Women in I Am Legend

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

                In the beginning of this novel, women were viewed only as objects.  They were used to appeal to Robert’s lust, and to make him leave his house.  They did this by striking lewd poses when they knew he was looking out at them.  This worked to awaken his lust, but he did not go out to them.  This can be traced back to the racial themes of the book, in the fact that he did not want his blood to come into contact with the vampire’s blood because he felt that he would become contaminated by them.  The fact that he viewed the women as objects, and not people anymore made it easier for him to kill them, because he did not view them to be the same as he was.  This also can be traced to the racial themes of this book.

                Later in the novel, he performs experiments on the vampires.  However, all the vampires that he experiments on happen to be women.  They seem to be more like lab mice than anything.  Only good if they serve his purpose, otherwise he has no problems in killing them.  They’re just experiments, not people, or even living things to him.  He rationalizes killing them by telling himself that they would have killed him, given the chance.  

                Robert, however, does have a strong desire for a companion.  This is where Ruth comes in.  He is drawn to her because he believes her to be another human like him, and  chases her down.  The fact that he goes through such lengths to get to her shows us how desperate he is for someone, anyone else to talk to and to be with.  Though the idea of being with her frightens her and he tells himself it would be easier if she was one of them.  “But what if she were free of bacillus? In a way, that was a more nerve-racking possibility.  The other way he would merely go on as before, breaking neither schedule now standards.  But if she stayed, if they had to establish a relationship, perhaps become husband and wife, have children . . . Yes, that was more terrifying.” (Page 139)  

Later he thinks, “Shall I kill her now? Shall I not even investigate, but kill her and burn her?” (Page 140).  It’s interesting to be that he seems that he would rather keep viewing the women as he had been, as objects.  They are easy to dispose of because they don’t have any meaning to him.  He is scared of having responsibility again, and by making Ruth into one of them in his mind (and thus making her into and object that is okay to kill), he tries to rid himself of any responsibility that he might have if it turns out that she is not infected. 


slarson said...

I really like the topic of this blog. I too saw the negative view of women in this novel. The way that they used sex and showing their bodies to try and lure Robert out of the house so they could kill him. However, they could be making a blow at men saying that they would do anything for sex. When you bring up the fact that he only experimented on the female it brings up a good point. I know that Robert argues that this was ok because, “He rationalizes killing them by telling himself that they would have killed him, given the chance.” However this does ot rationalize why only women. Maybe it is to get back at them for taunting him with sexuality. In your third paragraph you bring up the fact that Robert desires a companion. I definitely agree with this statement. It made me so upset how Ruth betrayed him. I could definitely see all of the chemistry between them that eventually turned into love. I think that Ruth definitely began to love Robert and truly felt bad about what she had done and that is why she warned him. Another thing that made me sad was the dog. I remember in the movie he started with a dog, and when Robert did not have one in the book I was disappointed. However, I do like how it happened in the book better. In the novel it only showed the heartbreak when the dog died, but in the novel it shows the excitement the Robert has when he first finds the dog which makes it twice as heartbreaking when it dies.

Andrew said...

Lindsay, I was also curious about the scenes in which Neville describes the yearning he had to have any sort of sexual release. I agree woman were certainly objectified within these excerpts, you wrote “The fact that he viewed the women as objects, and not people anymore made it easier for him to kill them, because he did not view them to be the same as he was.” Well said! I would add that he clearly found some sort of security in choosing to experiment on the woman vampires instead of the men. Perhaps subconsciously he felt that this choice afforded him some level of security in a cruel and dangerous world.

If I were to ruminate on a possible cause of his outlook towards woman, and his reaction to Ruth later in the novel, I would wager that it was in large part caused by the lack of socialization that he endured. Throughout his 3 years alone, with much of it documented in the book, you see him losing more and more his sense of humanity. Consider in the early chapters how angry and emotional he is as he often lashes out and attempts to drown his sorrows with liquor. Later on, particularly after his episode with the dog, we see a man who very much has lost almost all sense of emotion. Instead armoring himself against the outside world with a barrier of cold, distant emotionless feeling. He refuses to allow himself to love or feel passion ever again. It was one of the most compelling aspects of the novel, as we witnessed his emotional and psychological transformation from a man of passion to a cold and efficient scientist/survivalist.

Post a Comment