Merricat and Constance Blackwell
Mary Katherine (Merricat) and Constance Blackwell create a secretive world for themselves in We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1963). Their entire family, mother, father, brother and aunt succumbed to arsenic poisoning at the dinner table one fateful night years before we meet them. Everyone died except old Uncle Julian and the two girls. In fact, Constance, who cooked that fateful last meal, was tried but acquitted for the serial killing of her family. Their small community was not so forgiving. The only place the sisters feel safe afterwards is in their secluded house.
Constance seems to live in a perpetual daze brought on by shock and trauma of the horrible poisoning affair. She immerses her thoughts totally in tending for Merricat, old Uncle Julian and the house and garden. Merricat spends every waking day protecting her sister from the critical eyes, harsh judgment and torment of the outside world. You will never forget the lengths she takes to accomplish this task.
Martha and Abby Brewster
In the play Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring (1939), we meet Martha and Abbey Brewster. Dear, sweet old ladies with unbounded hearts of charity and a penchant for murder: euthanasia by arsenic poisoning. They live with their mentally ill nephew who believes he is President Theodore Roosevelt. His complete immersion is so distracting that few catch on to the sisters' own demented justification for mass murder.
The Brewster sisters gleefully and prolifically use arsenic to poison several lonely men. They rid themselves of the bodies and any guilt by holding last rites. Then, nephew Teddy Roosevelt dutifully buries all of the "malaria victims" for them in the Panama Canal. This man-made marvel, they convince him, just happens to be located in the basement of their Brooklyn, NY Brownstone. Only nephew Mortimer has discovered their ghastly secret and he loves them too much to turn them in. Everything is going just fine until the third nephew shows up. I won't spoil the plot, so you'll have to read it for yourself to see how it all turns out in the Brewster sisters' world.
My third favorite pair of fictional sisters doesn't delight in poisoning people with arsenic -- family or otherwise. They are not murderers at all. Nonetheless, their story is no less creepy than that of Merricat and Constance Blackwell or of old Martha and Abby Brewster. These last two sisters are definitely unforgettable, as well.
Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987) introduces us to two beyond- codependent sisters, Denver and Beloved. There are just a few problems. First, Beloved is not alive. She is the ghost of a two year old baby girl. Second, she is not your typical giggling, innocent baby. You'll have to read last week's post about Beloved and its unforgettable characters to find out what I mean.
Who are your favorite unforgettable, creepy fictional sisters? Please drop me a line in the comments section and let me know!
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