Freedom and Choice in Heterosexual Relationships in Simone de Beauvoir’s Les Mandarins

Ndidiamaka Ononuju Ejechi


Abstract: Previous studies focused on Simone de Beauvoir as the precursor and proponent of modern French feminism but virtually ignored the author’s core existentialist principles of freedom and choice in human relationships, particularly in heterosexuality. It is this unique angle that de Beauvoir has chosen for representing and sustaining her position in scholarship that this study sets out to explore.  Thus, the study adopts the French ‘explication de texte’ as its methodology and attempts to portray the deep structures which are male/female relationships with differing levels of commitment. Using Existentialism and Feminism as its major theoretical framework the study does a content analysis of the selected narrative, Les Mandarins.  It is discovered in the study that in their relationships, both male and female characters act according to their personal choice, not feeling obliged to follow social conventions. The findings also reveal that regardless of whether characters are in extra-marital or non-marital relationships, they readily accept responsibility for their choice.  



sexual freedom, existentialism, choice, heterosexuality, responsibility.

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