The Role of Women in Horror

1440 Words6 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 stories portray them as simple, one-dimensional characters, weak and unable to help themselves, they evolve into more complex and eventually pushing through the damsel in distress mantra into the complex villain or hero. As the evolution of women begins, the first example that needs to be studied is Charles Perrault’s “Blue Beard,” which was one of the first major horror stories written back in 1680. The short story focuses on the decision of a woman to marry her wealthier neighbor. This decision is difficult, because he is seen as an unusual man with a very distinctive beard that has a blue shading; thus, the name of the story. As the story continues, Blue Beard’s wife moves in and lives along her new husband he informs her that “was obliged to take a country journey for six weeks at least, about affairs of very great consequence (Perrault).” Therefore, in his absence, he wanted her to have her friends over to amuse her in his absence. He gave her one rule, though and that was not to go to the little closet in the back. Upon his return, he d... ... middle of paper ... ...d Ruth is finally seen, when the cover up begins shortly after Frank is reported missing. The officers are looking at Frank being boiled, but the cook, Big George, refuses to admit his involvement (Flagg, 208-209). This power over men shows the final transition in the horror genre. The roles have been completely reversed since “Blue Beard.” Idgie has become both the hero, by protecting her lifelong friend, and the villain, by murdering and boiling a man. The transition in women’s roles in horror stories and the genre itself is a long and overdue process. Today society regards men and women more equal than ever before. The transition from Perrault to Flagg demonstrates that horror has evolved from a genre that portrays women as weak, and dutifully obedient to giving them positions of authority over men, who will cater to their commands, without supernatural powers.
Open Document