Film

a super lady


The positive attributes that are central to her characterization are self-unconscious naturalness, consistent sincerity, and good manners. For Marge, manners do not function as a veneer or as some form of artificial, programmed behavior, suppressing a more authentic self-expression she has not had the daring to try out. Instead, manners are—in her way of living through them—a crucial moving illumination of what Edith Wharton has termed “that vast noiseless labor of the spirit going on everywhere beneath the social surface.”

One of my students declared Marge Gunderson the most natural character she had ever encountered, and while we could have spent time interrogating her assumptions about what that slippery word “natural” consists of, no one in the class, including myself, had any immediate urge to come up with rival candidates for the accolade. Marge’s refreshingly unabashed pleasure in her nonstop eating, her thriving pregnancy, her deep, untroubled sleep, and her comfortable sorties into the unpromising, frozen Minnesota landscape suggest an almost magical integration of self and world.

Her way of inhabiting her physical and social environment seems based on an acceptance of certain things as given, and simultaneously an acceptance that a number of choices she has made are settled matters.

Toles, George. A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.

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