Study Guide

Spellbound Guilt and Blame

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Guilt and Blame

Mysteries always ask, "who's guilty?" In Spellbound the answer seems to be, "whoever didn't do it."

Dr. Murchison doesn't seem troubled by shooting Edwardes; he doesn't want to get caught, but he doesn't regret doing it. Ballantyne, on the other hand, didn't do anything, but feels horrible about it—in fact, he feels so bad he convinces himself that he did do it, just like the patients described in Edwardes' book, The Labyrinth of the Guilt Complex.

The innocent feel bad; the guilty feel fine. That's a neat way to make a tricky mystery. But it also might have something to do with the film being released just after the end of World War II, during which millions of enlisted Americans had to shoot people on the orders of folks a long way away.

Who's guilty in war? Maybe Dr. Edwardes could tell you, if he weren't dead.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. How is Mr. Garmes a foil for Ballantyne?
  2. Does Dr. Murchison feel guilty for having killed Dr. Edwardes? Provide evidence for your answer.
  3. Would The Labyrinth of the Guilt Complex be a good title for Spellbound? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Ballantyne's amnesia helps him forget his guilt.

Ballantyne's amnesia prevents him from forgetting his guilt.

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