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Gender Representation in Vicar Of Dibley

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Sitcoms as a whole rely heavily on stereotypes and the best way of showing these are through varying degrees of stereotypical character. One of the main stereotypes of a character are through how the different genders are represented. For example stereotypically, females are shown as very affectionate and loving, whereas men as seen to be much more hardy and solitary. I am going to be analysing how the different genders are represented in this sitcom, and see how this affects the audience and their views.

One of the first things I noticed in Vicar or Dibley, is that all of the men in it are represented as quite odd, with the only normal character being Geraldine, who is a woman. Take for example David Horton, who is a very pompous and old fashioned gentleman. Even though on the surface he seems normal, his constant trying to reinforce his masculinity makes he seem like a desperate man. Cecil as well, is a very strange character, void of any stereotype, other than that of a “weirdo.” There are of course female characters who are odd, such as Alice, but the only normal character in my opinion is Geraldine.

Going onto separate character’s and how they are presented in this program, each character has traits, making them stereotypical, but often they also break the rules and have other attributes which make them counter-stereotypical. Alice is portrayed as a classic female stereotype, “the Female Blonde” which she plays up to. Geraldine on the other hand seems to have many masculine qualities, such as that of a fearless leader. She does however sometimes lapse into a very feminine character in certain situations, for example when a love interest is involved, i.e. Tristan. When she is around him, she falls into quite a stereotype of a young girl, giggling and cracking immature jokes.

David is a very masculine character. This is shown through the various mise-en-scene he has, such of his house, which is littered with masculine paraphernalia, such as a gun hanging on the wall, and the door having a stained glass image of a lion holding an axe. These are quite violent and powerful imaged, which all have manly connotations of strength and power. Also the way he dresses tells something about him. He always wears very proper clothes, such as a tie and suit. Even when he is shown in the comfort of his own home, he continues to wear these very uncomfortable and elegant clothes. Even though he has all of these very masculine qualities, he is often ridiculed for being quite effeminate, such as when Geraldine and Tristan joke about John Inman and David has to reassure his masculinity by saying how he is going off to watch some wrestling, a very masculine sport. Another point to David’s gender representation is when they are talking about Newsnight. David goes home on certain evenings to watch Newsnight. This is quite stereotypical as men often watch factual documentary programs, which is what Newsnight is.

In many ways we can draw parallels between David and Geraldine in that they both change from their normal characteristics around love interests. As I said before, Geraldine becomes much more feminine, changing from her previous masculine appearance. David, however changes in a different way, being that he tries to act far younger than he is. For example when he is speaking to Hugo about bringing home a girl he asks him to act much “cooler” and younger when she is there.

We can also look at Geraldine’s house to see how gender is portrayed through her surroundings. Unlike David, Geraldine’s house is not covered in masculine objects, even though she does mostly have quite masculine qualities. Her house shows her feminine side, with it being much more cosy and less industrial than David’s. It is covered in curtains, and lots of lights, as well as having a warm and soft sofa. It is almost as if Geraldine puts on her masculinity for show, but when she is in the comfort of her own home, or when she is trying to impress someone of the opposite sex, her true colours come through, which are her girl-like characteristics. Another thing about their 2 houses are the cleanliness/order of them. David’s house is very organised and clean, almost like a hospital ward. Geraldine’s on the other hand is far more disorganised, not dirty, but more cosy. This reflects her gender, by showing her as more approachable and warmer, than David’s cool and hard exterior.

The camera work also shows various representations of gender, for example in the final scene, where they are all sitting down watching the episode on the television, you can see that David has put himself in the middle of the group, trying to show off his masculinity, by being the center of attention. He does this at the council meetings as well, positioning himself in the middle.

Through these many mediums, gender is represented in different ways, and as shown, they don’t always follow the classic sitcom rules. Females have masculine qualities, whereas many male characters are portrayed far more feminine then would be in a classical representation of a sitcom.

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