Study Guide

Fourteen Female Archetypes in The Female Man

By Joanna Russ

Fourteen Female Archetypes

When Joanna takes Janet to the party on Riverside Drive, all of the other women in the room are archetypes rather than complex characters. Together, they represent a range of social roles that women in Joanna's world are expected to fulfill, along with a range of stereotypical "types" of femininity.

Eglantissa "thinks only of clothes" (3.2.6) and may be a nod to the Prioress Eglantine in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Prioresses Tale.

Aphrodissa can't "keep her eyes open because of her false eyelashes" (3.2.6), and is definitely a nod to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Clarissa, who "will commit suicide" (3.2.6), is a shout-out to the tragic heroine of Clarissa, an eighteenth-century novel by Samuel Richardson.

Lucrissa has a "strained forehead" because "she's making more money than her husband" (3.2.6), and her name includes the English word "lucre," meaning monetary gain or wealth.

Wailissa and Lamentissa are both down in the dumps because their husbands don't appreciate all the drudgery they do at home; their names suggest the English words "wail" and "lament."

Travailissa is a career woman whose name suggests both the French word "travail," which means "work," and the old-timey English word "travail," which denotes painstaking effort.

Saccharissa and Amicissa (the Good Sport) are both getting on in years, but that doesn't stop them from flirting with the party's Host. Saccharissa's association with the English word "saccharine" suggests that she is overly sweet and syrupy, and Amicissa's name suggests that her "amicability" makes her very compliant and non-confrontational.

Joanissa, who is "praying in a heap in the corner" (3.2.84), is a shout-out to Joan of Arc.

Joanna looks around but can't see Domicissa or Dulcississa at first, but later we see Domicissa crying as Ginger Moustache forces her to leave with him (3.2.105). Domicissa's name is less clear than the others, but probably suggests "domesticity"; Dulcississa's name suggests the English word "dulcet," which denotes sweet and soothing tones.

Finally, we have Ludricissa and Amphibissa, neither of whom were invited to the party. Ludricissa's name suggests that she's a "ludicrous" fool, whereas Amphibissa's name, the cruelest and the funniest of the lot, suggests that she's got a face like an amphibian frog's.