Kiss of the Spider Woman

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In Manuel Puig’s novel Kiss of the Spider Woman, Molina and Valentin use fantasy as a way of escapism. Firstly, Molina uses the films he tells in the cell to escape his unfavorable and lonely life by creating a preferred reality through the fantasy he creates in them. Secondly, the setting of the cell itself provides Molina with a sanctuary from the outside world, allowing him to escape from the gender roles in which he is confined in and fantasize about taking on the feminine role with Valentin through the isolation of jail. Lastly, in Valentin’s morphine-induced fantasy at the end of the novel, he can escape from the socially accepted stereotypical male gender roles and express his true feelings about Molina. Firstly, Molina uses the fantasy presented in the films he reiterates as a way to escape from the harsh reality of the real world, creating his own, more favourable one. This perspective can be seen throughout the novel, particularly in association with the strong romantic and feminine aspects displayed in the films. A film that allows Molina to escape the real world is told through his stream of consciousness in chapter five, which tells the love story between an unattractive maid and a young soldier, face scarred by the war. This film is very personal to Molina in two aspects. Firstly, it is told not aloud to Valentin, but inside his own head, and secondly, it features a protagonist who is an outcast to society who nonetheless finds love. It is told through the first person perspective of the maid, and the use of personal pronouns draw a connection between the characters of Molina and the maid. This parallel characterization is heightened through the maid’s casual and repeated reference to herself as an “ugly girl” (100), mimicking Molina’s expressions of self-deprecation through belittling diction. He is constantly using words like “revulsion” (260) and “disgust” (262) to describe himself with, and he even interjects the film to recount the judge’s...
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