The Feminine Mystique: Nora Charles

Understanding women is rarely easy.

From the perspective of being a woman or otherwise, women are odd, changeable, creatures who share qualities with the sylph, the chameleon, and the sphinx alike.

The current ‘feminist’ approach tends a bit too much towards the grotesque for my sensibilities. I am very glad that as a woman I have the freedom to pursue any career or education that I so desire. But defining women in need of a career and putting in them in direct  – and many times ugly – competition with men is a great limitation as well. Often women who want to be home makers or are content with more family focused ambitions are chastened for ‘dragging women back down’.

Leaving aside what this strange “feminism” does to men, its effects on women are not particularly Graceful.

I have  already mentioned how difficult it is to find good examples of womanhood in our current world. John Paul II says some great things about beginning a “New Feminism”, it is still difficult to see exactly what it means to be a ‘good woman’. A good example must be strong, beautiful, and possess that almost indefinable femininity.

Women have unique gifts and blessings ones that set them apart from men. And that ought to be celebrated.

So whenever I am in the mood, or stumble upon a particularly compelling example from real life or art, I propose to bring you Women of Real Femininity, filled with mystery, grace, beauty, and strength!

And the first woman, who inspired this entire series, is,

Nora Charles
Played by Myrna Loy in the Thin Man Series


Nora is a thing of awe.

From the very first time that I saw one of the Thin Man movies, I have adored Nora. She is classy, smart, loyal, sweet, sassy, wise, caring, and always has impeccable fashion.

The thing that is most striking about Nora is her unflappable trust in her husband. She can find Nick in the arms of another woman, and react with only a wrinkle of her nose. She instantly understands – quite rightly – that a distraught and stressed woman needed a shoulder on which to cry, and her husband happened to have the only spare should around.

Because, what man with any modicum of sanity would cheat on Nora?

Nora is the kind of woman who insists on matching her husband drink for drink. She is the woman who giver her husband a bebe gun for Christmas . . . and then lets him fire it in the house. And behaves as languidly as if shooting balloons off of a Christmas tree were perfectly normal.

She is confident and poised, with no false modesty (or improper egotism) to pull her down. (Nick: “Darling, have I ever told that you are most fascinating woman this side of the Rockies?” Nora: “Wait until you see me on the other side.”)

She is calm and cool in almost any situation.

She loves a good adventure, and at times must be forcibly retrained from danger.

She is always sincerely gracious and polite to everyone. (Except murderers and the kidnappers of her children. But that is understandable.) She is compassionate and genuinely cares for the people around her, even if she has known them for a very little time.

She is possessed of a wicked wit. (“Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?”)

And she loves whole-heartedly. One of the most beautiful things about this series is the marriage of this couple, Nick and Nora. They are clearly deeply in love, and intend to stay in love for the rest of their loves.

Their common, everyday expressions of affection for each other are mainly a witty teasing.

They work together wonderfully, despite Nick’s attempts to keep her out of danger. (He discovers that hard way the locking her in the closet will only drive to do her own sleuthing.)

And more than anything, she has the indefinable air of womanly mystique. She is feminine to the very tip of her smallest finger.

It is difficult to find the right words to describe her, but with a doubt she is a Woman!

(And to prove it, you should go watch the movies. But until then, have a few clips below.)

3 thoughts on “The Feminine Mystique: Nora Charles

  1. The proof of what you say is in how quickly I was smitten with her. It’s the playful but complete trust between Nick and Nora that makes them so strong a couple and so much fun to watch. Like a romantic comedy, but without all the contrived nonsense of “will they or won’t they fall in love.” These two people were made for each other, they are a perfect team, so let’s get on with seeing them at their best, shall we? And it works brilliantly!

    I am exceedingly happy that there are five sequels. While normally this would be a cause for concern, I can think of fewer film pleasures than spending more time in the company of sparkling Nick and glorious Nora.

  2. I like the idea of a series of posts on Real Femininity. I have to admit, I struggle sometimes with the notion of femininity, mainly because societal expectations or pop culture presentations of women are not what I want to be; they’re either shallow or overly objectified. So for that reason, I sometimes shy away from the feminine because I don’t want to be seen as some empty-headed Barbie girl. But I’d like to learn to express True Femininity.

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