Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Thursday, July 08, 2004
The Ethics of "Second Choice" Marriages
WARNING: Massive spoiler for "Spider-Man 2" ahead. Since I don't have any of that fancy hide-the-post stuff here, please skip over the stuff in the next few paragraphs if you haven't seen the movie and are planning on doing so.

In response to the last few scenes of "Spider-Man 2", Will Baude ponders whether it is more deeply unagreeable to be left standing at the altar or to be unilaterally divorced within, say, two days of the ceremony. My response:

Why the hell did Mary Jane wait until the ceremony?

To that question, many would respond that she hadn't made up her mind about whether to continue with her engagement to Hunky Astronaut Boy or to hook up with the man she truly loves, Peter Parker. But what does it say about a character who would even consider marriage to person A when she truly loves person B, even if she "knows" that there's no way she and person B could ever be together?

Maybe I'm being horribly naive here, but for those of us who are less preoccupied with genitalia than are the Family Research Council and Senator Rick Santorum, marriage is about the union of two souls. The priest about to preside over the "Spider-Man 2" wedding was wearing a Roman collar, so it is safe to say that his views of marriage are similar* to those of the Catholic Church**, e.g. love is necessary for the spiritual bond of marriage--the sacrament to occur. But there were two impediments to this sacrament from taking place. The first one I consider to be a "passive" impediment--Mary Jane's lack of love for her future husband. I consider this to be a passive, and perhaps temporary, impediment because theoretically, Mary Jane could eventually fall in love with her husband, thus finalizing the sacrament several years after the ceremony.*** But there is a second impediment that prevents Mary Jane from ever truly loving The Astronaut****--her love for Peter Parker. The mere existence of Peter blocks Mary Jane's ability to fall in love with another man, meaning that her hypothetical marriage to Space Boy would never be a real, as in union-of-souls-real, marriage.

Not only is this hypothetical marriage destructive to Mary Jane, as it means she must live a lie, it is also destructive to her husband, who unknowingly loves a woman who does not love him back. He will not experience reciprocal love, and he is bound to not pursue reciprocal love. Of course, the fact that he doesn't know he's not experiencing reciprocal love may be an even greater spiritual loss--like Plato's shadows on the cave wall, he is mistaking the shadows of love for the reality.

So, yeah. Congratulations for Mary Jane finally getting the guts to break off the engagement. But boo to her for taking until the wedding itself.

A final thought: She totally should have left the engagement ring with the note. I mean, come on.

*Do Episcopal priests wear collars of the same style?
**Even though they, too, have certain below-the-belt prerequisites.
***Or something.
****Whose name, it seems, no one can remember--indicating that the gentleman in question is three-dimensional set dressing.

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