Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male."
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
Never mind "the evil that men do"! In the world of story telling it is a woman's wrath which truly engrosses us. Why, even the oldest story ever told starts off with Eve tempting Adam into disobeying his Lord. Greek mythology is filled with jealous and scheming goddesses; Shakespeare created the prototypical 'woman behind the man' in Lady Macbeth; the most memorable villains in Grimm's fairy tales are vain and bitter stepmothers; and in the modern age's most popular storytelling medium - i.e. cinema - it is the posionous allure of the femme fatale which continues to shock or enthrall us.
In this blog I will list some of the most memorable female characters in cinema who, whether out of vengeance, bitterness, jealousy or desperation, carefully set out to destroy another person's life.
Catherine Sloper in The Heiress (1949)
|Olivia de Havilland|
Catherine Sloper (played by Olivia de Havilland) is a plain, painfully shy woman whose emotionally detached father makes no secret of his disappointment in her. When she meets the charming Morris Townsend (played by Montgomery Clift), she falls desperately in love with him. Catherine intends to marry him, but when Morris finds out that Catherine will be disinherited if he marries her, he disappears. A few years later Catherine's father has died and she has inherited his fortune. Morris returns to try and woo her again, but this time Catherine is wise to his deceptive ways and the scene is set for her carefully orchestrated revenge.
Eve Harrington in All About Eve (1950)
Mrs Robinson in The Graduate (1967)
Joanna Kramer in Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (1987)
Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990)
Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Amy Dunne in Gone Girl (2014)
The day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne returns home to find his wife Amy is missing. The police conclude that Amy was murdered and suspicions arise that Nick is responsible. But all is not what it seems. As Nick desperately tries to proof his innocence, he slowly falls into Amy’s carefully laid trap to incriminate him; Amy’s twisted form of punishment for neglecting her throughout their marriage. Rosamund Pike does an excellent job of playing a steely-willed woman, who knows exactly what she wants and has no qualms about hurting people to get it.