Study Guide

Gone Girl Revenge

By Gillian Flynn

Revenge

I could feel Tanner's doubt. I needed to really show him Amy's character. Her lies, her vindictiveness, her score-settling. I needed other people to back me up—that my wife wasn't Amazing Amy, but Avenging Amy. (37.25)

Here Nick changes the title of Amy's book series from its original goody-goody connotation to something a little more accurate. Amy might be amazing in her capacity to plot devastating revenge, but we really think Avenging Amy has a better ring to it.

I looked at the puppets. "So she's giving me the narrative of my frame-up." […]

"Yeah, right: You didn't want her to be pregnant, you got angry and killed her and the unborn baby […] The climax is when you are taught the lesson that Punch never learns, and you are caught and charged with murder."

"And Missouri has the death penalty," I said. "Fun game." (31.76, 81-82)

The detail of Amy's plan, right down to the symbolism in the puppets gift, has to impress you. To her, revenge isn't just something casually contemplated—you either go big or go home.

I could hear the tale, how everyone would love telling it: how Amazing Amy, the girl who never did wrong, let herself be dragged, penniless, to the middle of the country, where her husband threw her over for a younger woman. How predictable, how perfectly average, how amusing. And her husband? He ended up happier than ever. No. I couldn't allow that. No. Never. Never. He doesn't get to do this to me. (32.5)

Is it just us, or does Amy seem more upset that Nick ruined her perfect fairy-tale life than the fact that he cheated on her? Her desire for vengeance isn't about him wrecking the trust in their marriage (if there ever was trust to begin with)—it's because for the first time in her life, someone might think she's Average Amy instead of Amazing Amy. Heaven forbid.

I've always thought I could commit the perfect murder. People who get caught get caught because they don't have patience; they refuse to plan. (32.14)

One thing that makes Amy such a frightening character is how calculating she is. Because she intends for Nick to get the death penalty, she's essentially committing premeditated murder and actually does commit this crime when she kills Desi later in the book. Statements like this completely expose her sociopathic tendencies—she truly has no remorse for her actions and will go to whatever lengths required to accomplish the "perfect murder."

I have enough [money] to live on until I kill myself. I'm going to hide out long enough to watch Lance Nicholas Dunne become a worldwide pariah […] Then I will travel south along the river, where I will meet up with my body, my pretend floating Other Amy body in the Gulf of Mexico. (34.13)

Wait—did we just read that right? Amy's going to commit suicide? Check this out, guys—she wants revenge on Nick so badly that she's willing to actually die so the cops have the ultimate piece of evidence against him: her body. Now that takes rage to a whole new level.

"[Amy] is righteous. She is one of those people who is never wrong, and she loves to teach lessons, dole out punishment." (35.39)

We know Amy delights in making people pay for even the slightest violation against her, but what exactly makes her the way Nick describes her in this statement to the cops? It could be because of the pressures her parents placed on her to actually be Amazing Amy, not just herself. Because she was raised as a storybook character and not with the freedom to be her own person, there's got to be a lot of pent-up rage there. And someone's got to bear the brunt of it.

"Friends see most of each other's flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit. If she punished a friend of a few months by throwing herself down a flight of stairs, what would she do to a man who was dumb enough to marry her?" (39.36)

This statement from Hilary Handy, the original Noelle Hawthorne, is pretty frightening. Amy physically harmed herself and blamed it on Hilary so she could get revenge for the imperfections Hilary saw in her. That's small potatoes compared to framing your husband for murder, but it also shows the roots of Amy's vengeful personality. This isn't something new to her marriage with Nick—it's been going on since she was a teenager.

But it's so very necessary. Nick must be taught a lesson. He's never been taught a lesson! He glides through life with that charming-Nicky grin, his beloved-child entitlement, his fibs and shirkings, his shortcomings and selfishness, and nobody calls him on anything. I think this experience will make him a better person. (32.13)

Do we detect hypocrisy in this statement? Amy was a "beloved" child herself, even if her parents' love was slightly misplaced onto a fictional character. There's no doubt that Amy got the best of everything, being the child of rich, successful authors, and there's also no doubt that she too has lied, been selfish, and done plenty of things no one has called her out on. By her standards, Amy really deserves to have someone frame her for murder.

Amy thinks she's in control, but she's very wrong. Or: She will be very wrong […] I will stay close to her until I can bring her down. I'm the only one left who can do it. Someday she'll slip and tell me something I can use. (59.1, 42)

You know what's funny? Amy's revenge is contagious—once Nick realizes what she's trying to do, and especially once she comes home and they're back on the same turf, he starts playing the revenge game too. Unfortunately for him, though, he's no match for Avenging Amy.

Then something happened. My father finally died […] I thought it would make me feel better to have the man vanish from the earth, but I actually felt a massive, frightening hollowness open up in my chest. I had spent my life comparing myself to my father, and now he was gone. (61.10, 13)

Ultimately both Amy and Nick's anger and desire for revenge is directed at their families. In Nick's case, it's his women-hating, perpetually angry father, who's spent this entire book slowly fading due to Alzheimer's while Nick anxiously awaits his demise. Nick thinks that finally having his father gone will bring relief from his painful childhood, but these vengeful thoughts only lead to emptiness. His hatred and lack of respect for his father ran so deep that with those emotions gone, his mind has nowhere to turn.