SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR QUESTIONS FOR ENGLISH 492 THEORY, CSU FULLERTON
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, THE SECOND SEX
Assigned: From The Second Sex (1265-73, Ch. XI. "Myth and Reality.")
Ch. XI. "Myth and Reality" from The Second Sex
1. On 1265-67, what is the myth of the Eternal Feminine, as de Beauvoir articulates it? How does it strip women of their own sense of integrity and accomplishment?
2. On 1267-70, to what use does de Beauvoir say male-oriented societies have put this myth about women? What existentialist point does she make about defining humanity? What further insights does she offer about the alleged source of the mysteriousness imputed to women?
3. On 1270 (last paragraph) -1272, how, according to de Beauvoir, has literature dealt with the representation of women? In what sense are Stendhal and Hemingway less culpable than many male authors in their portrayals of female characters? Which contemporary authors do you find most interesting for their representation of female characters, and why so?
4. On 1272-73, does de Beauvoir seem hopeful about our achieving the kind of gender relations she believes would be best? The last page or so of the selection may provide some material here. Also, given that de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex over sixty years ago, would you say that there has been a significant improvement in the way men and women relate to one another and in the relative balance of power with regard to social and political affairs? Why or why not?
Edition: Leitch, Vincent B. and William E. Cain. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism 2nd edition. Norton, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0393932928.