Since today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would take the time to discuss one of my favorite female characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green’s novel Paper Towns.
If you’ve read the book, you might be a bit confused. Margo is not a very friendly, compassionate, or lovable person, and the decision she makes at the end of the book absolutely drives me insane. She is resolutely stubborn, often selfish, and seems addicted to dangerous adventures that make everyone worry about her safety. So why do I admire her so much? The answer is simple: she is an independent young woman who is determined to live life the way she wants to.
At first, Margo seems like the stereotypical popular girl in high school- she’s attractive, has major boyfriend-drama to deal with, and doesn’t really talk to those in “lower” social cliques. But this image is shattered when she embarks on a quest for revenge with Quentin one night. Possibly my favorite scene in the entire book occurs when they are at the top of a tall building, looking out at the rest of the city. In a burst of surprising truth, Margo says:
“Here’s what’s not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.”
Margo is wise beyond her years, and if this quote doesn’t prove that then I don’t know what will. She has realized something that many adults either aren’t aware of or refuse to accept: there is more to life than material possessions, than mere things. Trying to fill some empty void in your happiness with objects is a venture doomed to fail. She is disgusted with herself for caring so much about her meaningless relationship with her stupid boyfriend, the “friends” that had not thought twice about betraying her, and the newest gadget that she just had to own. She hates society for making her this way, for transforming her into this shallow, materialistic shell of a girl as she aged. So she decides to run away, to live the life she wishes she had been living all along.
Would I like to be friends with Margo? No, not really. Her personality is not a very likable one, and I’m not sure if she would make a great friend. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t still admire her. Margo is selfish because she is trying to find happiness, and who can blame her for that? In this regard, don’t we all have a bit of Margo inside of us? It is her independence and her ability to go after what she wants with such great determination that I admire. Despite her flaws and her inner turmoil she is strong, ambitious, and wise. She’s not perfect, but who is?
Which fiction female characters do you admire? Let me know in the comments section below!