January 20, 2013
Unconventional Conventional Women: Chandler’s Femme Fatales The Sternwood sisters, Vivian and Carmen, depict themselves as being the ultimate femme fatales in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. A femme fatale is an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes romantically involved with her (“TV Tropes Femme Fatale”). While both women possess the attractive and seductive characteristics, they fail to become involved with Marlowe to further bring the detective to a downfall. Carmen portrays herself as being promiscuous and immature while Vivian is more mysterious and smart. They both are physically attracted to Marlowe and attempt to get him into bed but the detective refuses to sleep with either of the two women sensing that they are nothing but trouble. Femme Fatale is a French term that translates to deadly woman in English. (“Femme Fatale Wikipedia”). Any man could be killed if they were to fall under either Vivian or Carmen’s trap. Luckily Detective Marlowe is not easily swayed and outsmarts the two sisters; after all he is a wise detective. Following requesting to be seen, Detective Marlowe walks into Vivian’s room only to find her lying seductively on a couch with her legs revealed. During their conversation, Marlowe proceeds to say, “I don’t mind your showing me your legs. They’re very swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance” (Chandler 7). Based upon Vivian Sternwood and Detective Marlowe’s first encounter, readers are led to believe that these two will become involved in an intricate affair. After Detective Marlowe finds Carmen Sternwood naked and drugged in a room after a crime is committed, Carmen is not even traumatized and proceeds in trying to sleep with Marlowe. On a more serious and professional note, Marlowe has to slap Carmen several times in order to get her into her right senses then takes her home (Chandler 14-15). Any other man who...
Cited: Chandler, Raymond. "Chapter Three, Page 7." The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage, 1992. Print.
Chandler, Raymond. "Chapter Twelve, Pages 14-15." The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage, 1992.
"Femme Fatale." RSS. TV Tropes, Web. 21 Jan. 2013.
"Femme Fatale." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 21 Jan. 2013.
"The Big Sleep." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 21 Jan. 2013.
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