Women and Death: Linkages in Western Thought and Literature


Bassein examines the pervasive linkage between women's sexuality and death in Western thought and literature and concludes that there is no reasonable basis for much of it. She first explores how language reveals and reinforces the bond between women and death. She then discusses traditional Christianity as a vehicle for perpetuating this tie and demonstrates that negative attitudes and brutality associated with women find expression in otherwise commendable works of art. The author examines nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction and poetry to show the different ways writers have handled women in sexual situations. Bassein concludes that tracing the origins and prevalence of the automatic association and seeking alternatives help us recognize the irrational and unconscious tendencies that are at the basis of stereotype formation and tacit acceptance of brutality.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1984


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