If Looks Could Kill: Modern Gaze Theory and the House of the Vettii at Pompeii
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In the following comments I will interpret the images of violence in the House of the Vettii by applying to Roman domestic decoration one of the approaches used in Frederick's collection, the feminist film theory of Laura Mulvey. In her seminal essay written in 1975, "Visual Pleasure and Dominant Narrative Cinema" Mulvey uses Freudian psychoanalysis as a "political weapon" and demonstrates how dominant narrative cinema, or the familiar Hollywood film, is an "exact rendering of the frustration experienced under the phallocentric order." The woman is nothing in her own right; only the alternative to maleness. She matters only as much as she provokes action in the male characters. Mulvey clearly has a political agenda. She hopes that by identifying this "unconscious of the patriarchal society," it will begin to erode and eventually break down altogether.