Misery tells the suspenseful and often gruesome story of novelist Paul Sheldon, held captive by a psychotic fan. It also offers insight into the public role of a writer and the experience of writing itself.
Misery establishes characters and conflict immediately, opening with Annie Wilkes’s artificial respiration to revive injured author Paul Sheldon. Within five very brief chapters, readers learn that Sheldon has crashed his car in a snowstorm; that Wilkes, a fan of Sheldon’s popular romance novels starring Misery Chastain, has rescued him; and that she is crazy and is imprisoning him in her isolated house rather than taking him to a hospital for proper care. Sheldon’s legs are shattered, and Wilkes treats the pain with Novril, a painkiller stolen from hospitals in which she had worked as a nurse. An addiction to Novril furthers Sheldon’s dependence on his admirer and captor.
The first proof of Annie’s power over Paul, and her insane willingness to use it, concerns Fast Cars, the novel Sheldon had just finished before the fateful drive from Boulder. Though Sheldon is known for, and wealthy from, his Misery books, he yearns for recognition of his more literary works and sees the new manuscript as his best work. Annie sees it as a travesty, full of low-life characters and obscenities, and she forces Sheldon to burn his only copy.
Moreover, Annie has been reading Misery’s Child—having waited for the paperback—and Sheldon fears her reaction: At the end, Misery dies in childbirth. Though Paul is delighted to have ended the series, Annie is outraged and insists that he write a new novel that brings Misery back. After one try that Annie rejects as...
(The entire section is 705 words.)