What attitudes toward women are reflected in The Kugelmass Episode?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The attitude towards women in "The Kugelmass Episode" is that one has to go through a great deal of trouble to keep them happy. Allen seems to be making the point that, a woman (attractive or otherwise) can harbor unrealistic expectations about a relationship. Sure, this attitude towards women is hardly complimentary. Perhaps, one can even argue that it is a cynical view. However (as the other educator pointed out), it is also apparent that Allen is making the same point about men. 

In the story, Kugelmass thinks that having an affair would brighten up his dreary existence. He is determined to find the perfect woman to have a liaison with, ideally one with few emotional demands and even fewer illusions about masculine devotion. In other words, Kugelmass wants to experience sexual gratification without the need to expend his material or emotional resources on his lover.

Kugelmass feels extremely unhappy with his wife, Daphne. He claims that she has gained a lot of weight and seems to derive pleasure from making his life miserable. Above all, she expects him to humor her relatives. So, when the Great Persky (a magician) offers him a "romance novel" fantasy experience, Kugelmass accepts. Our protagonist decides that he will have an affair with Madame Bovary from the Flaubert novel. The Great Persky obliges him, and Kugelmass is ecstatic. He thinks that Madame Bovary is everything Daphne is not: she is beautiful, sexy, soft, and inviting.

However, as time passes, Kugelmass discovers that Madame Bovary isn't any different from Daphne. In fact, Madame Bovary is every bit as demanding, if not more. Daphne may expect Kugelmass to attend the occasional Bloomingdale's sale, but Madame Bovary expects Kugelmass to invest in her Broadway debut. In the end, Kugelmass decides to send Madame Bovary back to her nineteenth-century life. 

So, the attitude towards women in the story is that they are demanding creatures who expect their every desire to be fulfilled.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On face value, I would say that there is a fairly strong tact taken against women.  Daphne and Emma are both shown to be women who are self- centered and incapable of being able to engage in any critical thought that leads to examination and change in their consciousness.  Yet, I think that Kugelmass represents the same condition.  It seems that the same critique of women that is offered in the work is also offered to men, as well.  The attitudes towards women that are shown are shown towards men.  Allen might not be making a statement about women, but all people.  For Allen, the same condition that impacts Kugelmass, Emma, and Daphne is one that impacts all people.  The construction of small and trivial issues helps individuals to escape the critical questions that define one's sense of being.  Emma does not ask questions as to why she is the way she is, but neither does Kugelmass.  In fact, the only man that might be reflective would be "The Great Persky," who ends up dying.  In this, there is a statement about what it means to be human, a condition in which the lack of reflection is not merely an attitude that women display, but one that men display, also.

aniesa | Student

the writer portrays the women as  vain creatures ,shallow and lustful.

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The Kugelmass Episode

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