Inscribing Pain: Female Perversion and the Maternal Imago in Flynn’s Sharp Objects


  • Soheila Farhani Nejad Islamic Azad University Iran


Perversion, Self-cutting, Munchausen by Proxy, Attachment theory


The notion of maternal criminal behaviour is often unacknowledged due to the cultural idealization of the maternal role. The societies’ tendency to glorify motherhood serves to disregard the idea of female subjectivity and the necessity of developing a distinctive identity. Perverse behaviour is ascribed to the disturbances in mother-infant relationship at early developmental stage. Lack of emotional fulfilment in mother-child relationship can lead to a sense of anger and the desire to inflict pain on an object or a person.  While in male perverse behaviour, the perpetrator of the perverse act shows an urge to hurt others, in the case of female perversion, the individual often turns this anger against herself or her own baby. This indicates a symbolic attack on the maternal body. This paper aims at investigating the idea of female criminality in Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects with particular attention to Estela Welldon and Anna Motz's views about female perversion. It will be argued that the different instances of perverse acts such as self-cutting, child abuse, infanticide and murder committed by the female characters in the novel are the consequences of abusive mothering as well as the societies' tendency to glorify the notion of ideal motherhood.


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How to Cite

Farhani Nejad, S. (2021). Inscribing Pain: Female Perversion and the Maternal Imago in Flynn’s Sharp Objects. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 9(16), 1–12. Retrieved from