Study Guide

Psycho Sex


MARION: Sam, this is the last time.

SAM: For what?

MARION: This! Meeting you in secret so we can be… secretive.

Marion is saying that she and Sam can't meet to have sex anymore. To Marion, pre-marital sex is wrong and sneaky (or secretive). Her desire to avoid it is what causes her to steal the money. Or, alternately, you could argue that the film sees her as wrong, or bad, because she has premarital sex. A person who would do that could do anything—and deserves to be punished for it. (Sexually attractive and active women do not fare well in Hitchcock films).

NORMAN: Well… the mattress is soft and there're hangers in the closet… and stationary with "Bates' Motel" printed on it in case you want to make your friends back home envious… and… the… other there…

MARION: The bathroom.

Norman is embarrassed to mention the bathroom because it's private and sexy. Marion would be hesitant to mention the bathroom too… if she knew what was going to happen there.

NORMAN: [voiceover as his mother] No! I tell you no! I won't have you bringing some young girl in for supper! By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap, erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!

[voiceover] Mother, please...!

[voiceover as his mother] And then what? After supper? Music? Whispers?

[voiceover] Mother, she's just a stranger. She's hungry, and it's raining out!

[voiceover as his mother] "Mother, she's just a stranger!" As if men don't desire strangers! As if... ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on, go tell her she'll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with my food... or my son! Or do I have tell her because you don't have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?

[voiceover] Shut up! Shut up!

Norman's mother, from inside his own head, is berating him for sexual thoughts. Moms don't like sex, supposedly. But is it really moms who don't like sex? Or is it the film itself, which gleefully watches over Marion in her underwear, while also moralistically and punishing her for daring to appear on screen in her underwear?

RICHMAN: Therefore, if he felt a strong attraction to any other woman, the mother side of him would go wild.

When he met your sister, he was touched by her... aroused by her. He wanted her. That set off the "jealous mother" and "mother killed the girl!" Now after the murder, Norman returned as if from a deep sleep. And like a dutiful son, covered up all traces of the crime he was convinced his mother had committed!

This is a creepy moment, not least because Richman is telling Lila and Sam about how Marion sexually aroused her murderer. Does Richman find it a little sexy? Does the film?

SAM: Why was he dressed like that?

DA: He's a transvestite!

RICHMAN: Not exactly. A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual change…or satisfaction…is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing everything possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive.

The psychiatrist is kind of full of horse dooky. Not all transvestites get a sexual charge or satisfaction from dressing in women's clothes. Some men just like dressing in women's clothes, for whatever reason. The psychiatrist's confusion is telling though. He may claim Norman's actions weren't sexual, but the film is much more ambiguous.

The scene in the shower, with the thrusting knife, is very much sexual. Norman is triggered by his interest in Marion, and then he consummates that interest through violence. Basically, in Hitchcock, sex and violence are wadded up together. This doesn't tell you anything about transvestites, or transgender people, or the mentally ill—but it may tell you a little something about Hitchcock.

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