Lately on the internet I seen a lot of Milah hate and I feel compelled to write another meta about her.
When Belle expresses a desire to leave her small town and go on adventures to see the world she's called a strong, independent, female character who is not afraid to go after what she wants. She's referred to as a girl that little girls watching should aspire to be.
When Ariel sings about wanting more from her life we sing along with her and empathise with her. She's a teenage girl who knows that what she has is not what she wants and again goes after it. She is many people's favourite Disney Princess despite running away and leaving behind all her responsibilities.
When Regina talks about how unhappy she is in her marriage and how much she wants to leave she is showered in sympathy and no-one really condemns her for the lengths she went to to escape it.
But when Milah wants exactly
these things she is called a slut, bitch, whore, and is often referred to as the most despicable character in the show. Why is it that it is so dreadful for Milah to want these things and to make steps towards them but not for any of the other characters?
Why is Milah the most terrible person in the show when Regina, Rumplestiltskin, Hook have all done for worse things? Regina ruined he lives of thousands of people out of her own bitterness and anger. She ordered the murder of an entire village of people including children
. She cursed an entire kingdom worth of people to a living hell to get back at one girl. She wanted revenge so much that she murdered her own father for it
. Rumple was the Dark One. He gained that reputation for a reason. He destroyed the kind and innocent girl that Regina used to be, murdered people on a whim, and did any number of terrible things. Hook shot an innocent Belle because he wanted Rumple to feel the same pain that Rumple inflicted on him, and murdered any number of people. Milah did one
horrible thing in abandoning her son and she's suddenly the worst sort of monster out there? No. I do not hold to that sort of logic.
So why is Milah treated like this?
The writers treated her like she was a bone for Rumple and Hook to fight over and the fans do the same. Every time we saw Milah we were looking at her through Rumple's eyes. We saw how Milah's actions affected Rumple and Bae but we never saw what Milah's life was like. Unlike with Regina we never saw a young, happy, innocent girl who's dreams of adventure were crushed by poverty, responsibility, the scorn of her village, and a husband she stopped loving. Milah wasn't given the screen time to develop her into a nuanced character because from the writer's point of view she was a plot device. Fans treat her the same way – “Hook is a horrible person because he stole another man's wife” is a sentiment I see everywhere and I find it sickening. To treat Milah like a piece of meat or property that can be stolen is to take away Milah's agency and nullifies the fact that she made those choices for her. Milah is not property, you cannot blame Hook for her decisions. You cannot steal a person so please stop saying this!
Let me get this straight right here though. Milah made a bad decision. She should not have left her son. Whatever about leaving Rumple, I support that entirely, but abandoning her son was a bad call and there were so many better ways to go about it. I am not defending what she did to Bae. But then again, there are parents who left their children a stone's throw away in every direction in Storybrooke. They all have different reasons and motivations and circumstances behind it but the action was still the same. Emma, Henry, Ruby, Grace, James to name a few were all left or abandoned. Yet Milah is the only parent who gets spat on for it.
The thing is, if Milah was unhappy in her marriage then I feel she had every right to leave it. What was she supposed to do? Stay and be miserable forever, even though she had an opportunity to leave? The way Rumple refers to her at times throughout the show makes me wonder if there wasn't even more aspects behind her leaving than we are getting. “You stole her from me.” “We have a son.” “You have responsibilities.” There is s subtle undertone here of how I imagine Rumple viewed Milah and how he would have treated her accordingly. First of all, saying “You stole her from me” after you have been told that she decided to leave you is extremely telling. Rumple doesn't not believe in Milah's agency. He disregards her choices and decisions. The next quote is possibly the most important: “We have a son”. Rumple said this to a man who, he believes, forcibly kidnapped his wife with the intention of raping her and allowing his crew to do the same. Rumple's response to this was not “Please don't do this horrific thing to my wife. I love her. Please spare her.” He was not pleading for mercy for a woman he loved who was about to suffer a terrible fate. He didn't seem to be thinking of her at all – he was thinking of Bae. From this it seems to me that Rumple, although loving her, also viewed her as a wife and a mother before an actual person herself. A person with hopes and dreams and ambitions outside of wife and mother. People will probably say I'm reading into this too much but I don't think so. Everything in the show was deliberately put there. Everything's deliberate.
People often ask why she married him and hate on her for what she said to him before he killed her. They hate it so much that people have admitted to cheering as Rumple killed his wife, the mother of his child. I can't be the only one uncomfortable with the implications of this?Milah told Rumple that she never loved him but is this really what you would expect from a woman devoid of love for her husband?
Rumpelstiltskin: Oh, Milah… I-I know, I know. I… I can’t say that I… I won’t be frightened. But… But this is the chance I’ve been waiting for…all my life. You know, I’ve lived under the shadow of my father’s actions for too long now.
Milah: Just because your father was a coward, it doesn’t mean you are.
Rumpelstiltskin: Oh, I know that. As do you. But to the world? Fighting in this war finally gives me the chance to prove that to everyone else.
Milah: Go. Be brave. Fight honourably.
Rumpelstiltskin: Oh, God, I love you.
Milah: I love you, too. When you return, we can start living the life we’ve always dreamed of.
Milah: We can have a family.
Rumpelstiltskin: A family.
She did love him. She's glad to see him. She worries about him going away to war. She was happy at the idea of starting a family with him. But her love didn't last - sometimes it doesn't and there's nothing Milah could have done about that. Rumple killed her far daring to fall in love with another man and it makes me genuinely sick that Milah is portrayed as a two-dimensional villaness here and Rumple the wronged party. He killed his wife in a jealous fit, incapable of seeing her happy with another man and the fandom cheered him on.
I don't blame Milah for her angry reaction to Rumple's actions on the front. Throughout history war cowards have gotten a bad reputation and Rumple's decision not to fight ruined their lives
. To quote the wonderful thebettertoloveyouwith
on Tumblr who said it better than I ever will - As a woman and his wife, Milah would have been held jointly responsible for whatever Rumple said or did and her opinion on the matter would have meant next to nothing in the eyes of the greater community. To be the wife of a coward was just as bad as to
be a coward and it came with all sorts of lovely benefits, such as being poverty stricken, cut off from the rest of the community etc. When Milah said she wished he had died, it was because a dead war hero was more acceptable than a surviving coward. Yes, it is a cruel thing to say, but again, the sympathy of any scene involving Milah never lies
with Milah. We saw Rumple at the front, but not Milah as a new Mother, scared of her new role and probably relying on the help of widows in the community, who would have left the second Rumple’s actions condemned the family. We only ever saw Rumple’s plight, not hers and her anger towards him
was fully understandable.
Also when Rumple crippled himself he rendered himself unable for physical manual labour. Who would have had to pick up that slack? Milah. Milah as well as doing all the wifely duties of cooking, cleaning sewing, taking care of the livestock and a newborn baby
would have had to do things like fetch pails of water from the well everyday, thatch the roof, shovel snow, go into town everyday and haggle with scornful shopkeepers. It's hard enough being a housewife peasant but knowing that her husband willingly crippled himself and forced all this extra work on her? It must have been absolutely back breaking, exhausting work and she did it for seven years.
So to recap: Milah was trapped in an unhappy, almost toxic, marriage with no way of escaping it other than to run away because Rumple (for reasons I can't understand or even guess at) refused to leave the village and their reputation behind them. In that village Milah had no support system, no friends to rely on, no money, no respect and Rumple refused to move to a village where they would get those things. Things which, incidentally, they relied on for survival
. They must have been scraping by on pity and as proud as Milah is that would have chafed at her constantly.
I wish there hadn't been a child involved, and if that were the case I can honestly say I would have done the same thing. In a heartbeat.