Kiss of the Spider Woman Themes


Fantasy and Escapism
As in many of Puig's novels, Kiss of the Spider Woman focuses on the theme of escapism through fantasy. In particular, Molina uses his memories of classic movies as a means of escape. He is particularly drawn to melodramatic movies with a strong romantic theme, which is the central focus of his retelling of the movies. On one level, Molina wishes to escape the oppression and boredom of his prison cell. He retells the movies to Valentin as a means to entertain them both during their long hours of imprisonment. For Molina, however, the movies also function as a form of escapism from the social oppression he suffers as a homosexual. Furthermore, Molina identifies with the female characters in all of his movies; the movies then represent for him an escape from his designated sex as a man, for he prefers to think of himself as a woman. Valentin is at first disdainful of Molina's romantic obsessions; to Valentin, such fantasies are trivial and self-indulgent compared to his political idealism and activism. But Valentin slowly becomes drawn into the movies and, in the process, to a romantic relationship with Molina. In the end, Valentin completely succumbs to a world of escapist fantasy. After Molina is released from prison, Valentin is severely beaten. In the hospital ward, an attendant mercifully gives him a strong dose of morphine to relieve him of the physical pain. In accepting the morphine, Valentin gives in to the escapism he has been resisting all along. The film ends with Valentin's morphine-induced fantasy of romance in a dream of paradise....

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