Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stephen King's 'Women'

Stephen King apparently has a threefold cord binding and holding his female characters in place as creations of a unique mastermind. At least, to a point where their interests can be nailed on a definable subject.

King's female characters' association with their male vis-à-vises seems to spark off their  journey into the dark places of this world. Trouble trundles in either directly from the male characters (in many of these cases, their lovers/husbands) or is tied to their hanging around these menfolk.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course. You might find those (in any of King's novels) if you have a careful eye. The female characters featured here have their strengths and weaknesses which decided their outcomes in their peculiar situations. Mind you don't take these as the MC of the stories, some like Rose Daniels and Jessie Burlingame are, but most are major characters. This write-up points the strobelight on their peculiar qualities not the men in their lives and not the plot of the respective novels.

Rose Daniels (Rose Madder)
The MC (main character) in King's fantasy story, Rose Daniels married a psycho cop. Rosie endured Norman Daniels' (her husband) beatings for about fourteen years. But after realization dawns she may eventually get herself killed starring in the endless drama she breaks away from home.

She later remarries and her true altruistic nature which made her stick out fourteen years in a miserable marriage is brought to the fore. Rosie offers to rescue the baby of a woman she encounters in a parallel universe from a labyrinth guarded by a beast.

Winifred 'Wendy' Torrance (The Shining)
"Wendy is an extraordinary woman." These words made by her husband during an interview at the Overlook Hotel (setting of the novel) appropriately describe the character Wendy. Wendy is another female character who stayed strong by her man's side despite his shortcomings; Jack Torrance (her husband) was battling alcoholism and had inherited his father's temper (very bad temper).

When Jack threw a fit and unwittingly broke his son's arm, Wendy was there to call the hospital. When the "hotel" took possession of Jack's mind and turned him against his family, to save her's and her son's life, Wendy battled her husband and love found a way in the end.

The prototype bad nurse, Annie Wilkes is responsible for the deaths of over 100 old folks and infants. She happens to be the number one fan of the writer Paul Sheldon.

While a practicing nurse, Annie Wilkes assumes the role of god and maker and believes other people's right to life is her business. She has the right to decide who among the folks under her care lives or dies. She lives alone, is divorced and though arrested once in connection with the deaths for which she is responsible is never actually convicted. Her treatment of the sick and crippled Paul Sheldon reveals her oppressive and possessive state of mind towards the weak.

Odetta Susannah Holmes lost her legs when a sociopath pushed her in front of a subway train, meaning to kill her. She deals with this trauma by unconsciously creating a volatile other hidden in her brain. Each split personality is unaware of the others existence. The hidden woman calls herself 'Detta Walker.

The love of Eddie Dean (a major character in the ongoing series) makes the two personalities of Odetta and Detta to acknowledge each other and merge as one into Susannah Dean. As the two personalities compensate each other Susannah becomes a stronger and better woman.

Mary (Roadwork)
Mary marries Barton George Dawes after the couple discover she's pregnant with his child. She later suffers a miscarriage. She births another child by the same man, named Charlie but he dies of brain cancer a few years after. Mary's marriage takes a turn after this incident both parents unwilling to let go and come to terms with their situation.

Mary rarely smiles much after that. Even Dawes (husband) notes this fact. She might as well have been a zombie. With the marriage strained to breaking point, Dawes sabotaging of his company's purchase of a new facility was the icing on the cake. Mary leaves her husband and home for her parents'.

Cynthia Smith (Desperation)
The female hitchhiker who got picked up by a writer's roadie and got herself into a situation where she would have to fight for her sanity and her very life.

Cynthia left home at age seventeen and spent most of her time as a drifter. She finally settled down with a guy who pretended to be clean. He got hooked on crystal meth and beat up on her. She left him for a shelter. She told the roadie, Steve Ames that she had every reason to be careful of guys; one had nearly torn off her left ear and another had broken her nose not so long ago.

She was returning home to her father (a retired preacher) and her mother.

Elizabeth Eastlake (Duma Key)
The evil in the story uses Elizabeth's young mind and talent to get back into this world from the depths of the ocean and then unleashes terror on her family. With Liz's help, the evil spirit (called Persephone) is trapped in a jar of freshwater where her powers are weakened. 

Suffering from Alzheimer's and in her 80s, Liz is the one who 'senses' Persephone is regaining her powers in the pit where the jar is buried. She is struck dead at an art exhibition hosted by the MC, by two damned souls who appear in the image of her dead twins sisters. But not before she gives clues on how to destroy the wicked entity controlling the Key.

Jessie Burlingame (Gerald's Game)
To reinvigorate their tame and lame sex life, Jessie's husband, an otherwise successful lawyer devices a plan; handcuff Jessie to the bedpost and then initiate the act.

Jessie threw away her personal dreams to get married to Gerald for his money which should account for the mentioned lax in their sex life. The experience in the cabin lodge awakens a suppressed painful childhood memory. Jessie was sexually abused by her father when she was only ten. Jessie is almost a direct opposite of Mattie Devore from Bag of Bones. The death of Gerald (her husband) in the cabin is a kind of revenge on her father and Jessie is ready to start her life all over again(?)

Lisey Landon (Lisey's Story)
Lisey is stalked by psycho fans of her dead husband for the deceased manuscripts. One peculiar case is a guy who mutilates her to make her surrender her husband's literary property.

She faces the odds head on to keep the warmth of their love going. Despite her husband's family's dirty past; Scott Landon's father killed his son and Scott had to kill his father to contain an incurable insanity that was gaining on him. She is dedicated to the memory of her late husband a famous and successful novelist. Scott has a special ability, the power to transport himself to another world. Eventually, Lisey inherits this gift and with it saves herself from the maniacs who stalk her.

Mattie Devore (Bag of Bones)
Mattie is a twenty-one-year-old, widowed mother of a little girl. She is involved in a custody battle with her billionaire father-in-law. Despite the strange circumstances in which we find Mattie, she's never had one sleepless night over her dilemma. She is unbelievably optimistic and fond of Kyra, her daughter.

Another great quality of Mattie's is her self-reliance which is initially put to the test when Max Devore (her father-in-law) offers to pay her off for custody of Kyra. Mattie refuses instantly. Secondly, after she is fired from work, a direct follow up of her custody battle  with Max Devore, Mike Noonan has to force Mattie to take his money. She is killed in a drive-by shooting after the end of the custody battle.

From widows (Lisey Landon) confronting the dark night to married women (Jessie Burlingame) battling their husbands/lovers and then pan to single women (Annie Wilkes) who lust for independence. Does Stephen King follow a set pattern when creating his female characters or are these mere coincidences? You decide. Check what happens to the couples in these stories: The Dark Half (the details are in the first pages of The Sun Dog); Secret Window; Dolores Claiborne; The Langoliers and so on.

Keep your pen bleeding.


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