Analyzing Social Roles as Constructs Pertinent to Sex.
In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew as well as Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman the characters feel conflict between society’s rules and their more private desires. They are forced to perform social roles that are in a more private respect artificial. This pertains mostly to social roles that define sexuality. Elizabethan ideas of social roles were inextricably bound with gender. The social role of women, especially in courting and marriage arrangements was strictly a business matter. The business was to protect or increase the family fortune and stabilize the inheritance of wealth. Women brought dowries and the ability to produce heirs. Men were expected to deal with the father, who assessed the wealth and position of the suitor and had the final say. Women were basically chattel and expected to obey the dictates of their fathers before marriage until ownership was legally transferred to the husband. The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy because it appealed to the sense of Elizabethan social decorum. Understanding the difference between sex and gender along with masculinity and femininity in The Kiss of the Spider Woman is the first step in understanding how Puig challenges gender roles and the idea of gender in this book. These ideas then relate back to the social conventions of the day. This is where the men had all of the power in the relationships as well as society and the women were more passive and just looked for excitement where they could. By forming this contrasting relationship between two male characters Puig is trying to have individuals question their society and the standards in which it places on them.
There is clear inequality in Valentine and Molina’s relationship. Valentine act as a dominant authority figure in the relationship, while Molina is helplessly romantic and submissive. Valentine acquires the dominant role in the relationship, not because he acts upon the stereotypical male role but because of Molina’s fragility, submissiveness and emotional personality. Molina regularly expresses his belief that the masculine figure within a relationship should dominate over the feminine figure that should be passive, dependent and controlled. The characters exist in a time where traditional gender and social conventions were predominant. Men were given more power than women as they were seen as more logical and rational thinkers. This relates back to a scene where Molina and Valentin are talking about women being gentile, and men being brutes. “But if men acted like women there wouldn’t be any more torturers.” “And you, what would you do without men?” “You’re right. They’re mostly brutes, but I like them.’”(29). This reinforces the notion that Valentin’s character abides by the male stereotype. On the other hand, Molina would definitely relate back to the women of the time. Molina relating to the role of females at the time is reinforced by the fact...