Friday, July 1, 2011

Marriage in the World of Firefly

So I couldn’t help myself; my post yesterday on marriage got me thinking about Firefly. Lately I feel like everything I talk about makes me think about Firefly but I digress. For those of you who have never seen on episode, or the movie Serenity well first shame on you and second this whole post will probably go over your head. So what does marriage mean in the world of Firefly where we have tons of different planets with different cultures, companions that you can pay money to show around and “play house” with and with the alliance that is breathing down the neck of most of the planets?
Weirdly enough things actually have stayed the same when it comes to all these different ideas of marriage in this futuristic universe. With the frontier land on many of the outer planets we have societies starting back up and having similar customs to societies of old such as marrying someone to pay off a debt of the family or town. An example of this is the marriage (although a sham by a devil woman played by the immensely gorgeous Christina Hendricks) of Mal and Saffron. Well really this can be shown as three different examples but we’ll start with the first one. She was supposedly given to Mal as a “gift” from the town elder. According to her story, Saffron had been waiting at the maiden house where she was to be married off to whoever came along. She talks about these awful men that her fellow maidens had been married off to and how she was lucky to get such a kind, gentle man. She also asks at one point if Mal is going to kill her because she has not pleased him, citing that others at the maiden house have been put to death for that very reason.
Of course this was all a fake, which leads me to my next example of marriage in Firefly: the sham marriage. Unfortunately Saffron not only married Mal to sell him out to people who wanted to strip Serenity but married tons of other men as well. She even marries Mal’s war buddy Monty under the guise of Bridget. Once Monty figures out who she is calls her a “devil woman” and leaves her on a desolate moon. We then learn that she also married a wealthy man named Durran who she married under the guise of Yolanda. At one point Mal even refers to her as “Yosafbridge” to accommodate all her guises. We can then liken her to all the money/power hungry women that get married purely for those reasons or even the black widow.
Then there is yet another form of marriage we can liken Mal and Saffron’s too: the drunken Vegas wedding. Mal was pretty drunk the night he “married” her and didn’t even realize that he was marrying her. That though was an example of the Triumph Settler’s wedding ritual. Mal was crowned with a wreath which represents his sovereignty, then drinks of her wine and then there was a dance with a joining of hands. All of this though never crossed Mal’s mind that this was a marriage ceremony that he went through. This then could be the equivalent to “The Hangover” type wedding.
Okay enough about that marriage (all though it is the most fascinating and complex, yet fake one) let’s move on to the other marriage: Zoë and Wash. Now if there was ever an odd marriage, it would be them but that’s the beauty of it and it works. You have Zoë who’s this beautiful, military-esque, Amazon woman and then you have Wash who is a comical, somewhat wimpy mechanic. Their marriage is lovable even though even W ash says “Not everyone gets me and Zoë at first” (Firefly 2002).
We see Zoë’s feelings about marriage come out when she is confronted by Saffron about cooking her husband dinner. Zoë looks at Saffron like she is crazy and later talks to Wash about how Saffron is subservient to Mal in every way and how a woman shouldn’t be like that. Zoë also fires back when Wash “defends her” going on about how it’s always like the man to jump in and defend a woman of Saffron’s likeness. On the flipside when Saffron is trying to seduce Wash she mentions that she felt that Zoë didn’t respect Wash to which Wash fires back his famous line “Not everyone gets me and Zoë at first.” This line like I mentioned earlier I feel sums up Zoë and Wash’s entire marriage.
We also see what both Mal and Jayne feel about marriage in wake of the appearance of Saffron. When first realizing that he’s married to her, while standing in the cargo bay, Mal starts freaking out about it thus “hurting Saffron’s” feelings in the process. Jayne then speaks up, saying that if Mal didn’t want her he would gladly take her. Later in the episode Jayne even tries to trade his favorite gun for Saffron citing “Come on Mal, I’d treat her okay…” which I think pretty much sums up Jayne’s take on what he thinks a marriage is. Mal gets annoyed with him firing back that she isn’t a piece of property to be bartered, that she is a human being thus showing part of his view on the subject.
So what have we learned from this study? Well mainly that all the types of marriages, and thoughts of marriages that we have now will probably still be around in hundreds of years to come. Things might change a little bit or even become somewhat retroactive as well. I leave you then with the words of Malcolm Reynolds: “Well, yeah, last night I was [pleased]. Had some mulled wine, pretty girl gave me a hat made out of a tree. Nobody said I was signing up to have and to hold” (Firefly 2002).


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