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Eng 133 - the Symbolism of the Champagne

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Jeremy Wills

Eng 133

Professor Youngren

17 April 2011

In Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, the Symbolism of the champagne, Miss Wilson, and the penthouse all point to the theme of superiority. Hitchcock uses these symbols to portray the wealth of Brandon and Phillip and how they use it to justify their treatment of those they consider to be inferior beings. Is murder socially unacceptable or a grand masterpiece of art?

The champagne is obviously a symbol of stature and wealth. Phillip was surprised that Brandon had put the champagne in the refrigerator and is shocked that it is going to be served at the party. Why is the use of champagne as a symbol important at the party? Champagne is the symbol of celebrations and joyfulness. You can say that it is the symbol of life. In this case, it is a symbol of celebration for Brandon and Phillip for "the carefully planned, coolly executed 'thrill' murder of their long-time friend, David ..." whose "only crime seems to be that he's 'ordinary". Not only do they choose to drink champagne following the murder, some of their guests seem surprised that they are drinking such an expensive brand. Brandon and Phillip are not just celebrating that they have gotten away with murder. They are celebrating that they are really superior enough to make murder into art.

Another way that Brandon and Phillip show off their feelings of superiority is by including Miss Wilson at the party. Miss Wilson is the maid and housekeeper that Brandon and Phillip employ to care for their penthouse and prepare for their party. She serves the boys and cleans up after them. Miss Wilson is a basic symbol of their wealth and superiority because only wealthy people have servants. Miss Wilson is not a major character in the movie, but she brings a normal person's point of view. She doesn't understand why Brandon and Phillip would set up their party on the chest. She thinks that the food should have been at the table, the way it would be at an ordinary party. She also adds some excitement to the film viewer when the camera zooms in on her preparing to put some books into the chest, almost revealing the secret that the boys are keeping from all of the guests, that they killed David. Brandon and Phillip only keep their masterpiece a secret by telling her to return in the morning to finish cleaning.

The setting of the penthouse is highly symbolic, because Brandon and Phillip use it to show off their superiority, while it actually uncovers some of Phillip's weakness. The penthouse is a status symbol, which has a New York skyline view. The views from the penthouse show the boys' wealth because a large apartment with great views would be very expensive. The penthouse also illustrates

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