Study Guide

Rear Window Cunning and Cleverness

Cunning and Cleverness

Rear Window is essentially a battle of wits, with Jeff trying to uncover the truth about a murderer and said murderer doing everything in his power to keep from getting caught. From a purely plot perspective, Rear Window is a kind of chess game: Thorwald takes extra-special steps to avert suspicion (like planting a phony postcard from his dead wife), while Jeff finds places where Thorwald slips up. Jeff thinks of ways to lure in Thorwald and ramp up his anxiety that someone is on to him. It's up to Lisa, though, to put all of those clever plans into action; Jeff is stuck in his chair. Lisa is also pretty clever in knowing that joining Jeff in his sleuthing might show him that she's as adventurous as he is.

Questions About Cunning and Cleverness

  1. How do Lisa and Stella contribute to Jeff's detective work with their smarts?
  2. Jeff misses the sight of Thorwald leaving the apartment with a woman in black. Why is that so important to the mystery, and what does it say about Thorwald's cleverness that he thought that step through?
  3. Do you think that Jeff is smarter than Thorwald?
  4. How does Doyle's cleverness serve to hinder Jeff, however inadvertently, in his investigation?

Chew on This

Jeff is not as smart as he thinks he is because he can't foresee how his little schemes put those around him in danger.

The film's last scene suggests that Lisa has really been the more clever schemer.

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