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A Summary

Paul Sheldon is a best-selling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than an enthused reader, she is Paul?s nurse, tending his battered and broke body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work, just for her. She has many ways to motivate him. One is a stash of illegal pills she addicted him to. Another is an ax. And if they don?t work she can get really nasty. Paul has no way of escape, and he knows this because he?s tried. That experience left him with one less foot. With Misery?s Return drawing to an end, Annie?s depression getting worse, and the police poking around her house, Paul knows his time is limited. His only chance is to fake burning the book he has made for Annie, and kill her in her hysteria. It works, sort of. Annie?s body is never found. Paul escapes, but he finds his world ruined. He is still addicted to Novril and he is barely able to walk, but on the other hand, Misery?s Return has sold over ten million copies.


Manic depression is defined as a disturbance of a person?s mood characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania, and in Annie Wilkes?s case, this may be an understatement. She is first introduced in the story as Paul?s caring, nurturing, a tad bit eccentric, nurse, but soon she identifies herself to be not only Nurse Annie, but also Number One Fan Annie.

Switching from one mood to another is referred to as a mood swing. Mood swings can be mild, moderate or severe, and, you guessed it, Annie?s were severe. She is in good spirits after she discovers her favorite author near death in a snow bank, and jumps at the chance to nurse him back to health, but her attitude is dissolved when she finishes Paul?s latest book only to find out her hero, Misery Chastain, dies at the end. Annie becomes depressed, angry, and malicious.

Mental affects of manic depression include: poor judgment, blaming others for things that go wrong, loss of touch with reality and, having strange ideas about being persecuted. Throughout the story, Annie shows all these signs. When Paul tries to escape she hacks his foot off with an ax, she blames Paul making her break things in anger, and she believes that everyone in the town is against her. This is what makes Annie dangerous. She preserves herself as the victim in all cases, and she has no remorse when she hurts, mutilates, or even kills someone.

Others effects of manic depression are: thinking one is more powerful than one really is, a heightening of all senses, and excessive anger over trivial things. Annie may be crazy, but she is not stupid. She is able to spot anything out of place, which makes escape impossible for Paul, and, whether she thought so or not; she did have power over Paul. Annie?s cruel and dangerous persona makes her an instant villain, but the fact that she is mentally ill also makes her a target for sympathy. The reader has a love-hate relationship with Annie, and in the end Annie wins out, over the reader at least, by outsmarting us all and escaping.


Severe injury or trauma can cause stress, and, sometimes, depression occurring from mental and physical strain. Paul Sheldon begins the story crippled, in extreme pain, and craving Norvil. He soon finds out that he is being held captive by a mentally ill nurse- with little hope of escape. He cries nightly because of the withdrawal he goes through twice a day, and, did I mention that a mentally ill nurse is holding him captive? In the beginning stages of depression one may exhibit strange symptoms such as: crying easily and excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Annie?s demand for a new Misery novel seems impossible to Paul. He hates Misery, and knows it would be hell to bring her back, but with a but of, er, persuasion from Annie, Paul begins to write, and surprisingly it is easy for him to sink back into Misery?s world. Mild cases of manic depression may cause a person to experience a heightened sense of creativity and work ability.

Paul begins t exercise when Annie is not around, and slowly he is able to propel himself around in a wheelchair. He becomes obsessed with the idea of escape and the murder of Annie. All the while, he dwells upon Misery?s Return, and Novril. ?Delirious? or psychotic mania may be accompanied by: severe over activity, rapid emotional changes, obsession, and racing thoughts.

True Misery

As it turns out, Paul who seems stable and heroic to the reader is really no different than poor, crazy Annie. What if the story had been told from Annie?s point of view? Would we be seeing a manic depressive, ungrateful author? Really the story is all up to the reader?s perception. Misinterpretation of events, thinking one is smarter than one really is, and quick and rash judgments are all symptoms of mild psychotic mania.

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