The “Gone Girl” Dichotomy

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Written By: Zoe Leone

Art By: Alyssa Luongo

Amy Dunne is a seemingly picturesque literary character. When we first met Amy, she’s perfect. Perfect blonde hair, perfect willowy frame, perfect privileged background. She’s a damsel in distress; her marriage started out like a fairytale, but has turned into an abusive nightmare. Then she goes missing, presumed dead, and it’s soon revealed she was pregnant. Our hearts ache for Amy. Another sweet, innocent woman lost to the hand of the man she once loved. How absolutely tragic. 

If you put Gone Girl down after the first section or pause the movie roughly in the middle and never went back to it, you’d probably shake your head at the cruelty of man and move on. However, if you kept on with this heart-wrenching tale, you would very quickly realize one thing: Amy Dunne is perhaps the world’s best example of an unreliable narrative. Not only is she not an innocent flower being cut down by a Ben Affleck-shaped pair of scissors, but is in fact a mastermind of her own making. She (almost successfully) frames her husband for murder, falsely accuses two men of rape, makes her entire high school believe an innocent girl is a violent stalker, and slices a man’s throat with a box knife. 

Amy Dunne is not a hero. But she’s also not a villain. While I would never advertise false accusations of rape or murder as particularly healthy coping mechanisms, I would argue that most of us wouldn’t ever wind up resulting to those extreme measures. It’s pretty evident that Amy is a psychopath. She checks off multiple boxes: grandiose sense of self-worth, lack of remorse, impulsivity, and of course, criminal versatility. So yeah, she’s pretty batshit crazy. But if you take a minute to think about it, she’s also kind of a feminist icon.

Amy, through sort of unconventional and extremely illegal means, takes back control of her life by enacting revenge on the men around her. She starts with her husband, who never really loved the real version of her. Nick, a real think-with-your-dick kind of guy, fell head over heels for who Amy refers to in a truly iconic speech as Cool Girl. Cool Girl watches Adam Sandler movies and has sex whenever her husband wants and lets him walk all over her until she’s a footprint of the woman she used to be. As she sits in the house Nick picked out in the town that Nick grew up in, while Nick works his dream job, she plans meticulously until she’s concocted the perfect crime. She frames him, quite flawless if I do say so myself, for her murder, using inside jokes and seemingly cutesy couple moments, all wrapped with a bright, red, I’m-pregnant-and-you-brutally-murdered-me bow on top. 

She doesn’t stop there, but if I detailed every nefarious scheme Amy comes up with, I’d have to recount the entire novel (or movie, pick your poison). It’s not important what she’s doing. What’s important is that she’s doing them. Amy does what a lot of women dream of doing by enacting her revenge on the toxic and abusive men in her life. While her measures are extreme, at the core of her behaviors, she’s out for one thing: justice. Justice for herself, justice for the Cool Girls, justice for the women who’ve never raised their own voice. 

Amy’s not a hero. Amy’s not a villain. She’s a woman taking action against the oppressive world she’s been living in, and while there may be murder and monologues involved, I think that’s still something to be celebrated.