12 Quotes by Marilyn Monroe: Creating the Myth

12 Quotes by Marilyn Monroe: Creating the Myth

Last update: 06 June, 2018

It’d be almost impossible for someone nowadays not to recognize Marilyn Monroe’s face. She’s been immortalized, and shows up on just about everything. There’s absolutely no doubt that her face has become a symbol of the 20th century, a modern day myth. But what’s behind those golden curls and those captivating eyes? Marilyn Monroe’s quotes can give us a small window into this.

Norma Jean Baker was born on June 1st, 1926 in Los Angeles. Her parents separated before she was born. That meant she was the daughter to a single mother who didn’t have time to take care of her. So her mother ended up having to temporarily give her to an adoptive couple.

Norma Jean Baker’s childhood wasn’t easy. She would go back to her mom every once in a while, but she was always travelling from house to house. She was always surrounded by problems, and was even a victim of sexual abuse. All that created some insecurities in this young Norma that stuck with her for the rest of her life.

As an adult, she started to work at a weapons factory. One day a magazine took a photograph of her, and that’s when she started to work as a model. From that moment on, she went by the name Marilyn Monroe. She also changed her red-brown hair to the mythical blonde we all recognize nowadays. All the way from fashion to the movies, the myth of Marilyn Monroe was starting to form.

Marilyn Monroe, a 20th century myth

Myths are there to help us explain the world, or things that are beyond our understanding. That’s why ancient cultures had myths that explained all kinds of different phenomena. Nowadays, those myths have changed. Now we make myths through the media, and we give certain images a new meaning, or a new reading.

According to Roland Barthes, myths are a product, a cultural practice, a new language. Linguistic representations are made up of a signified and a signifier that go hand in hand, they’re inseparable. But myths go one step further: they add a new meaning to the signifier. Then there’s a new representation: the myth.

On top of that, Barthes thought of three different ways to read myths:

  • Cynical reading: a literal reading, the kind journalists use.
  • Reading the myth’s signifier: this kind takes the lid off of myths and shows how they’re artificial.
  • Dynamic reading: this is the kind most readers use, where you read without trying to demythify anything.

Along those lines, when we see a picture of Marilyn Monroe, we associate it with a sexual icon, or eroticism. We aren’t really seeing Marilyn, we’re seeing something beyond her.

What’s really behind the myth of Marilyn Monroe? Through these 12 quotes, we’re going to try to show you a little bit about this iconic 20th century movie star.

1. Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.

Marilyn Monroe was a major Hollywood star. But she was also thought-provoking, and even though she had a naive image, she had a reflective spirit. With this quote, she made it clear that it didn’t matter if she was part of the movie world, she could still see its darkest sides and call them out.

2. A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.

Even with all her success, Monroe always felt very alone. The truth is that sometimes success just isn’t enough. If you reach the peak alone and sacrifice your relationships on the way, you’ll probably have a bitter reality up there. It’ll probably be so bitter that most people wouldn’t want to have ever made it all the way there.

3. Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.

Marilyn Monroe’s tough childhood, the abuse, the depression, and the intense demands of the movie industry took a big toll on her. Who would have ever thought that such a beautiful woman had so many hidden insecuritiesLooks can be deceiving, because Marilyn was an extremely insecure person.

4. It’s better to be happy alone, than to be unhappy with someone.

This is a great Marilyn Monroe quote to think about during your day to day life. She was on a constant search for happiness in her life. But even though she had many partners, she always felt like something wasn’t right. That’s what makes it such a real, honest quote. You should never let a partner make you unhappy, because you can always try to find your own way to happiness alone. 

5. Dogs never bite me. Just humans.

It might have been her trauma and her extreme disappointment with society and humanity that made her say this. Our most reliable companions aren’t always humans.

6. I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.

If Marilyn Monroe stood for anything, it was her femininity. She was always proud to be a woman. Even with all the challenges and suffering in her life, she never stopped defending the value of women. 

7. Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.

People say that Marilyn Monroe had an IQ of 165, which is way higher than average. It’s even 5 points higher than Albert Einstein’s score. Monroe admired intelligence, and it was a quality she truly saw as attractive. There was a total genius hiding behind that image of a dumb blonde. This is one of Marilyn Monroe’s quotes that really proves it.

marilyn monroe holding a wine glass

8. Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn’t that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.

Her body made other women envious and put a spell on men. Her success had a strong link to her image, but behind her fake smile there was a woman who was suffering and trying to find her place in the world. Envy can cause a lot of harm, and Marilyn was a victim of that for most of her life. 

9. In Hollywood a girl’s virtue is much less important than her hair-do. You’re judged by how you look, not by what you are.

Once again, she was very critical of the movie industry and how it treated women back then. They were constantly seen as objects of beauty and sexuality, but never valued for their intelligence. A lot of Marilyn Monroe’s quotes give a sense of her opinion about this.

10. No sex is wrong, if there’s love in it.

People have speculated a lot on whether Marilyn Monroe was bisexual, but we can’t be sure even now. But what this quote shows is that she was tolerant of all kinds of love, as long as they were real. 

11. Love doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be real.

Monroe constantly dealt with a lack of affection in her childhood. She went from house to house without any strong family bonds, without any parental figures…It seems like she was always looking for affection. She got married three times and had a lot of different lovers. What that tells us is that she had a lot of trouble finding the kind of love that could give her stability. Or, to put it in her words, the real kind.

12. I’m trying to find myself as a person, sometimes that’s not easy to do. Millions of people live their entire lives without finding themselves.

This is one of Marilyn Monroe’s quotes that gives a clear example of her constant fight to find herself, improve, and try to overcome challenges. There were several times when she had to turn to medication, and it was that medication that caused her death.

Hiding behind this image of a seductive, feminine, glamorous woman, there was a woman with a dark past who spent her whole life trying to find herself. She went through depression and panic attacks and could never get away from the feeling that she was standing on the edge of a cliff, something we’ve probably all felt at some point. To this day, her death is still shrouded in mystery. There are  of different theories and conspiracies about her life and how it ended. 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.