Margo Roth Spiegelmann from the "Paper Towns"
In John Green's young adult fiction novel "Paper Towns", an important character revealed to us throughout the text is that of the elusive and eccentric Margo Roth Spiegelmann. Quentin the protagonistic (sic) first person narrator is the means through which Margo Roth Spiegelmann is revealed to us as he goes on a journey to discover her whereabouts, and more than that, her identity. Through his eyes we see Margo as a larger than life goddess, but this perception gradually changes throughout the three-part text as we realise she is nothing more than a lost, lonely soul. In the first distinctive part of Paper Towns, 'The Strings', we understand Margo to be the out-going, adventurous "queen bee" of her high school, a perception fuelled by Quentin's relentless obsessive puppy love for her. His interest was first piqued during his childhood when the two of them shared a gruesome experience wherein they discovered the body of a suicidal man. Nine year old Margo was curious about the cause of death and her final conclusion was that "maybe all the strings in him broke". This is a highly perceptive conclusion and yet, slightly disturbing coming from the mouth of a nine year old. We understand Margo to be curious and perceptive with a keen sense of adventure from a young age. Quentin describes Margo as his "miracle" which shows how much she means to him and we make the assumption that she must be a "larger than life" deity for her to leave such an impression on Quentin-a character we understand to be intelligent and "well- adjusted" due to his therapist parents. Through Quentin's character, Margo is revealed to us to be the " life of the party" as he admits that " her name was often spoken in its entirety with a quiet level of reverence". This allows us to conclude that Margo is not just great in the eyes of a single obsessed teenage boy-she is revered by an entire student body. It is through other people's perceptions that Margo's character is revealed to us as an amazing person who has crazy adventures and an enviable life. During the end of "The Strings" and "The Grass", the middle section of Paper Towns, we make new discoveries about Margo's character, revealed to us by her actions and again the analytic conclusions of Quentin.
Despite her graduation fast approaching, Margo leaves Orlando -seemingly permanently- leaving a "bread crumb" bait for Quentin to discover her true identity. During her 11 point revenge plan, Margo Roth Spiegelman, takes Quentin to the Sun Trust Building. Quentin describes the majestic scene as "beautiful" and yet Margo insists on "what's not beautiful about it...it's a paper town". We see her pessimism in stark contrast to Quentin's optimism and begin to question how enviable her life really is. It seems to us that she is miserable which is not at all what we would expect from such an "adventurous" person. As the novel wears on, one of Margo's older friends, Greg, says that Margo "never got what it was really about....the adventure". We are suddenly forced to see Margo in a new light. A light that shows the cracks and flaws in what we had perceived to be "a sealed perfection-uncracked and uncrackable". We realise that Quentin's inner musings of Margo may have in fact been wrong and that he has revealed to us only one side of Margo-the façade that everyone else sees. It is at Quentin's anagnorisis that he realises- and simultaneously we realise- what a "fundamental mistake" he had made, "Margo was not a miracle...she was not an adventurer...she was a girl". We realise that the revelations Quentin has made about Margo's character were in fact wrong, and we are forced to reanalyse her, using her actions to guide us in making new revelations. It is clear to us that Margo is a sad, lonely girl who felt surrounded by fake people-fake friends as we know her boyfriend checked on her with one of her "best friends". We can infer that it is not the need for adventure that drives her away, but rather a need for real people. It is the last part of Paper Towns "the Vessel", that we finally pin point the true character of Margo Roth Spiegelman-this time revealed to us not by ignorant others but by her own words and messages. Quentin's finds Margo in Agloe, New York- a real paper town. She is surprised to see him and accuses him of wanting to "save poor little Margo from herself". This rather intuitive accusation shows us that despite everything, Margo is not a "damsel in distress". She is a strong young woman with a keen sense of pride and a determination to be self-dependent. She does however, claim that "people love the idea of a paper girl...it's kind of great being an idea everyone loves".
This shows us that despite her accusations of others being "paper people", she too is materialistic and "fake" on some fronts. Revealed through her own words, we now finally understand who Margo Roth Spiegelman truly is-she is a strong independent young woman who is determined to make her own way in the world. Yes, she may be slightly materialistic but it is a fault found in many. She is deeply perceptive and intelligent and merely needs a fresh start free of fake friends to make the most of her untapped potential. Margo's character is intrinsicly (sic) important in conveying the theme of John Green's novel as our misled first conclusions speak volumes. She was revealed to us-incorrectly-by others perceptions of her and as such we placed on her unfair expectations that none could dream of living up to. We find it difficult to think of "people as people...we idealise them as Gods or dismiss them as animals". This is a poignant conclusion reflected in our own society which is riddled with social pressure and anxiety, many of which stem from unfair expectations. By assuming people are more than merely humans like ourselves we force them to live up to our expectations and this has dire consequences for both parties-we are disappointed and they are placed under unnecessary pressure. Being both a perpetrator and a victim of this I can relate to Margo's character and empathise with her situation. "what a treacherous thing to think of a person as more than a person". To truly understand Margo, we couldn't rely on other people's misled revelations. By listening to her musings through Quentin's ear, we finally realised that Margo Roth Spiegelman is a typical teenage girl- she "has her flaws and quirks but it is precisely these that make her who she is". By following Quentin's perceptions and the conclusions of other characters in Paper Towns, Margo was portrayed to us as a "larger than life" adventure loving "miracle" and yet it was only through Margo's own words and actions that her true identity was revealed to us. This serves as a vital lesson to the characters of the novel and the people of today's society, we will never know who a person is truly at heart until we listen to them rather than gossip and rumours. As such, it is unfair to judge people or bully them because of a perception that might very well be a lie and simultaneously we should never place on them unfair expectations of what and who they should be.