The problem with Elly, of course, is that since she sees herself as the victim and the people around her as oppressors who want to dominate her is that she finds it hard to accept responsibility when she, as always, does something ill-considered and mean-spirited. What’s more, she, as I said earlier, is not good at not knowing what she’s not good at and hates to be reminded of her failings. Let’s see where she fails and the excuses she uses to hide the failure:
- She’s a rather short-tempered mother who, because she’s not really any more mature than her children, greets interruptions to her pointless busywork with short-sighted aggression. Her short-term response is to either make some petulant remark about her target somehow deserving it or idly wonder if she just might have handled things better while her long-term response is to retcon her own past into thinking that she was a great parent to trouble-free children.
- The Elly we see in the strip won’t share what’s really bothering her, turns every remark that John makes into either an insult or attempt to frighten her and takes everything in her life far too seriously; the short-term response is to cry ‘Victim’ and let slip the dogs of passive aggression while the long-term solution is to lie to herself about how she and John were best friends who always get along.
- Elly’s friends would be better off were she their enemy; she can’t keep a confidence, gossips about them behind their backs because of her foolish belief that they won’t find out, tells well-meaning but essentially destructive lies to give desperate people false hope and when someone really needed a shoulder to lean (and cry) on, shunned her like a leper. Her short term solution is to blame the people she screwed over for not saying what they meant while her long term solution is to gloss over her errors.
- I’ve already explained her failings as a pet owner but will sum up by reminding you that she moved from being enraged because Farley insisted on not acting like a human being to thinking he was a wonder dog.
- From what little we do know about her past, it seems that Elly was not the model child she likes to pretend she was; it would seem more that she was the terror Lynn wanted us to believe April was. Phil, while somewhat of a jerk in his own right, reminds us of this by alluding to the petty misunderstandings and non-events that she beats him over the head with when she gets angry; when she’s calm, of course, her childhood was a Great White North take on a Rockwell poster.
- Her record as an employee/entrepreneur is rather spotty as well; she seems to have spent most of her time thinking that Lilliputs would be less taxing if she didn’t have to deal with customers; meanwhile, she seems to have spent her life terrorizing cashiers because of piddly little mistakes.
- What makes her really difficult to take is that she hectors her children about their performance in school when she can't pay attention in class, might never complete her University education because the work is too hard and would probably be hard put to it to pass the entrance exam for elementary school; as expected, she blames the teachers for being too strict in insisting on coursework she can't see the point of. She, of course, seems to have ended up thinking that experience was the best teacher despite her abysmal record of learning from the past.
What this all adds up to in the end is that Elly manages to lie her way into ignoring her flaws or turning them into good things; since she doesn’t see the world as it is, she can’t change things for the better.