Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Christina Lane

Second Committee Member

William Rothman

Third Committee Member

John Soliday


The work of iconic film director Stanley Kubrick is generally studied in terms of visual style and its reliance on male protagonists. Looking past the traditional focal points, one is able to examine the truly fascinating female protagonists that inhabit these dark worlds. By uncovering three distinct types of women included in the filmography of Stanley Kubrick: the instigator, the victim, and the empowered, I have reasoned that the director evolved alongside these female characters as his career advanced. Focusing on the instigating nature of the women in his early films, I have showcased how these individuals held powerful grips over the men in their lives, leading to violent outcomes. The victims in Kubrick’s work reside primarily in the mid-portion of his career, and are shown as reactionary examples of femininity in response to an overpowering androcentric world. Finally, the empowered Alice in Eyes Wide Shut showcases Kubrick’s evolution by featuring a woman with agency, who is not reactionary in any way. Alice is capable of making her own decisions based on her own desires and need for change. The evolution of Kubrick as a director can be traced alongside the transformation of his female characters, highlighting the true importance of these individuals in seemingly male driven works.


Stanley Kubrick; Gender; Nicole Kidman; Feminist Theory; Eyes Wide Shut