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(Terrible) Mother's day

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Joan -CrawfordAnother Mother’s day approaches, In previous posts we’ve delved into the history of mother’s day and favourite cake recipes amongst other things.

This year in an attempt to put any problems you’ve had with maternal figures in your life into perspective we’ve put a rogues gallery of some of the worst Mother’s appearing in Literature and Film.

Terrifying Mother stories in Literature

There have been a number of terrifying Mothers in film and literature - it just seems that the mother, traditionally the primary caregiver, has further to fall in the intimacy stakes so often give better dramatic contrast from the norm (nobody’s going to get that surprised if a Father occasionally sticks their foot in it).

Literature website electricliterature.com has a whole page dedicated to some of the worst (or best?) mothers in fiction which is well worth a look - they include;

Margaret White from Carrie
Whether you’re familiar with Stephen King’s book or the later film adaptations Carrie’s mum, whilst not necessarily deserving everything she gets (ending up like a psychokinetic pin-cushion) was certainly difficult to live with.

From suspecting her daughter of being a witch from birth, locking her in a “prayer closet” for hours and seeing the development of breasts as something only happening to “lose women” she’s every teenage girls worst nightmare.

Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice
Obviously Jane Austen’s depiction of a horrible mother is a little more restrained than King’s, but arguably Mrs. Bennet is every bit as horrible.

To make herself feel better Mrs.Bennett is perfectly willing to connive her daughter Elizabeth into marrying an unsuitable suitor (Mr.Collins) - her meddling crossing a line from “mother concerned with daughter’s future” to “enforced slavery”.

Cathy Ames in East of Eden
John Steinbeck sets the bar pretty low for Cathy in his book East of Eden.

Often considered to represent Eve (introducing sin into the world, letting Adam nicely off the hook), Cathy is a prostitute, murderer and brothel owner, abandoning her kids actually turned out to be one of the better mothering decisions she made!

Terrifying Mother stories in Movies

Having mentioned Carrie, we’ve already looked at one of the most famous bad Mum’s in the movies.  But there are plenty of other’s to choose from, here are some we found on Entertainment Weekly.

Mrs. Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Playing against her usual type of character, Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Iselin is chilling as a mother who, not happy with her son being a traumatised war veteran, is fully on-board with his subsequent brainwashing for political ends.

Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Iselin memorably demonstrated, decades before Homeland, that sometimes the greatest threat is right at home.

Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest (1981)
Joan Crawford (Pictured seated behind Bette Davis in the photo for this post) has gone down in history as one of the worst mum’s in Hollywood - adoptive mother to Christina.

If even half of what Joan (played by Faye Dunaway) inflicts on her daughter in this movie happened then she’s more scared than most movie monsters.

Norma Bates Mum, Psycho (1960)
Maybe the scariest movie mum is Norman Bate’s mum - hilariously called Norma.  And she manages this without even being alive, or, even real.

She only appears at the end of the film as a dried up cadaver - but she is the driving force behind Norman’s murderous exploits and one can only imagine the tyrannical hold she had over his life when she was alive!

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By Alastair Baker at 7 Mar 2019, 00:00 AM