According to the statistics re ported by the Su icide Aw areness Vo ices of Ed ucation fo undation, ev ery tw elve mi nutes an in dividual di es by su icide in Am erica (“ General St atistics US A” 1). The pr evelancy of su icide and me ntal il lness in the mo dern wo rld pr oves to be at an all ti me hi gh, es pecially for the Un ited St ates in wh ich it is the te nth le ading ca use of de ath. Th ese nu mbers ha ve be en on a st eady in cline si nce the 19 90s, fr om wh ich su icides in Am erica ha ve in creased 33% (T avernise 1). Th is es say wi ll in vestigate the da ngers of se nsationalsim of tr auma, pa rticularly tr auma th at su icide su rvivors en dure, wi th the ex amination of Je ffrey Eu genides’s no vel The Vi rgin Su icides and So fia Co ppola’s fi lm ad aptation. In bo th ex amples, the fe male body is ov ertly se xualized, wh ich po rtrays su icide as a ro mantic de ath. In li terary and ci nematic tr aditions, the ro mantic na ture of fe male su icides has be en us ed as a tr ope to re present an act of ag ency and em powerment du ring wh ich the fe male ch ooses de ath ov er co nforming to so cietal injustices.
However, it is imperative to re -examine th ese re vered wo rks not th rough a tr aditional cr itical le ns, but th rough an et hical le ns. The use of fe male su icide as a se nsationalized pl ot de vice di sempowers bo th wo men and su rvivors. The co llective ma le na rrator in bo th the no vel and fi lm is un reliable be cause th eir se xuality and vo yeuristic tr ajectories re duce the fe males, mo re sp ecifically the Li sbon si sters, to me re ob jects of de sire and fa scination. Th us, the pr evalence of tr auma wi thin th ese wo rks is sk ewed, as the au dience is le ft su bmerged wi thin the ac centuated na ture of lo nging ra ther th an pr ovided wi th a re alistic le ns th rough wh ich to vi ew the tr aumatic af termath of suicide.
The Virgin Suicidesis a no vel th at de picts the de cline of the De troit su burbs du ring the 19 70s, as to ld th rough a co llective na rrator of ad olescent ne ighborhood bo ys. Th ere is a di rect pa rallel be tween the en vironmental de cline and the me taphorical de composition of the fe male body wi thin th is no vel. The co llective ma le-gaze na rrative fo cuses up on a ho usehold of te enage wo men: the Li sbon gi rls. Eu genides be gins the na rrative ab ruptly in the mi dst of a su icide at tempt fr om the yo ungest si ster, Ce cilia, who is me rely th irteen ye ars ol d. Af ter her at tempt she is di smissed for her la ck of ex perience of the wo rld and her me lodramatic re action to li fe fr om me dical pr ofessionals, as we ll as her pa rents. The re ader is aw are by the fi rst few pa ges th at all of the gi rls- Ce cilia, Th erese, Bo nny, Lu x, and Ma ry- wi ll die yo ung by suicide.
The significance of th is no vel is not the in corporation of su icide as a pl ot de vice, as th at has be en do ne be fore, but ra ther the im portance li es in the ex cessive na ture of de ath and the na rrator’s fi xation on the fe male body as a my stical en tity. One he ightened ex ample of th is pe rtains to Ce cilia’s su icide at tempt af ter the pa ramedics ar rive. The na rrator co mpares her body to “a ti ny Cl eopatra on an im perial li tter” to em phasize the di splay th at the fe male body is su bject to wi thin the so cial sp here (E ugenides 3). The ro mantic po rtrayal of de ath is sh own th rough the sa crificial di ction and re ligious im agery of the fe male bo dy. The bo ys tr ansmit th is ex perience of ga ze as to ld th rough a se lf-sacrificial le ns. Th ey de scribe the si tuation as ch aracterized by “t wo sl aves of fering the vi ctim to the al tar (l ifting the st retcher in to the tr uck), the pr iestess br andishing the to rch (w aving the fl annel ni ghtgown), and the dr ugged vi rgin ri sing up on her el bows, wi th an ot herworldly sm ile” (E ugenides 4). Th is en acts the tr ansformation of a su icide at tempt in to an ex otic tr ansfer of the fe male body ac ross the th reshold of do mesitc ca ptivity to the ga ze of the so cial sp here. Th is sc ene al so hi ghlights po wer dy namics in re gards to sl avery and st atus wi thin so ciety, wi th an em phasis on vi rginity, mo rality, and in nocence.What is pa rticularly al arming is the de scription of Ce cilia as a “d rugged vi rgin” be ing sa crificed and ex oticized wi th her “o therworldly sm ile” (E ugenides 4).
Debra Shostak su pports th is no tion in her ar ticle “‘A St ory we Co uld Li ve Wi th’: Na rrative Vo ice, the Re ader, and Je ffrey Eu genides’s The Vi rgin Suicides.” She ar gues th at the bo ys “l ikewise co nvey th eir in clination to id ealize fe male se xuality di splacing it in to sp iritualized te rms” (S hostak 81 5). Th us, the co llective na rrator po rtrays the Li sbon gi rls, in th is ca se Ce cilia, th rough the sa crificial le ns of re ligion in or der to tr ansform th eir ob session in to a co ntext th at is mo re so cially ac ceptable. The re ligious ex oticism of Ce cilia’s body may se em tr ivial, but it se ts the st age for the co ntinuation of the ro mantic po rtrayal of de ath th rough the ov ert se xualization of the fe male body as so mething ex otic and fo reign for the re st of the novel.
Sofia Coppola’s fi lm ad aptation (1 999) de picts a si milar, yet as toundingly di fferent im age of su icide as co mpared to Eu genides’s no vel. Co ppola co nstructs the vi sual rh etoric of the fe male body and su icide as a re bellious, ro mantic de ath ti nged wi th the ed giness of 19 70s Am erican go thic ro ck and ro ll. As in the bo ok, the fi lm op ens wi th Ce cilia’s su icide at tempt, ho wever, the fi lm fr ames the at tempt th rough a le ns of di smissal and de nial. Co ppola ec hoes the so cietal ou tlook on and pe rception of su icide and se lf-injurious be havior th roughout the fi lm. One sc ene th at em bodies th ese no tions is af ter the at tempt wh en Ce cilia is in a ho spital ni ghtgown. The do ctor pr oclaims th at she is n’t old en ough to ev en kn ow how bad li fe can ge t, and to th is she re sponds, “O bviously do ctor, yo u’ve ne ver be en a th irteen ye ar old gi rl.” The sc ene qu ickly sh ifts in to an ee rie and ed gy so ng ac companied by tr acking sh ots of the ho uses wi thin the su burban ne ighborhood. Th is hi ghlights the an gst and go thic my stique of the fe male and en dorses su icide and se lf-injurious be havior as a me ans of ad olescent re bellion, mu ch li ke the li terary and ci nematic tr opes of fe mal su icide th at ha ve be en us ed in the past.
Michele Aaron ar gues ag ainst the We stern ob session wi th fe male su icide in her ar ticle “C inema and Su icide: Ne cromanticism, De ad-already-ness, and the Lo gic of the Va nishing Po int.” She co ntends th at fi lms li ke The Vi rgin Suicides re veal “[ a] ce rtain re cklessness ti nged wi th su icidal in tent [t hat] ap pears en demic in the ac tion ge nre and ap pends its po rtraiture of so me of We stern ci nema’s be st-loved he roes” (A aron 71 ). Mo reover, Aa ron em phasizes the gl orification of fe male su icide th rough the as sociation of he roism and my stique th at it is co upled wi th. She no tes the pr oblematic na ture of th is pa ttern wi thin fi lms be cause she be lieves th at it “m arginalizes or di smisses su icide and th at wh ere su icide is de alt wi th mo re fu lly in ma instream fi lm, it is al ways ac tually re flecting so mething el se” (A aron 71 ). In th is se nse, su icide in th is re gard fu nctions as a ve hicle of pe rpetution of the “f eminine my stique” wi thin Am erican fi lms and po rtrays ot her is sues wi thin so ciety (A aron 78).
There is a specific fo cus on the in vestigation of Ce cilia’s su icide th roughout The Vi rgin Su icides that sh apes the di vision of vi ewpoint and di chotomy be tween the sp ectator and the sp ectacle to hi ghlight the ro le of the pu blic ga ze up on tr agedy. It is not lo ng af ter her fi rst su icide at tempt wh en Ce cilia de cides to ex it a pa rty at the Li sbon ho use. She th rows he rself out of the wi ndow and im pales he rself on the ir on fe nce th at su rrounds the ho use. The pa rty was hy pothetically su pposed to pr ovide the Li sbon gi rls wi th a ca thartic way to en gage wi th th eir pe ers. Ce cilia’s de ath fo regrounds the pr oblematic na ture of fi ctional po rtrayals of su icide. The bo ys re count, “It was pe rfectly cl ean and Ce cilia me rely se emed ba lanced on the po le li ke a gy mnast. The fl uttering we dding dr ess ad ded to th is ci rcusy ef fect” (E ugenides 28 ). The na rrator us es de tached di ction wi th the co mparison of Ce cilia’s de ad body to a “g ymnast” and the “c ircusy ef fect” to dr aw at tention to the de personalization of the act of su icide. Sh ostak ar gues, “S he has ap parently em braced her ro le as sa crifical vi rgin -- the se lf-dissolution as pa ssive ob ject ev en un to de ath re quired by the na rrative of er otic tr anscendence” (8 21). Th erefore, the no vel po rtrays Ce cilia’s su icide as a tr anscendent ev ent in wh ich the pu blic ga ze de tracts fr om the tr ue gr avity of the tr auma, as her de ath is ob jectified in te rms of the spectator.
Similarly, the film sp ecifically to ys wi th the di chotomy of vi ewership and ex perience in its po rtrayal Ce cilia’s su icide. Br ee Ho skin’s ar ticle “P layground Lo ve: La ndscape and Lo nging in So fia Co ppola’s The Vi rgin Suicides” de lves in to the no tion of pu blic ga ze up on pe rsonal tr agedy, and she ex pands th ese id eas wi th the in clusion of di rect qu otes fr om So fia Co ppola’s do cumentary. In re gards to Ce cilia’s de ath Co ppola st ates, “I wa nted it to lo ok li ke the fi nal sc ene of a tr agic op era, so I pu lled ba ck wi de [. ..] you see it fr om the ne ighbour’s pe rspective, fr om the ou tside... Ce cilia lo oks as if sh e’s le vitating -- li ke a ma gic ac t” (q td. in Ho skin 21 5). It is ve ry ev ident th at Co ppola in tended to po rtray Ce cilia’s su icide, a th irteen ye ar old gi rl, as a pu blic at traction and a ma gical act or pe rformance. Th is is pr oblematic for a nu mber of re asons, ma inly be cause it su pports the tr aditional tr opes wh ich se nsationalize tr auma th rough the un realistic po rtrayal of wh at su icide is and wh at the ha rsh re ality for su rvivors in the af termath lo oks li ke. An et hical re ading of the fi lm re veals how the se nsationalized use of fe male su icide as a pl ot de vice di sempowers bo th wo men and survivors.
In the novel, the id entity of the co llective na rrator pl ays a vi tal ro le in the de velopment and in terpretation of su icide and tr auma. It is ev ident in ce rtain se ctions wi thin th is no vel th at Eu genides dr aws up on the bi nary, he teronormative pe rspective of ge nder. One ex ample of th is is af ter Ce cilia’s fu neral se rvice wh en the na rrator re marks, “C urt Van Os dol, the on ly kid at the Fu neral Ho me, sa id he wo uld ha ve co pped a la st fe el, ri ght th ere in fr ont of the pr iest and ev erybody, if on ly we had be en th ere to ap preciate it” (E ugenides 36 ). Ce cilia’s bo dy, ev en po stmortem, is ob jectified and se xualized by the ma le-gaze and im agination; re duced to a se xual ac t. Lux and Tr ip Fo ntaine’s re lationship of fers an other ex ample in the no vel th at re veals the ha zardous re duction of the fe male body in te rms of se xual de sire and an ticipation of fe male vanishment.
Trip Fontaine is an im portant fo il to the vo yeuristic na rrators wi thin th is no vel; he go es be yond be ing a me re vo yeur of wo men wh en he en gages in a ph ysical re lationship wi th Lu x. Th ey st ate, “H er pe ns and pe ncils lo oked as te mporary as Ci nderella’s br oom. Wh en she sm iled, her mo uth sh owed too ma ny te eth, but at ni ght Tr ip Fo ntaine dr eamed of be ing bi tten by ea ch on e” (E ugenides 75 ). The co ncept of im permanence is sh own th rough the de scription of Lux and her be longings as “t emporary” wi th an al lusion to the fa irytale of Ci nderella. The ma le’s ag gressive se xual de sire in re lation to the fe male body is al so ac centuated in th is ex ample and im plies a le vel of co nsumption and ob jectification of the im permanent fe male being.
Much like Eu genides, Co ppola ac centuates the si gnificance of ad olescent se xual de sire th rough the vi sual rh etoric wi thin the fi lm sp ecifically th rough the in clusion of sc enes th at co ntrast fe males and ma les in th is co ntext. She ob jectifies the fe male body in a di fferent way fr om Eu genides be cause she bl urs the li ne be tween un wanted and wa nted at tention wi th the Li sbon gi rls. Co ppola ac centuates Lu x’s se xuality wi th a vi sual rh etoric th at im plies a se nse of en dearment. Co ppola ad ds to the or iginal te xt wh en she ta kes it a st ep fu rther th an the li teral tr anslation of the no vel, ad ding Lu x’s hy per-sexualized na ture in to her ob session wi th men li ke the ga rbage man Ke vin. In th is sc ene, Ce cilia’s di ary re counts th at Lux wr ote the na me Ke vin all ov er her bra and un derwear wi th he arts th at her mo ther la ter bl eaches ou t. The hy persexulation of the fe male wi thin the fi lm is al so sh own du ring the ho mecoming da nce wh en the gi rls are dr essed in wh ite pe asant dr esses. The Li sbon si sters me et th eir da tes and the ca mera zo oms in on Lux to vi sually un dress her and re veal her un derwear th at sa ys “T rip” on th em wi th a he art. Be rt Ca rdullo’s ar ticle “Of Vi rgin Su icide, Hu man Bo ndage, and Ma le In dulgence” ex plains th is ph enomenon as he ex plores the no tion of the hy persexualization of fe male ad olescents in re lation to vi rgin su icides. He co ndemns , “t he fe tishization of te enaged, fe male se xuality,” as we ll as “t he in consistent, if not mi sguided, ap plication of a da rkly co mic pe rspective to de adly se rious ma terial” (C ardullo 640).
The visual rh etoric th at Co ppola de ploys re veals a mu ch st ronger em phasis on the ch aracter of Tr ip Fo ntaine th an in the no vel, wh ich wi dens the sc ope of ga ze and ad olescent se xuality. We see th is in the nu merous so lo sh ots of Tr ip in the sc hool ha llways, sh irtless in his po ol, and fl irting wi th ot her gi rls wh ile the so ng “M agic Ma n'' pl ays in the ba ckground. Co ppola in cludes the fe male-gaze up on Tr ip to au gment the se nse of lo nging and se xuality th at is em bedded wi thin the vo yeuristic na rrative of th is fi lm, as we ll as the no vel. Br ee Ho skin ar gues th at “t he fi lm co ncerns it self wi th the su bjective ph enomenon of lo nging-- ad olescent se xual lo nging, no stalgic lo nging for the ex periences of yo uth” (H oskin 21 4). Th us, the co ncept of lo ss and the tr ue na ture of tr agedy th at re sults fr om su icide is lo st am ongst the fa sciation and ob session wi th ad olescent se xuality and desire.
Coppola also in corporates the th eme “t he fo rbidden-fruit” wi th the ex ample of Lux and Tr ip Fo ntaine’s re lationship. Tr ip is me rely at tracted to the ch ase and the id ea of Lux as an ob ject of de sire, an ob ject to be co nquered. Si nce Lux is the on ly fe male who re jects the ga ze up on Tr ip, Co ppola vi sually au gments the ap peal of Lux and the se xual te nsion be tween the two by dr awing a sp arkle up on her eye du ring Lu x’s fi rst in teraction wi th Tr ip. In th is se nse, Lux is a sh iny ob ject of the vo yeuristic ma le de sire. Aa ron ar gues th at Co ppola us es the in tensity of the re lationships be tween the Li sbon si sters and the ma le pu blic sp ectators to not “ ju st re peat or nod to the sy mbolism of fe male su icide; it hi ghlights ho w, pr ecisely th is sy mbolism ge ts em balmed, ge ts pr eserved th rough ti me, th rough the so lipsism and pe rversity of the ma le im aginary” (A aron 79 ). Th is sh ows the fo rmulaic na ture of “n ecromanticism” in fi lm and li terature, as we ll as the ob jectification of the fe male body th at re sult fr om it. The is sue wi th Co ppola’s use of ne cromanticism and the fo cus on fe male se xuality is th at it sh ifts the fo cus aw ay fr om the tr auma of su icide and me ntal il lness and on to ad olescent se xuality and the ma le-gaze th at ov ershadows it. Sc holars li ke Ca rdullo and Ho skin al so ar gue th at Co ppola’s fi lm pe rpetuates the fe stishization of the fe male body (C ardullo 640).
The male na rrator’s vo yeuristic qu alities de tract fr om the ov erall gr avity of the fe male im prisonment and the tr ue af termath of su icide. One ex ample of vo yeurism in its mo st li teral fo rm is wh en the na rrators wa tch Lux ha ve sex wi th ra ndom st rangers on the ro of of her ho use, re ducing her as a body up on wh ich to im agine and ex plore se xuality. Th eir in terpretation and sp ecific fi xation on the act of sex un derstates the si gnificance of pr omiscuity and st atutory ra pe th at oc curs on the ro of of the Li sbon ho use. The bo ys de scribe Lux as “a fo rce of na ture, im pervious to ch ill, an ice go ddess ge nerated by the se ason it self” (E ugenides 14 4). The na rrators wo rship Lux as a mo tif of se xuality and the bo ys ob jectify her pr omiscuity th rough the ma le ga ze du ring th ese mo ments of in timacy. Th ey ex plain the si gnificance of wa tching Lux wi th ot her men and ad mit to the re ader th at th ey, ev en as gr own men who ha ve wi ves, im agine th at th ey are ha ving sex wi th Lux wh en th ey are ha ving sex wi th th eir wi ves. Th ey re call, “t he men sw eating, ri sking st atutory ra pe ch arges, the lo ss of th eir ca reers, di vorce, ju st to be led up the st airway... For our own pa rt, we le arned a gr eat de al ab out the te chniques of lo ve” (E ugenides 14 1). Th ey br iskly sk im ov er the se rious na ture of the cr ime th at ha ppens on the ro oftop for th eir own be nefit, wh ich im plies th at Lux is not vi ewed as a hu man, but a ph ysical re presentation of se x. Si milarly, Sh ostak de scribes the fe male su icides as “a fe tish, a me tonymy for the ‘t ruth’ th ey se ek ab out sex and de ath. The si sters se rve, th at is, as the ob scure ob jects of the na rrator’s de sire” (8 12). Th us, th ese wo men ex ist te mporarily not as th eir own en tity, but as an ob ject de stined to be de sired by the he teronormative, collective.
In the novel, wi thin ma le to fe male re lationships, fe male bo dies are ul timately de humanized and re duced to me re ob jects, ev en mo re so po stmortem th an wh ile th ey we re al ive. In the fi nal sc enes of the no vel, all fo ur si sters die by su icide, and the ne ighborhood bo ys are the on es who fi nd th eir bo dies. Th at na rrator st ates, “A bove hi m, in a pi nk dr ess, Bo nnie lo oked cl ean and fe stive, li ke a pi nata” (E ugenides 20 9). The st eril em phasis on cl eanliness and the si mile be tween Bo nnie’s body po st-mortem to a pi nata, a ph ysical ob ject, em braces a de tached to ne in wh ich the fe male body is re duced to a ve ssel th at re presents fe mininity. The na rrator re iterates th is de humanizing of the fe male body ne ar the end of the no vel: “T hey ma de us pa rticipate in th eir own ma dness... We co uldn’t im agine the em ptiness of a cr eature who put a ra zor to her wr ists and op ened her ve ins, the em ptiness and the ca lm” (2 43). The fo cal po int of th is re collection is the gr adual di minishment of the fe male body fr om hu man to “c reature.” Th is pa ssage hi ghlights the pa ssive na ture of the na rrator, as we ll as the re duction of the fe male body to me re ob ject. The fe male is no lo nger se en as a hu man af ter su icide; she is an alyzed in te rms of “c reature,” an “o ther” to the su burban re ality in wh ich th ey live.
The narrator’s ju dgemental to ne is the fi nal no te of the no vel, wh ich in herently sk ews the re ader’s fo cus aw ay fr om the tr auma and af termath of su icide and me rely ec hos the so cietal vi ew of fe male su icide. In th is se nse, I wo uld ar gue th at, in the fi nal mo ments of the no vel, Eu genides tr ansitions fr om the se xualization of the fe male body in de ath to the se lfish na ture of the fe male body in the act of su icide. Th at na rrator co ncludes th at “[ t]he es sence of the gi rls’ su icides co nsisted not of sa dness or my stery but si mple se lfishness... Th ey be came too po werful to li ve am ong us, too se lf-centered, too vi sionary, too bl ind... the ou trageousness of a hu man be ing th inking on ly of he rself” (E ugenides 24 2). Fu rthermore, the co llective na rrator no lo nger po rtrays the ro manticism of fe male su icides, but ra ther the bl atant ju dgement of th eir ac tions wh ich th ey de em not tr agic or tr aumatic, but se lfish. Sh ostak ar gues ag ainst th is in terpretation as the su mmation of the de aths of as me rely se lfish wh ich is ve ry ab undantly an ec ho of so cietal pe rception of me ntal il lness and su icide. In stead she cl aims th at “[ a] re ader who do es not re sist th is po wer mu st be wi lling to ag ree th at the na rrators’ ac count is ‘a st ory we co uld li ve wi th.’ Su ch a re ader mu st al so be wi lling to co nflate au thorial vo ices -- im plied and re al-- ” (8 28). Th us, one mu st lo ok be yond the su rface le vel of in terpretation of th is te xt wh ich re veals the ec ho of so cietal pe rceptions. Be neath the su rface le vel of the te xt is the tr ue na ture of tr auma and af termath th at is un doubtedly un derscored be neath the ov ert la yer of fe male se xualization and ob jectification in th is novel.
Coppola ends the fi lm in a di fferent way th an Eu genides’s st agnation of the co llective, mi ddle-aged co llective na rrator. She ca ptures the a raw im age of ev anescence wi thin her ch anges to the fi nal sc ene, du ring wh ich she om its the no vel’s fi nal ju dgemental to ne on the gi rls’ act of su icide, wi th the ex ception of one li ne th at is sp oken by the bo ys. In stead, she fo cuses mo re so on the in tensity of lo ss and the tr aumatic af termath in wh ich the sc ene en ds wi th the bo ys st anding in fr ont of the em pty Li sbon ho use in di sheveled su its. The tr ue im pact of ad olescent de ath is en capsulated so berly in fr ont of the em pty Li sbon ho use, ra ther th an in an ag ed tr ee ho use wh ere the men re main st uck in a st ate of pe rmanent yo uth. Co ppola tr ansitions be tween du sty fr ames th at de pict the li felessness of ea ch ro om of the Li sbon ho use, re vealing old fu rniture and me mentos fr om the gi rl's li ves. The use of so und, mo re sp ecifically the no ise of a cl ock ti cking in the ba ckground, is pa rticularly si gnificant in th ese sc enes be cause it co ntributes to the pa ssage of ti me and the li ngering se nse of lo ss th at re mains. The na rrator re claims th is as “t he en dless pr ocess of tr ying to fo rget th em.” Co ppola al so dr aws up on the un answered na ture of su icide, as a de ath by su icide wi ll ne ver ma ke se nse. Ho wever, the se nse of lo nging be tween the co llective ma le na rrator and the gi rls ov ershadows the si gnificance of fe male su icide. The bo ys st ate, wh ile ho lding a li ghter in the ai r, th at the on ly th ing th at ma ttered was “t hat we had lo ved th em and th at th ey ha dn’t he ard us ca lling, and st ill do not he ar us ca lling th em out of th ose ro oms, wh ere th ey we nt to be al one for all ti me, and wh ere we wi ll ne ver fi nd the pi eces to put th em ba ck to gether ag ain.” Th us, the fe male is re duced, wh ether in tentionally or un intentionally, in me re te rms of he terosexual ma le de sire, ne ed, and lo ve to be ckon th em ou tside of the re alm of do mestic confinement.
The voyeuristic na rrative of The Vi rgin Suicides, bo th as a no vel and fi lm, su perscedes the tr ue im pact of su icide and the af termath for su rvivors and de teriorates the no tion of lo ss. The no vel and fi lm ut ilize the se xualization of the fe male body and fe male su icide as li terary and ci nematic tr opes to co nvey fe male ag ency and em powerment wi thin a pa triarchal so ciety. Th us, fe male su icide is us ed as a me ans to re flect a me ssage as ide fr om the act of su icide it self. A so cial st udy co nducted on Am erican fi lms fo und th at be tween the ye ars of 19 00-2009, 1, 158 fi lms we re de tected to in corporate su icide wi thin th em, a ma jority of wh ich us ed su icide as a me ans of re flecting so mething ot her th an su icide it self (B uda 1). Mo reover, Eu genides’s and Co ppola’s sp in on fe male su icide re flects a la rger pa ttern in and of it self and hi ghlights the ne ed for re cognition of the un derlying le vel of en tertainment th at is as sociated wi th and im plied fr om the use of su icide in the co ntext of fi lm and li terature. Al though the no vel and fi lm are ex amples fr om the 19 90s, th is pa ttern re mains re levant wi thin po p-culture. De spite the re curring tr ope of fe male su icide, the st atistics on su icide for the Un ited St ates of Am erica sh ows th at mo re men die by su icide th an wo men. As of 20 17, men are re ported to die by su icide 3. 54 ti mes as mu ch as wo men (“ Suicide St atistics”). The co ntinuation of fe male su icide as pl ot de vices co ntributes to the pr oblem at ha nd: the la ck of re presentation of ma le su icide and me ntal il lness wi thin pop cu lture, de spite the ri sing nu mbers of ma le su icides. It pe rpetuates the ge nder ro les and ex pectations of fe males as em otional or hy sterical in dividuals, but it al so de nies men the ag ency and the sp ace wi thin so ciety to ex perience ob stacles wi thin th eir li ves wi thout be ing la beled as weak.