Stanley Cavell identified a genre of classic American films that engaged these questions in his study of comedies of remarriage, "Pursuits of Happiness". With "Contesting Tears", Cavell demonstrates that a contrasting genre, which he calls "the melodrama of the unknown woman," shares a surprising number and weave of concerns with those comedies. Cavell provides close readings of four melodramas he finds definitive of the genre: "Letter from an Unknown Woman", "Gaslight", "Now Voyager", and "Stella Dallas".
Stanley Cavell is the Walter M. Cabot Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value at Harvard University and the author of many books. These include "Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome", " In Quest of the Ordinary", and "Themes out of School", all published by the University of Chicago Press.