Since the beginning of time, women have been seen as different from men. Their beauty and charms have been interpreted as both endearing and deadly to men. In the Bible, it was Eve’s mistake that led to humanity’s exile from the Garden of Eden. However, unlike in the Bible, in today’s world, women who drive men to ruin do not do so through simple mistakes and misunderstandings, they do so while fully aware of what effects their sexuality can cause. One thing remains constant through these portrayals of women, and that is that they are portrayed as flawed creations and therefore monstrous. It is a woman’s sex drive and sexuality that can lead to her monstrosity. The femme fatale is an enticing, exquisitely beautiful, erotic character who plays the ultimate trick of nature: she displays her beauty, captures the man and goes in for the kill. Films such as Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction and stories such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and Sir Gawain the Green Knight use the femme fatale as a means of making a woman into a monster; the femme fatale can never win in the battle of the sexes. But what is it that makes the femme fatale such a dangerously character for the hero as well as the readers or viewers?
In the movie Fatal Attraction, Dan has an extramarital affair with Alex Forrest one weekend while his wife and daughter are away. After spending the weekend with Alex, Dan tells her that they must break things off because he loves his wife. Alex, however, has different ideas and refuses to take a no for an answer by telling him, I will not be ignored, Dan. Alex uses her sinister attraction to inflict chaos by stalking Dan, kidnapping his daughter, boiling the family’s rabbit, and trying to murder his wife, thus becoming the femme fatale.
Alex’s monstrosity is her ability to seduce Dan and then lead him into a deadly situation in which she hopes that her actions will bring her closer to Dan. According to Kate Ellis, “Moreover, the “monsters” claim to have become that way only because they are being denied that to which they have a right. Alex Forrest (Glen Close) is determined to become part of Dan Gallagher’s life. She seduces him, pursues him on the phone, and informs him that she is going to have the child of his that she is carrying, kidnaps his daughter, Ellen, and finally breaks into his home wielding a huge butcher knife. At each juncture, Dan is helpless to prevent this incremental invasion, though he confesses cries, yells at detectives, and tucks his daughter into bed, exhibiting all the characteristics of the perfect husband and father of the eighties.” (117) Ellis states that Alex behave this way because Dan was denying her in his life. She just wants to be part of his world. For this reason, she is willing to commit murder in order to take over as Dan’s wife further contributes to her monstrosity.
Alex’s actions may be monstrous, but they do bring up an interesting double standard, she is blamed for seducing Dan into...