The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Rosemary’s Baby, playwright and novelist Ira Levin’s most famous work, was his first effort in the horror-fantasy genre. The novel charts the course of its protagonist’s unusual pregnancy and her slowly dawning belief that she and her baby are the targets of a satanic conspiracy involving her neighbors, her doctor, and even her husband.

When Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into the Bramford, a beautiful Victorian apartment building in New York, Rosemary’s friend Edward “Hutch” Hutchins warns them of the building’s notorious past, a history that includes murder, suicide, cannibalism, and witchcraft. Hutch’s concern seems prophetic when Rosemary’s first friend in the building, Terry Gionofrio, leaps to her death from a seventh-story window. Rosemary’s uneasiness is allayed by Minnie and Roman Castevet, an elderly couple down the hall who become close friends with Rosemary and Guy.

Guy, a struggling actor, finds amazing success after Donald Baumgart, the actor competing with him for a choice role, is suddenly stricken with unexplained blindness. Shortly afterward, during Pope Paul’s visit to New York, Rosemary has a strange, terrifying dream of a creature with leathery skin and yellow eyes. Soon she learns that she is pregnant. Minnie and Roman express unusual interest in her health and recommend their friend Abraham Sapirstein, a prominent obstetrician, to be her doctor.

As her pregnancy progresses,...

(The entire section is 537 words.)