Katie Harwood

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Katherine "Katie" Harwood is a fictitious character in the 2002 film Ghost Ship where an innocent young girl goes on a sea voyage of a lifetime, only to be caught up in a living nightmare aboard the ill-fated ocean liner. In the film, Katie is the supporting deuteragonist to the main character (Maureen Epps) and stands in stark contrast to the completely evil and demonic antagonist (Jack Ferriman). In many regards, Katie is just as much of a heroine as Maureen Epps for enduring unfathomable suffering and risking the wrath of Jack Ferriman through her unyielding efforts to save the souls and lives of others on the ship.[1] Katie is portrayed by a young Emily Jane Browning.

Significance[edit]

Katie is an iconic representation of childhood from an earlier era, at a time when life was simpler, and childhood more innocent.[2] [3]

Synopsis[edit]

In May of 1962, an endearing Katie waves goodbye to her grandparents in Europe and journeys solo aboard the exquisite Antonia Graza on an exclusive cruise to rejoin her family in New York City. Since Katie is the only child onboard, she receives special care and attention. In describing her voyage Katie states, ”The whole ship was my playground. I was the only child onboard, but the ship’s purser and captain took special care of me. I felt so safe and happy with them.”[4]

However, after the Antonia Graza rescues a lone survivor and cargo from a sinking ship, Katie’s exciting journey suddenly takes a horrendous turn for the worse. Unbeknownst to Katie and her shipmates, the single survivor (Jack Ferriman) is literally a demonic henchman for Satan set on destroying lives and collecting souls. Ferriman informs select members of the crew about the millions in gold recovered from his sinking ship, and influences them to launch an elaborate plot to seize control of the Graza and the gold, by killing everyone onboard. Although several crewmembers and passengers try to save her life from the murderous conspirators, Katie is eventually caught and tragically hanged to death, with her body concealed behind the partitioning door of her cabin.[5]

Instead of ascending to her rightful place in heaven, Katie’s spirit is trapped on the ship by demonic forces along with the entire compliment of murdered passengers and crew. However, since Katie is still a young child, her soul is completely innocent and therefore beyond the influence and control of the demonic Ferriman. Over the next 40 years, the evil Ferriman along with the help of the wicked “marked” souls, try to use the ship as a trap to destroy unsuspecting lives, and collect a quota of souls for hell. Despite being the only flicker of good on the ship, Katie bravely opposes Ferriman and the evil spirits, and attempts to warn and save the lives of anyone who has the misfortune of being lured aboard the condemned vessel. Concerning these things, Katie says, “He can’t control me like he does the others and because of this Jack hates me most of all – Always terrorizing me and frightening me away when I try to warn those who come here.”[6]

When Maureen Epps and her ship salving crew are lured aboard the Graza by Ferriman, Katie attempts to warn them about the dangerous ship. Katie has very perceptive eyes, and finds Epps to be more open to the truth than her cohorts. Katie tries to leave Epps messages and clues, and even appears to her on several occasions. When Katie senses that Ferriman has sabotaged the salvage crew’s tugboat, she boldly tries to warn the crew, but is forcibly carried away by Ferriman. Epps witnesses Katie’s warning and sets off in search for the mysterious girl.

Epps locates Katie’s cabin and comes face to face with her remains and her spirit. Katie allows Epps to have her cherished heart-shaped locket, and then proceeds to speak directly about the ship being a demonic trap. However, before Katie can finish explaining, she is overheard by an invisible Ferriman and lets out a frightened scream as he removes her from the cabin. Undeterred, Katie returns and tries to help Epps and her remaining crewmembers escape. Endowed with supernatural power from above, Katie transports Epps back to May 21, 1962 through her memories and reveals to her the horrifying events that led to everyone’s death, including her own. Furthermore, Katie reveals the true identity of Jack Ferriman and his goal to use the ship as a conduit to collect souls for Satan.[7]

After experiencing Katie’s heartbreaking vision, Epps decides to risk almost certain death by destroying the cursed ship with explosives. However, Katie helps Epps escape the rapidly sinking vessel, while emancipated souls rise from the ship. Katie stays faithfully by Epps and gives her a grateful smile as her spirit ascends toward heaven.[8]

Religious & Symbolic Implications[edit]

At its core, the story is deeply religious and the plot hinges on the concept of a young girl trying to save the lives (and ultimately souls) of others from demonic forces.[9]

Metaphorical Murals[edit]

The religious implications and Christian symbolism surrounding Katie’s story are rich. [10] Although only lightly touched on in the final version of the film, the most obvious religious connections come through the Gustave Dore inspired murals displayed throughout the ship. The murals are depictions based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and The Inferno. The metaphorical murals hint at the struggle between Katie and Ferriman over the lives and souls on the ship.[11] Lead actress Julianna Margulies says, “Katie is like Virgil in Dante’s Inferno. Margulies explains that Katie is like a “little guide” trying to lead others through hell and then safely onto the other side.[12] As in the mural, Ferriman is literally a “ferry man” using a boat in the attempt to ferry souls to hell and eternal damnation. Conversely, Katie opposes Ferriman by trying to protect and warn all unsuspecting visitors and sharing the truth about the demonic ship.

Marked Souls[edit]

An additional concept presented in the plot are the “marked” souls. Like the murals in the story, the souls of the sinful and the “lost”[13] are marked with a hooked-shaped indention on their hand. Katie says the mark is “a sign of their sins” and that they are bound to the will of Satan and his demons, in addition to eventually sharing in their same flaming judgment.[14] However, not all the murals are somber. The depiction of angels defeating the demons and casting them down foreshadows the eventual defeat of Ferriman and ultimately all evil.[15]

The Dove and Locket[edit]

Another subtle, but implicit Christian symbolism is Katie’s heart-shaped locket with the image of a raised dove in flight.[16] In Christian tradition, this type of dove can symbolize innocence, purity, faith, hope, God’s peace, God’s presence through the Holy Spirit and God’s guidance and deliverance.[17] The dove also indicated God’s bestowal of fortitude necessary to bear suffering and death[18]. In this sense, the remains of the dead dove on the bridge of the ship, foreshadows Katie’s death, but at the same time indicates that there could still be hope. When Epps puts on Katie’s locket, it implies that Epps now has a renewed heart, or possibly even salvation as stated in Bible scripture. In this manner, the locket could also represent that Epps’ soul is not "marked".[19]

Parallel of an Innocent and Sacrificial Life[edit]

A striking parallel could also be drawn between Katie and Jesus Christ. In the bible, Christ lives a completely innocent life, but is hung on a cross to sacrificially die for the sins of all humanity.[20] Christ tastes the sting of death and hell in order to offer salvation to all who will put their faith in Him.[21] Similarly, innocent Katie is hung by a rope behind a dividing door, but through her death she is able to lead others to "salvation" and safety. Because of her young age and innocent death, Katie is the only voice of hope for all the suppressed souls held captive on the demonic ship. Katie also endures small tastes of hell from Ferriman in her efforts to save others. However, Katie’s love and compassion for the lives of others is greater than her fear and pain, and in similarity to Christ, Katie rises victoriously to heaven in the end.[22]

Forty Years and the Promised Land[edit]

40 years is a significant reoccurring number in the Christian faith.[23] The Israelites endured 40 years of great trial and testing in the wilderness before they were able to enter their promised land of rest. In Christian tradition, the earthly life is often compared to a time of trial in the wilderness and the Promised Land a metaphor for heaven.[24] Correspondingly, Katie has endured the “wilderness” and trials of the ship for 40 years, but as the result of Epps’ help she is inevitably freed to enter the “promised land” of heaven.

Concept of Free Will[edit]

Free will is both discussed and demonstrated in the story.[25] Ultimately, the crew members that die are led to destruction by their own sins and their selfish desire for greed, lust and power. Epps is spared the fate of her shipmates through listening to Katie’s warnings and humbly responding to the truth.[26]

Elevated Status of Children[edit]

In the Christian bible God often uses the most humble and unlikely people to work through [27] – Out of hundreds on the ship, Katie is the meekest, humblest and most unlikely to do anything significant, yet every soul on the ship ends up depending on her.[28]

Katie is also reminiscent of Christ elevating the status of children when he gave them special attention and profoundly declared that unless one humbles them self and has the faith of a little child, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is further illustrated when Christ took a lowly child and placed him in the midst of his followers and stated that only those with childlike faith will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.[29] This concept is demonstrated by Epps' willingness to humble herself to Katie's level.[30]

The role of children in Christian scripture – Comparisons could be made between Katie and several unpretentious bible characters such as the lowly shepherd boy David who defeated the warrior Goliath and became king. Outwardly both young Katie and David appear to be nothing more that mere children, however, inwardly they possess vast unforeseen potential and a tremendous strength of character.[31] [32]

Eternal Destinations[edit]

In the film, as with Christian soteriology there are two clear eternal destinations which souls go to after death; ether heaven or hell. A heart of child-like faith will put one on the path to heaven, but a sinful life eventually leads to destruction.[33]

The Destructiveness of Sinful Choices[edit]

One of the morals of the story is the corrupting dangers of pursuing riches. This theme also fits aptly within the religious concepts of the film.[34] Sinful greed, lust, debauchery and selfish desire can influence ordinarily good people to do horribly evil things (1Timothy 6:9-10).[35] The choices made by the characters in the story illustrate this principle.

“Be sure your sins will find you out” – As the story goes, sinful activities have consequences and will eventually have to be accounted for, and the ultimate payment for sin in the end is both physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:20-23). [36] [37]

Loving Others before Ourselves[edit]

“Greater love has no one than this – To lay one’s life down for their friends.” Katie and Epps are both willing put themselves at risk to save lives. Through the process of trying to help others both Epps and Katie experience help for themselves.[38]

“Those who seek to save their life will lose it, but those who are willing to loose their life will save it.”[39] In this sense Epps' life is saved, because she places the needs of others first. Katie also inherits eternal life in heaven by risking herself to help others.

Purgatory[edit]

The concept of purgatory (Whalen p. 1034-1039)[40] is also mentioned when Katie states that the ship had become like a “prison” where souls are trapped among the living between heaven and hell.[41]

Additional Symbolism[edit]

Life as a Voyage on a Ship[edit]

Life itself is comparable to a voyage on ship...illustrating that our lives are like a ship that is bound for one of two possible destinations.[42] In the context of Ghost Ship, the voyage ends in destruction (death and hell) unless we get off. In this sense, Katie pleads with us to get off, but that involves humbly changing our ways and giving up the allure and pursuit of vain things such as wealth and power.[43]

Symbols of Changing Times[edit]

The once elegant and decaying ship is a symbol of changing times.[44] In a similar manner, Katie can be viewed as a symbolic representation of childhood from a more innocent era. Just as the ship decays to ruin from its glorious 1950’s splendor, Katie’s deteriorating childhood possessions and even Katie herself, are evocative symbols of changing times and eroding childhood innocence.[45]

Dichotomy and Contrasts[edit]

Katie is in some ways a complicated paradox: She has been deeply hurt and traumatized by all she has experienced, but by the same token, she is still very much an innocent child – Even after 40 years of resilient growth as a character. Katie exhibits a wide array of emotions from timid youthful innocence and joy, to extreme terror, sadness, loneliness, and solemn distress.[46]

Characters[edit]

Even under tremendously trying circumstances Katie demonstrates an incredible inner strength of character without compromising the sweet kind-hearted "girly" girl she really is. The fact that Katie remains true to herself in spite of all the evil and suffering she experienced transcends their eroding influence and distinguishes her from the other characters.[47]

Ferriman[edit]

Ferriman is representative of Satan and the crafty deceptiveness of evil in destroying people’s lives. Katie and Ferriman are at completely opposite ends of the Christian spectrum – The demonic Ferriman is totally depraved and evil while Katie is sweet and innocent. Katie is motivated by love and compassion, Ferriman is motivated by hate and rage.[48] [49]

Epps[edit]

Although Katie and Epps are two completely dissimilar characters from different eras, they still grow quite close. Epps is "a woman working in a man's world"[50] and appears somewhat tough and masculine on the exterior like a tomboy. Although not specifically stated, the story indicates that Epps is likely from a broken home. On the other hand, Katie comes from a close, traditional nuclear family. In contrast to Epps, Katie is more of a typical "girly" girl and is slightly timid, but possess a stout inner fortitude despite her diminutive and delicate appearance.[51]

Francesca[edit]

The sultry Francesca lives the more representative life of a performing artist. Unlike Epps who feels the need to downplay her femininity, Francesca leans toward the other extreme and attempts to flaunt her femininity to her own advantage, even to the point of her own exploitation. Conversely, Katie is still a virtuous and modest young girl, who has yet to be tainted by any corrupting influences of the world.[52]

Captain Murphy[edit]

Captain Murphy appears to be a strong imposing ship captain on the outside, however, when confronted with trials and tribulations, his perceived strength is shown to be superficial. This is evident by his emotional breakdown where he shuts off emotionally and withdraws to himself while attempting to drown his problems in alcohol. In contrast, Katie appears to be very delicate in both physical appearance and personality. However, despite her dainty appearance, Katie proves her true strength and fortitude from within through dealing with her pain and problems directly.[53]

General Themes[edit]

Light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, childhood innocence vs. wickedness, tragedy vs. triumph, simpler more wholesome times, vs. the complexity and loss of innocence of today.[54]

Conclusion[edit]

On the surface, Katie’s story is an emotional tale of heartache and tragedy – Something that no young person should ever have to endure. However, Katie’s story is also essential to the plot. [55] Through helping each other and being willing to put themselves at risk, Katie and Epps together achieve a triumph out of the tragedy and deliver a major blow to Ferriman and the forces of evil. Although the struggle over the souls of people will continue, this victory of the human spirit gives hope even in the face of terrible suffering, evil and even death.[56]

“Katie is really a very sweet girl. She's completely innocent…“ says Emily Jane Browning, who obviously became completely immersed in her character. “…She's been hoping someone would come onto the ship to be her friend, so when Epps arrives she's very excited – they develop a real friendship."[57]

”Emily did an amazing job,” Director Steve Beck enthuses. “She gave Katie a real complexity…she's not just a little girl caught up in a ghost story…” Both Browning and Beck also added that underneath all her heartfelt emotions, Katie longs for vindication and justice.[58]

The deeply symbolic and metaphorical aspects surrounding Katie’s story along with the close relationships she develops with others lends support to the notion that the film was originally intended to be more than just another Hollywood “slasher” horror. This is further substantiated by Katie’s tearful and heartfelt story – Emotionally poignant and touching drama not usually found in a horror picture.[59]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  2. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  3. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  4. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  5. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  6. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  7. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  8. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  9. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  10. http://www.worsleyschool.net/socialarts/symbolism/page.html
  11. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  12. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  13. Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 563.
  14. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  15. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  16. Barton, John (2001). The Oxford Bible Commentary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 383.
  17. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05144b.htm
  18. Gauding, Madonna (2009). The Signs and Symbols Bible. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co. p. 82.
  19. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  20. Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. pp. 2228–2229.
  21. Barton, John (2001). The Oxford Bible Commentary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 966.
  22. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  23. Collins English Dictonary http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/promised land
  24. Collins English Dictonary http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/promised land
  25. Keck, Leander (2002). The New Interpreter's Bible vol. 9. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. pp. 61–62.
  26. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  27. Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 2283.
  28. Ghost Ship official movie page production notes
  29. Barton, John (2001). The Oxford Bible Commentary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 963.
  30. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  31. Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 563.
  32. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  33. Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 1902.
  34. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  35. Life Application Bible - New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1991. p. 2195.
  36. Life Application Bible - New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1991. p. 2039.
  37. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  38. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  39. Life Application Bible - New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1991. p. 1842.
  40. Whalen, John (1983). New Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America.
  41. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  42. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  43. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  44. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  45. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  46. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  47. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  48. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  49. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  50. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  51. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  52. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  53. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  54. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  55. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  56. Ghost Ship DVD (2003) - Extra features and behind the scenes
  57. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  58. Ghost Ship official movie page_production notes
  59. http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/ghost_ship_info.txt

Cited Texts[edit]

  • Barclay, William (1975). The Gospel of Mark. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press. ISBN 0664213022.
  • Barton, John (2001). The Oxford Bible Commentary. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-875500-7.
  • Boettner, Loraine (1985). Roman Catholicism. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co. ISBN 0875521304.
  • Buttrick, George (1957). The Interpreter's Bible vol. 12. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. ASIN b000htp248 Check |asin= value (help).
  • Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. New York, NY: Harper Collins. 2009. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  • Dummelow, J.R. (1936). Commentary on the Whole Bible. New York, NY: Macmillian Publishing Co.
  • Gaebelein, Frank (1979). The Expositors Bible Commentary vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. ISBN 0310364302.
  • Gauding, Madonna (2009). The Signs and Symbols Bible. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co. ISBN 1402770049.
  • Jamieson, Fausset (1971). Commentary on the Whole Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. ASIN b004bcqp8o Check |asin= value (help).
  • Keck, Leander (2002). New Interpreter's Bible vol. 9. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. ISBN 0687278228.
  • Life Application Bible - New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1991. LCCN 90-71553.
  • Towns, Elmer (1983). Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 0840752954.
  • Wall, Robert (2002). The New Interpreter's Bible vol. 10. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. ISBN 0687278236.
  • Whalen, John (1967). New Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America. LCCN 66-22292.

External links[edit]