All in the Family Character Review: Edith Bunker

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series All in the FamilyRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

For an untold number of generations, women have been told that the only acceptable role is that of a wife. She is expected to cook, clean, stay home to take care of her child(ren), and ensure that her husband is happy. But what few realize is that this woman (especially in a traditional hetero-normative family), is that she is her family’s backbone. Without her endless support and work, their lives would not be the same.

On All in the Family, Edith Bunker (the late Jean Stapleton) is not the brightest bulb in the box. Which causes endless irritation for her less than understanding husband, Archie (the late Carroll O’Connor). His favorite nickname for her is “dingbat”.

But what she does not have in traditional academic intelligence, she makes up for with a huge heart. Her willingness to be open to those who Archie derides proves that having an open mind is just an important as being smart.

One of the other things about intellect is that it is not limited to one way of thinking. When Edith is nearly raped, she has enough presence of mind to distract her rapist and get away to safety. She also has the ability from time to time to knock her husband down a peg or two as only she can.

To sum it up: Though Edith comes off as a ditz, there is much more to her than meets the eye. She is warm, caring, understanding, and tolerates her husband’s less than endearing quirks.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

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