Whore, Horror, and History: How Monstrous Women in Horror are Defined by the Monsters Before Them
Bachelor of Arts
Whore, Horror, and History looks at how the portrayal of women in the horror novels Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Haunting of Hill House impacts societal expectations of gender and furthers gender stereotypes. Specifically, it takes a look at how women often serve as horrific mothers in Horror and, consequently, are victimized by their womanhood. Moreover, Whore, Horror, and History looks at how generational traumas of womanhood and motherhood in the horror genre are passed down to daughters, perpetuating the cycle of monstrosities. It is important to assess how literature can impact the view of women and can shape how society interprets the role of women, particularly in high-pressure scenarios. The ways that popular literature can affect opinions and values, as well as how the portrayal of women in horror reflects toxic maternal relationships, can provide insight into the role of literature in society and how it reflects and creates relationships between women. Furthermore, the progression of the genre’s portrayal of women is important to look at, as it could illustrate the empowerment of female horror characters throughout the years, as well as how portrayals still fall short. The research question, then, is how does popular horrific literature portray women, and how does that portrayal affirm or perpetuate stereotypes and expectations of women? Moreover, how does it reflect the generational traumas women experience? The research in Whore, Horror, and History concludes that women in several popular horror novels are portrayed as terrorizing mother-figures and often play the victim role within the novel, due to their role as mother and as woman, and reveals how victimhood and monsterhood are often inherited, being passed down from woman to woman from both a lack of support and a hope to transcend the abjection of time and of death.
Cash, Mattox, "Whore, Horror, and History: How Monstrous Women in Horror are Defined by the Monsters Before Them" (2021). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 219.
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