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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Shreya Jain

Amy Dunne is one of the most complex characters in media and literature, and Rosamund Pike has done justice to her role in Gone Girl. She’s the embodiment of female rage, of unsuppressed anger that women are expected to swallow politely and resign to their fates. She, however, has no such qualms. She’s out to get her revenge.

And she does. Pure, unfiltered revenge. She’s been analysed as a femme fatale, a villain, even a straight-up psychopath. But in all of her revenge and cruelty, we as the viewer still find sympathy for her and her actions. She embodies women who are wronged by their husbands, who are exploited and drained, both physically and emotionally, and are still expected to bear the weight of their crushing marriages with a smile on their faces. She’s far gone, yes, but she’s also relatable. She’s the ultimate intrusive thought. This just goes to show that her violence doesn’t necessarily have to be empowering to feel cathartic.

Growing up she used to be Amazing Amy— the child prodigy who had to be the best at everything. Everything she fails at in real life is something her mother turns into the talent of the character based on her. She is constantly compared to a fictitious persona that she can’t live up to because it demands unrealistic perfectionism from her. She is raised to be perfect. At everything. Her marriage is no exception.

She admits to changing herself for the man she likes because the perfect daughter also had to be the perfect wife. Nick– the man she wants to marry, wants a cool girl. The ‘cool girl’, also referred to as the tomboy, is a trope that Gillian Flynn managed to wonderfully call out as an unrealistic male fantasy in her novel. Cool girl is the defining compliment that men bestow on the woman of their dreams. Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. She likes what he likes. She is easy-going, doesn’t care about her appearance, and is just ‘naturally gorgeous’ without trying. She’s one of the guys, she likes traditionally masculine things like playing sports and cars and drinks beer. She’s not emotional or sensitive, and she is without a doubt, always conventionally hot.

Amy, in her pursuit of her dream husband, sacrifices her self-identity, her hobbies, and even her career for the love of this man. She does enjoy some of it. Nick teased out in her things she didn’t know existed. A lightness, a humour, an ease. But she makes him smarter and sharper. She inspires him to rise to her level. She forges the man of her dreams. And for a while they’re happy. They’re the happiest couple all around, but then the fairy-tale wedding starts turning catastrophically into a broken marriage.

Despite all the things she gives up, after all that façade of a cool girl and moving her whole life around for Nick Dunne, she finds herself replaced by a newer, younger cool girl. Her husband cheats. We treat husbands cheating as a minor violation, something forgivable, even expected. She treats it like a crime. Nick Dunne took her pride and her dignity, her hope and her money. In the words of Amy herself, “He took and took from me until I no longer existed. That’s murder. Let the punishment fit the crime.”

Amy Dunne fakes her murder, frames her husband, kills a man who loves her after falsely accusing him of rape just to save her own skin, and eventually even impregnates herself with her husband’s child, trapping him in this marriage forever.

Regardless of the fact that Amy is absolutely psychopathic in her thinking, she does not phase the viewers to stop rooting for her win. And we actually find ourselves agreeing. The extent to which Amy goes to finally get Nick to pay attention to her shows us how far gone pretending for Nick has made her. He knows nothing about her, nor makes the effort to. He doesn’t know if she has friends; he doesn’t know her blood type. He sleeps with his “brand-new” cool girl even when his wife’s disappearance and possible murder are being investigated with him as the prime suspect. He doesn’t have a job, neither does he care to find one. He lives off his wife’s hard-earned money and relocates her back to his hometown because that’s convenient for him. Husband of the year, really. We are so used to seeing Nick’s behaviour, not just normalized, but celebrated. Nick’s retribution is a cultural reset, punishing every lazy, self-involved man-child archetype. These do-nothing men who get everything they want without really trying and who get the girl anyway always end up being portrayed as the good guys. Nick’s laziness and ineptitude are contrasted by Amy’s cunning and sheer artistry. We cannot openly approve of Amy’s action but we still have a begrudging respect for Amy and find ourselves rooting for her. After all, it’s not often we see a criminal genius who, as Rosamund Pike claims, “could never have been a man. She’s purely female.”

We, the audience, really start to see where Amy was coming from after all. After years of letting herself be chipped away by this man, she finally breaks down, but not into tears. Never. Amazing Amy can’t cry, she vows to make her husband cry, repent for his actions for the rest of eternity, and ruin his entire life.

Amy is the sum of tropes that women are either expected to be or unwilling to put into the character. She knows she needs to play the victim because society reserves sympathy for female tears, not female anger. She packages herself as the victim who will truly be mourned. She is the beautiful, pregnant wife mercilessly killed by her neglectful husband. All of her cold composure is not meant for the public eye. Amy isn’t just brilliant, she has almost total control over her emotions. She is unnervingly good at putting on her mask, which lets her curb normal emotional reactions that women have to avoid being labelled hysterical and using it to her advantage. Even when things don’t go according to her master plan, she’s still able to improvise. In the end, Amy provides us with the ultimate revenge fantasy, which is powerful enough to have us questioning why we’d cheer on for something that we would never openly condone.

Her rage isn’t subdued — it’s out loud in the most intelligent of ways. She’s the smartest villain in this story of villains. She outsmarts them all — the media, her husband, her family, everyone. She views people as props who make her plans and schemes fool-proof. And she succeeds. This is perhaps the most glorious conclusion possible for a psychotic, narcissistic female villain. At no point is any male able to outsmart her, because, albeit immeasurably immoral, her plan is perfect. And as a villain — so is she.

Srishti is an editor, poet, debater and a content writer for Her Campus. She’s currently pursuing her undergraduate degree at Ashoka University. In her free time, she loves to read books, everything from the classics to murder mysteries to love stories. She also enjoys binge-watching sitcoms, stealing people’s food (never healthy food though) and being a troublemaker (you only live once). She has been writing poems since she was eight and has since branched out to different forms of writing. She also enjoys swimming and badminton and the sound of Chase Atlantic songs 24/7.