Pretty much everyone is aware of the legend of Bloody Mary. We all heard of it sometime in our elementary school years or middle school years. One is usually told that they are to go in a dark room with a mirror, chant Bloody Mary for a certain amount of times, and she will appear in the mirror and do a multitude of things depending on what version of the legend you are told.
When I first heard of Bloody Mary I was in the first grade. Some girl was talking to me and some former friends. What she said was that we had to go into a dark bathroom, and we had to say Bloody Mary three times in order for her to appear. You could do it with multiple people as well. The girl did not specified on what Bloody Mary would do upon appearing so it was up to our interpretation. This caused us to think of the most worst possible scenarios. Upon learning of Bloody Mary, I developed a fear of her and mirrors. This fear still continues today, but fortunately the fear factor has decreased drastically. Instead of being scared I am now just paranoid. Everytime I would use the bathroom, I would look back at my reflection when leaving the bathroom. When I was going to take a shower, I would face the mirror while undressing, as I didn’t want to turn my back on the mirror. Before going inside the shower, I would open the medicine cabinet so the mirror faced away from me, and so I wouldn’t be able to catch a glimpse of the background.
Going back to the story of Bloody Mary, there are multiple characters that are associated with her. They are: Queen Mary I, Mary I of Scotland, and Mary Worth. Queen Mary I was monarch of England and Ireland. During her reign she killed many of her people because they were Protestants. She wanted England to remain Catholic. At the same time she had two false pregnancies. The first one devastated her emotionally, and the second one ended her life. It is presumed that she died of either Uterine cancer or Ovarian cancer.
Mary I of Scotland was also a monarch just like Queen Mary. But unlike Queen Mary’s reign, her reign was uneventful. She did witness a murdered that was done by her cousin Earl of Darnley. After the murder, Earl Darnley mysteriously died. All fingers were pointed at Queen Mary since she married one of the prime suspects of the her cousin’s death. Later on, Queen Mary had a son who was destined to become the King of England. Queen Elizabeth I, the current monarch of England was afraid of Queen Mary since she was considered the legitimate monarch of England while Queen Elizabeth was considered illegitimate. This prompted Queen Elizabeth to imprison Queen Mary for 19 years. She was then beheaded. Unfortunately, the executioner was unskilled, and it took multiple attempts to behead her. Because of her death she is a candidate for being Bloody Mary.
Up next is Mary Worth. Interesting enough, the story of Mary Worth is heavily distorted with many stories out there. The most common is her being a Witch during the Civil War, and her being a beautiful girl whose face was disfigured in accident. In the Witch story it is said that she lived near Chicago during the Civil War, and kidnapped runaway slaves for her dark rituals. The people who lived near her eventually had enough of her wrongdoings and burned her at the stake. In the story of her being beautiful, she is involved in a terrible accident (the accident is not known), and results in the disfigurement of her face. It should be noted that Mary would spend hours admiring herself in her mirror. Once her face was disfigured, she was not permitted to see her reflection in fear of her going insane. Eventually, she couldn’t resist seeing her reflection and looked for a mirror. Upon seeing her face she was horrified. Desperate to get her old reflection back, she ‘entered’ the mirror, and vowed to disfigured anyone who came looking for her in a mirror. Personally I believe that this version of the Bloody Mary story is the authentic one as it is the only story that mentions a mirror. However, the baby that is commonly mentioned in stories is not taken into account.
We can analyze Bloody Mary’s fear inducing characteristics by using Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s seven theses on Monster Culture. The theses will tell us what kind of monster she is. The theses that Bloody Mary exhibit are Thesis I, IV, and VII. These theses tell us that Bloody Mary is a classic monster, like Dracula. Bloody Mary can only appear in a mirror within a dark room provided that someone chants her name three times. As long as no one does this there is no reason to be afraid of mirrors or dark rooms, but we still are afraid them. This is because those two things are inherently scary. Mirrors challenge our senses, and dark rooms obscure visual information. This creates a situation in which we are facing the unknown, and it creates irrational fear. When someone attempts to summon Bloody Mary, they are bound to experience the Troxler Effect. As Emily Petsko puts it, “The longer you stare in a mirror, the more likely you are to start seeing things that aren’t there even if you haven’t been forewarned that something ghastly will appear. When you stare at the same object for a prolonged period of time, there comes a point when your brain adapts or gets used to unchanging stimuli. As a result, your neurons cancel the information out, and the image often appears blurry, faded, or distorted until you blink or look around”. One thing that she didn’t mentioned was that the darkness amplifies the Troxler effect as the a darkness will limit your ability to comprehend what you are seeing. This in turn makes a person’s mind run rampant, causing the illusion to look more disturbing. I have experience this first hand on multiple occasions before the daylight saving time ended everytime I woke up and got ready for school. During this time, mornings were fairly dark as the sun was barely starting to rise. As I entered the dimly lit bathroom, I would be greeted by my reflection. Most the times, my reflection would show that my face was missing it’s eyes, sometimes the eyebrows and nose were missing, and at one occasion my entire face was missing. It wasn’t until I got closer to the mirror that the distortion went away. Interesting enough, it was this particular experience that inspired me to write on Bloody Mary. It is here were that we can conclude the connections with Thesis II, and IV, which talks about monsters’ conditions, characteristics, and differences. Regardless of what version of the Bloody Mary story you believe in, it is clear than in all of them she becomes a monster due to external stimuli, events that she had no control over. She is a product of an event. Queen Mary I always wanted a child, but she was never able to have one. Under the impression that her baby was killed, she cannot rest in peace properly. She is also responsible for the death of her citizens who were Protestants. She didn’t want them to be Protestants, and she couldn’t change them so she simply got rid of them. This was considered a mortal sin, so God could of punish her by preventing her from resting in peace by leaving her to dwell in Earth. Mary I of Scotland died a gruesome death and this most likely turned her into a vengeful spirit. Mary Worth the Witch was associated with demonic magic so she might of turned into a Demon. Mary Worth the beautiful girl was struck with grief upon seeing her disfigured face on the mirror. She presumably committed suicide and now haunts mirrors as a restless spirit.
I consider Bloody Mary to be a classic monster as her monstrous traits are more in line with those of Dracula or Frankenstein. She doesn’t fit in with the modern day monsters who have become nothing but cliques.
Zrioka, Pete. “The Monsters among Us.” ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development Research, 22 Oct. 2012, research.asu.edu/stories/read/monsters-among-us.
Donovan, Patricia. Monster Culture – University at Buffalo, 31 Oct. 2011, http://www.buffalo.edu/home/feature_story/monster-culture.html.
Braudy, Leo. “Column: Why We’ll Always Fear Monsters.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 31 Oct. 2016, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/column-well-always-obsess-fear-monsters.
Petsko, Emily. “Bloody Mary, and Why We Think We See Things in Mirrors.” Mental Floss, 10 Oct. 2018, mentalfloss.com/article/558091/origin-bloody-mary-and-why-we-think-we-see-things-mirrors.
Howard, Krissy. “Behind The Mirror: The True Story Of Bloody Mary.” All That’s Interesting, All That’s Interesting, 1 Oct. 2018, allthatsinteresting.com/bloody-mary.
Linic, Claire. “The Terrifying True Story Behind ‘Bloody Mary’.” OMGFacts, 12 Mar. 2018, omgfacts.com/the-terrifying-true-story-behind-bloody-mary/.