* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
Dismiss
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Gospel of Matthew

Gospel of Matthew

Mary

Figure Analysis

Claim to fame: Gives birth to Jesus and keeps her virginity, to boot

The lady is the mother of God. Literally. It's not every day that a woman can be a mother and a virgin (at least not at the same time), but that's just what Mary does. How does she juggle it all?

A Passive Play

Compared to Joseph, Mary doesn't really get much attention in Matthew's Gospel. She's just the one who births the living God into the world. No big deal, right? We can see why Matthew would have overlooked her.

In fact, Mary is totally passive in this gospel. She doesn't get to say anything. She doesn't even get to do anything. She has things done to her. Notice the language:

  • "Mary had been engaged to Joseph" (1:18).
  • "She was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit" (1:18).
  • Joseph "took her as his wife" (1:24).
  • He "had no marital relations with [Mary] until she had borne a son" (1:25).
  • Joseph is told to "take the child and his mother" and run (2:13).

We never know what Mary thinks about any of this. About being pregnant, getting married, having a son, and fleeing from danger. Nada. In fact, the things Matthew doesn't say about Mary could fill a book. It's called the Gospel of Luke, actually. Check it out for another take on Mary and her role in the life of Jesus.

There's Something About Mary

Because of the way she's portrayed in Matthew's Gospel, Mary may even be considered by some to be "the ideal woman." She never speaks. She never complains. She never resists. She represents both "perfect" statuses of womanhood at the same time: virgin and mother. She's quite the package. (To misogynists, that is.)

But Mary is also an impossibility. Women speak and complain and resist. Women cannot be both virgins and mothers. Mary is often held up as the ideal woman, but she is also an ideal that no woman can ever achieve. Sorry, Mary. Maybe you're not all you're cracked up to be.

Shout-Outs

Mary is kind of everywhere. Aside from Jesus, she's probably one of the most well-known and popular figures from the New Testament. Catholics adore her. Literally. Marian adoration and reverence are central to the Catholic faith. Hey, it's nice to see the ladies getting their due.

Mary is so prolific, she even made an appearance on a grilled cheese sandwich once. But, wait. The best part is that someone managed to sell it on eBay for $28,000. We told you she was popular.

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement