Cultural, Linguistic and Literary Approaches to Narratives of Femininity
Edited By Tiina Mäntymäki, Marinella Rodi-Risberg and Anna Foka
Deviant Will to Knowledge: The Pandora Myth and Its Feminist Revisions
← 68 | 69 → Sanna Karkulehto and Ilmari Leppihalme
The chapter discusses two different modes of feminist engagements with the classical Pandora myth: Laura Mulvey‘s feminist psychoanalytical theory and a Finnish contemporary novel Pandora (1996) by Ritva Ruotsalainen. Mulvey’s and Ruotsalainen’s revisionist texts argue that the Pandora myth is a misogynist warning narrative implying that the feminine will to knowledge is deviant, as it has the potential to destabilise the male-centred, masculine power of knowledge.
The exact origin of a myth is usually difficult to pinpoint. This is also the case with the topic of this chapter, the Ancient Greek myth of Pandora, several variations of which can be found in classical literature. The earliest (ca. 700 B.C.) and most canonized one is by Hesiod, the first known Greek writer whose version includes the tales of Prometheus and the Golden Age. In the didactic poem Works and Days Hesiod recounts how the main Ancient god Zeus punished men for accepting the fire Prometheus had stolen from the gods:
But I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction. (Hesiod, Works and Days, 54–59)
This ‘evil thing’ and source of destruction is the divinely beautiful Pandora sculpted out of earth and water by Hephaestus, the god of fire, under the orders of Zeus. The name Pandora, ‘the all-gifted’, signifies the gifts Zeus...
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