Norma Bates (Psycho)

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Psycho character
Norma Bates
The corpse of Norma Bates in Psycho.
Aliases "Mother" Bates
Gender Female
Born 1909
Died 1949
(40 years old)
Race Caucasian
Relationships John Massett (first husband, divorced)
John/Sam Bates (second husband, deceased)
Joe Considine (boyfriend, deceased)
Norman Bates (son)
Dylan Massett (son/nephew)
Emma Spool (sister, deceased)
Caleb Calhoun (brother)
Dr. Constance "Connie" Forbes-Bates (daughter-in law)
Enemies Everyone except her son, especially other women.
M.O. Taking over her son's mind, causing him to stab his victims to death while wearing her clothing.
Weapon of choice: Kitchen knife
Portrayed by: Paul Jasmin, Virginia Gregg, Jeanette Nolan (Psycho)
Virginia Gregg (Psycho II - Psycho III)
Olivia Hussey, Alice Hirson (Psycho IV: The Beginning)
Rose Marie (Psycho (1998))
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)

Norma Louise Bates (née Spool) is a fictional character in the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch and the Universal Studios Psycho franchise starring Anthony Perkins, Psycho, Psycho II, Psycho III, Psycho IV: The Beginning and the TV spin-off Bates Motel. She is not strictly a character in the novel by Bloch, and her presence is indicated only as a voice and a corpse in the Psycho films. She is not depicted as a character until the fourth film installment (Psycho IV) where she serves as the primary antagonist.

In 2009, BookFinder.com included Norma Bates in its list of the Top 10 Worst Mothers in the history of literature.[1]

Character[edit]

Psycho[edit]

After the death of her husband John, Norma Bates raises her son Norman with cruelty and manipulation; she forbids him to have a life away from her, and teaches him that sex is evil and that all women (except herself) are whores.

For many years, Norma and Norman live together as if there is no one else in the world. When Norman is a teenager, his mother meets Joe Considine, whom she begins dating and plans to marry. Considine convinces Norma to open a motel. Norman grows insanely jealous of Considine, believing that Norma has abandoned him for her boyfriend, and poisons them with strychnine, making it look like murder-suicide.

Unable to bear the loss of his mother, Norman steals Mrs. Bates' corpse and mummifies it, and speaks to it as if his mother were still alive. He also speaks to himself in her voice and frequently dresses in her clothes; in his own mind, he becomes his mother in order to escape the guilt of having murdered her. The "Mother" personality is as possessive and unstable as Norma Bates had been in life; when "Mother" becomes aware of Norman's desire for a certain woman, "she" goes wild with jealousy, takes complete control of Norman, and kills the woman. When Norman regains consciousness, he discovers the crime he is convinced his mother has committed, and destroys the evidence like any dutiful son.

One of "Mother"'s victims is Marion Crane (Mary in the novel), who fled to the Bates Motel after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to marry her boyfriend, Sam Loomis. She draws the attention of private investigator Milton Arbogast to the motel and then the house, where Norman refuses to let him see his mother. Suspicious, Arbogast goes to the Bates house, where "Mother" kills him as well. Sam and Lila Crane, Marion's sister, soon arrive, suspecting Norman of killing Marion for the money. Lila discovers Mrs. Bates' corpse while searching the house; moments later, Norman attacks her while in his "Mother" persona, only to be subdued by Sam. Norman is then arrested and institutionalized, and the "Mother" persona takes complete, permanent control of his mind.

Psycho II[edit]

Twenty-two years later, Norman Bates, now supposedly cured, is released from the institution and returns home. He is soon confronted by notes supposedly written by Mrs. Bates and phone calls by someone who claims to be his mother. Norman takes a job at a local diner and befriends Emma Spool, the cook, and a waitress named Mary Samuels, who has boyfriend trouble and is left without a home. Norman offers Mary a room at his house, and she reluctantly accepts. At about this time, a series of mysterious murders are committed by a woman with a knife to people who come to the motel and the house.

Norman's sanity begins to unravel, as he starts to believe that it is his mother's ghost that commits the murders. His psychiatrist Dr. Raymond shows him Mrs. Bates's corpse and reveals to him that Mary Samuels is actually Mary Loomis, Sam Loomis' daughter, and is plotting with her mother to drive him crazy in order to get revenge for Marion's murder; they both dress up as Norman's mother and appear through the window of her bedroom. Mary believes that the murderer is hiding in Norman's house, and when Norman explains to Mary that the murderer might be his real mother, she speculates that he might have been adopted.

While Norman is at the swamp with the police where a car containing the corpse of the ex-manager of the motel is found, Lila sneaks in the house to dress up as Mother, but then the murderer comes in and kills her. When Mary and Norman return to the house, Norman receives a phone call from Dr. Raymond; in his mind, however, the phone call is from Mother. Mary, disturbed, tries to convince Norman to stop answering the phone by dressing up as his mother, complete with a butcher knife. Mary accidentally kills Dr. Raymond, who has come to the house to catch Mary, and Norman tries to hide her from the police. Mary discovers Lila's corpse hidden in a pile of coal, and, convinced Norman is the murderer, tries to kill him. The police intervene just in time, however, and shoot her dead.

That night, Mrs. Spool visits Norman and reveals that she is his real mother, and that Norma Bates was actually his aunt; Mrs. Spool had been put in a mental institution shortly after giving birth to Norman, and her sister had adopted him and told him that he was her son. Mrs. Spool then reveals that she had committed the murders in order to protect Norman. Norman then bludgeons her to death with a spade, and carries her body up to "Mother"'s room, where the "Mother" personality takes control of his mind once again.

Psycho III[edit]

In Psycho III, a reporter named Tracy Venable latches on to the history of the Bates/Spool families; her research leads her to the story of a love triangle between John Bates and the Spool sisters, Norma and Emma. Driven mad with jealousy, Emma killed John Bates and abducted the young Norman, convincing herself he was the child she had with John Bates. Emma was apprehended and locked up, and Norman was returned to his mother.

By this point in the series, Norman has begun murdering young women again under the control of the "Mother" personality. He finds some hope for redemption when he meets and falls in love with a young woman named Maureen Coyle, but "Mother" eventually wins out and kills her. Venable finds Norman and tells him the truth about his parentage, and Norman attacks his mother's corpse. He is arrested and sent back to the institution, but proclaims that he is finally free.

Psycho IV[edit]

Psycho IV ignores the revelations of the Psycho sequels and retells much of Norman's and his mother's past from the original film. It is implied in the film that Mrs. Bates suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which Norman inherits, although Bloch's novel doesn't mention such a plot point. The film also explains that Norman has been released from the institution and is now married. When Norman finds out that his wife is pregnant, he decides to kill her to prevent another of his "cursed" line from entering the world. He relents after his wife professes her love for him, however, and decides to rid himself of the past once and for all by burning down his mother's house. During this act, he sees visions of his mother mocking and tormenting him, but perseveres and destroys the house, finally free of his mother's voice, which demands to be let out.

Bates Motel[edit]

In Bates Motel, it is shown that after the death of her husband, Sam, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) took Norman (Freddie Highmore) and fled to what is now known as the Bates Motel. She is seen to be less cruel, but her cruelty is replaced with immense paranoia; she is extremely jealous and does everything she can to keep Norman to herself. Distraught after losing the family business and property, Keith Summers (W. Earl Brown) broke into the Bates' home and raped Norma. Although Norman intervenes by knocking Summers out, their new lives begin with Norma committing the act of murder. It is also revealed that Norma had another son, Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot), who was conceived when she was raped as a teenager by her older brother Caleb Calhoun. Norma used Dylan's conception to escape from her troubled home life; marrying her then-boyfriend, John Massett, and passing off her unborn child as his son. She would later divorce John to marry Sam, becoming estranged from Dylan and favouring Norman instead, even naming him after her.

On the show, her middle name is Louise.[2] It is possible that, given her brother Caleb's surname, her maiden name was Norma Calhoun.

Appearances[edit]

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilmore, Sue (May 7, 2009). "Bookends: Bookfinder.com ranks literary world's worst moms". Oakland Tribune. Archived at HighBeam Research. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  2. ^ Bates Motel Season 1 Episode 10 - Midnight

External links[edit]