The Girl, the Lady and the Woman: How Greta Gerwig Defies the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope in Lady Bird and Little Women

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A relatively new stereotype that has emerged from the film industry is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). This thesis proposes five categories that together define the MPDG, as this trope has mutated due to the internet and therefore lacks a clear definition. It is generally considered to be a trope with misogynistic connotations, which is why critics of the term have used it to call for more female representation behind the camera, including directors. Arguably the most successful of such female directors in the twenty-first century is Greta Gerwig, whose original film Lady Bird (2017) and adaptation Little Women (2019) of the Louisa May Alcott novel of the same name both feature female protagonists. This thesis aims to contribute to discussions regarding female representation in the film industry by using gender theory to analyse how Gerwig has defied the MPDG trope in her two directorial feature films.
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