Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have been thinking about Miss Marple lately and about evil and goodness for it’s own sake and a little about Professor Dumbledore and his whole love-is-powerful-magic-thingy (I don’t know if this will get as far as the Dumbledore part) and I’m also thinking about moisturizer (but that’s only because I just got out of the shower and my face is all pinchy).

Back to Miss Marple: Miss Marple believed that evil was very real. Not just evil deeds and evil doers but evil it’s ownself. Out there waiting to be tripped over, encountered, flirted with and embraced and that she was evil's Nemesis. Gray haired, sensibly shoed, elderly Nemesis armed with a sense of justice (and a carpet bag with knitting in it) and an unlikely visage. How cool is that? I want to live next door to her, I want know her. I want to have tea with this lady. (Okay, before you ask, I do know she’s not real < and, pssshhhah, she'd be like 160 years old by now> and that all that stuff was really Agatha Christie but it doesn’t seem like it does it? It seems like it belongs to Miss Marple.)

I wonder why Aggie assigned Nemesis and the pursuit of evil to the little old maiden lady. She gave Poirot the “little gray cells” and his powers of observation and massive ego and Tommy and Tuppence got the flip and devil may care “aren’t we too-too clever?” (Well, and they were! I really do love them and wish there were more stories which makes me thinks about the “classics” and why they are supposed to better and must reads. I read Canterbury Tales and Moby Dick and To Kill a Mockingbird <I’d say that’s a modern classic wouldn’t you?> and most of Shakespeare and I pretended to read The Iliad <here I have to pause to say “gack”, Does anybody really read The Iliad when it’s assigned??...okay, maybe you went back to it but COME ON as a sophomore? Again: “gack”.> and lots of other classics and they just stack up with all of the other stuff I read. Good, wonderful, GACK, spoke to me, loved it, beautiful, boring, thick, awful, transcendent (good word), entertaining. In a long lifetime of reading good writing is good writing. Maybe some are called classics because they have endured over time but that brings us back to Aggie. She certainly endures and is rarely counted among the 100 ‘must reads’. Perhaps a subject for another essay - Who would like to take it on? Volunteers?)

ALRIGHT! Now is the time to show patience an understanding not the time to scream “GET TO THE POINT! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD"* (*I always think that adds a little drama so good on you for using it appropriately here.) I’m heading right back there. I don’t wear contact lenses and am not so good at finding tiny, transparent things that have popped out of place.

So Nemesis and Christie: why Miss Marple as Nemesis? Why the elderly lady as the Avenging Angel?  (I wonder when Aggie decided that it would be Miss Marple and not any of her other characters? We know when she writing these stories but when did she think of it? At what point in her own life? Was she a young woman or did she come to this later? When did it make sense to give this to Jane Marple? Originally I thought this was going to be about evil and goodness and choices but now I think it might be about old women and their place in our world, our notions and our literature and our movies- Dumbledore will have to wait.)

We meet Jane Marple and see what she presents to the world and then we are surprised to find the steely inner core of resolve and the ruthless Avenging Angel. We are programmed to be surprised by her power. She doesn’t have the steely gray hair pulled back into the severe bun and the steady gaze and the harsh features that might make us believe that she is ‘man enough’ to take on evil. She’s fluffy, and pink and drinks tea and she knits for god’s sake(another good use of the deity to underscore a point don’t you think? I didn’t make it up so if you don’t like it you can say so.) and she’s frail! We are however not at all surprised to discover that Yoda (frail and bent as he is) is compellingly wise and extremely powerful. We are not surprised that Dumbledore (aww, he did get in here) turns out to be ruthless as well as powerful in spite of all of his maundering (I know – not really maunderings – I had a point to make here - apologies all ‘round) on about love and his extreme age - but the Jane Marples of the world – they surprise us.

The ‘wise ones’ of fiction are rarely the old women. They are more often the gossips, the couch bound and the busy bodies. They don’t save the world or fight for justice. They don’t summon up their waning power for one last crusade - they never had the power to begin with so it could hardly wane. They aren’t secret ninjas. They are rarely Nemesis.

What an unlikely thing Christie did here and how lovely.

(I had a bunch of other crap about stereotypes and flip-sides and waning powers and truth and fiction but I sent where it belonged coz, well it was crap. The Marple stuff, I’m pretty happy with that part so there y’all go)


  1. You are so damned adorable. Do you mind if I move in next door? We can take turns pretending to be Nemesis and we can drink tea and complain about our faulty body parts.

  2. @MJ....yes please. We even have the cool weather you like.