Norman Bates is a fictional character created by writer Robert Bloch as the central character in his novel Psycho, and portrayed by Anthony Perkins as the villain of the 1960 film of the same name directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The character was inspired by serial killer Ed Gein.
Fictional character biography
Both the novel and Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film adaptation explain that Bates suffers severe emotional abuse as a child at the hands of his mother, Norma, who preaches to him that sex is evil and that women (except herself) are whores. The two of them live alone together in a state of total codependence after the death of Bates' father. When Bates is a teenager, his mother takes a lover, Joe Considine, driving him over the edge with jealousy; Bates murders both of them with strychnine and preserves his mother's corpse. Bates develops dissociative identity disorder, assuming his mother's personality, repressing her death as a way to escape the guilt of murdering her. He inherits his mother's house, where he keeps her corpse, and the family motel in fictional Fairvale, California.
Bloch sums up Bates' multiple personalities in his stylistic form of puns: "Norman", a child dependent on his mother; "Norma", a possessive mother who kills anyone who threatens the illusion of her existence; and "Normal", a (barely) functional adult who goes through the motions of day-to-day life.
Bates is finally arrested after he murders a young woman named Mary Crane (called Marion Crane in the film) and Milton Arbogast, a private investigator sent to look for her. Bates is declared insane and sent to an institution, where the "mother" personality completely takes hold; he essentially becomes his mother.
In Bloch's 1982 sequel to his novel, Bates fakes his death in a car accident while escaping from the asylum and heads to Hollywood, where a film based on his murders is in production. In the next book, Psycho House, Norman appears only as a novelty animatronic on display in the Bates Hotel, which has been converted into a tourist attraction.
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