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The Weird Parallel Between Carrie And Lady Macbeth You Never Noticed

"Carrie," the 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name, is memorable in a dozen ways. From Sissy Spacek's quietly desperate portrayal of teen outcast Carrie White to the color and lighting design, which have become signatures of director Brian De Palma's work, it's gained a reputation as one of the best horror films ever made.

"Carrie" isn't just spooky, however — it's nuanced. Indeed, there exists a particularly interesting parallel between Carrie White and a Shakespearean character even the most die-hard cinephiles might not be aware of. Recall, if you will, whatever you remember from reading "Macbeth" in high school. Now, hone in on the ambitious and blood-hungry Lady Macbeth. While Carrie is an innocent who is tempest-tossed by the horrors of parental abuse and teenage bullying, Lady Macbeth is ultimately undone by her own greed and ruthlessness. Yet a link exists between the two fictional characters. How did director De Palma compare these two ladies? Keep reading to find out.

When fine art meets stage blood

According to Reddit user u/nedelbach, Brian De Palma intentionally instructed Sissy Spacek to model her stiff posture and glacial walk on Gustave Moreau's 1851 painting "Study for Lady Macbeth." Once you've seen the work in question, the parallel between Spacek's body language and the painting is completely recognizable — and utterly unnerving. After pig's blood is dumped over Carrie's head and she takes revenge upon her wicked classmates, she does indeed channel the figure Moreau depicts with slashes of yellow paint.

Though "Carrie" and "Macbeth" appear, on the surface, to have little in common, there are quite a few links between the two stories. Principally, both examine shame, revenge, and, of course, a whole lot of violence. In "Macbeth," Lady Macbeth is driven to sleepwalk while drenched in guilt for taking part in the assassination of King Duncan. She continuously sees her hands as befouled by blood, and tries to rub them clean — though, of course, there is no literal blood to be scrubbed away. Carrie's powers descend upon her when she get her period for the first time in the school locker room, which makes her even more of a pariah than she already is. This eventually leads to the infamous prom prank involving pig's blood.  While Lady Macbeth is undone by blood she thinks she can wash off, Carrie is empowered by it — to horrific ends.

A fascinating notion for a horror film, and quite the interesting parallel between two works you wouldn't think to link together.