Laura Palmer: Intertextual Temptress

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Simultaneously deceased and ever-present, Laura Palmer of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990-1991) defies logic and signifies chaos by displaying both a lack of and an overabundance of meaning. Laura's dead body exemplifies her paradoxical nature; cocooned in plastic and bejeweled with tiny pebbles, her corpse counters Julia Kristeva's definition of the abject cadaver. As this chapter explains, Laura's dead body echoes Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the dead female as an aesthetic object, as her beautiful corpse provokes necrophiliac desires. This chapter details how Laura's body is abused on various levels:through the incestuous molestation of her body, via the violation of the body of text contained within her secret diary, and through the on-screen and off-screen investigations of her secrets. As pointed out in this chapter, on-screen investigators follow clues leading to the solving of Laura's murder, while off-screen investigators inscribe Laura's body with various meanings through the identification of the Twin Peaks canon's numerous cultural references. As a result, Laura becomes a monstrosity of multiple meanings. Several readings of Laura are investigated in this chapter: Laura as a double, Laura as a dead(ly) femme fatale, Laura as a victim of incest, Laura as a nymphet/seductress, Laura as a sexually deviant witch figure, and Laura as a fairy tale feminist. The young girl's simultaneous invitation to and struggle against the investigation of her secrets complicate any critical analysis of her persona(s). Laura's uncanny harboring of several identities, via numerous intertextual references, and the multiple violations of her body have turned her physique beastly, projecting the abject chaos within.
Key words: Twin peaks, abjection, female body/corpse, female monstrosity, empty/unstable signifier, Laura Palmer.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe-Visiting Female Evil : Power, Purity and Desire
EditorsMelissa Dearey, Susana Nicolás, Roger Davis
Number of pages28
VolumeAt the Interface / Probing the Boundaries, Volume: 90
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill | Rodopi
Publication date2017
ChapterPart III
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-35081-6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This chapter expands on the chapter "Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meaning in the book "Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine" from 2015, which was edited by David Farnell, Rute Noiva, and Kirsten Smith and published by Inter-Disciplinary Press. The chapter was based on the paper “Laura Palmer: A Monstrosity of Multiple Meanings” which I presented at the 6th Global Conference on Evil, Women and the Feminine in Lisbon in 2014. During the publication process of "Revisiting Female Evil", Inter-Disciplinary Press closed down, and Brill/Rodopi took over.


  • Twin Peaks
  • abjection
  • female corpse/body
  • female monstrosity
  • empty/unstable signifier
  • Laura Palmer
  • feminism
  • fairy tale
  • Horror
  • Julia Kristeva
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • David Lynch
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Popular Culture
  • tv-krimi, tv-drama


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