Character Analysis: Marge Simpson

After seeing a video ranking cartoon mothers from most “good” to most “evil”, I found myself bothered by how biased the analysis was in their character as a mother, wife, and human being. It seemed that unless they treated their husbands perfectly and had zero personality flaws, they were ranked lowered than side characters with little-to-know character development in either them, their spouse, or their marriage. No regard was taken into how their marriages, children, personal history, or social dynamics affected them. Which made me wonder, how would I break down these characters, not just the wives, but all my favorite animated characters, if they were consumers. This is an analysis of Marge Simpson, the overall person.

Client Description

Marjorie Jacqueline “Marge” Simpson is a middle-aged female (approximately 34-36 years old), officially born 03/19/1956, in Capital City, USA. She is a high school graduate and works primarily as a Stay-at-Home Mother (SAHM); however, she has held out of the home occupations, which are detailed further in this analysis. She currently resides in Springfield, USA with her husband and 3 children (ages 10, 8, 1). She is active within her community, attending community events regularly.

Health and Medical History

Marge has previously suffered from anxiety and depression, which has led to hair loss and emotional outbursts requiring medical and/or legal intervention.

Marge dealing with hair loss from stress.

Behavioral History

Marge was previously diagnosed with an addiction to gambling, which has sporadically become a concern. She sees a therapist weekly, which appears to improve her mood and behaviors. She was previously exposed to shock therapy, along with her family, during counseling sessions. Additionally, Marge has been exposed to prison environments on 2 separate occasions, once for (accidental) shoplifting and once for child neglect. And she has a history of childhood trauma that led to a fear of flying, which includes the following: seeing her father work as a flight attendant (male in a traditional female occupation) when she thought he was a pilot, riding in a toy airplane that caught fire, and been fed with airplane noises while being inflicted with physical pain.

Marge is typically described by family and friends as mild-mannered, loving, and family orientated. However, she has been observed to be prone to emotional outbursts after enduring excessive durations of stress. These outbursts can be defined as follows: any instance of physical shutdown (stopping in place and refusing to move or comply with instruction), may or may not include screaming. These outbursts have a common antecedent, long durations of mental and physical stress, without any durations of respite or escape from aversive stimuli, which results in a small aversive incident triggering an extreme emotional outburst that requires intervention. In the long run, Marge is either consequenced with an aversive (e.g., jail) or an award (e.g., spa trip to relax).

Marge is driving with the baby while running errands. The baby spills her bottle over the dry cleaning.
(Previous to this Marge was enduring aversive stimuli during her errands.)
Marge stopped the car in the middle of a bridge, refusing to move the car.A bus driver confronts Marge.
Marge yells at him through the window, then sits in the car calmly.Police and new reports respond, as drivers stay in their cars.
Marge continues to sit silently in the car.Police attempt to talk Marge into leaving the car. Homer shows up to talk to her.
(She was eventually given a spa trip to relax.)
Simple breakdown of Marge’s emotional outburst in Season 3 Episode 15, “Homer Alone”

Cycle of Stagnation

Career review

Marge has held numerous occupations throughout the past 30+ years. All of which have common results.

JobStressorsEnd Result
Police OfficerShe was a full fledged cop, carrying a gun, dealing with criminals and a dirty police force. All while being looked down upon for being a woman in a “male” career. She physically chased down criminals and dealt with her good police work being undercut by corruption.Marge quit the police force after observing the theft of evidence (bootleg designer jeans) by the entire police force.
Nuclear Plant EmployeeMarge worked at the power plant and dealt with continuous sexual harassment by her boss, Charles Montgomery Burns. Marge was fired for rejecting Mr. Burns advances.
Substitute TeacherShe was Bart’s long-term sub. during a teacher strike. (Bart did not continue his typical antics)Job ended when strike ended.
RealtorMarge started a real estate career, only to find that all her colleagues preached lying to clients, which included her next door neighbors, the Flanders family. She found herself unable to sell homes.Marge quit the reality company.
Pretzel Franchise OwnerMarge sold pretzels as the owner of a pretzel franchise. Sale and competition were difficult, resulting in Homer escalating the problems.Marge quit the pretzel business.
Founder and Owner of ShapesMarge created the Springfield version of Curves, a gym for women. She was extremely successful, expanding to multiple locations. Marge became famous and rich, which led to stress in her marriage.It was a dream of Homer’s, and technically didn’t happen. But in the dream she ended up choosing Homer over the fame and money, resulting in Marge quitting.
Church CounselorMarge began working as the Listen Lady for her church, to advise Springfield citizens when the Reverend could not. Eventually, she became too popular and the Reverend began engaging in jealous behaviors. Marge quit her counseling job.
Mayor of SpringfieldAll the pressures and “politics” of a town that had been run by a corrupt family for generations. She quickly became disliked when she put her family ahead of her constituents. Marge quit after political pressure.

Synopsis and Recommendations

Marge is talented and wants to be acknowledged as a successful person. She is often successful at anything she puts her mind to learning, but she has 2 primary issues.

1. Despite being happy with her life and career paths, she is unhappy by the judgment others have of her life, based on their concept of what “successful” means. She takes pride in being a SAHM, but when her daughter Lisa or former high school friends looked down upon this career path, she will see herself as unfulfilled talent – as she was previously an honor student in high school with college aspirations. This may further be impacted by how traumatizing she found it to be when she discovered her father did not have the career she envisioned, and instead had a career she found to be disappointing by her standards for how she perceived her father.

2. Whenever Marge feels brave enough to venture out of her comfort zone of being a SAHM, whether she achieves the success she desired or not, the aversives she deals with result in her quitting and returning back to her comfort zone.

These two issues help lead to the long-term buildup of her already existing anxiety and depression issues. Additionally, she does not allow herself enough time for respite and self-care. Marge deals with aversive stimuli on a daily basis, having both a dysfunctional husband and inconsiderate children. Because of this, she does not deal with her stress until she has an emotional outburst that either results in a reward or further aversive stimuli that results in others appreciating her more and temporarily changing their behaviors towards her for the better. In recent years Marge was observed to attend weekly counseling sessions by herself, which improve her quality of life. She is much happier immediately following her sessions, and by the next session, she is ready to explode. This implies Marge has burnt out. People who burn out are typically unable to return to the activity that resulted in being burnt out, as they burn out and break down again very quickly. However, since Marge’s life and career are her family, she cannot fully escape that aversive. This is further exampled by how quickly Marge quits her jobs when aversive situations occur after success. While the weekly sessions are working now, it would be recommended that Marge increase sessions to twice per week, with scheduled respite periods and planned vacations by herself.


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