Feminist Defeat And Perseverance Essay

2785 words - 11 pages

In Simone de Beauvoir's The Woman Destroyed, the reader is given a deep psychological portrait of a women's failing marriage. Not only does Beauvoir show us the thoughts and confidences of one beset by inner turmoil, she also portrays for us the marriage as it appears from the outside. The main character in The Woman Destroyed is the narrator Monique. She has been married to her husband Maurice for over twenty years and is trying to keep herself emotionally together after the realization that he is having an affair. Other characters the author introduces are the couple's two daughters, Colette and Lucienne. Colette has recently married and moved out of her parent's house. Lucienne, the younger of the two children, has moved to America to live an independent life from her family.

The turmoil of Maurice's affair has begun a series of emotional challenges for Monique. It is interesting to note that these challenges may possibly have related to Beauvoir's own personal life. She was also in a long-term romantic relationship with a man, although she never married. This adds a deeper psychological aspect to the plight of Monique. Monique seems, on the surface, to hold herself together both emotionally and physically. However, as we explore further, we find that she is actually falling apart. Similarly, Beauvoir's romantic partner, Jean Paul Sartre, had many affairs with women. This presumably forced her to keep herself emotionally stable. As Bethany Latimer explains in her book, Colette, Beauvoir, and Duras: Age and Women Writers, writers tend to repeatedly explore subjects in their fiction to help solve seemingly unsolvable problems:

What seems undeniably personal, autobiographical, is a writer's decision to repeat, for a time, among all the possibilities, stories of a particular conflict... the existence of different versions of the psychic situation over time forces us away from the typically static analytic statement about a writer's unresolvable problem: instead, we are urged outward toward the bigger and ultimately more useful hypothesis that for some writers, whether they know it or not, writing fiction over time helps to solve problems (Latimer 46).

It seems clear that Monique embodies aspects of Beauvoir's personality. More importantly, however, Monique is a device which allows Beauvoir to set forth her message for all modern women. Beauvoir would prefer for us to feel that suffering does have some purpose, especially when it comes at the hands of others. As the story is set in France in the mid-part of the 20th century, this suffering takes place in a modern marriage. We are given enough information to realize that this modern woman doesn't see herself as an independent spirit. In fact, she chooses a more traditional role in her marriage, one where she deals with her husband's affair by looking the other way. Beauvoir's message to the reader relies upon this fragile state to show us how Monique could ultimately...

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