I’ve always seen Marge Simpson as a character who constantly gets worse throughout the series, whether she was a reasonably level-headed wife and mother in the first three seasons, or a hen-pecking wet blanket in later seasons. One thing that has always puzzled me, however, is Marge’s portrayal in the season four episode “Homer the Heretic”.
In this acclaimed Simpsons episode, Homer rips his church pants, causing him to want to skip church (obviously out of embarrassment), much to the chagrin of an obviously devout Marge. After Homer has a day of feeling good at home, he decides to stop going to church entirely. Naturally, Marge doesn’t like that at all, and does everything she can to convince Homer to go to church again.
The thing that bothers me is that in many previous episodes, Marge has consistently stood by Homer no matter how stupid he was, but in this episode, Marge is always against Homer and is constantly locking horns with him over religion. What I’m wondering is, in “Homer the Heretic”, why does Marge get so easily flared up over religion? In every episode where the family goes to church, Marge always has to play the role of the traffic cop, rushing the entire family to go to church looking clean.
What’s really jarring is that Marge always chooses God over her husband, despite how often she’s stood by her husband. Even worse is that she tries to thrust Homer back into the flock, to the point of threatening to tell the kids that Homer is “wicked”. Come to think of it, this happens in a lot of episodes involving religion. In “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star”, Bart and Homer became Catholics, and Marge makes it her mission to force them back into being Protestants. Is that would Christian should spend his or her time doing? For that matter, is that the mark of a good wife?
I have to question why Marge has to be such a stereotypical Stepford wife, especially when it comes to religion. I find this portrayal to be highly outdated, especially in the 21st century, where religion isn’t as prominent as it used to be. Finally, by the end of “Homer the Heretic”, Marge only starts loving Homer again after he abandons his own faith whilst wallowing in self-pity.
Was Marge always such a raging Christian bellyacher, or did her marriage with Homer crush her spirit so much that she’s lost her free spirit. If season 2’s “The Way We Was” is to be believed, this is the same woman who, in high school, was a bra-burning feminist. Then again, that same episode seems to indicate that it wasn’t just Homer who trampled on her free spirit. It might even be rich tapestry of events, going back to her childhood, that explains her aggressively conformist attitude. To be honest, however, there probably is no real explanation. All we have is a riddle that has pervaded the character of Marge for over two decades. If someone out there had already found the answer to it, I’d like to know of it.