Celebrating the characters confined and consumed by motherhood.
By Shoshana Greenberg (lyricist-bookwriter)
There will be many mother character lists this Mother's Day, but few, if any, will look at characters for whom the confines of motherhood are the basis for the story being told. Motherhood more than defines these characters' existences; it justifies their existences. Below are my favorite mothers who are either trapped by motherhood or consumed by it--or both.
Rosemary (Rosemary's Baby)
When Rosemary is impregnated by the devil (or so she believes), those close to her (husbands, doctors) pooh-pooh her suspicions, telling her it's just pregnancy paranoia. Poor Rosemary--used for her fertility and then made to love whatever creature she births. Her motherhood is a tool for others, and then she's a slave to its emotions.
Her name is "Mother," so that should be a clue that motherhood is her defining charactistic. As Doctorow writes her (and the musical portrays her), Mother manages to turn motherhood into a strength, but she can never move beyond the name.
Not only has Rose made motherhood her profession but it's basically her life force. Her last number, "Rose's Turn," is devastating because her motherhood and her self are so intertwined, it's impossible for us to know the difference. And then, after her breakdown, it's Rose's role as Louise's mother that is Rose's salvation.
Sarah Connor (The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
The mother warrior, Sarah is targeted for termination not because she is a mother but because she will one day be a mother. If that's not a metaphor for how many young women are treated today, I don't know what is. Sarah's average life is upended in the first film, when a terminator is sent to kill her, but she survives, has a child, and raises him to lead and save the human race. It's quite a burden, but she fulfills her duty as though she has no other choice.
Demeter/Ceres (Greek and Roman mythology)
One of the original mother figures! Demeter (or Ceres to the Romans) was the goddess of the grain who lost her daughter Persephone to the god of the underworld. Demeter roams the earth looking for her and manages to get her back for half the year because Persephone has already eaten the food of the dead. According to this myth, the sorrow a mother feels when her child is gone causes the cold winter months. Demeter's story of motherhood lost and gained reverberates through most motherhood stories, making her the ultimate mother figure.