The Exorcism Scene: Who is it Helping and Hurting?

This weekend’s reading in A Head Full of Ghosts, focused on the buildup and the actual scene of the exorcism of Marjorie. I thought that the buildup to the exorcism was especially interesting because of Marjorie’s involvement and knowledge of what was going to happen and how the exorcism was actually going to work. To me, it was very counter-intuitive that Marjorie would be in the know of how the process was going to work since she was the main subject of the event.

In the movie, The Exorcist, Regan was not a part of the preparation for the exorcism at all. In fact, she was completely out of the loop and not involved in the process at all. This is what I expected out of the exorcism build up in A Head Full of Ghosts due to the similarities that we have discussed in class of the two stories. However, after processing and thinking about the differences in the two, it is clear why Marjorie would be involved in the buildup to her own exorcism. Since they are filming a reality TV show, those are normally planned ahead of time and it would make sense why all characters would be involved. Merry even whispers in her ear, “You’ll do great, Marjorie” thereby reinforcing the idea that this is a show or performance, rather than a real exorcism. This comment contributes to the question we are all asking ourselves as we read the novel, “Is she faking it”?

Another question we as readers consider throughout the novel is wondering if the exorcism really is done to help Marjorie or is now just for the benefit of the show. I found myself questioning this even more throughout the actual exorcism scene. Specifically, when Father Wanderly address Marjorie as a creature and she responds, “I’m not a creature. I’m Marjorie, a fourteen-year-old girl, scared of everything, who doesn’t know why she hears voices that tell her confusing things. And I try to be good and I try.” This exclamation reads as a plea for help and left me wondering, is this exorcism hurting her as a young girl for the benefit of the show, or is it hurting the demons inside of her, therefore helping her escape them?

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