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Misery and It: a comparison between Annie Wilkes and Pennywise

Hello, bookworms!

I know I haven’t been posting anything for a while, but these two weeks have been quite chaotic and demanding. It seems things may be getting a little calmer from now on, or so I hope.

Anyway, here I am with another article! Today I chose to talk about the last book I read, Misery (1987) by Stephen King. First things first, I must say I absolutely adored it. The strength of the images the author used, the realism of the scenes…a perfect mixture that made me feel uncomfortable the whole time I was reading.

I have to admit that Misery is only the second King’s novel I’ve read: the other one is It (1986). Even if I loved this novel too, and I recognise that the writer created an epic story with It, Misery is still my favourite one between the two: I loved the fact that there is no supernatural, so everything seems realistic. While I was reading, I felt everything Paul, the main character, felt. It definitely made me want to read more of King’s immense production.

Despite the fact that It and Misery are two very different stories, I found some elements that link Annie Wilkes, the antagonist of the second novel, to Pennywise, the monster that takes different forms to scare people (especially children) in It. I thought of sharing them with you.

Reading It, we get to learn that the monster that terrifies the town of Derry every 27 years is a creature as ancient as the universe that arrived on Earth before humankind. On the other hand we have Annie, a sadistic woman who keeps Paul Sheldon, a famous writer, locked up in a room for months. She has no special powers; yet, there are certain passages of the novel where Paul fears he won’t be capable of killing her or escaping her, for she is a “goddess”. As a supernatural creature, she can’t die. At the end of the story we learn that she was no goddess, just an extremely strong person who kept Paul captive and weak. Despite this, the writer can’t help having nightmares of Annie coming back from the dead to haunt him.

From the beginning of Misery we understand that there is something wrong in Annie; as the story goes on, our suspects are confirmed when we realise she alternates periods of ups and downs, being psychotic. She can act almost like a mother towards Paul and then torture him one second later. Tortures climax when she chops his left foot off with an axe and then cuts off his thumb with an electric knife (as this wasn’t enough, she serves him a cake with his severed thumb used as a candle – yuck). Sometimes, Paul gets the impression of seeing Annie’s real nature, her real soul: he can see what he calls a “crevasse” in her face that reveals her actual nature. What he sees there scares him terribly, as he sees something he defines as “hollow” and “ancient”. This reminded me of the beginning of It, when little Georgie Denbrough is killed by Pennywise. Before he dies, King writes that the creature opens its mouth and that the child sees inside it: what he sees destroys his sanity immediately, so Georgie is long gone before actually passing away. Annie and Pennywise share a hidden nature that scare everyone who watch it.

So, Pennywise opens its mouth and something awful happens. I think we can say the same thing about Annie: when she rescues Paul, at the beginning of the novel, she gives him mouth-to-mouth respiration to save him. He gains consciousness again, but what he smells is so horrid he almost thinks he’d rather die than smell it one second more. When she screams at him, urging him to breath, he thinks “I will, anything, please just don’t do that anymore, don’t infect me anymore”; of course, this reminded me of Pennywise’s lair in the sewer of Derry. The smell there is almost unbearable and, just like Pennywise, it infects the whole city.  

What do you think about it? Do you agree with me or not? Have you noticed other similarities? Tell me everything with a comment!


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