The Issue of Voyeurism in T.C. Boyles Short Story “Peep Hall”

Seminar Paper, 2007

10 Pages, Grade: 2,7



1 Introduction

2 Voyeurism – a Definition

3 The Theme Voyeurism in “Peep Hall”

4 Hart and Samantha’s Impressions of a Voyeur

5 Conclusion

6 Bibliography
6.1 Singlepublications
6.2 Articles from Magazines

1 Introduction

This term paper deals with the issue of voyeurism in Thomas Coraghessan Boyle’s short story “Peep Hall”. In times of Reality TV, internet pornography and discussions about public surveillance it is not surprising to find the theme of voyeurism, in the work of a contemporary writer as Boyle is.

Though Boyle is an American bestseller author who publishes a new novel or several collections of short stories nearly every year, literature about him and his works is hard to find. Also researches on online-voyeurism are rare even though you get 24.7 million hits on the term “voyeur” at and fifteen of the first twenty hits contain explicit sexuality[1]. Starting a research on a new phenomenon, like online-voyeurism, needs new complex structures to gain serious information. I think it will take years to work scientifically on this complex new media, the internet. That’s why my studies are based on several psychological manuals on sexual behavior and of course the short story itself. I tried to find a psychological profile of a typical voyeur, but I couldn’t find a whole work on voyeurism. This sexual deviation seems to be less important from a criminological aspect in psychological analysis.

Based on the different definitions of a voyeur and articles from psychoanalytical manuals on sexual behavior I will try to give an impression on what a voyeur defines, in the first part of my term paper. In the second part I will adopt that impression on the main character Hart Simpson and clarify the question; is he a voyeur or not? In the third part I will try to show what an impression of the term voyeur the different characters Hart and Samantha with their different perspective on that topic have.

2 Voyeurism – a Definition

The term voyeurism has origin in the French word “voir” which means to see. That paraphilia is also called peeping or scoptophilia. Its main criteria according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the act of observing a person, who is naked or is about to get naked or is in sexual activity, without their knowledge or consent to obtain sexual arousal and gratification. Having fantasies about that over a period of 6 months is another criterion to constitute a voyeur[2]. There are some special forms of voyeurism in a more broad definition, like troilism or coprophilia, but I will not go into detail on those, because they are not important concerning the short story “Peep Hall”.

Voyeurism is like most paraphilias more common to men. To get a look at a disrobing woman in a lighted bathroom or bedroom, they spend a lot of time walking or driving through neighborhoods. To get into an observing position they mostly have to enter private property[3]. That is often the reason why they get caught and charged. While the voyeur observes his object he plays with his penis to assure his masculinity. That can lead to an orgasm or he keeps the memory for subsequent masturbation[4].

The researches that dealt with voyeurism give only little information about the typical features of a voyeur’s nature. Often he is a man in the age between twenty and thirty[5]. He can but need not lead a marriage, but usually has a satisfactory sexual relationship. His needs and urges lead his behavior to a point where his social and professional life is affected[6]. That can be reflected in massive problems in his marriage or the lost of social contacts at all or the lost of his job. Based on research voyeurs tend to be the youngest or only children and they missed female company for example by a sister[7]. That lack of females effects that voyeurs had fewer girlfriends in later life[8]. So insecurity in relationships to women can be identified. That might be one reason why they get themselves into a position of power to the unsuspecting woman by observing them and controlling that whole situation. The peeper needs the excitement of the forbidden look and the concomitant risk, which is reflected in a high heart rate and intense sweating. That is why he can’t be satisfied by watching a strip show[9].


[1] Voyeur-Google-Suche- 14.10.2007 <>.

[2] Nathaniel McConaghy, Sexual Behaviour: Problems and Mangement (New York: Plenum Press, 1993), 306.

[3] McConaghy, 307.

[4] William B. Arndt, Jr., Gender Disorders And The Paraphilias (Madison: International Universities Press, Inc., 1991), 385.

[5] Rolf Baer, Psychatrie für Juristen (München: Beck, 1988), 82.

[6] Henning Saß (ed.), Diagnostisches Manual Psychischer Störungen DSM-IV (Göttingen: Hogrefe, 1998), 603.

[7] R. Spencer Smith, “Voyeurism: A Review of Literature”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 5, No. 6 (1976): 590.

[8] Smith, 591.

[9] Arndt, 384.

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The Issue of Voyeurism in T.C. Boyles Short Story “Peep Hall”
University of Bamberg
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Jan Erchinger (Author), 2007, The Issue of Voyeurism in T.C. Boyles Short Story “Peep Hall”, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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