Study Guide

Psycho Stuffed Birds

Stuffed Birds

We're sure there are a lot of lovely taxidermists out there. But sorry, taxidermy fans: your hobby has joined the list of Creepy Pastimes. Thanks in part to Psycho, we'd probably be more likely to let a professional (gulp) clown dogsit our precious Freckles than let a taxidermist anywhere near her leash.

Norman tells Marion:

NORMAN: My hobby is stuffing things. You know—taxidermy.

 He's referring most directly to the stuffed birds in his office. But unbeknownst to Marion, the most impressive example of Norman's taxidermy skillz is his mother's corpse, which is sitting in the window of his house.

The stuffed birds, then, are a symbol of Norman's mother.

But wait: Norman is his mother, or at least he thinks he's her. When his mother's voice thinks to herself at the end sitting in the police station that she can't do anything but "sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds" — that's not really his mother speaking. That's Norman comparing himself to his stuffed birds. And what he's been stuffed with, and what is filling him up, is his mother… who now "lives" inside him.

Yeesh. This movie is so creepy.

There are other references to birds, too. Norman tells Marion when they have dinner together that she eats like a bird. Anthony Perkins' performance as Norman is also pretty birdlike; he moves in nervous jumps, and extends his head.

So there you have it: Norman himself, Norman's mother, and Marion are all compared to birds. That's appropriate for a film about fractured identity, and about the way the dead go on living stuffed into someone else's skull. Birds actually "eat a tremendous lot," Norman explains to Marion. The birdlike corpse of his mother eats up everything in the film, devouring Marion first, and ultimately Norman himself.

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