It is often said that a great work of art is like a dream, full of colours, greatness and splendour . The playful authors of Kiss of the spider woman and Double Hook don’t escape that definition, providing theirs readers with a writing that perpetually dance on the boundaries of fantasy, oscillating between realism, fairy- tale and dream. The resort to history and particularly to myth is a prerequisite for the entrance in this imaginary realm. In the two fictions, the mythical element w more used than the historical referent , introduces a balance between clarity and ambiguity in the sense that it breaks up with the coherent causality of the traditional plot. Why both Puig and Watson have decided to ornament their fictions with fragments of myth and history while they could have been following a well- made linear plot? The first part will analyse the use of myth in the respective fictions of Watson and Puig the second part will examine the effects of including myth and history into their stories.
Watson’s extensive use of mythical referents informs almost every element of the narrative plot from the depiction of the physical landscape to the characters shaped after archetypal figures and united by the pattern of the quest, a reoccurring scheme omnipresent in several myths.
... the text. Thus, Steinbeck's attempt to generate dramatised myth around the history of depression and in particular the Okies, is only ... a narrative. When creating any account of history it is unavoidable that the writer of fiction (or even brute fact) will select ... terms of the Joad's expectations. However, once again the fiction errs from reality. Unemployment in California did soar during the ...
The first telling argument for believing this assumption to be true is that , in Watson, the landscape displays traces of mythical roots emphasising the quintessential purity of earth and light. The setting presents itself as the closest reflection of the Shakespearean tale “midsummer dream.”
According to Jung, when an artist uses his personal unconscious, he creates art with a strictly personal vision . But Watson chooses to use her racial unconscious which is more apt to capture meaningful archetypes, myths and symbols. Through the process of writing, the author reaches the collective roots of the memory of human race .
Similarly to a faithful director staging a theatrical play, the writer Watson transfers her own vision of a mythical world into the fictional realm of the novel. The landscape in The Double Hook offers to its readers the bareness of a setting on the borders of reality and dream. As in a theatrical play retracing the history of the world , the few scenic elements at work in The Double Hook remind the readers of all tales that had represented and still represent an ideal world inhabited by fairies and goblins. On the fictional stage of The Double Hook, the reader can imagine , for example, a yellow dot, the sun which rises very high in the sky. On earth, the creek and the valley are the only traces of landmark. These scenic elements are presented as such, without reference to their possession by a given owner. These primordial images emphasise our connection to the sacred origin of the world and are a proof of the universality of human nature. The world is indeed portrayed as it was before the downfall of humanity. Watson deliberately stripped away all space markers so that to erase any mark of particularity. As a result, the universe of The Double Hook becomes an universal world. It is the world of James, Greta and the Old Lady but it could virtually be the fantastic world of any fantastic tale. The valley and its emptiness indeed reminds the reader of the landscape at work in certain medieval novels where courageous knights have to cross remote and deserted lands in which they are faced with a number of ordeals. In The Double Hook, the dragonflies are reminiscent of these medieval tales inspired from ancestral myths while, in the meantime, darkness and light inform the reader’ perceptions of bad and good.
... feeling. Closing sentence The monster is another friendless character that Shelley compels the reader to feel for. There are many more aspects ... of the characters so well that the reader feels pity for them. As I read this ... topic of the human emotion, bringing the reader to a closer understanding of each character. Shelley often relates the depression or burdens ...
Moreover, following this dream imagery, the characters in the novel are not individual entities but universal prototypes that find their deepest roots in archetypal figures.
They don’t play a role as traditional characters who serve the purpose to entertain the reader through the narration of their adventures. In the Double Hook ,the characters embody that adventure in themselves since they are incarnations of the old fears and hopes of humanity. These personages accomplish actions that are patterned rituals leading from a chaotic to a well ordered universe. At the centre of these archetypal characters is the Old Lady who embodies the fear and dark side of human experience. She is the Old Witch, a symbol of the negativity and the death haunting the valley and she exists to disturb the peace. Her character refers to the myth of the Terrible Mother, a negative elementary character who annihilates as well as creates all things. She has given birth to James , a hero reminiscent of the knight Perceival who has committed itself with the salvation of the land. The matricide James commits is an obvious referent to prohibited actions ( incest , parricide, matricide ) that have nurtured myths since ancestral times. More than a crime in itself, the Old Lady’s murder has its deepest roots in drives for self – preservation and is meant to be a rite of passage that permits to abolish the fear . It is, in any regards, a sacrifice necessary to the construction of the community, may has it been operated too early. Similarly, Greta has to died . She embodies the archetype of the innocent victim whose sacrifice permits to lead the battle for peace towards an end. The author concern with community dictates the gigantic amount of time Watson devotes to the phases of death or rebirth in archetypal characters who utter the same heavily weighted world towards the end of the story; that is, the final liberation of the land seen as the redemption of a lost paradise.
The fight of these archetypal characters acting in a mythical landscape is guided by the pattern of the quest, a reoccurring scheme giving meaning to several myths.
Concerning the pattern of the quest, the theologian Carol Christ defines the social quest as “a search for the self in which the protagonist begins in alienation and seeks an integration into a human community where he or she can develop more fully.” The definition summarises James’ journey from the beginning of the novel to its end. In the beginning of The Double Hook James alienates himself by killing his mother.
... Men fear death, as if unquestionably the greatest evil, and yet no man knows that it may not be the greatest good. (William ... of 10-25 years for his role in the death of a man stricken with Lou Gehrig s disease. Is it right ... lengths to try and achieve death. This is known as assisted suicide. In our lifetime the man best known for this has ...
All the rest of the book is the story of his redemption in which the building of the community is a process that represents the ultimate medium of his release and salvation. The progressive gathering of James and the other characters around the common purpose of living in peace, at a subsistence level, and without producing any surplus that could generated greed and envy, illustrates faith in human potential which is the message the myth aims to conveys. The basis are now thrown for the perpetration of an happy life in a good community where everyone lives in peace. This first human community of members bound together can now give birth to the rest of the humanity since all the negative elements has been abolished .The new house that James plans to build symbolises this new renewal. It will be further down the creek , far away from the shadow of the Old Lady.
The evocation of romantic myths contained in the movies told by Molina has an undeniable power of visual appeal that strengthens the visual beauty of the stories and holds the reader attention up to the end of the Kiss of the Spider Woman .
The cultural references at work in the six recounted films are deeply anchored in the consciousness of readers since they refer to longstanding romantic myths made familiar to people either through classic literature or cinema. Indeed, the cinema can be considered as a privileged means of communication exploring romantic premises and through them, myth of true and everlasting love. According to Franck McConnel, “ romanticism and its child film represent a rupture in the ancient self- assurance of human intelligence, representing the necessity to return, if only in dreams to the rhythms of that world ( the childlike world ).” In Puig, once that these particular rhythms referring to dream and fantasy are put in words , they give rise to moments of visual feast through a meticulous evocation of the details surrounding the romantic scenes . All these details flatter the readers’ mental schemes by offering a concentrate of an ideal situation. The plots render a reflection of perfect matches between people who live a perfect love in a perfect world. This idealist evocation is so powerful that even Molina, swept by the beauty of the films, forgets their political content and chooses instead to believe in the old myths they carry.
... film heroine such as Lara Croft is seen as much more aspirational. As times have changed so have women's roles in society ... stereotypically shown as a woman and women are known to be weaker than men, they were not ... media wants to convey that women can be seen equal to men and although usually underestimated, ... previous relationship, doesn’t necessarily need a man. Female leads were much more believable 25 ...
For example, in Molina’ s retelling, the movie casting the German officer and Leni shift from a Nazi propaganda film- which is what it truly is- to a moving romance on the theme of impeded love. For the romantic Molina, the great myth engendered by the tragic of war allows variations on the theme of irremediable fate and destiny. As well, the fatal death of Leni reproduces the traditional death of the classic Greek heroin. P. 92 “ he kisses her and when he takes his lips away from her mouth, she’s already death”(…) “ And the last scene takes place in this Pantheon, in Berlin, for heroes, and it’s an incredible beautiful monument, like a Greek temple, with huge statues of each hero. And she’s there, too, like an enormous statue, of half size, I mean.” The scenic elements surrounding the scene of the death fix Leni’s beauty in a non temporal frame, linking her fate to that of her mythical sisters, the heroines of classical tragedies.
Furthermore, in Kiss of the Spider Woman, the myth of the Terrible Mother explains the hegemony of men “ ombre superior” as reaction against the subsequent fear of women.
The myth of the Machismo and the myth of the Great or Terrible Mother embody absolute archetypes that determine the vision of men and women in patriarchal societies as well as they structure the gender struggle between the two sexes within these societies. The myth of the machismo, although rarely mentioned explicitly, seems indeed a powerful rationale at work both in the fictions told by Molina and , at large, in the 70’s Argentine society Molina and Valentin live in. Especially in South American societies dominated by the cult of the macho, the myth of the superior man who rules upon women finds its explanation in an unconscious fear of women as dangerous creatures. Unconsciously, men fear in women the archetype of the Terrible Mother who annihilates as well as she creates. The closest correlation of that fear is men’s struggle for domination seen as the closest way to maintain their self- preservation an power. In the movies told by Molina, the relationship between men and women is very deceptive. Women are owned, prostituted or possessed by men who provoke their misfortune. Sooner or later, they will be punished when trying to have a normal life and sexuality with the man they love.
... generations and still remains true in many societies.The many biological differences between the men and women sure make this situation desirable. It ... the female is regarded as sacred in many societies and religions.Hence the women would be given the privilege of staying at ... men for over decades of years. However, I do agree with the given statement that the primary role of women in the society ...
The films usually end up with the death of the heroin whereas the hero survives. This annihilation of woman’s essential features is explained by an internalisation of patriarchal norms inferring that women should blame themselves for their own normal desires. This repression is the safest way to annihilate the power of the archetypal Terrible Mother, the image traditionally associated with women. The subsequent oppression resulting of an immanent fear of women is perfectly captured by Molina who says “ that type of woman, very sensitive, way too spiritual, who’s been brought up to the idea that sex is dirty, that ‘s it’s sinful, and this type of chick is screwed up, completely screwed up. Inside she got this barrier, they’ve made her put up a kind of barrier. (p . 31)” The barriere Molina refers to has been erected by society. The events happening in films are a microcosm reflecting the real situation of Molina and Valentin. Similarly to the heroines he describes, Molina is a queen , a woman or Terrible Mother who is seen as dangerous. According to Jung, the perilous way is often represented by a net with a spider at his center. At the end of the novel, this imagery is explicit. The parallel between Molina and the spider woman becomes obvious . Molina is a ( spider) woman, his potential superiority due to his feminine sensitivity is seen as a mark of danger. Therefore, he has to die, his existence in itself being a threat for a male- dominated society.
Nevertheless, Puig manipulates the myth of machismo in order to destroy it. He uses for that an homosexual hero who , by his goodness and self -abnegation, challenges the norms of a society where there is no space for the different. The writer reverses the expectations by focusing his novel on an homosexual character who introduces a crisis of genders. The homosexuality of Molina and his marginality within the society is indeed a way of emphasising that the myth of the machismo is overrated and , above all, based on an irrational fear of women. Puig showed that some men chose the opposite side, wanting to cut off any relations with their own gender. Molina himself said “ and since a woman’s the best there is, I want to be one. (p.19).” Among the elements that Jung found dangerous to a society as a whole were the values traditionally gathered around the concepts of “masculinity” and “feminity”. Jung saw a threat to civilisation whenever the organisation of a society was based on a too rigid separation between feminity and masculinity which, in the long run, could conduce to the hegemony of one gender to the detriment of the other. By posing women as alienated by men and depicting them as lonely victims oppressed in a cruel machismo world, Puig used the myth of the “ ombre superior” to reveal it as conterfeit. By doing this, the writer wished to emphasise than, within the system, any break to the patriarchal code could result in the destruction of the weakest character, may it be the virtuous figures of women in films or even the poor jailed Molina. And this very fact contradicts the rules of democracy in which everyone is, or should be, theoretically equal.
... also played a key role in the myths of the tribes and people. Within the society women were mothers, builders, farmers, warriors ... myths, and are the backbone to why that society functioned. Without a doubt women are the key to a successful and functioning society, without women society ... . Even though women are low class within the society itself, some of the myths that are told show women as a strong ...
Comparing the Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Double Hook, it can be said that the use of myth in the two fictions reveals itself as having an aesthetic function which serves the purpose of ornamenting the development of the narrative. As a result of this emphasis on aesthetics, the two fictions are visually appealing and the novels end up by being a virtual feast for the eyes. The two narratives are indeed enhanced and liven up by these mythical references that infuse their power of imaginary so that to enrich the reality of the bare facts told by the two authors. In Watson or in Puig, the myths called up to enhance the storytelling have this undeniable visual power which turns the whole narrative into a vivid painting. The reader catch the light, the darkness; more largely an entire story full of colours and motion rather than he follows a flat linear development. A new vitality and energy are created. As it is often said , a picture is worth a thousand words. Similarly, it could be stated that the fantastic images the mythical referents bring to the consciousness are worth the most scholar discourses. The Kiss of the Spider Woman is exemplary regarding that concern. The six stories told by Molina carries with them a powerful pictorial element that transform them into as many paintings in motion . In the first film, the myth of Dracula injects its gloomy athmosphere full of mystery into the first narrative level which relates the two sorrowful life of Argentine prisoners . In the following films, the telling of the old romantic myths flatters the quest of beauty every reader is searching for. The plots are indeed set in idealistic places such as Vera Cruz, Central Park when the snow is slightly falling or in the French Alps where a wild and beautiful nature is flourishing ( footnotes).
Similarly, in Waston , this romanticism that pleases every human mind is also present in sentences such as “ outside, the world floated like a moat in a straight shaft of glory.” Novels such as the Kiss of the Spider Woman or The double Hook help the reader to escape the daily reality and jump into as world full of beauty and perfection, may it be unreal and vain. At least, using the myths and creative imagery, the two authors have responded to the basic purpose of literature which is the function of entertainment. And the two journey into the fantastic worlds of Watson and the films of Molina are worth a thousand of scholar books.
Moreover, the use of myth in the two fictions helps to highlight the message conveyed by the writers since the mental imagery arisen by the myth capture the essence of the novel’s meaning, reaching a degree of depth that the language is sometimes unable to transmit. In others words, the meaning in fiction always owns a great part to the myth. The modernist genre, especially, focuses its attention on matters of meaning asking questions such as “ what is the overall meaning of the novel? Which truth the author aims to convey?” The myth is a subtle yet efficient answer to these questions. The Double Hook and Kiss of the Spider Woman are two texts in which the authors support a given cause, using for that the myth as a subterranean tool for denouncing inequalities and injustices . Puig , for example, uses the picture of archetypal women who are victimised in order to demonstrate the sexual oppression at work in the 70’s Argentina. He demonstrates how the myth of the Terrible Mother is absurd and to what extremes it may lead when taken literally. The author often mocks male stupidity, choosing instead to give the lead to a homosexual, a man who deliberately calls himself a Queen.
Sexual and political oppression are paired, giving rise to a society that the author see as frightening taking into account the respect of human rights. Even the myths contained in the mise en abyme when Molina narrates the story of the island inhabited by zombies denounce the political system at work in these times. Indeed , the story of the young bride who sees these poor slaves working night and day could be a pretext revealing something deeper; that is , the social oppression of workers – the zombies – by the capitalist system and its alienating power. All this political content is pictured in the novel by means of a tale in which the zombies represent the workforce manipulated by invisible and dangerous forces, this process being the essence of the capitalism. Through subtle references to myth, Puig seems to be asking for the liberation of a given community- the Argentinean society. Watson uses a similar process, referring to the mythical element to ask for the liberation of another community which is the indigenous population. The references to the waste land, the valley and the dust metaphorically represent the loss of identity undergone by American Indians in Canada when missionaries societies- among whose French Catholics- came and provoked the breakdown of an entire civilisation who lost its cultural roots. In an interview in the early 1980′, Watson herself identified this political and social contempt in her novel.
Donna Pennee . Essays on Canadian writing. Canadian Letters,Dead referents: reconsidering the critical construction of the Double Hook. Winter 1993/ Spring 1994.
Levene Mark. University of Toronto Quarterly p, 680- 698. Tall Cows and tapestries: a perspective on the English- Canadian canon. Summer 1998.
Marilyn Sanders Mobley. The cultural functions of narrative. 1952.
Pamela Baccarisse .The implications of the cultural references in the Novels of Manuel Puig.1993
Pamela Bacarisse The necessary dream : a study of the novels of Manuel Puig.1988
Annis Prat . Archetypal patterns in women’s fiction, 1981.( Chapter 8, notion of rebirth and transformation )
William Righter, Myth and Literature,1975.