In Psycho, Hitchcock was not satisfied with just displaying ordinary people under severe circumstances. Compared with Vertigo, characters in Psycho shows psychiatric symptoms in different aspects. In order to express these extreme states of minds, Hitchcock used some symbols over and over again like a tireless carver.
Hitchcock tended to use the camera shot as a ubiquitous voyeur. Eye is a simple even crude intermedium to cover the immortal watch. In some uptight scenes like Marion’s drive on the way off Phoenix, camera shotted straightly into her eyes, which is counter to what we usually do. The last scene of Marion was also frozen on her eyes, which fills nearly 100 percent of the screen. These shots deliver a mood of anxiety and tension to audiences by displaying the eyes on an abnormal angle of view.
In addition, the spyhole on the wall in Bate’ Motel looks like a huge eye. Although Norman’s witness led to his mother’s death 10 years before, he kept the status as a voyeur up to now. The hole as a distorted eye revealed the dark side of Norman Bates.
In contrast, Norman’s sight was gentle and shy, even lovable to some extent. From the policeman (or psychiatrist)’s statement near the end of the movie, we know that Norman’s personality was suppressed by his mother’s all the time. So his eyes looks wandering in front of the camera.
It’s interesting that the other figure, Marion, was just escaped from the similar plight. On the very beginning of the film, Marion laid on the bed in a posture of obedience. When she went to work, she had to bend to Mr. Cassidy’s superiority. These scenes implies that Marion was also confined in the role of obedience as well as Norman. These two characters were both struggling to get rid of the feminine temperament. In motel the comparatively closed situation, there would be an inevitable conflict between the two.
In ancient Egyptian culture, the Eye of Horus is a symbol of protection and power. The eye is personified in a goddess, Wadjet. Similarly, eyes in other cultures, like the Eye of Providence, represent the all-seeing God, or some else powerful deities. From this aspect, the eye of repeated occurrence in Psycho may imply the imbalance of power between the two conflicting characters. In some scenes it’s an accomplice of the crime, in others it’s a sign of the dark subconsciousness of the twisted figures.
At the end of the movie, the camera followed the policeman with a blanket moving into the interrogation room. The background is a flat wall, and Norman was shotted abruptly from head to heel. As the camera moved closer, Norman’s eyes dominated the screen gradually. At first he looked down in anguish, then his facial expression eased up and begun staring at the camera. In Psycho, it’s the first time that the audiences have a chance to look straightly into Norman’s eyes. The eyesight as well as the aside revealed the deeper part of his thought consciousness, and as an audience, we have to face the schismatic and lunatic minds of Bates. We audiences are no more voyeurs but inexistent watchers in this scene.
“They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, “Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”
Well, the remaining personality on Norman was succumbed to the more powerful eyes at last.