Fear of Flying

The Theme of Sex in Fear of Flying

Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying is about 29-year-old poet Isadora Wing, who is bored in a bourgeois marriage. She dreams of a sexual encounter with a stranger, and when she travels with her husband to Vienna and meets the attractive Adrian Goodlove, she indulges in this fantasy. At the time of the book’s release in 1973, women were not supposed to fantasize about sex, and Jong wrote the book to give voice to women who were trapped the same way Isadora was. Sexuality is important both metaphorically and thematically in the novel, and it is through Isadora’s quest for a more fulfilling experience that she learns about herself, her insecurities and how to deal with them.

Erica Jong states in the Foreword to the 2008 edition of the book that she wrote Fear of Flying to “tell the truth about women whatever it cost me” (foreword, viii), and one of the truths she wanted to tell was that women also fantasized about sex, and that this is something that should be accepted in society. Her goal with the novel was to “slice open a woman’s head and show everything happening inside” (foreword, ix), Jong claims that before her, no one had done this. She also writes that it “remained for a woman to expose female fantasy with as much frankness” as...

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