OF THE BABY NAME NORMAN
Norman Bates is a strong contender for the creepiest fictional and film character of all time, as conceived by Robert Bloch in his 1959 novel, Psycho, and as immortalized by Anthony Perkins in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name (you can forget that ridiculous remake of 1998 – Vince Vaughan??! Puhleeze – or any sequels). Based upon a true-life murderer, Norman is a classic case of the smothered Mama’s boy gone bad. Subject to an emotionally abused childhood in which his mother impresses upon him the inherent evil nature of women, Norman grows into a young man who is severely disturbed, and who kills his mother and her lover, making it look like a murder-suicide pact. But that’s just the tame beginning. Norman then props up his mother’s corpse in the house and goes about managing their nearby motel as if nothing has happened. He alternately assumes his mother’s personality with his own (along with her clothes and a wig), making sure that she flies into rages every time he is attracted to a woman. Not-so-innocent Marion Crane stumbles into this little ménage-a-deux, mixes up the juices, and pays dearly for it. Those who follow in her footsteps looking for her come to the same fate. The beauty of the movie is that we are as clueless as Marion et al until the denouement, when all is made clear to us – with screams and sound effects that have a lasting effect on one’s psyche. A masterpiece of almost laughable evil, Norman continues to haunt us well after his unveiling, when even the local sheriff remarks, “Why, Norman wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Norman May is a kind and intelligent young man in Charlotte Mary Yonge’s 1856 novel, The Daisy Chain, the story of a large middle-class family in England and their various trials and accomplishments. Of both, there are many. At the outset, Mother May is killed and daughter Margaret crippled in a carriage accident, while Father May struggles to keep up alone with the rest of the family – eleven children! Norman is actually probably in the Mensa class, but like so many of his Victorian brothers, he suffers from depression and self-doubt. In the final analysis, Norman becomes a clergyman – an excellent choice at a time when people were actively striving to discipline their baser natures into choosing the higher path of divinity. At least, we hope it cheered him up a little.