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Is ‘Carrie’ Really The Villain?

… or the victim?

Sissy Spacek in Carrie
Sissy Spacek in Carrie

Since 1974, Stephen King’s “Carrie” has been one of his best known works to date.  The unsuspecting novel, much like its main protagonist, was made into a film adaptation by director Brian De Palma two years later and became a blockbuster hit, making both Stephen King a household name and “Carrie” one of King’s most infamous horror villains. But just like how characters in the story misunderstand her, could we also be giving her the wrong reputation? This raises the question: Is Carrie really the villain of this story?

“Carrie” tells a teenage tale about a shy and unsuspecting Carrie White (played by Sissy Spacek) who has telekinetic powers. At home she is simultaneously sheltered and abused by her deeply religious mother and at school, she is an outcast that gets teased and harassed by bullies. Initially, Carrie fears her frightening powers until she learns to control it and eventually uses it as a tool of vengeance on those who wronged her.

On the surface, “Carrie” may be painted as a story of vengeance and supernatural evil, but the underlying message is that “Carrie” is a heartbreaking story of a young girl that is pushed to her limits. Day and night, she is tormented by her bullies at school and her mother at home. All her pain tumbles to a break point and she uses the power to wreak havoc. Although Carrie’s choice is one of horror, it doesn’t come from a place of pure evil but from a place of pain.

The story of “Carrie” is about a girl who is pushed to the point where she snaps, making her less of a villain but more of a victim. 

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