The Role Of Women In Horror

1793 words - 8 pages

Horror literature has been around since as long as man has been on earth. While usually in the form of ghost stories, many have often told stories orally, or on paper, to play on the horrors and darkest fears that we as humans face. While large populations of people do not like the horror genre, some get a satisfaction or enjoyment at looking at some of their worst fears being played out in front of them via a book or movie. As the stories have advanced through history and been examined and read through many different lenses both by history and literature experts, one aspects remains to be examined, and that is the changing role on of women in the story. While many of the early stories early ...view middle of the document...

The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband, and had not strength enough to rise and welcome her brothers.”
This summation is crucial to understand the power structure and dynamics between the sexes and their prescribed roles during this era of horror genre. Blue does an excellent job in showing how women are portrayed. As the story begins, the reflection of societal norms during the 1600s is apparent. The woman has very little almost no control over her future life as a domesticated woman, unable to choose a different path but the home. While she must stay put, the husband is allowed to travel and move freely as he wishes. The woman is trapped in her home, so naturally she explores the expansive size. In addition, the role can be explored in terms of his rules of the house. Blue Beard disallows his wife to even venture into a part of the house that they now share. This also is a reflection of how societal roles were reflected in Perrault’s story.
Furthermore, exploring the wife’s character itself shows the role of women in horror for the period. The wife is described as obedient, to a point, and weak, and in need of men taking care of her. When Blue Beard makes his departure, he warns the wife to heed his command to avoid the back closet of the house. His wife obeys this command until the very end of the short story. When she does disobey, several portrayals of her emerge. The first portrayal is as similar to that of a child breaking house rules, like when the author notes was she approached and began opening the closet door, “considering what unhappiness might attend her if she was disobedient; but the temptation was so strong that she could not overcome it (Perrault).” This characterization demotes her from a woman to a child-like status. Her thoughts are those similar to what a child would have before breaking the law. The next characterization of the wife by Perrault is that of the old archetype of a damsel in distress. As Blue Beard becomes enraged, he threatens and means to kill his wife before of her failure to comply by his rules. Trapped in her new house, with her husband brandishing a sword, she looks for rescue, “to the top of the tower, and look if my brothers are not coming, (Perrault)” she begs her sister, whom also needs saving from Blue Beard by the male characters. This damsel in distress, which has been adopted throughout many years, shows women as dependent on what society viewed as stronger males and without their support, would perish.
As the novels move through history, another novel that many literature professionals focus on is Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula in which gender roles plays a major theme throughout the book. Dracula was written in the Victorian age, which is named after Queen Victoria, who reigned over England during this period. This period is marked by years of social modesty and extreme sexual restraint in society. While there may have been social restraint, many of the works of literature written had...

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