Black Swan and White Swan

Black Swan employs many mirror scenes to illustrate how Nina struggles with her dual identity: the white swan and the black swan. In mirror you are supposed to see yourselves, but often Nina doesn’t see herself when she looks at the mirror. She is seeing her black swan counterpart. It is a common technique to illustrate bipolarity, I guess. The figure of Lily also serves similar function in the film. Lily, after all, is her doppelgänger for the role of the Swan Queen and she is also the projection of Nina’s alter ego. But Black Swan also adds another symbol to convey this idea: masturbation.

Nina is obsessed with masturbation and it functions similarly with the mirror. Masturbation, in this case, replaces ‘proper’ sex. Sex is supposed to be acted by two persons. Masturbation, on the other hand, collapses these multiplicity and replaces it by single agency. In masturbation scenes, we see two-yet-one Ninas, the white swan and the black swan, in action. Similarly, yet differently. In mirror scenes, Nina is one and becomes two. In masturbation scenes, Nina is two and becomes one.

(Lily, indeed, appeared in one of Nina’s masturbatory episodes where she fantasized making love with Lily although actually she was sexually arousing herself.)


2 thoughts on “Black Swan and White Swan

  1. pedro

    Not too sure about your reading of the character of Nina in Black Swan. I think she engaged (not so much indulged) in masturbation, under the persuasion of the ballet director. As much as she desires to be able to play the role of Black Swan, I think she discovered masturbation, rather than indulged in it.

    By the way, I was quite disturbed watching Black Swan, rather than a psychological thriller, it was a horror movie for me! ;>

    1. septian Post author

      I think you are quite right about it. Perhaps I could say it better by noting that Nina became to be indulged in it, as her black swan identity grew stronger and stronger. The escalating intensity of her masturbatory episodes correlates with the growing discovery of her black-swan-ness.

      Haha true. At some points, as we are on this topic of being and becoming, it could become a horror movie for some!


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