Being Amazing Amy: A character analysis of Amy Dunne from Gone Girl

(Based on Gone Girl (2014). Major spoiler ahead.)

Amy Dunne is a nice, cool, “It” girl who is an ideal wife, ideal daughter and a sweet innocent girl, bogged down by her celebrity status. She is her parents’ inspiration for “Amazing Amy”; a series of children’s books about this perfect girl who overcomes all obstacles. She is a devoted wife, who loves her husband and struggles hard to make her marriage work. She is the happy mother who is expecting her first child. She is, in its purest definition, a morally white character. The only problem is, this is not the real Amy. The real Amy is hidden somewhere beneath a layer of personalities and pretenses. The Amy described earlier, is the face she maintains with the common public. To understand Amy, we need to peel off her layers and expose her character for what she really is.

Rosamund Pike as Amy in Gone Girl

Contrary to popular perception, Amy had a difficult time growing up. Living up to the high standards of “Amazing Amy” is not easy. “Amazing Amy” was everything Amy was not. During the movie, Amy mentions examples of places where she has failed but “Amazing Amy” has succeeded like when Amy failed to make team, “Amazing Amy” reached varsity. These high standards made Amy yearn to be perfect and she started manipulating her environment to turn herself into “Amazing Amy”. As a direct result, she antagonized her parents in her heart. Thus, when she planned her disappearance, she wanted her parents to suffer and mourn her loss, a thought which passes her mind at the inn.

The most important point of Amy’s character is her relationship with Nick. Nick and Amy’s personalities are extremely reactive to each other. Since both Nick and Amy put up pretenses, the volatility of their personas affect their interactions and consequently affect the other’s apparent personality. Thus, when Nick is “cool guy” Nick, Amy becomes “cool girl” Amy. However, when Amy becomes real Amy, Nick becomes real disinterested, nonchalant, loser Nick. It is this dichotomy which brings these characters to a stalemate in their life. Like the “Amazing Amy” books, Nick’s “cool guy” personality makes Amy strive to be something she is not. So who is the Real Amy?

Nick and Amy from a still in “Gone Girl”

Real Amy is the insecure, unsocial, conniving mastermind whose constant goal is to remain in the limelight. She is extremely vengeful and has almost zero morals, which makes her a morally black character. There is no doubt that Real Amy is smart and patient. She planned her disappearance meticulously for an entire year. Throughout that year, she created a fake diary, made friends with a needy neighbor, bought a gun, pretended to be pregnant and set aside money for her escape. She created an entire fictional alternate universe around her and managed to convince people that this universe was real. This behavior shows her extreme vindictiveness – where instead of leaving Nick for cheating on her, she attempted to frame him for her murder. The extreme is also defined by her willingness to kill herself to ensure that Nick is sentenced to death for her murder. Even though, at the end, she decides not to kill herself, she almost completely gets rid of her old life and creates a new one. However, this decision further highlights her imperfection as compared to the perfect “Amazing Amy”, since the Real Amy, instead of emerging victorious from her path of revenge, emerges battered and broke. The nail in the coffin is the seduction and murder of Desi Collins. To clean his tarnished image as the suspect of Amy’s murder, Nick becomes the fake “Cool guy” Nick again which attracts Amy to him all over again. In order to get Nick back and re-emerge as “Amazing Amy”, Amy creates another fictional universe where Desi is a jilted lover who has kidnapped her to be his sexual slave. This shows the volatile nature of her character. Amy does not know what she truly wants. All she knows is that she wants to be “Amazing Amy”. Thus Amy gravitates to that situation where she feels that she would become “Amazing” in the public’s eyes. This is further highlighted by the sensationalism in both her disappearance and her return; Amy uses the media’s love for sensationalism and the audience’s empathy to steer herself in the limelight.

Amy is almost a sociopath. However, coupled with her intelligence, it makes her extremely dangerous. She is able to lie, blackmail, manipulate, control and murder without shame or remorse. In her goal to achieve what she wants, being “Amazing Amy”, she even gets herself pregnant just to keep Nick on a leash. Amy is a woman, trained throughout her life to appeal to people as “Amazing Amy” and as the movie concludes, that is exactly what we see her become.

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