Black Swan: My Interpretation Of The Metaphors

When I first heard about this film I was intrigued by the story line. And after Natalie Portman had won an Oscar for her role, I thought it must be worth watching. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who directed The Wrestler and numerous other films.

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After watching this film I was amazed and fascinated by the psychological theme, although there are metaphors involved my focus this time is on the psychology of the film. And the psychology involved is primarily about abuse and the consequences of it black lives matter t-shirt.

These psychological aspects and metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors and psychological aspects are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view.

This will also mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. If there are parts that I don’t understand myself, that will also be a reason as to why it has not been mentioned. it will not be like a story board where I will describe the whole story.

So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin.

The Dream And Her Mother

The film starts off with Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) having a dream about being the black swan. This shows how strongly she wants to achieve this. As it has become so consuming to her that she is not only thinking about it in her waking life, but also during the time when she is asleep. The unconscious mind is displaying this great need of hers.

We are also shown that he mother – Erica (Barbara Hershey) is heavily involved in her daughter’s life. However this could mean two things; that her mother is deeply caring and supportive or that her mother masks her self-centredness through her acts of ‘kindness’ and ‘concern’.

First Rehearsal

During the first rehearsal we are shown how competitive and cold some of the girls are. It is here that Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) first appears. Here he talks about their next production – Swan Lake. This is a story of Duality; of the good and the bad.

She is one of the dancers that have been chosen to audition for the lead role of Swan Lake and this also allows her dream to grow in the real world.

Nina’s Character

Nina comes across as a timid and shy individual, which would infer that her mother is more likely to be controlling and overbearing as opposed to being truly loving and supportive of her daughters expression as a separate human being.


Nina’s audition doesn’t go to plan. Her portrayal of the white swan is perfect, but her dancing for the black swan is not up to Thomas Leroy’s standard. This is partly because of being interrupted by lily’s (Mila Kunis) arrival. We can see that Nina is putting herself under immense pressure and strain to perform and having lily arrive at such an important time further ads to her troubled disposition.

Speaking To Thomas

Nina wants to prove to Thomas that she has what it takes to play; not only the white swan, but also the Black swan. The conversation covers Nina’s need for perfection and how she has to let go and ‘transcend’ this need in order to become the black swan.

This could be interpreted in numerous ways. Firstly It could be that she had a highly critical upbringing, which has lead her to feel that she is inherently not good enough. This causes her to experience high levels of anxiety and stress whenever she has to perform. For is she was to get something wrong she would feel rejected and possibly even be rejected externally by others, as this is what happened to her as a child.

So by doing everything perfectly she believes that she will be accepted. The mind works in polarity’s and will see it as either being accepted or rejected; there is no middle ground to the ego mind. However she is finding out that perfection is not what Thomas wants to see.

Thomas wants to see her lose herself in the moment and to become the black swan. If we were to look at the black and white swan as metaphors, it is quite clear that the white swan represents all that is pure and innocent and the black swan represents all that is impure and tainted; the darker side of life.

So then, it is as if Nina is being asked to become and embrace that part of her that she runs way from, that part of her that has been rejected for so long. Acceptable and not acceptable ways of behaving have been defined by her mother.

Swan Queen

Nina finds out that she is the swan queen. She experiences mixed emotions by this though, as she feels good and rejected at the same time. Her fellow dancers express different things. Some are supportive and some are vengeful.

Nina Returns Home

Overjoyed by the news, Nina returns home to her mother (Barbara Hershey). Here her mother has a cake ready to celebrate her daughter’s success.

The good feeling soon end as her mother seems to have what could be called narcissistic or self centred tendencies. She is more concerned with pleasing herself than tuning into and recognising her daughter’s needs. Nina doesn’t want to eat due to her stomach pain and I am sure that with being a dancer she also has to watch how much she eats.

At this point the roles are reversed with the daughter acting more like the mother and the mother acting like the daughter. It should be a time for the mother to appreciate her daughters’ success, but it ends with the Nina’s trying to appease her mother.

Nina’s soon gives in to her mother, to avoid being rejected and goes along with her mother’s wish to eat the cake.

Leroy’s House

Nina goes back to Leroy’s apartment, with their relationship taking on a somewhat sexual direction. It could be said that she now has two people who are taking advantage of her timid nature. On one side she has a mother who is more than happy to compromise her boundaries and now she has a man in her life that is now doing the same.

And by compromising for her mother she gains her approval and by compromising for Leroy she achieves her dreams.

Back At Home

Nina returns home and soon after her mother is helping her to undress. Where she finds Nina’s cut on her back. Her mother accuses her daughter of scratching herself again. And then cites the recent pressure she has been under as the cause of the scratching.

What is not looked at is the amount of pressure she has been putting on her daughter as a result of her own self centred behaviour. Anger if often the result of being compromised; this could be real compromise or perceived compromise. And when the skin is irritable it can be the result of repressed anger or frustration. So her mother could be partly responsible for her daughter’s sore skin.

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