continue voyeur.

(need to be revised :/)

Love is the most dangerous weapon

In this show, what interests me most is the scene when Sherlock Holmes decoded Irene Adler’s camera phone. I think this is the climax of the whole episode because Sherlock successfully made a twist when Irene was so close to make Mycroft fulfill her requirement. Also, it indicates that Sherlock can truly set aside his personal feelings while Irene lost the game exactly for failure to do so.


When Irene bragged about using Sherlock to compile the e-mail from terrorist, Sherlock stayed muted all the time. But when Irene continued to mock “Holmes boys”, Sherlock stepped ahead and pointed out that he knew what the password is. Despite Irene’s shock, Sherlock began to analyze her motive. It is Irene’s sentiment that exposes herself. Although she tried to deny her feelings, Sherlock did not let her justify herself by telling her he had taken her pulse. For Irene Adler, her biggest security loophole is Sherlock Holmes because “love is a dangerous advantage”, said by Sherlock. He knew this theory well so he pulled himself back before the situation went uncontrollable – yes apparently he has some feelings to Irene too. For both of them, they cannot help being led by the sentiment yet Sherlock is far more rational. Even though Irene shed tears and begged him to help her after Sherlock successfully decoded her phone, he just turned around and left, acting nonchalant.

I think here we can draw a parallel to the ending of Maltese Falcon, where Spade also turned Brigid in without showing any mercy. Just like Spade, Sherlock also made the right choice at the key point – to punish the criminal.


On the other hand, Irene and Brigid also have something in common. They both use their feminine advantage to get what they want. In Irene’s case, she first showed up naked just to shock Sherlock and obviously she did it.

What’s more important, they both fell in love with their antagonists. To be more specific, even Irene Adler, a dominating lesbian, also has strong attachment to Sherlock because she is willing to make him an exception. It is the very attachment that makes her lose the whole game.

Reaction paper#2

This time I want to focus on a conversation between Brigid and Spade from chapter 8. From the conversation, I think the real personality of Brigid begins to reveal. The author uses a cluster of similar expression to describe Brigid’s tone and manner such as “She twisted her head around to smile up at him with playful insolence”(page 84), “Mockery rippled in a smile on her face” and “she smiled impudently”. All these sentences indicate her lively side instead of being a demure lady. Maybe that’s because she’s getting more and more familiar with Spade therefore she can unfold herself without reservation before his eyes. As the case develops, the relationship between Spade and Brigid becomes even more complicated: they have also become intimate in private life beyond simple detective-client mode. On page 87, Spade pointed out her fear towards Cairo: “’I can understand your being afraid of Cairo,’ Spade said. ‘ He’s out of your reach.’ ‘And you aren’t?’ ’ Not that way,’ he said and grinned.” The ambiguous respond from Spade disturbs Brigid’s mind therefore “She blushed.” And that’s the sentence that triggers Brigid to tell Spade more information about the falcon putting aside the authenticity of what she provides. His remark is a statement that says “I am within your reach” from another way to interpret, which makes a commitment to Brigid ensuring her to rely on him with a sense of security. This dialogue also implies further development of their relationship (mostly physically) which can be confirmed in the following passage. Although Spade seems to be more amiable to Brigid than usual, he still prevails in the confrontation with her. Spade is quite “unpredictable” to her (“’You’re altogether unpredictable, ‘she murmured. “Page 84.) and Spade also acknowledges this point.(“Yes, and wild and unpredictable.” Page86.) He responded to this comment with witticism: “My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery. It’s all right with me, if you’re sure none of the flying pieces will hurt you.”, a reply exactly demonstrating his unpredictability. Compared with Brigid, Spade always acted as nonchalant and flippant. Like “For several minute they ate in silence, he phlegmatically, she thoughtfully. “and “His voice was good-humored.” while she being “her gaiety vanished’ and “Spade studied her anxious face”. The contrast between attitude of Spade and that of Brigid creates a dramatic contradictory. Besides, the author uses lots of strong words to highlight Spade’s masculinity such as “domineering stare”, “squinted”, “scowled” and “demanded”. This chapter helps build Spade’s frivolous as well as tough image, by revealing how Brigid surrenders to Spade’s machismo, and it is a key point for their relationship since their affinity has burgeoned.

Reaction Paper#1

What I found interesting in this book is Chapter four, page 35, the description of conversation between Samuel Spade and Brigid O’Shaughnessy. “I haven’t lived a good life,” she cried. “I’ve been bad – worse than you could know – but I’m not all bad. Look at me, Mr.Spade. You know I’m not all bad, don’t you? You can see that, can’t you? Then can’t you trust me a little?” Here, Brigid used repeating rhetorical questions to ask Spade to believe what she said and keep begging him to help her. The repeat highlights her eagerness and helplessness.  And in the later part, she said “I know this isn’t fair of me. But be generous, Mr. Spade, don’t ask me to be fair. You’re strong, you’re resourceful, you’re brave. You can spare me some of that strength and resourcefulness and courage, surely. Help me, Mr. Spade.” Here, the author creates the strand of Spade’s capability. As the protagonist, Spade has got all features that indicate his masculine identity: callous, resolute, courageous. Meanwhile the characteristic of Brigid is quite sensitive, helpless, self-interested and also mysterious – which is a typical femme fatale in noir film. I think the whole passage aims at building a contrast between powerful male character and timid female character; in that way it can help emphasize the personality of them. A big strong man and a weak beautiful lady, forming an expressive scene, imagine what sparkle they might ignite.

Spade has always reacted as indifferent and ambiguous in the whole case so far. Yet according to Spade’s response: “You won’t need much of anybody’s help. You’re good. You’re very good”, we can see that he already caved in to her feminine charm more or less because this sentence is more than a comfort. I mean who can resist the incessant imploring from such a gorgeous beauty?  Brigid has successfully made the best use of her gender advantage to build a lovingly pathetic image, therefore touching the softest part inside Spade’s heart.  Also we need to notice that it’s the first time that Brigid mentioned she had been worse than we could know but we still don’t have certain idea about what she had done before, where the author leaves us a big suspense. Though Brigid seems to be very weak and incompetent now, I am looking forward to finding out her real characteristic hiding under her innocent surface. From my perspective, this passage may imply the power femme fatale – here refers to Brigid O’Shaughnessy – exerts over the hero – Samuel Spade – in future content.  “a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous and deadly situations”, Brigid will “try to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm and sexual allure.”(Wikipedia entry: femme fatale )