Rose Madder Summary
by Stephen King

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Rose Madder

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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Since the mid-1970’s, Stephen King has been producing best-selling horror novels. Many of them also have been turned into popular motion pictures or television miniseries. Some of his most gripping works include CARRIE (1974), CUJO (1981), PET SEMATARY (1983), MISERY (1987), THE DARK HALF (1989), DOLORES CLAIBORNE (1993), and INSOMNIA (1994). In addition to being a master storyteller, King has a special knack for tapping into the most elemental of human fears and anxieties. His novels tend to be long and not very tightly focused creations, and they are filled with gruesome violence. For all the loose ends and graphic details of his novels, King still remains immensely popular.

In ROSE MADDER, King has created one of the most horrific characters in police detective Norman Daniels. To the outside world, Daniels is worthy of respect. Fourteen years ago, he had married his high-school sweetheart, Rose McClendon. Unfortunately friends and acquaintances know little of how Daniels has made life a living hell for his wife. As happens all too often in real life, the domestic violence of the Daniels’ household has remained a secret. Rose (Rosie) Daniels finally comes to the realization that she must run away from her abusive husband if she has any hope of saving her life. Rosie takes her husband’s ATM card and travels hundreds of miles away. She settles in a Midwestern city, where she finds lodging and support at a Daughters and Sisters shelter. While Rosie learns to assert her newfound independence, her husband commences his search for her.

The tension in ROSE MADDER builds as the reader comes to realize that Rosie will one day have to defend herself against her vicious husband. While shopping, Rosie becomes drawn to an oil painting. She purchases the painting and soon understands that she can step into the painting and become a new person, Rose Madder. It becomes apparent that Norman Daniels will stop at nothing to possess his wife again. He wreaks havoc everywhere he goes until the final confrontation with his wife takes place. Little does he know that she is no longer the meek person she used to be. As usual, King is a master at setting the stage for the terror that follows. ROSE MADDER may not rank as one of King’s finest creations, but it still contains the relentless onslaught of first-rate terror which has become his hallmark.