I think a lot of Gone Girl had to do with themes related to female empowerment, marriage, and family. Er… was supposed to at least. I didn’t really get anything about feminism but I did notice other themes.
First of all, I wanna talk about why I think that feminism is NOT a theme in this book. Female empowerment is great! I’m all for it. But I think Gone Girl isn’t the best way to represent this.
Feminists like to talk about how females get more power. They take control of their lives and manage everything while also retaining their sexuality. But Gone Girl? I beg to disagree.
While Amy is certainly a while, strong character, I feel like she’s also…. ridiculed at the same time. Her character is insane and an entirely unrealistic depiction of the average female. She’s really smart but her need for revenge is characteristic of the bitchy, self-centered female. So yeah, I disagree.
Right from the beginning we’re given the idea that contrary to society’s belief, not every married couple is able to read each others mind. There’s definitely the idea that these couples know each other exceptionally well, whether it is the way that Nick can predict some of the things that Amy would do or the way that Amy banked the success of her disappearance on what she thought Nick would do. There’s a level of trust between couples in this type of relationship. Each person trusts the other person to use this deep understanding of each other in positive ways. Obviously, this book showed the complete opposite.
Similarly, the book has a theme of revenge. Amy is vengeful and will stop at nothing to punish the people that she believes has done wrong. Amy is never punished for this opinion. On the contrary, she succeeds and feels absolutely no guilt whatsoever. In a way, it’s as if the book is telling us that cheating or mistreatment of a woman can never be repaid. Now I know this is making me sound kind of like a supporter of domestic violence but I don’t. I don’t think that anybody deserves to be beaten. I just don’t think that going to such extremes is healthy at all.
There was one quote in particular that made me start thinking a lot. I can’t find it (I really should start bookmarking when I find nice quotes) but it talked about how society is very superficial. It talked about how there was an unreasonable amount of interest in Amy’s disappearance simply because she was a youthful, beautiful woman and society thought it was “such a shame” that someone with such potential had disappeared. It explicitly stated that it would have been likely that if Amy were ugly, that there would be far less interest in the case. While it, like a lot of the themes in this book, was exaggerated, it made me think about how it’s actually really true. Society treats people differently based on so many things.
Another great theme that the book brings to attention has to do with upbringing. Nick and Amy both had….. less than stellar childhoods. Nick had a borderline-abusive father that shamed females, always referring to them as “dumb bitch”. Nick was always the “baby” (as Boney endearingly refers to him throughout the novel) and strived to please his parents. He always had to keep the nice, perfect image of a son. He would do anything to upkeep it, including lying to the police. Amy on the other hand, felt used. Her parents were passive aggressive in their expectations, taking Amy’s story and making a fortune off of it. They’d tell her their expectations through new novels and they rarely treated her as anything other than a cash cow. While both of them decided that they wanted to break this pattern and have children that are the opposite of their parent’s expectations, ultimately, they become the family that is explosively toxic. Nick has already begun to show violent tendencies and thought processes that are sexist. Amy… well we already know that she’s completely crazy.
“You take care of yourself, okay, Nick?” she said finally. “Take good care of the little one too.” Then she laughed. “Amy I don’t really give a fuck about.”
I went to Go’s house to tell her in person. I tried to frame it as happy news. A baby, you can’t be that upset about a baby. You can hate a situation, but you can’t hate a child.
I thought Go was going to hit me. She stood so close I could feel her breath. She jabbed me with an index finger.
“You just want an excuse to stay,” she whispered. “You two, you’re fucking addicted to each other. You are literally going to be a nuclear family, you do know that? You will explode. You will fucking detonate. You really think you can possibly do this for, what, the next eighteen years? You don’t think she’ll kill you?”
“Not as long as I am the man she married. I wasn’t for a while, but I can be.”
“You don’t think you’ll kill her? You want to turn into Dad?”
“Don’t you see, Go? This is my guarantee not to turn into Dad. I’ll have to be the best husband and father in the world.” (Flynn 412)
From this quote, we can also begin to see the theme of familial support. Go and Nick were so close that they were able to trust each other on nearly everything. Their relationships develops quite a bit throughout the novel but by the end, it’s the one thing that Amy wasn’t able to completely destroy. In other words, the strongest family bonds will last through the hardest of times.
I’m positive that there are many other themes that this book has. It’s really close to becoming a satire and satires always have themes interwoven in the plot.
What themes do you notice in novels?