The Fatal Women from Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct

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The fatale woman archetype has been used in films since the beginnings of the film industry. Mystery is the key word related to her, but we also know that she is dangerous, deadly and she brings no good. Yet she has an attractive power and men cannot stay away from her. The archetype has been interpreted and reinterpreted numerous times and it is interesting to observe how a writer or a director can play with this figure. For this analysis I have chosen Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct and I wanted to talk about the similarities and differences of the two, focusing on the powerful female character, the male protagonist and the female gaze. First of all, what we do observe in both movies is that the female characters, Alex Forrest and Catherine Tramell, are strong women and are the ones who lead the action. Although traditionally men hold power, in these two films the roles change. Everything happens in a particular way because the women want to or because their actions trigger certain events. As Sherwin observes in her article Deconstructing the Male: Masochism, Female Spectatorship, and the Femme Fatale in Fatal Attraction, Body of Evidence, and Basic Instinct Dan, the male character from Fatal Attraction is unable to fight against Alex and all his intents fail. He is “weak, passive and helpless.” (177).Although he was the one that had committed the mistake to involve in a relationship with Alex, his wife has the role of the savior for their family. She shoots Alex and this is how the nice family returns to the original state of love and security. At first, both Dan and Alex were attracted to each other, but is Alex who takes the first steps in the relationship. When he proposes her to have a date, she says: “I did have a date.” So she had canceled it knowing that Dan will ask her out. She has the power of anticipation. Other ways of manipulating him are
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