Analyzing the Theme of Femininity in the 1940 Movie "His Girl Friday"

Essay, 2016

3 Pages, Grade: 98


Analyzing the Theme of Femininity in His Girl Friday 1940 Movie


The film, His Girl Friday, which is directed by Howard Hawks, highlights femininity and masculinity in the society. The film challenges the traditional values and their depiction of gendered roles. It illustrates a tolerant range of sexual values that influence the thinking towards male dominance, gender politics, and female inequality in the society. It also explores equality between the sexes as opposed to exploitation that emanates from societal values. It is evident from the film that one can achieve political-sexual parity using intelligence and socio-economic independence. However, striking a balance between the customary expectations and personal goals is not easy due to challenges in identifying the right path.

Gender politics remains a controversial matter, especially in the modern civilization. The issue emanates from the social revolution regarding the portrayal of women and gender-centered roles. His Girl Friday reflects the conflicts and challenges that women face due to traditional norms and collective values. Hildy embraces femininity as she accepts the traditional principles, but seeks to ensure personal success (Hawks, 1942). It is also evident that success for women is sometimes jeopardized by values and norms in the society. Often, stereotypes in the society make it difficult for women to realize their personal goals. For instance, making a decision on whether to leave the newspaper business to start a family was not easy for Hildy. Feminism and women remain critical issues in the modern world. Men are slowly appreciating the need to empower women as a means to achieve their goals as well as enhance equality.

Thesis Statement: Women fail to realize their professional and life goals owing to the stereotypes about their abilities and the traditional perspective on gender-centered values in the society.

Scene 1

Hildy is seen as ‘one of the boys’ in the film, although she is a woman, with a reporter referring to her as ‘Hildegard’. Male colleagues have accepted to treat her as a man due to his attitudes and actions. At one point, they invite her to participate in a poker game, which was a reserve for men. However, they assert that Hildy was not competent enough to triumph in a male-dominated field. Her competence is not a threat to reporters. Like many other women, she undergoes pain and struggles in a male-dominated community (Hawks, 1942). Often, men feel threatened by powerful and successful women in the society. As such, they devise ways to clip the authority of women, including stereotyping.

His Girl Friday is a progressive film that shows a compassionate and likable woman who chooses to engage in achieving personal goals. She bypasses the traditional role and depiction of women. Over time, she takes ‘man roles’ without losing her femininity. However, Walter appears masculine; hence, has a controlling attitude and authority. He is sincere and passionate about his actions without losing his authority as a man (Hawks, 1942). The film reinforces the traditional thinking about masculinity and femininity. Female professionalism and femininity remain unrivaled in the current society. It is for the reason above that women continue to advocate for better treatment and access to opportunities.

Nonetheless, social systems and inherent characteristics jeopardize their efforts to encounter gender-based challenges. Men for lack of qualified and willing women to undertake roles in the society dominate social systems. Natural abilities also form critical consideration in the articulation of issues and activities. Often, women’s emotional honesty affects their decisions and choices in life. Men will sometimes hide their real emotions due to stereotyping. However, there are women in the society who engage in deeds and activities that are challenge the traditional thinking about gender. In the film, Hildy is said to think faster than most men where she gets the latest news faster than other people (Hawks, 1942).

Scene 2

In another scene, Walter shows significant discount for essential masculinity elements. The notion is seen where he takes Bruce’s family to dinner. Walter sits between the couple after which he uses Hildy’s match to light a cigarette although he does not offer it to Bruce (Hawks, 1942). The issue is not any different in the current society where male moves towards enhancing their masculinity even in the presence of other men. The contest for male power is evident amongst people.

When Walter gets Bruce arrested, it takes efforts from Hildy to have him released. She appears to have a great relationship with men although they have opinionated views about her. In the pressroom, for instance, men gossiped that Hildy could not go for months without working (Hawks, 1942). As such, Hildy considered that men had strayed from their roles and masculine ideas. The few powerful who challenge the traditional thinking about gender are viewed as threats to men. Often, they act as advocates of women empowerment and equality in the modern society. The society has opportunities that benefit both men and women. It takes courage, goals, and determination of an individual to achieve positive outcomes.

His Girl Friday has few sets than the original play, The Front Page. It has an overlapping dialogue with fast-talking newspaper people. Moreover, the camera movement is appropriate with significant consideration of the rules. It is also noteworthy that the plot has the core elements of romance to the amusement of the audience. The film is un-cinematic where gags/minute ratio is high making the audience miss some of the views. Feminism is a major theme in the movie. Right from the beginning, the film suggests that a woman can achieve success in a male-dominated world. The film lacks cinematic flourish, but the issue does not deter its greatness in addressing the theme. The film also utilizes the auteur theory where the plot is a reflection of the director’s creative vision.


Hawks, H. (1942, Jan. 11). His Girl Friday. YouTube. Retrieved from


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Analyzing the Theme of Femininity in the 1940 Movie "His Girl Friday"
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analyzing, theme, femininity, movie, girl, friday
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Selina Kolls (Author), 2016, Analyzing the Theme of Femininity in the 1940 Movie "His Girl Friday", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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