Venus in Furs

The Male Masochistic Fantasy and Venus in Furs

Within Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s novel, Venus in Furs, it is possible to see several aspects of Freud’s proposals about the male and female masochistic fantasies, as well as some congruities with masochistic theories from more modern psychologists. The protagonist of the story masculinizes his aggressor, Wanda, throughout the entire novel and his tale includes many instances where it is possible to see the Oedipus complex at work, but the most noteworthy connection between Freud’s proposals in “A Child is Being Beaten” and Venus in Furs lies in the feminization of Severin.

One of the main proponents of Freud’s theory of masochism lies in the gender reversal of the person in question. Severin’s feminization occurs not only in his own acquisition on feminine traits, but also through the masculinization of his love interest. Right from the beginning of their relationship, Severin seems to idolize Wanda and does not take on the typical masculine role in their relationship. Upon meeting her for the first time, Severin takes in her appearance and describes her in an ethereal sense. “The Goddess asked me for my name and told me hers: she was Wanda von Dunajew. And she was really my Venus.” (Von Sacher-Masoch, 17) Right from the...

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