Three of the four Rutherford films concern murder which destabilises the family, whilst in Murder Ahoy murder strikes at the heart of a trust for the rehabilitation of young offenders.
Marple manages to inveigle herself into these extended families and communities, free from any family responsibilities herself and therefore able to investigate the dysfunctionality of others. The comedy stems from the disjuncture between her spinster exterior and a wisdom and cunning that puts her firmly in control. Yet the characterisation of Miss Marple draws on a perennial archetype of female ageing, the crone, demonstrating wisdom and a fascination with violent death, a figure who inhabits the margins of life in terms of proximity to death and has super-human powers of deduction and insight.
The older female detective, is a Medusa figure; she is marginalised and grotesque, having the power to wreak havoc. Medusa is unsightly according to legend- a monstrosity who perverts accepted ideas around feminine beauty — much as the older woman is considered a perversion in terms of her decaying looks — warranting invisibility. Marple is ultimately indestructible, demonstrating her immortality as the murderous doctor comes close to strangling her before finally trying to inject her with a fatal drug. Zoe Brennan notes how the characterisation of the older female detective exploits stereotypical age-related traits, translating them into a range of skills which prove particularly appropriate for the job of detecting a crime.
Gossip, the restricted range of experience which has nurtured an acute awareness of the character and behaviour of others and various gendered traits such as intuition and the ability to be a good listener are thus reclaimed as positive attributes rather than the traits of the marginalised.
Her knowledge and expertise in the domestic sphere becomes invaluable as she passes as a maid, demonstrating superlative skills of cooking and housekeeping, and enabling her to gather clues and gain the confidence of key characters. Her star power increased with age, starting her film career in middle age. Her age worked to enhance her appeal as a comedy actor, rather than limiting her career.
The figure of the cycling old maid symbolises continuity, timelessness, a sense of doing the right thing and tradition. The novel 4. Instead she sends for a younger friend, Lucy, who takes a job as a maid at the home of the troubled Crackenthorpe family, gathering information and finding clues, supervised by Marple from a safe distance. Her performance of old age dispenses with the physical shackles which hold Miss Marple back, making the character central to almost every scene of the film as compared to the withdrawn elderly figure in the book.
The climax of the film involves her putting herself in danger as she lures the murderer to a confession, on the brink of being killed herself. She refuses to conform to the narrative of decline of old age; being an agent for change, and an object of desire. She performs the older woman, cultivating an image centred on eccentricity.
This could be argued to be an ambivalent representation of age, imbuing the character with energy, individuality and distinctiveness, and thereby denying the narrative of decline which pervades attitudes towards aging. Walmart eBooks App.
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The Village Spinster
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The Village Spinster by Laura Matthews - FictionDB
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