Weekly Booktalk: Oh baby, get the Rosemary ready

A while ago I found this book in my dad’s bookcase. Before that I didn’t realize it was a book, I knew of the movie (never saw it though), and just never thought it was based on a book. How ignorant of me! Anyway, since I’d heard of the movie (more specifically of Mia Farrow’s haircut on ANTM) I needed to read it asap. So I did!

I think pretty much everybody knows the basics of the story: A girl named Rosemary is married to a guy named Guy, who is a struggling actor, and moves into the Bramford. Here they meet the Castavets, a strange elderly couple and life will never be the same again

It’s supposed to be a horror novel, but I – a person who can’t handle horror and had become scared of the wind after seeing ‘Final Destination’ (not joking) – didn’t think it was that scary. Mostly creepy and interesting, but not scary. Although the fact it *could* happen would be kinda scary, I don’t believe in Satan or satanism so it didn’t hit home for me. What I found very interesting about it though, is Rosemary herself. She’s very naive, trusting in everyone but herself but isn’t really dumb. I get that times were different and that back then women were less likely to be very independent, but I haven’t read many books about women like that. Normally the heroine is smart, brave and going against the motion. Rosemary doesn’t. She just wants a normal, standard life with her husband and a kid. I reckon she would be a nice neighbor, never intruding but always there when you need her. A trait the Castavets also discovered (and used, although that had more to do with Guy).

The relationship between Guy and Rosemary is typical for that time, I’d say. The man works and brings in the money, the girl stays home, buys food and cooks dinner. Guy makes the decisions, except for what’s for dinner, and Rosemary trusts that he knows everything necessary for making those decisions. It feels bit oldfashioned, it is a bit oldfashioned but right for that time and for Rosemary.

Guy himself is plain selfish. He’s a struggling actor, who’s dreaming of making it big time. Probably because of the fame and not so much for the acting an sich.  So when he gets the opportunity to get the fame he’s been dreaming of, he sells everything dear to him, even when this means breaking Rosemary physically and mentally.

I wonder how many people do understand Guy and his actions. Would there be people reading the book (of watching the movie) and thinking: ‘I would totally do the same if I was Guy and I could become insta-famous overnight’. Guy isn’t losing very much, although I hope Rosemary leaves him, gains a blooming career. So when he gets over the shame of what’s he’s done (and he will, because he’s just that type of guy), he’ll have everything. He’s too selfish to really realize what he’s putting Rosemary through and probably figures that after this, they can pretend it never happened and have their own baby.

I read somewhere that everybody in the novel in trying to get Rosemary to lose her uniqueness and conform to their standards. Something she’s trying to fight, but when even the person you’re trusting the most is pushing you, fighting is a lost cause. By reading the novel this way, it becomes more relevant to the new society. Most people now aren’t afraid of Satan anymore, but of not being liked, either online or in the real world (Obviously a major generalization, but I do think it’s a big issue). Taking it even further, I think it would be possible to argue that Rosemary’s neighbors nowadays aren’t people anymore, but companies like Facebook and Instagram. Who, with their likes and reward systems trigger the happy place in our minds, so we want more but keeping that from us with their algorithms, trying forcing us to become similar in our content. And her baby becomes the pics and tweets we put out for likes, eventually giving the final push to confirm. Just like Rosemary’s baby did to Rosemary.