Although Kundera attempts to construct a complex feminine psyche, he is a manimagining the interiority of a woman according to male conventions of female sexuality.Thomas describes Tereza as a manifestation of his consciousness. He says, “She wasneither mistress nor wife. She was a child whom he had taken from a bulrush basket thathad been daubed with pitch and sent to the riverbank of his bed”(The UnbearableLightness of Being 7). Thus Thomas describes himself as a Pharaoh, receiving the godgranted gift of Tereza, the harmless, helpless infant whom he must mold into an adultwoman. Helen Cixous discusses this sort of narcissistic male creationism in her manifesto
The Laugh of the Medusa.
She describes the literary construct of women as"phallocentric", love-less and full of self- loathing. Women have absorbed this self-loathing because of her inability to conform to the binary of angel and monster. She has projected it onto other women, thus creating an entire gender that tries desperately to become a no-one. Because this male binary construct is an anomaly we fail and then project self-hatred upon fellow women. This self-inflicted oppression further manifestsas all the neurotic diseases attributed to women, including hysteria, anorexia, agoraphobiaand amnesia (
The Madwoman In the Attic
2033). Cixous describes the anxiety a womanexperiences when she realizes her interiority and sexuality do not align with the maleconstruct. She says, “Who, surprised and horrified by the fantastic tumult of her drives(for she was made to believe that a well adjusted normal woman has a divine composure),hasn’t accused herself of being a monster? (
The Laugh of the Medusa
2040)Tereza vacillates between these binary archetypes throughout the text. She is thedutiful angel and helpless child delivered to Thomas like Moses in the bulrush basket.When he marries her and she protests his infidelities she becomes his prison warden. He2