The paper tries to bring out the different perspectives of women representation in the film Conjuring 2. This movie shows the deep emotional distress and weakness of the female characters with great importance. Thus the centripetal theme of the film is rooted in emotions and its influence on human beings. The wide notion of women’s high emotional quotient is thus discussed in the film. It is because of this theme the movie has a more emotional effect in the audience rather than horror. The emotional dependence of women is depicted in the movie, and that pictures them as weak characters who are more vulnerable towards demons and ghosts.

The film Conjuring 2 was released in the year 2016 by Warren House and it was directed by James Wan. It is a sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, the second instalment in the Conjuring series, and the third instalment in the Conjuring universe franchise. In the opening scene of movie Ed and Lorraine Warren are sitting with the Lutz family in the infamous Amityville home.It is in this house a year earlier, Ronald DeFeo, Jr murdered his family with a shotgun, and the Lutz family claims to have been experiencing paranormal phenomena thereafter. The Warrens conduct a seance, in which Lorraine has a vision where she sees herself in Ronald's position on the night of the murders. She watches herself committing the acts, first with Ronald's parents, and then his three siblings. Lorraine then encounters a demonic creature taking the form of a nun, followed by a man dying. Lorraine screams, and Ed pulls her out of the vision and comforts her.

When the opening scenes of the movie are analysed primarily it could be seen that, in contrast to other horror films the demons use a male character as a conduit. But this character, Ronald DeFeo is shown to the audience through the vision of Lorraine and specifically she herself is placed in the role of DeFeo. This conscious use of Lorraine in the role of Defoe can be questioned as it tries to establish a picture of women doing violence, which can eventually create a greater emotional intensity. Later Lorraine compares her experience to hell where she finds herself emotionally down. But the constant support from her husband, Ed gives an emotional stability to Lorraine.

In the book The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, by Joseph Campbell there is a mention of woman as castrator and witch. There he states that “there is a motif occurring in certain primitive mythologies, as well as in modern surrealist painting and neurotic dream, which is known to folklore as the “toothed vagina”- the vagina that castrates.”(Campbell,1976,73). This concept of “toothed vagina” can be seen in another book, The Monstrous-Feminine by Barbara Creed. In this book a detailed description of the folklore is seen. “According to the myth of vagina dentata, women are terrifying because they have teeth in the vaginas and that the women must be tamed or the teeth somehow removed or softened-usually by a hero figure” (Creed,2). If the connotative meaning of this concept is taken into account, it can be pointed out that women are meant to be ‘tamed’ and ‘controlled’.

Thus in the film, when Lorraine is treated as a woman who can also be seen as a ‘witch’ because of her vision, is accompanied by Ed to execute the process of taming. But this taming is shown as an emotional support by the film in which Ed is presented in every situation of crisis which are supposedly initiated by Lorraine. There is a scene in the movie where a demon blocks the vision of Lorraine and thus, she was unable to sense the presence of ghosts. Later Ed solves this issue and brings back her power of vision.

Ed: “Remember those strange garbled messages we got from Janet? You know from Bill”.
Lorraine: “Yes”
Ed: “There were two of them, right?. Here is the first one...HELP IT..LET GO!..We thought he was referring to himself, right”?
Lorraine: “Yes”
Ed: “Listen to the second one..ME WON’T..If I’m right about this..HELP ME! IT WON’T LET ME GO!.(Conjuring 2 01:44-46).

This scene clearly shows how Ed is providing vital information about the movie which was blocked from Lorraine. It can be seen as a way of taming her by making him a superhero. Through taming it is meant that the “tooth of vagina” which gives Lorraine the power of vision is regained here. There is yet another scene in the movie where this fashion is established. In that scene Lorraine is stuck with a riddle given by the ghost and it is Ed who finds the answer to this.

Lorraine: “And he kept speaking in a kind of riddle. Something like, uh, I am given and I am taken. I was there at your first breath. You didn't ask for me. But I will follow you until your death.”
Ed: “Your name. You didn't ask for it. It was given, when you were born”.
Lorraine: “That's it! Knowing the demon’s name gives us power over it and we can cast it out.” (Conjuring 2, 01:49:35-50).

Again the power or talent that is exclusively given to Lorraine continues to flow in her with her ‘superhero's’ help. It is an ironic fact that even the unique ability of Lorraine to fight with the demons are facilitated by a male counterpart, as if her supernatural power is nothing when compared to the ‘intelligentsia of Ed’.

Along with Lorraine, there is a twelve year girl Janet, in the movie who demands equal attention from the audience. Even though she is a small girl her level of understanding and interpreting facts is commendable. She is the one who got possessed by demons, but is capable of handling the situation though she is worn out by everything. Even in that situation she is not afraid of demons but is hurt to know that she is considered as an abnormal child by the society. It is shocking to find out that the small girl is scared of her social roles more than of a demon. There is a scene from the film where Lorraine is having a conversation with Janet where she opens up about her worries regarding friends and family. There Janet says “How did you know you could trust the people you opened up to?.I’m just so tired. I can’t sleep here. I used to go to the medical room at school and they let me sleep there because I was so worn out. But now I can’t even do that. Everyone's afraid of me. I have no friends. No place I can go to. It makes me feel like I’m not normal.” (Conjuring 2 01:06:29-07:11). So it is clear from this statement that Janet is not afraid of demons but is scared of losing her social relationships. It is interesting to find that there is no instance where Janet is talking about a fear of demons, everytime she talks about how the entity is going to hurt her family more than her. She is a girl who is already disturbed by her parents divorce and her father’s abandonment of the family. Thus the thought of losing relationships is always scarier for her.

If the psychological concept of Electra complex is applied to the case of Janet, the possibility of liberating her sexual energy through a demonic possession cannot be rejected and it also explains the reason why Janet is specifically selected by the demon. Janet is more close to her father and even her mother mentions this in various scenes. It is the extreme desire of Janet to know about her father’s return that makes her play with the Ouija board which actually initiates the demonic interventions. She uses the board to find about her father, or particularly to regain him. “Is dad ever coming home? Are there any spirits here who can answer my question?(Conjuring 2 00:13:30-40). It is just after this scene the demonic presence is introduced in the Hodgson family. Thus the later horrific experiences which were faced by the family can be seen as a result of what happened in this scene, and if the question of why this scene is taken particularly to initiate demonic activities can lead to the answer of electra complex.

The one positive aspect of the movie is that in the climax part woman is given the role of saviour though strong male character like Ed is equally present in the movie. It can be observed that there is a reverse of ‘expected gender roles’ takes place here. Both Ed and Janet are saved by Lorraine in the final part where she performs an exorcism all by herself, which was considered as a highly dangerous one by Ed and he had also mentioned seeking a direct help from the Church to perform this exorcism. But Lorraine did not wait for this help because her inner strength got aggregated as she sees her husband fighting for his and Janet’s life. It is the quest to save her husband’s life that made her so strong which helps her to condemn the demon back to hell. So the role of saviour was neatly executed by the female character, but again her emotional weakness is used as a catalyst for the ultimate fight.

About the Author :

This article is written by Daniya Jose from Mangaluru. She did her graduation from Vimala College, Thrissur and Post Graduation from St. Aloysius College, Mangaluru. Currently she is pursuing her B.Ed from St. Aloysius Institute of Education.


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