Chapter 12 The Horror of Grief: Monstrous Effects of Unaddressed Grief in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook

In: Grief, Identity, and the Arts
Julia Płaczkiewicz
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This chapter explores the monstrous effects of unaddressed grief and its personification in Jennifer Kent’s horror film The Babadook (2014). The employment of the Kübler-Ross model of grief is necessary to fully understand the process of coping with death. The chapter offers an analysis of how the titular monster is a manifestation of the stages of mourning endured by the protagonist after the death of her husband. It is important to recognize the different types of grief that are not limited to the one caused by the loss of a loved one. The loss of the ideal future envisioned is likewise significant in investigating the psychological burden of death. Additionally, the protagonist experiences the loss of identity through the reduction to the role of a mother and a widow. Sarah Arnold’s archetype of a “good mother” and a “bad mother” is applied to discuss motherhood in the light of bereavement. The Babadook is the protagonist’s story of grief alongside a boogeyman who symbolizes repressed emotions. Conclusively, the initial terror and agony of the narrative gradually transform into acceptance, serving as a cathartic storyline for the characters and the viewers.

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Grief, Identity, and the Arts

A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Expressions of Grief

Series:  Death in History, Culture, and Society, Volume: 1


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