Study Guide

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Mary (Kirsten Dunst)

Mary (Kirsten Dunst)

"A Stupid Girl with a Stupid Crush"

It's not until Mary Svevo comes over to Joel's house that we realize she's going to become more than just the Lacuna receptionist. But, you know, then she and Stan get stoned and start lying around on Joel's bed, and things start to look a little different.

Speaking of Stan and Mary on Joel's bed, here's what they actually have to say to each other:

STAN: The Clash... the only band that mattered. They called themselves that for a reason.

MARY: It's amazing, isn't it?

STAN: —Like social justice

MARY: Yeah, it's totally incredible. What Howard gives to the world.

STAN: Yeah.

Mary only has one thing on her mind (surprise: it's Howard), so it's no surprise that when the procedure goes wrong, the first thing she suggests is to call Howard. Not only is she sitting in a chair with basically nothing on but a blanket, she's also really worried about Howard seeing her when she's high. Let's not even mention the fact that she shouldn't really be there at all. But none of this matters: she takes some eye-drops, throws her clothes back on, and fluffs her hair so she can answer the door for Howard—who is not particularly happy to see her there.

Well, when Howard arrives, Mary gets all tongue-tied about why she's there, and pretty soon, she's calling Alexander Pope Pope Alexander, and she's telling Howie how she just really reaaally admires his work. Then there's a kiss, and the rest is history.

Like, literally. It's actually all happened before. Mary and Howard had an affair, and then Howard erased all Mary's memories of it.

After the truth blows up, Mary is seriously upset. She wants to find out more, so she listens to herself on tape talking about the affair Howard, and she can't believe it. If you do a little Googling, you might even be able to find an extended version of this scene, during which she listens to herself talk about getting an abortion. So, yeah—it gets even more serious, and it's no wonder Mary takes drastic action to make sure this doesn't happen to other people.

Actually, wait a minute. Isn't she just doing to others the same thing that just happened to her? Isn't ignorance bliss? Will she be effective in breaking a cyclical nature of human behavior? It turns out that Mary is a lot more than "a stupid girl with a stupid crush"—she makes us question not just the ethical implications of the Lacuna procedure but the nitty-gritty of dealing with this dilemma after it's happened to you.

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