They say that you never forget your first love. Mary Jane Watson may be Peter Parker's longest term love, but Gwen was his first. Introduce a little tragedy into the love story and you have a person that Peter will never be able to forget.
Gwen grew up in Queens, New York, with her parents, George and Helen Stacy. They were a loving family and Gwen's parents adored her. George was a levelheaded Captain in the police department, while his younger brother Arthur was a more suspicious and energetic man. While George was trusting of his friend, Norman Osborn, Arthur was convinced that Osborn was shady. (See Flashback - Peter Parker: Spider-Man #Minus 1)
Gwen grew up to be an attractive blond young woman, and was introduced to Eugene Thompson as "the ex-beauty queen of Standard High (School)!" A science major, Gwen instantly recognized the young Peter Parker as he enrolled in classes at Empire State University. "Isn't he the boy that won the science scholarship to E.S.U.? He must be brilliant!" Even though she had only just met Eugene and Peter, she instantly knew that she preferred Peter. In the first day of class, she sits looking at Peter, thinking to herself, "He's not as husky as Flash...but he's brighter...and very attractive!" Even though Peter seemed to be ignoring the group of classmates, Gwen believed that he was really still a good person. (Amazing Spider-Man #31)
Gwen and her father had an unpleasant experience with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. They knew too much about his criminal activities and were brought to Osborn Industries, where he and his gang were hiding. Spider-Man found them there and as a battle raged with Fisk, Norman Osborn came to find out what the commotion was about. Seeing his old friend George and Gwen held captive, he tackled the guarding gang members and rescued the Stacys. Gwen gave credit for their safety to Spider-Man and Osborn. (Amazing Spider-Man #61)
Despite a few missteps, Peter and Gwen became an item in Amazing Spider-Man #59). She had many run ins with New York's costumed criminal element, but one of her most revealing adventures took place in the Savage Land. Peter had been called by his boss, J. Jonah Jameson, to go with him to the Antarctic jungle to get pictures of an alleged giant monster. Gwen was unhappy that Peter would be away so long, and Jameson decided she should come along. She immediately agreed. While in the Savage Land, she was kidnapped by the creature known as Gog and its master, Kraven the Hunter. She was rescued by Spider-Man and Ka-Zar, all the while staying calm under pressure. (Amazing Spider-Man #103 and Amazing Spider-Man #104).
While Gwen stayed calm and collected in the Savage Land, she tended to get more nervous about her relationship with Peter. In Amazing Spider-Man #112, Gwen tells Flash "I cant help feeling responsible...and somehow, when I see Spider-Man...it just reminds me of everything I've done wrong...to hurt Peter...without thinking." This statement is very telling and will be explained later.
Sadly, Gwen didn't live long after that confession. She was kidnapped by the Green Goblin, who seemed to have come to Parker's apartment looking for his mortal enemy but settled for his girlfriend. Taking her to the George Washington Bridge, the Goblin waited for Spider-Man and the ensuing battle resulted in Gwen's accidental death. (Amazing Spider-Man #121)
Years later, two mysterious figures attacked Peter. Mary Jane eventually told him that she had overheard an argument between Gwen and Norman Osborn, shortly before her murder. At some point, Gwen had had an affair with Osborn and became pregnant with twins. She said that she didn't intend to cheat on Peter but it just happened. He demanded that she hand over the children to him and she refused, seeing how Norman treated Harry. Due to the effects of the Green Goblin formula in Norman's DNA, the children aged rapidly. After their mother was killed and Norman faked his death, he took Sarah and Gabreil to his headquarters in Paris, France. There, he raised them and told them that Parker was their father and that he had killed Gwen. He sent the physically adult and very strong children after Peter and Spider-Man. (Amazing Spider-Man #512)
Personality Profile: E.N.F.P.
The Myers-Briggs Personality Test uses the theories of Carl Jung to determine where a person ranks on a continuum of character traits. Everyone has preferences as to how to act in a situation, and the test helps determine where an individual falls in the four preferences.
I believe Gwen to be E.N.F.P., meaning that she was extroverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. She was certainly extroverted, as Peter notices her dancing at a restaurant one night. "It's Gwen! I didn't recognize her at first! But, why am I so surprised? I never figured her for the wall flower type!" (Amazing Spider-Man #46)
An intuitive person likes to do things that are new and different, like when Gwen agreed to go to the Savage Land. A prehistoric jungle is certainly a very different place from New York City.
She likely made decisions by feeling the situation, instead of thinking it through logically. She was very much feeling Osborn's emotional state when she went to talk to him. She told Mary Jane outright that he seemed "upset, sad, almost broken." She went on to say "I felt so badly for him, but at the same time, there was this strength, this magnetism." (Amazing Spider-Man #512) This is common for "feeling" people. They are warm people who want to be compassionate.
Finally, Gwen proved herself to be perceiving soon after she met Peter. After the rest of her friends blew him off as a snob, Gwen was still willing to wait and see if they were wrong about him. She was staying open to new information.
According to the Myers & Briggs website, an ENFP person is:
Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.
A Controversial Reason for a Controversial Story
The Sins Past story was very divisive among readers and continues to be. "Why," people asked "would Gwen cheat on Peter with Norman Osborn of all people? Didn't Peter mean anything to her?" The potential answer isn't so much in psychology, but in evolutionary biology.
What surprised me about the story wasn't just that Gwen cheated and got pregnant but that she got pregnant with fraternal twins. Fraternal twins tend to happen to women in their 30s and 40s, not to college students of 18 years (an age that she gave herself in Amazing Spider-Man #60). The female hormone estrogen is responsible for ovulation and high levels of estrogen may cause multiple ovulations. Women with higher than average estrogen levels, according to some research, feel and are prettier than other women. These women tend to rate themselves are more attractive and men tend to agree. A kind of estrogen called estradiol makes high estrogen women more likely to have an affair than women with average amounts.
Consider how Harry Osborn introduced Gwen to Flash Thompson, as her former high school's beauty queen. Also, women tend to cheat because they don't feel emotionally attached to their husband or boyfriend. I believe that the affair between Gwen and Norman happened sometime shortly after he saved her and her father. Just before that event, Gwen threw Peter out of the Stacy house, after he seemed to have attacked her father. (Captain Stacy has been under the influence of a mind control device and had attacked Peter after he said he would go to the police to report a fight at a dance club. Peter then knocked the Captain over in self defense.) (Amazing Spider-Man #60) So Gwen had reason to feel emotionally detached from Peter and they had been dating for all of a few days anyway. (Since issue 59.)
Then she and her father are saved by Norman Osborn. She goes to the Osborn mansion to thank him again and she finds him in his sad, upset state. Gwen tries to comfort him, being the warm and compassionate person that she is. She's also a high estrogen young woman, which as said before, makes her more flirtatious and likely to cheat. It also made her ovulate twice and end up with twins. I don't believe that she went to Osborn with the intention to cheat on Peter. (The affair likely happened between issues #61 and #64. Gwen was still angry at Peter and Norman was upset due to his memories of the Green Goblin slowly returning. In issue 64, Gwen forgave Peter when she learned what really happened with her father.) I believe she was a young woman that only made a mistake by sleeping with Osborn.
Psychopathology: Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen in a healthy woman fluctuates across time. However, 50% of women in the U.S. may suffer from estrogen dominance, a condition that often goes undiagnosed. It not only means a higher than normal estrogen level but a lower than expected progesterone level. One of the symptoms of the imbalance is, interestingly, accelerated aging, a la her children with Osborn. She may have passed the quickened aging to her children but it was amped up by the Goblin formula. Hers was likely a mild case, as she showed none of the other symptoms. The condition can be caused by stress and she was under a great deal of it shortly before the affair.
Gwen Stacy was well loved by everyone that knew her. Had she lived to adulthood, she doubtless would have been a shining example of decency. She seemed to be psychologically healthy and capable of living a perfectly normal life, had she gotten treatment for her estrogen dominance.