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, Rosemary finds herself caught up in a mysterious and frightening series of events. She endures months of severe, unremitting pain that Dr. Sapirstein dismisses as normal. She develops an aversion to salt and an appetite for raw meat; at one point, she unconsciously consumes part of a raw chicken heart. She and Guy become increasingly involved with the Castevets and their associates, neglecting their former friends. Eventually, Hutch is felled by a mysterious illness and dies, in a case parallel to that of Donald Baumgart.
After Hutch’s funeral, a friend of his gives Rosemary a book, All of Them Witches , a history of witchcraft and satanism. Rosemary discovers that Roman Castevet is actually Steven Marcato, the son of the infamous...
(The entire section is 537 words.)