Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

Brief Intro

“Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels” (1975), directed by Chantal Akerman, is a groundbreaking film that intricately details the mundane routine of a widowed housewife, Jeanne Dielman. Through its meticulous pacing and minimalist style, the film delves into themes of domesticity, identity, and the crushing weight of routine. Akerman’s cinematic masterpiece is celebrated for its innovative narrative techniques and its profound examination of the female experience.

Literary Devices Used in Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s daily cooking routineRepresents the repetitive and monotonous nature of her life.
The apartment’s claustrophobic settingSymbolizes Jeanne’s confined and restricted existence.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s methodical choresSymbols of her attempt to maintain control and order.
The peeling potatoes sceneRepresents the peeling away of Jeanne’s facade and internal struggle.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s daily activities shown repeatedlyEmphasizes the monotony and predictability of her life.
Jeanne’s interactions with her son, SylvainHighlights the lack of emotional connection and routine in their relationship.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s meticulous routine contrasted with the final act of violenceHighlights the irony of her controlled life leading to an uncontrollable outcome.
The facade of a perfect housewifeContrasted with her secret life as a prostitute.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Domestic chores versus moments of silent contemplationHighlights the tension between appearance and inner life.
Jeanne’s orderly life contrasted with the chaos of her final breakdownEmphasizes the underlying instability.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s increasing agitation in small tasksForeshadows her eventual breakdown.
The broken button sceneHints at the unraveling of Jeanne’s controlled life.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The recurring use of mirrorsReflects Jeanne’s self-perception and isolation.
The blue dishwashing glovesA motif symbolizing domestic labor and entrapment.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Detailed shots of Jeanne’s hands performing choresCreates vivid imagery of her routine and meticulousness.
The visual contrast of light and shadow in her apartmentEnhances the mood of confinement and suffocation.


Movie SceneDevice Example
References to traditional gender rolesAlludes to societal expectations of women in the 1970s.
The portrayal of Jeanne’s life as a ‘domestic goddess’Alludes to the myth of the perfect housewife.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Jeanne’s entire routineServes as an allegory for the oppression and invisibility of women’s labor.
The final act of violenceRepresents the breaking point of societal pressures.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Jeanne Dielman

RepetitionJeanne’s repetitive daily routine underscores her monotonous existence.
SymbolismHer meticulous chores symbolize her attempt to control her environment.
ImageryDetailed shots of her hands create a vivid image of her routine and order.
ForeshadowingSmall signs of agitation foreshadow her eventual breakdown.

Sylvain Dielman

IronyHis interactions with Jeanne highlight the ironic distance in their relationship.
JuxtapositionHis youthful freedom contrasted with Jeanne’s constrained life.
AllusionReferences to traditional mother-son dynamics emphasize their strained bond.
ImageryVisual contrasts between his carefree nature and Jeanne’s burdened demeanor.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionJeanne’s interactions with others versus her solitary moments.
IronyJeanne’s facade of control contrasted with her internal chaos.
ForeshadowingThe subtle changes in Jeanne’s behavior hint at her breaking point.
AllegoryThe relationship dynamics serve as an allegory for societal roles and expectations.

Thematic Analysis


SymbolismThe apartment as a symbol of Jeanne’s confinement.
ImageryThe claustrophobic shots within the apartment enhance the theme of entrapment.


MetaphorJeanne’s routine as a metaphor for her lost identity.
AllusionReferences to traditional gender roles highlight her struggle with identity.


RepetitionThe repetitive scenes emphasize the monotony of Jeanne’s life.
ForeshadowingSmall disruptions in her routine foreshadow the eventual breakdown.


MotifThe recurring use of mirrors reflects Jeanne’s isolation and self-perception.
JuxtapositionThe contrast between Jeanne’s solitary moments and interactions with others.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
RepetitionLong takesEmphasize the monotony and duration of Jeanne’s daily routine.
ImageryDetailed close-upsCreate vivid imagery of Jeanne’s meticulous tasks.
SymbolismMinimalist set designSymbolizes Jeanne’s confined and controlled existence.
JuxtapositionLighting contrastsHighlight the tension between appearance and inner turmoil.
IronySound design (silence)The use of silence to highlight the ironic calm before the storm.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Jeanne’s Daily Routine

YouTube Link: Jeanne’s Routine

Scene Breakdown:

  • Literary Devices: Repetition, Symbolism
  • Explanation: This scene showcases Jeanne’s daily routine, emphasizing the repetitive nature of her life. The meticulous chores symbolize her attempt to maintain control and order.

Scene 2: The Peeling Potatoes

YouTube Link: Peeling Potatoes

Scene Breakdown:

  • Literary Devices: Metaphor, Imagery
  • Explanation: The act of peeling potatoes metaphorically represents Jeanne’s peeling away of her facade. The detailed imagery of her hands enhances the sense of routine and control.

Scene 3: The Final Act

YouTube Link: Final Act

Scene Breakdown:

  • Literary Devices: Irony, Foreshadowing
  • Explanation: The final act of violence is ironic, contrasting with Jeanne’s previously controlled demeanor. Foreshadowing throughout the film hints at this breaking point.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

Test Your Knowledge:

  1. What literary device is used to emphasize the monotony of Jeanne’s life?
  2. How does the use of silence in the film contribute to the literary devices?
  3. Which theme is highlighted by the claustrophobic setting of Jeanne’s apartment?
    • A) Identity
    • B) Routine
    • C) Confinement
    • D) Isolation