A Fair Shake for Flawed Female Characters

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Over at the Guardian, Emma Jane Unsworth considers the apparent likeability divide between anti-heroes—as it turns out, a heavily gendered archetype—and their female counterparts. Why does it seem that readers have a more negative reaction to women behaving badly and having existential crises in fiction? And why do we more often conflate character and author when women write female anti-heroes? Claire Messud hits the nail on the head in response to a recent interviewer’s inquiry as to whether she would want to be friends with her character Nora, who has a decidedly bleak outlook on life:

“For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?”


Dinah Fay is a poet, copywriter, and social media maven living in Brooklyn. She is the co-host of the Brick City Speaks reading series in Newark, where she is pursuing an MFA in writing from Rutgers University. More from this author →