Stephen King is a popular horror fiction author. Most of his novels fall into the category of horror fiction. His works are part of the modern era. In Pet Semetary, Stephen King develops the idea of man playing God and the repercussions of defying nature.
Stephen King was born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine. He is the son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. Growing up, his father taught him how to fish and hunt. This would become one of King’s most pleasurable activities. He attended Durham elementary school, followed by Lisbon Falls High School where he fell in love with writing. During this time, his parents divorced. This made a complicated transition for his brother and him, who would have to transition from Indiana and Connecticut. He would then settle in with his mother back in Maine.
After he graduated, he decided to stay local and attended The University of Maine at Orono. There, he would focus on his English studies. He starts writing for the school’s newspaper and he loves it. King would also serve in the with the student government in his time at The University of Maine. This is where he would publish his first story and it would be shown in Startling Mystery Stories. This would only be the start of what is considered to be one of the most exciting horror fiction authors to ever be.
King’s career doesn’t get off to the best start. King continued to write his stories while at a local laundromat until 1971. In 1971, he would get hired to be an English teacher at Hampden Academy. During the same year, he would go out to marry his wife Tabitha Spruce. In 1973, Stephen King wrote his first hit novel Carrie. The novel really dives deep into the dark side of his imagination. The story documented a teen who wanted to get back at her classmates. At this point, the two most influential women in his life were Tabitha King and Carrie White. Tabitha loaned Stephen her typewriter so that we could stop writing as much and to hopefully get a higher paying job than the school teacher gig. Carrie would later on be adapted to the big screen. He had a knack for coming up with most intimidating and spine-chilling antagonists in all of horror fiction such as, Pennywise the Clown in the hit novel IT. King was also self-conscious about publishing many books under the same name. He would write under the alias “Richard Bachman”. “King published several books as Richard Bachman. Four early novels — Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981) and The Running Man (1982) — were published under the moniker because of King’s concern that the public wouldn’t accept more than one book from an author within a year”(biography.com). Carrie would end up flying off the shelves as it would end up selling up to $400,000. Stephen King would go on to publish 61 novels with seven of them under the name of Richard Bachman. The masterful mind behind the most macabre and horrific characters is one of the most influential writers of the modern era. There is no doubt that he is one of the most prized authors of all time.
Spanning through King’s long and ever-consistent career. He has won two prestigious awards for his novels. King won the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2003 for his extraordinary work in writing. He wrote over 50 books and all of them ended up being worldwide best sellers. He also won the National Medal of Arts in 2015 from Barack Obama for his outstanding work in literature.
King is currently still writing today. His most recent novel The Institution has received great reviews. Nowadays King and his wife spend time writing together. “He and his novelist wife divide their time between Maine and Florida”(biography.com) King has three kids who are novelists of their own and use that to bond with each other. King is also an avid music fan, and loves to play guitar. “He even sometimes plays guitar and sings in a band called Rock Bottom Remainders with fellow literary starts like Dave Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, amd Amy Tan(biography.com).
“In Western literature the literary cultivation of fear and curiosity for its own sake began to emerge in the 18th-century pre-romantic era with the gothic novel”(britannica.com). The art of horror literature started with the humble gothic novel and then evolved into one of the most popular genres. Horace Walpole, who wrote Castle of Otranto , laid the foundation of horror literature. Edgar Allen Poe is another writer who listen the magnitude of the horror genre to another level.
Transitioning into the modernization of the horror novel, “Ambrose Bierce published “Can Such Things Be?” in 1893. The collection of ghost stories followed his gritty war stories, bringing ghosts into modernity(bookstellyouwhy.com). This goes to show how the shift into paranormal activity headlines the change into modern horror literature. This gave the modern reader a whole new meaning of fear and anxiety. The next step would be the adaptation to the horror film and not much after that.
After the major birth of horror, the creation of fictional characters come into play. “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley introduced pseudoscience into the genre in her famous novel Frankenstein (1818), about the creation of a monster that ultimately destroys its creator”(britannica.com). The addition of monsters and eerie atmospheres set the tone for time to come. The genre started to introduce haunted houses and symbols that gave readers a scare. Gothic influence pushed through the 1800’s with novels such as The House by the Churchyard and Green Tea. Dracula by Bram Stoker introduced the blood sucking count. The genre would turn its modern head and continue to develop darker scenarios and outlooks to shock and keep readers on the edge of their seats.
In Pet Semetary, Stephen King develops the idea of man playing God and the repercussions of defying nature. The story shows the ancient burial ground that the ancient civilization buried their pets in, so that they would come back to life. This follows the idea of man playing God and the fact that no good can come from it. “Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken(Pet Semetary). This quote justifies that the barrier between God and man was never intended to be broken. Gage dies on thanksgiving by a truck running him over. Louis proceeds to bury him in the same place Church the cat was buried. Gage comes back to life and stabs Jud immediately The Creed family crossed the line between God and man and felt the after math severely..
The next theme of the story is the repercussion of defying nature. “Sometimes, dead is better”(Pet Semetary). The quote supports the theme because the aftermath of the burial of the son comes back to haunt the Creed family. The son comes back to life and is not even a fraction of his old self. He goes on a mission to destroy his whole family and to get them into the burial ground. The story goes to show the audience the importance in the balance of nature and man. Man has no business dealing with the laws of nature. Louis finds himself battling Church and Gage at the end of the story as they both are trying to kill him and bury him in the cemetery. Louis ends up killing the reincarnated family members and ends up with a dead wife. The boom ends with Louis playing a card game awaiting the arrival of his animated wife.
Therefore, Stephen King’s Pet Semetary gives readers an idea of the dark side of literature. It shows the consequences of going against nature and the evils that the underworld would have. It brings fantasy to the real world and the horrors of reincarnation and defying the barriers of God and nature.