Friday, June 26, 2015

Ten of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction

At io9 Esther Inglis-Arkell tagged the ten most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, including:
Joanna Eberhart from The Stepford Wives

As divorce became more prevalent and less damaging, the “wife in the attic and body in the basement” domestic Gothics became less common. There was no practical reason to murder your wife, and so The Stepford Wives, an early “suburban gothic” novel, came up with an ideological reason to murder your wife.

Joanna Eberhart moves to Stepford with her husband Walter and their two children. The move is traumatic, and only gets more so as Joanna becomes estranged from her husband when he joins the local men’s club and loses her friends when they succumb one by one to suburban domestic bliss. Soon, she begins to realize something awful is going on, and it’s likely something to do with the fact that the head of the men’s club builds robots for Disneyland. If that sounds crazy to you, it sounds just as crazy to Joanna, who allows herself to be led to the house of her newly Stepfordized friend. This friend will demonstrate that Stepford women bleed, and will do so with a conveniently large knife. In the epilogue we are treated to Walter’s new Joanna wandering around and his old Joanna nowhere in sight.

Lesson: Don’t call your kid Joanna. Joannas never make it through a Gothic novel alive.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Stepford Wives also appears among Matt Haig's ten favorite fictional robots and Kit Whitfield's top ten genre-defying novels.

--Marshal Zeringue