Being pregnant is supposed to be a joyous time, right? Rosemary is trying to enjoy her new life at a swank exclusive apartment, along with the excitement of becoming a new mom. But everything around her is off. Between her husband’s changed behavior, suffocating neighbors, and a series of unfortunate events, Rosemary starts to piece together a shocking horrible plan for her… and her baby.
I have a high tolerance when it comes to ‘scary things’ in media, so for horror books I look more for certain feelings evoked. Drawing out ideas and fears that leave you feeling bare and exposed. And Rosemary’s Baby about gave me a panic attack.
One of my biggest fears is having something catastrophic happen to me or those around me and have no one believe me. Especially the one who’s supposed to love you the most. Levin does a great job of capturing and displaying the deep fears women have about their relationships with their partners.
For Stepford Wives, it wasn’t the idea that men unhappy with their wives would want an ‘upgrade’ that was shocking, it was that men who loved their beautiful, complex wives would still want a “perfect” (and easy) version.
In Rosemary’s Baby, young and naive Rosemary trades her rural family and religion for her progressive (in the 60’s) life in New York with her new husband, Guy, an actor. Before any fantastical elements enter the story Rosemary has already made a ‘deal with the devil’ and depends on Guy wholeheartedly.
While reading other reviews, I notice that many seem unsympathetic towards Rosemary. Maybe because she comes off as materialistic and naive? I think Levin did a great job creating Rosemary, whether you very her sympathetic or not. This is a story about how a young woman is trying to move away from the man she has latched on to, but society makes it hard for her to move away, especially with her being pregnant.
Once Guy’s motivations are revealed, it’s crystal clear the huge mistake Rosemary has made, and he not only violates her emotionally and mentally, but physically. I know the term ‘gas lighting’ is used a lot nowadays but the relationship between Rosemary and Guy is textbook.
This paired with Rosemary’s pregnancy made me deeply sympathetic towards her and everything she goes through. Pregnancy is already scary business and I just wanted to rush in so many times to defend her and take her away. This is when the panic started to set in.
Everything heightens, rushing towards an ending that is sadly inevitable. I didn’t find it surprising (probably with how much the movie is in popular culture), but still devastating. I’m not sure how others have interpreted the ending, but it seems that after months of gaslighting and being persuaded to put her best interests aside, Rosemary makes a decision to seemingly continue down that path. The question is, is it of her own free will, or the pressures around her?
2 thoughts on “Review: Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin”
I read it years back but thinking about it gives me the shivers still. It is sad that the sequel was such a bummer.
You have an interesting blog, glad to have discovered it.
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Thank you so much! Yeah, this book still gets me too.