Kiss of the Spider Woman

by Manuel Puig

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Besides homosexuality, what other social issues does Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman address?

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I think that one of the most powerful issues brought out in Puig's play is the idea of political idealism.  The idea of a Marxist revolutionary going against a political machine that is the embodiment of repression and seeking to do whatever can be done to bring down an unjust authority structure is a theme that drives the drama.  Valentin represents the political idealist who suffers for his belief.  The incarceration as well as the abuse that goes along with it is representation of this.  The drama is just as much about his own struggle to maintain his political idealism as much as it is about being gay. 

Yet, I would pivot to suggest that the drama suggests that human beings are more complex than to be reduced to simply political beings or apolitical beings.  It is here where I think that Puig's play is fairly profound.  Molina is about as non- political as they come.  Valentin lives and breathes for the political struggle.  Yet, as their lives converge through incarceration, they move close towards the other's domain.  Molina dies a political revolutionary's death, being gunned down by the resistance movement for fear of being caught.  He dies in the streets, the very same streets that fuel Valentin's political idealism.  When Valentin dies, his death is not in a Marxist vision or a reality crafted by political notions of the good.  He dies in a dream, with a woman, and affirming the power and redemption of love.  In fact, Valentin dies in the same type of schmaltzy Hollwood- like script story that Molina had been reciting throughout their time together.  In this ending, Puig suggests that human consciousness has a political aspect, but also a non- political one, as well.  Political idealism is a part of human construction of identity, but it is not the sole basis for such a construction.  Individuals are both public and private beings, shown  in Puig's drama.

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