The Second Sex

The Portrayal of Women as Consumable in Tina Howe's 'The Art of Dining' and Laura Esquivel's 'Como Agua Para Chocolate' College

It is widely acknowledged that women have often been “forced to occupy a secondary place in the world in relation to men” (Beauvoir 84). The woman is generally considered to be ‘the other’ or the ‘second sex’ and is used as a commodity for the carnal gratification of male desire. This essay aims to examine this truth, principally asking the question, ‘are women’s bodies consumable?’ specifically in reference to the play ‘The Art of Dining’ by American playwright Tina Howe, and to the film ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ directed by Alfonso Arau and based on the novel of the same name written by Laura Esquivel. The essay will study the metaphorical trope of women as objects that have the ability to produce and also as objects that can be consumed, used, and ultimately exhausted, particularly focusing on these two pieces of literature.

In order to effectively form a response to the question of female consumption, the use of the word ‘consumable’ must be clearly defined. In this instance, ‘consumable’ can be understood to mean a commodity that is intended to be eaten, drunk, or used up. With this in mind, the consuming of femininity can be taken literally or metaphorically. The literal interpretation of women as consumable or even...

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