Film Studies Program
This Honors thesis discusses an area of film score analysis that has been overlooked in scholarship. The author musically analyzes the work of Bernard Herrmann, revealing from his scores a hidden layer of connotative emotions and inner life of the female protagonists in the gothic melodrama films Jane Eyre (1943) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). The female voice in classical Hollywood was forced into submission due to the cultural ideology of Westernized gendered thought. Herrmann provides the female protagonists with a sounding board for their sequestered minds, allowing the audience the opportunity to peer into the souls of these filmic women and help to understand their oppression. Using feminist scholarship and arguments regarding the semiotics of Western musical thought, the author successfully identifies that Herrmann’s leitmotifs provide a voice for the female protagonists separate from the visual and narrative structure. The author presents her argument on the basis of Claudia Gorbman’s theory of the metadiegesis, a third aural category that connects nondiegetic musical score with the inner life of the troubled female protagonist. This symbolic explanation of the female’s lost inner thoughts allows the audience to further identify with the woes of the protagonist on screen, which furthers the conversation of the continued oppression of women and the importance of their individual voices.
Picard, Alyson, "Symphonic Expressions of the Female Voice: An Analysis of Bernard Hermann's Scores for Jane Eyre (1943) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)" (2019). Honors Projects Overview. 165.
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