Gender and Performativity in Contemporary American Novel: A Butlerian Reading of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Document Type: Original Article


1 Graduate Student of English Language and Literature, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran

3 Graduate student of TEFL, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


One of the most challenging approaches toward literary works is the feminist approach. After three waves of feminism through the history of literary criticism, Judith Butler has introduced a new vision that is gender-based rather than sex-based. She has strongly influenced the domain of feminism and queer theories. In her preeminent book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Butler sharply criticizes the former feminists for their division of men and women into two distinct groups, the latter being the underdog and the former being the superior. Butler argues that gender is a cultural and social construct. One’s gender is performative for one’s actions, which determine and construct his/her gender identity. The present paper aims at investigating Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) in terms of Butlerian concepts of gender and performativity. The novel takes advantage of certain characters to depict the idea of gender, as performative. The current study explores the concept of gendered identity focusing on the characters of Amy Elliott Dunne, Margo Dunne, and Maureen Dunne. Further investigations of the characters, particularly Detective Rhonda Boney and Amy Elliott Dunne, illustrate the link between the concept of performativity and the novel.