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The woman in fiction

The woman in fiction

29 Feb, 2024

The two main stereotypes of women that dominate or interfere with men's erotic fantasies are the stereotype of the mother and the stereotype of the whore. The first is an object of worship, the second an object of desire. These two stereotypes, phylogenetic or cultural legacies indifferent1 they also dominate fictions, with the necessary variations of course. Next to Zola's Nana is the Moon-clad in Cretan of Solomos, next to Emmanuella there is Zyli in Blue tape of Kieslowski. Two of the female roles of Peking Opera, qing yi and hua dan, the serious, dignified girl and the lively, flighty girl, are built on these stereotypes.
  Nikos Kazantzakis treats the woman as an obstacle to the high goals of the hero (Emine in Captain Michael, the Magdalene to Last Temptation), while Shakespeare as the main cause of his downfall (Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet). In Christianity, Eve, the archetypal femme fatale, seduces man into evil, and for this reason she is iconographically represented as an attractive woman, even in Byzantine iconography.

In Blue angel, the femme fatale who drives the respected professor to self-destruction in this wonderful Joseph Von Sternberg film starring Marlene Diedrich, has become the symbol of female temptation.

In the compromise/non-compromise paradigmatic dichotomy, which as we argued in our Ph.D.2 it is a very frequent motif, often the main one, not only in Greek prose and drama but also in the world, the woman owns the left leg, the leg of compromise which is discredited, while the man holds the right leg, of non-compromise, which is praised. In the Chinese philosophy of ying and yang, woman is on the paradigmatic axis of yang, the dark earth element. In the ancient Greek theater a woman never set foot on the stage, the same in the Peking Opera and the No theater, where the female roles are played by men (only in recent years in the Peking Opera the female roles are played by women) , while from Kabuki the woman was badly kicked out.
  In our previous text we found that "European writers murder the adulteress»3 in a subconscious, in our opinion, attempt to condemn adultery. And not just any adultery, but female adultery. The adulterer Pickerton will not be punished, but instead his innocent victim, Madame Butterfly, will commit suicide in despair, in Puccini's opera of the same name.
  It is a fact: the woman either commits adultery or suffers it, she is the victim. This of course in fiction, because in life things are not always like that. It's like in crime movies where the killer never gets away, unlike in reality.
  Η Manon Lesko; well done, both in the work of Abbe Prevo and in the work of Puccini. She was punished because she was not faithful to her lover, who left him for the long life. Her remorse cannot raise her to the level of a tragic heroine, and only Puccini's wonderful music makes us feel some pity for her when she heartbrokenly sings "Sola, perduta, abandonata," alone, lost, abandoned.
  Phaedra is also punished by suicide, even though she only committed suicide in her thoughts. Intra-textually, of course, the lie she told, that her ancestor Hippolytus was flirting with her, seems to be the cause of her suicide, but extra-textually, we suspect that she was punished, unconsciously of course, by her creator, Euripides, for the adultery he was planning. It is no coincidence that the title of the play in the Euripidean tragedy is "Hippolytus", as if he is the central tragic figure of the play. Only Racinas places Phaedra as the supreme tragic figure, naming his tragedy after her.
  Was adultery ever punished?
But what? Medea, where Jason sees his children killed by his wife, who in this macabre way wants to avenge him for his infidelity. Except that in this work the adulterer is not discredited but the woman who suffered the adultery.
  One of the functions of fiction, whether novel, dramatic or cinematic, is to discredit or praise perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. Thus, the discrediting of adultery in the works we mentioned also has its balancing opposite, the praise of the woman who sacrifices herself for the man she loves.
  The theme of this self-sacrifice is central to three leading dramatic works, the Alkisti of Euripides, the Farewell my concubine, a work of the Peking Opera and in "Lady with the Camellias» of Alexander Dumas son. Alcestis agrees to go down to Hades in order to bring her husband back to life, while the Concubine kills herself, so that her beloved king will not have to worry about her in the decisive battle that was to be fought the next day and become a coward.
  The woman can therefore make the hero deviate from his lofty goal with her simple presence. It is because of this possibility that the Concubine is driven to commit suicide, so that her lover can rise to his height as king.

  In "The Lady with the Camellias", better known as "La Traviata" by Verdi, the girl leaves her lover at the request of his father, so as not to destroy his social position.
  The conclusion we can draw is that women suffer male oppression even in art. Through fiction, she is subjected to life attitudes such as are convenient for the male sex. We cannot claim that this is in the conscious intentions of the creators, but we believe that they subconsciously manipulate the woman according to the interests of their gender.


1. The Oedipal complex, in which we see the tension between these two stereotypes, does not exist in the Trobriands, one of the primitive peoples of Oceania, notes the social anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, thus assuming that it is a special creation of Western patriarchal culture.
2. Babis Dermitzakis, Narrative techniques, Athens 2000, Gutenberg editions.
3. Babis Dermitzakis, "The punishment of the adulteress in the European novel", in Anthropology of gender, edited by Sotiris Dimitriou, Athens 2001, Savvalas, pp. 141-147.




photo tiburi / https://pixabay.com 

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