Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Jennifer Fish

Committee Member

Robert Arnett

Committee Member

Dana Heller

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85 B75 2009


With Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick examines the causes and conditions in which men are more powerful and men's production, ideas and activities are seen as having greater value and higher status than women's. Eyes Wide Shut's (EWS) renders the tension between Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice Hartford (Nicole Kidman) in the modem struggle to find balance between the institution of marriage and their autonomous selves visible. As Bill's travels dominate the film, little beyond the first scene of Alice's disrobed body and the last scene highlighting her psychological stability are shown. We follow Bill as he meets several women; all are highly sexual, aggressive women. However, the film employs a highly intriguing treatment of Alice, for she is more psychologically complete than Bill. Alice's confession of female desire drives the plot, which, for Bill, is out of the socially assigned role of wife. As he states it, "women simply don't think like that." This action highlights the condition of women's remote complete identity outside of men's imposed public and private definition. If she is not implicitly a wife, mother or highly sexualized, she is out of man's peripheral of socially assigned identities for women. EWS highlights the powerless condition of women to define their own unique identities by situating Bill in a modem woman's position. Alice and Bill perform a role-reversal illustrating how male society has yet to allow women to move beyond one-dimensional icons of wife, mother or whore. The film presents a visual starting place to examine the constructs on women from multiple perspectives of feminism. Ultimately, EWS transposes a woman's subjugation on to a man in order to validate her views. If it takes this transference of the female condition to a man, no longer preserving masculine power by allowing the cultural repression of females to be felt, we must rebalance the larger picture to include women's self-chosen identity.


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