Same Women, Altered Autonomy: A Close Look at the Perception of Power in Carol

  • Alexandria Jennings Youngstown State University
Keywords: Queer Theory


Todd Haynes’s 2015 cinematic production, Carol, largely based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, The Price of Salt, offers a glimpse into the complicated relationship of a conflicted housewife, Carol Aird, and twenty-something, seasonal retail worker and aspiring photographer, Therese Belevit. In this article, I will identify the power dynamic between Carol and Therese and illustrate the major character transformations that take place. Both Carol and Therese’s metamorphosis can be identified through close analysis of mise en scene throughout the film, specifically in the restaurant scene. This scene occurs twice. The first time the scene is shown, it is from Therese’s point of view, and the second, through Carol’s. Through slight alteration of camera angle and reframing, alternate perspectives are offered. I suggest this scene was repeated because Haynes wanted to amplify the drastic shifts in the characters’ autonomy. In the second iteration, the viewer’s perception of both Carol and Therese is altered. The shots from the scene I will analyze occur inside a restaurant, where Carol and Therese are sitting alone at a table.