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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

“Sister Suffragette”

Winifred Banks is a modern woman, a suffragette and rebel, she has just been at a rally and begins to tell the household staff about it.  As Katie Nanna tries to explain that she is leaving, Winifred, caught up in her own world, launches into the song “Sister Suffragette.”  Winifred shocks the domestics by raising her skirt, exposing her ankles when singing about “political equality and equal rights with men,” and the cook shrieks.  The cook and Ellen join Mrs. Banks and march around with her during the song, and Katie Nanna reluctantly participates, too.  Although a revolutionary, Winifred is also relational, drawing the others into her song and linking arms with them.

Finally, Katie Nanna gets Mrs. Banks’s attention, but Mrs. Banks is still somewhat unaware, and instead of realizing that Katie Nanna is quitting, she admonishes Katie Nanna for being careless in letting the children run off, yet again.  Then Mrs. Banks naively asks Katie Nanna when she expects the children home.  Suddenly realizing that her husband will be arriving soon, Mrs. Banks gives her "Votes for Women" sashes to Ellen to hide because “the cause infuriates Mr. Banks.”  Ellen, alerting the others to the impending time gun blast signals “posts, everyone” as the cannon blast shakes the entire house.  This is a routine occurrence, thus a predictable and routine disruption.

George Banks is seen arriving home just prior to the time gun going off.  As he passes the admiral’s house, he and the admiral have a discussion.  George Banks tells the admiral about the rock solid world of finance, and inquires of the admiral “how are things from where you stand?”  The admiral warns George “A bit chargey I’d say, wind’s coming up and the glass is falling, don’t like the look of it.  Shouldn’t wonder if you weren’t steering into a nasty piece of weather.”  George, however, might as well have not asked the question, because he is not paying attention and answers “Good, Good,” and continues on unthinkingly.  Both George Banks and his wife Winifred are in their own worlds as they arrive home.  They are not present—George is all involved in the bank—he is named Banks and he works for a bank.  In Jungian circles this would be referred to as identifying with the persona, which comes from phersu, a Greek word meaning "mask."  The persona is a term Jung used for “the individual’s system of adaption or manner he assumes in dealing with the world” (Jung, 1950/1990, p. 122, para. 221).  Due to one’s occupation, certain kinds of behavior can come to be expected, and this becomes a danger if the ego gets possessed by the persona, because a person may become very one-sided.  This is indeed the case with George, as we will shortly see—he is over-identified with his job, and treats his home-life similar to his work-life.  Jung notes that “the persona is that which in reality one is not but which oneself as well as others think one is.  In any case, the temptation to be what one seems to be is great, because the persona is usually rewarded in cash.” (p. 123, para. 221)

Mrs. Banks is likewise absorbed in the suffragette movement, although she is not as identified with the suffragette cause.  Neither Mr. or Mrs. Banks notice what is going on around them, and they are not very concerned, especially with regard the children.  We can see their lack of concern in their interactions with Katie Nanna, and the fact that neither George nor Winifred registers right away that Katie Nanna is quitting, nor that the children are gone.  George Banks actually bumps into Katie Nanna as she is leaving, and cordially helps her with her suitcase, not realizing that she is on her way out for good. 


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