The novels of Ira Levin strongly criticize the compulsion to conform in American society. His characters experience an immense pressure to fit into the society around them, and,as they struggle to retain their individuality, they often become trapped in perverse cults of conformity. Thesemalicious communities use manipulation as a way to strip these characters of their sanity and their identity. For instance, the cult at the center of The Stepford Wivesmakesthe protagonist, Joanna, question whether she is in danger from the people in her new town and eventually her fears prove to be founded as the cult kills her and turns her into a robot that conforms to the role of the perfect housewife. While the cults in Levin’s works lead to the destruction of these societies and characters, Levin uses this as a way to encourage rebellion, and to advocate forindividuals seeking a sense of autonomy and individualism.
Just like the characters in the works of Ira Levin, members and victims of the Church of Scientology also experienced a loss of individualism and forced conformity. Developing in the 1960s, the Church of Scientology grew to become one of the world’s newest religions. Critics around the world attacked this cult-like group, which disguised itself as a religion. Scientologycontained contrasting identities, according to one’s perspective. While the Church portrayed itself as a new organization, focusing on betterment of its members, others experienced the church asmanipulative, dishonest and abusive. By separating members from their families, locking members away in prisons, and hiding information, the Church has proved itself to be a sinister group. As the Church tried to develop its religious status, government agencies and critics worked to discredit its beliefs and organization. This new religion and new science created by L. Ron Hubbard, worked to develop a more positive name for itself, but through difficulties involving investigations, scandals, and court cases, the Churchbecamea hated organization for many.
Major Works Consulted:
Levin, Ira. Rosemary's Baby. New York: Pegasus, 1967.
Kreloff, Charles. "Ira Levin." The Fabulous Birthday Blog. N.p., 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2016. http://thefabulousbirthdayblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/august-27happy-birthday-mr-ira- levin.html.
---. The Stepford Wives. New York: Perennial, 1972.
Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secret Religion. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Wright, Lawrence. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief. New York: Random, 2013.