Big Little Lies Character Chronicles Madeline; Bitch or Not?
Book review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Society hates strong and self-directed women.
That’s what it’s like to read Madeleine’s chapters. She is loud, she is obnoxious, she is superficial, but she has a strong moral compass and no fear of conflict. There’s no arguing that she’s the loudest character in the novel. She’s also the least interesting character in the novel – so much so that HBO had to add additional drama into her backstory for the show. Madeleine’s chapters are full of her daily agenda, what she choose from her closet, all the superficial suburban fluff you’d expect from a superficial character. Madeline is:
“A glittery girl. […] They weren’t necessarily the prettiest, but they decorated themselves so affectionately, like Christmas trees, with dangling earrings, jangling bangles and delicate, pointless scarves. They touched your arm a lot when they spoke.”
But Madeleine isn’t always so shallow. She’s acting from a deeper place. She’s a fierce warrior for her friends; “She jumped right in defending [her] friends and stirred up far bigger waves than the first tiny ripple.” Madeline is that woman who knows something instinctually without having any physical proof, but that never stops her.
This woman knows what she wants and she has no fear of taking it. The folks that cast the HBO series could not have chosen a better woman than Reese Witherspoon to play her. Reese plays that clamorous, surface-level, grudge-holding chatter box who is simultaneously strong, self-assertive, and right-minded to a tee.
So why would she fit the bitch bill? Why is society so quick to judge a confident woman? Why do I personally find her to be so obnoxious? Because she is obnoxious! But I also envy her.
Women are products of modesty culture. We live in an era where we’re recovering from only being stay-at-home-wives, to now having to work and still provide our families with a stay-at-home-wife-life. Women aren’t traditionally raised to take what they want or forget about what others think of them. They’re raised to be modest, reserved, selfless, considerate to a fault, and all of the other qualities that this male dominated world has deemed make women, women. Not Madeline, though. This woman takes the power!
This phenomenon reminds me of what Hillary Clinton experienced during the 2016 presidential election. People hated her because she was a woman with power and sought to preside over a nation built with a man’s mentality. Even the New York Times published an article calling her The “Bitch” America Needs.
Although Madeline is unlikable, she’s very likable. She champions for her friendships, motherhood, and even herself. Though seemingly odious when seen through Madeline’s display, those are the traits that young girls should be absorbing. I can imagine Madeline as a little girl and imagine myself saying “though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Keep strong women!
Until next time – keep the girl power alive!
Love and light,