Gone Girl and the Great Gatsby

It's all in the eyes.
It’s all in the eyes.
It's all in the eyes.
It’s all in the eyes.

To set the stage, my wife and I were watching Gone Girl for the second time (first time with the in-laws). I was in hot anticipation of seeing Ben Affleck’s penis as I had not on the first viewing, but evidently it was front and center like a page 6 spread because it was all my fellow critics seemed to talk about. In general, this film was more gratuitous than I remember.

However, when Nick Dunne’s extra-marital affair goes public, we noticed another small detail previously glossed over — though equally voluptuous. Andie donned the last name, Fitzgerald.

Now both characters are writers, both well-read, and Gillian Flynn makes no attempt to mask the meta-narrative. Characters leave each other clues in the murder mystery and Amy literally writes a compelling 300 page thriller full of truths and fictions that are — oddly enough — normaler than fiction since she paints the picture of an abusive and violent husband as opposed to revealing the inner workings of a manipulative, suicidal psychopath.

Meta becomes the norm.

And then it dawned on us, Gone Girl is a modern Kenosis of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (and not simply because their titles are two G’s).

The name “Nick” in Gone Girl is a bit misleading. There’s Nick Dunne and Nick Carraway, and they both share the role of narrator for their respective stories but outside of that, Dunne shares more in common with Tom Buchanan.

In Gatsby, Tom is married to Daisy and is having an extramarital affair with Myrtle. In Gone Girl, Nick is married to Amy and having an extramarital affair with Andie.

Jay Gatsby has been obsessed with Daisy since their youthful rendezvous and then he accumulated a great fortune. To keep an eye on Daisy, he moves across the lake from her, a residence that later becomes his grave.

Desi Collings has been obsessed with Amy since their youthful relationship and then he accumulated a great fortune. To keep an eye on Amy, he moves 2 hours away, and eventually moves into the Lakehouse, the setting of his demise.

Numerous harmful rumors have circulated around Gatsby and Collings. However, while Collings is killed directly by Amy, Gatsby is killed vicariously by Daisy, who, because she was driving the vehicle, leads Myrtle’s husband to kill Gatsby.

A huge part of The Great Gatsby — thematically — is the large parties, public affectations and drunkenness. In Gone Girl, the parties are replaced by paparazzi, televised affectations, and drunkenness — I mean they own a bar.

In the end though, Daisy chooses Tom rather than Gatsby. Similarly, Amy could have disappeared into Desi’s world, but she chooses to return to Nick.

Now offhand, people may view the biggest difference between the two stories as Daisy and Amy. But… they are more similar than they are different. Both “smash things up and then retreat behind money.” They enjoy ease and wealth — most noticeable in Gone Girl when Amy can’t sustain herself on the run with trailer trash. Both Amy and Daisy have been popular among men, and both pretend to be something they’re not for the sake of romance.

And, in fairness, Daisy could be a psychopath, but like Desi Collings, Gatsby paints Daisy in such a positive light that even if she was a bloodthirsty psychopath, he’d omit it.

Truthfully the biggest difference is that, unlike Amy, Daisy does have a daughter. But that daughter was established to indicate that Daisy and Tom had been together for 5 years… And in Gone Girl, it’s their 5th wedding anniversary.

In short, structurally, there are quite a few similarities in the story, and even locales. Gone Girl plays like a less biased version since it’s told by a Tom Buchanan instead of a Nick or Gatsby. It’s like an updated Kenosis.

For more articles/analysis, check out Derek Hobson’s Article Archive

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