Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Fear of Flying is the story of the self-discovery of a twenty-nine-year-old woman who seeks new freedom and a new way of being in the age of women’s liberation. As the story opens, Isadora is on a plane in flight to Vienna, accompanying her psychoanalyst husband Bennett Wing to a congress of psychoanalysts. Literally afraid of flying, Isadora believes that only her concentration keeps the plane aloft. Her fear of flying also has important metaphorical significance, however, indicating her fear of independence, of following her spirit of adventurousness. Sharing her flight are a number of psychoanalysts, some of whom have treated her—for the most part incompetently, usually by telling her that she should accept being a woman. The novel follows Isadora’s adventures in Vienna and later in Europe, and alternates her account of these events with flashbacks that tell of her early life in New York City.

At the conference in Vienna, Isadora meets Adrian Goodlove and is immediately strongly attracted to him. He urges her to leave her husband behind in Vienna and join him on a trip across Europe. Pulled in two directions, Isadora agonizes over the choice between Bennett, who represents safety and the predictable, and Adrian, who represents the spontaneity and excitement that is lacking from her marriage. Adrian promises to teach her not to be afraid of what is inside her, and the two embark on what is supposed to be a completely spontaneous...

(The entire section is 593 words.)