I finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in time for a Sunday matinee show of the movie based on Gillian’s hit novel. I loved both the book and the movie, both versions of which kept me gripped to my seat, squirming uncomfortably, knowing that the true terror was not the gore—which was comparatively mild to, let’s say, a Quentin Tarantino film. The terror behind Gone Girl is knowing that something like this could happen in real life, similar circumstances have already happened in real life. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, don’t continue on as there are spoilers that follow. The book and movie follow a comparable format, but the book is more obvious about the three divisions of the timeline.
The First Timeline – Amy Goes Missing
This part of the story switches back and forth between Nick Dunne’s point of view and Amy Elliott Dunne’s diary. This part of the story portrays Nick as the cheating husband, a sort of lazy, Type B infidel. Amy is portrayed as the brilliant, amazing, loving, albeit high strung and occasionally naïve, pampered heiress to the Amazing Amy series. We feel bad for Amy, and on a personal level, I connect with Amy. I notice many of my own similarities in Diary Amy.
The reader and the audience are tricked into thinking that this Amy is the real Amy. We find Amy to be an intelligent, Type A, New Yorker who loves her husband dearly, and despite her own quirky but loveable shortcomings. We feel for Amy. We admire Amy. I find Amy to be a well-educated feminist who just lost her way, wanting to be equal partners with her husband, but slowly shrinking into a permanent state of disappointment. We understand that she wanted to disappear because of the poor treatment her abusive husband was giving her; Amy is the victim in this story and Nick is the abuser.
The Second Timeline – Amy Isn’t “Diary Amy”
We find out that Diary Amy is a complete sham. That diary was not the actual keeper of her true thoughts, with the exception of her initial infatuation with Nick Dunne. Amy is not the feminist I had thought I had known and grown to love. Nick is not the villain or the hero, but neither is Amy. Nick is flawed, but Amy is in serious need of help.
I want to be angry with Amy, but at the same time, I feel bad for her. She is not a fun loving feminist who wants an equal partner in life. She is a cold, calculated misandrist who uses others, namely men, to do her bidding. She treats them as her inferior lapdogs. This Amy represents what happens when people understand what it means to be a feminist. Feminism means women = men and men = women. Misandrist means women > men and men < women. Amy is very much a mentally twisted misandrist.
The Third Timeline – Scary Amy is Back in Town
Nick does everything in his immediate power to bring and lure his wife to come home. They no longer love each other, if they ever did in the first place, but he knows and she knows that they need to stay together for pragmatic purposes. They need to stay together to keep the status quo. They are too deep into their marriage.
Nick will stay despite the mental and emotional abuse games that Amy plays. Amy will stay because she wants to be with someone who will do her bidding. She will continue to have a skewed form of love for him as long as he does not ever make a mistake in her extremely subjective mind, and if he does make a mistake, he will be severely chastised for failing her.
Gone Girl: Feminism vs. Misandry
The biggest takeaway I got from Gone Girl is the difference Gillian Flynn presents between feminism and misandry. These beliefs tie in with abusive dynamics between husband and wife. Typically, in modern relationship abusive dynamics, the woman is seen as the abused and the man is seen as the abuser. In Gone Girl, we realize that the tables have turned. Amy faked being weak in her diary. In reality, we find out that Amy is the abuser and Nick is the abused husband.
Although Amy never hit Nick, Amy continues to emotionally and verbally abuse him with her power play, manipulative games. She always comes out the winner, and the rules change based on what she sees fit. She takes no prisoners. The affection she feels for Nick is not love.
Nick cheated on Amy, showing Nick is not a perfect angel either. At the same time, Nick’s cheating should not be an excuse for abuse. Amy and Nick could have taken any other route to work through the Nick’s affair together, but Amy chose a carefully calculated act of revenge. Amy went so far as to murder a former lover and disappear, hinting at a possible homicide. Amy staged all of this to make Nick a public pariah on national television.
Overall, I absolutely loved Gone Girl as a thrilling work. The fact that it presented several layers of character complexity and social commentary made it all the more terrifying and hauntingly relatable. Gillian Flynn’s work makes us ask ourselves the question: are we born as monsters, or can we be created, molded, and thrust into circumstances to become that way?
Kelly AKA @AlphaFemSociety tweets by @BoBellerz