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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Swartwood-Walker

Drowning in Doubt - Gaslighting in The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Picture this: You're on a train, gazing out the window, and the world beyond is a blur of lives and stories. That's where we meet Rachel, a character who seems like an unlikely protagonist. She's not your typical heroine - she's flawed, she's battling her own demons, and she's unreliable.

But that's the beauty of it. Paula Hawkins brilliantly takes us into Rachel's shoes, forcing us to see the world through her distorted lens. As readers, we become just as susceptible to gaslighting as Rachel herself. We start to doubt our own interpretations of events and question what's real, just like Rachel does.

You see, the genius of "The Girl on the Train" lies in its ability to make us second-guess everything we think we know. The narrative is intentionally fragmented, and we're given multiple unreliable narrators. Just when we think we're getting close to the truth, it slips through our fingers.

The gaslighting isn't just happening to Rachel; it's happening to us, the readers. We're constantly misled, deceived, and manipulated by the characters. We form alliances with certain individuals, only to have our faith shattered as the story unravels.

We're lulled into a false sense of security, much like Rachel herself. We believe we're onto something, that we're getting closer to the answers, only to be blindsided by new revelations and deceit. It's like a narrative house of mirrors, where nothing is what it seems, and we're left constantly on edge.

Hawkins plays with our perceptions, making us complicit in the gaslighting that plagues the characters. We start to feel the frustration, isolation, and confusion that Rachel endures. We're trapped in this whirlwind of uncertainty and manipulation, desperate for clarity.

So, as we appreciate the artistry of "The Girl on the Train," we must recognize how Hawkins brilliantly pulls the wool over our eyes, just as much as she does with her characters. It's a rollercoaster of a ride that not only unravels the characters' lives but also leaves us, the readers, questioning our own grasp on reality.

As we close the book, we're left not only with a profound understanding of gaslighting but also with a newfound appreciation for the power of storytelling to manipulate and deceive, in the most riveting way possible. Cheers to reading, learning, and navigating the treacherous terrain of psychological manipulation in literature!

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