What makes Pandora’s Box a myth?

Pandora's Box has the qualities of myth suggested by its title because the protagonist, Lulu, is an archetype of womanhood and because the play seeks to elucidate the corrupt society it depicts.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The idea that Wedekind's play is intended to be interpreted as a myth is strongly suggested by the title. The story of Pandora's Box is one of the best-known myths of ancient Greece, intended to explain all the trouble in the world and to caution against excessive curiosity about matters...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The idea that Wedekind's play is intended to be interpreted as a myth is strongly suggested by the title. The story of Pandora's Box is one of the best-known myths of ancient Greece, intended to explain all the trouble in the world and to caution against excessive curiosity about matters which mere mortals cannot understand.

Critics have often found difficulty in interpreting the relation between this mythic title and the plot of Pandora's Box. The protagonist, Lulu, is in prison for murder in act 1 and is a prostitute in act 3, at which point she is finally murdered. It is unclear how much sympathy the audience is supposed to have for her or, if she is to be regarded as a mythic archetype, which particular archetype she is supposed to represent.

Pandora's Box was first performed in 1904, but it is a thoroughly modern play, particularly in its attack on a corrupt society. It is a myth because it examines and seeks to explain this society, but the explanations it offers are complex and ambiguous. This is a function of modernity, and it applies equally to the ancient myths when they are reinterpreted by modern people or recast in a modern setting. Pandora might be regarded as a heroic figure of female liberation who refuses to be restrained by arbitrary rules. So might Eve. It is inevitable that critics and audiences should disagree about Lulu when they now disagree about these mythic figures. This disagreement is fundamental to her status as a mythic symbol of womanhood.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on