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Monday, June 1, 2015

Woman of the Month: Vanessa Ives


Vanessa Ives from Penny Dreadful
I'm afraid there was only one serious contender for this month. The role of Vanessa Ives was tailor-made for Eva Green (seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if it was written specifically for her) and after seeing her in a number of projects that squandered their – and her – potential (Morgan le Fay in Camelot, Serafina in The Golden Compass) it's rewarding to finally see her in a role that's worthy of her beauty, intensity, and raw talent.
Vanessa Ives is that staple component of all Gothic Horror fiction: the dark-haired, pale-skinned beauty haunted by terrible spectres. But Penny Dreadful is all about turning familiar tropes on their head, and Vanessa soon emerges as a formidable opponent to the forces of darkness, even as they try to bend her to their will. This is a woman that can make a witch fall to her knees and a vampire halt in its tracks just by staring into its eyes, and it's clear that despite her mounting fear of the horrors that surround her, she's not going to go down without a fight.
And yet for all she's been through, she's has managed to retain her gentle heart and impeccable manners. Every now and then she interacts with a child or a social outcast in a way that demonstrates she has not been broken by her suffering – in fact, it seems to have honed her ability to empathize with the suffering of others. Such kindness is all the more marked in comparison to the cruelty and vindictiveness of the demon that resides inside her.
The fate of the entire world may very well rest on the state of her soul, but it's not just because of that that we're so invested in her wellbeing. As a very rare example of a Bryonic Heroine, she's aptly described by another character as "the most mysterious creature in London" – and she's also the most fascinating aspect of the show.

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