Mind-game manipulation without acknowledgement and differentiation of confusion involved in The Exorcist is simultaneously incredible and horrific. The incorporation of psychological science along with religious content creates an unbounded contrast; symptoms that are undefined and obscure following the dark enchantment – cannot be scientifically proven. Adding up the disbelief in condition connectively related to the soul and mind, creates a hook for the audience towards the exorcism theory. Maintaining the pressure of the mystical riddle, overall defeat with failure theory explains the idea of the dual personality outcoming on a scientific manner. Determining the little girl’s possession by the devil provides a realization factor of her definite personality being hidden. Throughout the story Blatty proves how important acknowledging personality is, he refers to it as a significant value. The force of possession establishes weakness and hopelessness regarding the MacNeil family. The overall confusion rises to a hysterical level along the idea of unrecognizing an identity such as Regan, the little girl. Blatty creates a conflict, “‘But I’ll tell you the truth, doc, I don’t understand how her whole personality could be changed.’ “ (Blatty 111). The following argument furnishes the main layer of the overall question; using an idea of internal confusion and misunderstanding further adds to the suspiciousness and a belief in a brief existent idea of exorcism. Exorcism itself is treated more as a myth, rather than a realistic process. Never the less, the individuality idea throughout the novel continuously demonstrates the differentiation of many personalities of the main figures; displaying the fact that people contain good and bad traits of their personalities throughout the hard period of lifetime. An idea of a human life is likewise to a performance where a person’s characterization may seem different from public to private or the other way around. The basis of the narration fulfilled with stress and anxiety. The complication throughout the novel indicate unexpected and abnormal switch in personality with simultaneous creation of doubt and horror what may also cause an independent, strong character go insane.
Some of the most indelible moments in The Exorcist are those involving supernatural transgressions of natural laws; a bed that floats defying gravity, a back bend that defies anatomy, or knowledge without education all tend to strike terror in the audience. But in these moments, perhaps it is the defeat of personal will that is the most terrifying, as when the bed floats there is no effort the onlookers can exert to stop it. This disconnect between effort and outcome is at the center of this horror which diminishes the significance of the human will, degrading our individual efforts that seem futile in the face of unknowable powers and knowable limitations. Perhaps the only certainty of life, death itself, is one used in the novel to show this confrontation between will and surrender, most notably in one of Chris’ terrifying dreams of death. In her dream, the force of her will is in full effect as she struggles to resist death by “gasping, dissolving, [and] slipping off into void,” and she begs her father to “not let them” take her away (Blatty 36). Blatty uses the word “let” here to mark the fatal intersection between a human certainty, death, and the hopeless inability to surrender and simply let it be. The following argument will not dissect death’s final challenge to the will, but rather will show that Blatty’s central message is that both perceptual operations of the mind and the violent nature of anger subvert the will, leaving us the key of surrender as a way to escape futile resistance. The mind itself is a deceptive force that flouts the individual’s will, and violent anger similarly makes personal effort ineffective and futile as they cut into the self from the outside like a powerful external force. Blatty reduces the will to dust to deliver his message that surrender is an ideal worth holding on to even more so than willful dominance, and he uses Father Merrin’s powerful contemplation of natural beauty to show his audience that surrender can save what the individual will cannot rescue.
In his famous book, The Exorcist, William Blatty shows that the main character Chris has the capability to direct although she may not altogether realize it. This woman is dealing with a very unnatural type of entity possessing her daughter, and instead of breaking down and cracking under pressure, she is consistently able to still make moves and give directions that may have ultimately prevented some worse events time and time again. There are multiple instances in the book that support the notion of her skills even under very extreme stress, in fact, it seems that she even thrives under pressure. Her director skill set is not just having effects on her, she is also able to keep everyone moving during a time when the characters are faced with something as foul and inhumane as what her own daughter has become. Even outside of the paranormal activity, she has had a hand in controlling situations with friends and even acquaintances. This ultimately goes to prove to the audience that it was never necessary for her to direct the play someone else wrote for her because she is already controlling things.
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The use of innocence in Regan has changed throughout the novel with the interpretation of Chris’s perspective on her through the use of stress. Blatty argues innocence is an important trait that children have and is important to how they behave, and without it, they will deviate from societal norms. As Chris is trying to figure out to why Regan is behaving this way, she realizes that the actions she is presenting is “Just to get attention” (Blatty 54). Blatty uses the word ‘attention’ to argue that this absurd behavior Regan is displaying is very childish as she is not able to contain her emotions due to the fact that she is losing her innocence through possession. This behavior that Regan is exhibiting allows the audience to understand that Chris’s excuses for Regan’s behavior compensates for the stress that she been experiencing. As Chris is encountering this behavior, it puts her in a stressful situation and forces her to call a psychiatrist to let him know that Regan “complained about somebody moving her furniture” (Blatty 54). Blatty uses the word ‘somebody’ to have the audience question to why Chris is denying that Regan is experiencing an insidious force, while having them believe that Regan has not yet lost her innocence to the demon. Chris is noticing that objects have been moving around in Regan’s room and is even denying the fact that Regan is causing this. By not having a clear mind due to the stress that Chris is having, she convinces herself that somebody else is engaging in this behavior. She even thinks to herself “Boy I better call a locksmith right away” (Blatty 107) to reject the fact that her daughter is being possessed by a demonic force. Blatty’s use of the word ‘locksmith’ allows the audience to understand that Chris’s internal stress is convincing her to deny the claim of Regan being possessed, which has her innocence being taken by coming up with excuses to make her daughter’s innocence safe from all the things she has been experiencing. The loss of innocence allows Blatty to have the audience understand why one’s denial of loss of innocence brings stress to them and enables people to refuse a claim.
The presence of unlikely coincidences in the novel serve to unsettle the audience, but by transforming this disquieting synchronicity into comfort Blatty argues that such extraordinary coincidences serve as evidence that life has a stable meaning and direction outside of our subjective interpretations and attempts to control it. Perhaps the most uncanny coincidence concerns the criminal evidence that links Regan to the desecrations, which Kinderman discovers when” at 7:23, [he] was pondering a spectrographic analysis showing that the paint from Regan’s sculpture matched a scraping of paint from the desecrated statue of the Virgin Mary (Blatty 175). By linking the words “match” and “ponderous,” Blatty is showing the audience how a very unlikely coincidence of very similar things can create a sense of authentic profundity and importance; in this case Kinderman links such profundity with a break in an insolvable case that now finally seems like it can be solved. This moment of highly unlikely coincidence stops Kinderman cold in an introspective reverie, but there are moments where such synchronicity creates a soothing feeling of emotional comfort as well. When Mary Jo is leaving the party, she confesses that she has actually been to Chris’s house before “many times,” which surprises and takes Chris aback at first, but then this shock melts into a an expression of familiarity and intimacy as she says “Mary Jo, I’d love to have you back” (Blatty 82). Blatty deciding that the supernatural psychic should have been the character to have previously scoped out the setting of the story “many times” gives the audience an unsettling and uncanny flash of fear at this bizarre coincidence, but as Chris reinterprets that very strange coincidence as comforting, using the sincere expression that she would “love” to have Mary Jo return, the audience also learns to see such synchronicity as comforting rather than unsettling. Psychologist Carl Jung studied synchronicity and framed is as the “idea that meaning can be a connecting and organizing principle of reality” which “is radical because it suggests meaning is not only something humans create, but also something that exists objectively, in nature, apart from human influence” (Cavalli 14). Blatty uses these unlikely coincidences and shifts them from disturbing facts to soothing experiences to show how they constitute evidence of this Jungian phenomenon that there is a natural and objective meaning that organizes our experiences for us.
By showing both the priceless warmth and intimacy as well as the burdensome sorrow that Chris experiences in her parental bond with Regan, Blatty argues that parental attachment is inevitably marked with suffering due to a lack of control over their child’s well-being and destiny. The moments of warmth and love between Regan and Chris are expressed through simple but profoundly loving details, such as when Regan places a “blush red rose” on her plate very early in the morning before she leaves for work which prompts Chris to refer to Regan as “that angel” (Blatty 14). Blatty’s use of the word ‘angel’ here shows how loving moments like these between a mother and a daughter can move even the atheist Chris to equate such an encounter with something divine. Just as Chris encounters such warmth as a result of Regan’s behavior, she also experiences spontaneous moments of joy just from seeing Regan which show the levity of love in a healthy parental bond. After Chris comes home from work she expresses worry but soon forgets it; when Regan comes into the kitchen to greet her, “she could not repress the full flood of her love” (Blatty 22). Blatty uses the word ‘flood’ to equate this feeling with nature and show the audience that this loving emotion is natural, spontaneous, and expansive as it drowns both Chris and Regan, as Chris returns this love immediately by showering Regan with affection. But this encounter with heavenly love and spontaneous joy is contrasted with the burdensome suffering that attends the uncertainty of Regan’s diagnosis and the fate of her well-being. When Regan’s doctor reveals to Chris that her daughter’s condition is uncertain, Chris is visibly upset and Blatty physicalizes her suffering as she “[lowers] her forehead onto a fist” and pleads for the doctor to “tell [her] something good” (Blatty 105). Blatty’s use of the word ‘lowering’ shows the audience how Chris must almost physically bear the burden that her daughter cannot understand, and this suffering because of the uncertainty puts her own well-being in a burdened state. The detail here of the clenched fist that Blatty creates conveys to the audience a kind of mute frustration and futile suffering, and Chris has no choice but to endure it. This lack of agency is at the core of Blatty’s vision of the parental bond which is characterized by moments of connection and intense natural joy as we see with the rose and the flood of love, but the painful fist and sinking head remind the audience that parental love and suffering come hand in hand.