English 192
Science Fiction
Spring 2002
Professor William Warner

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Study Materials

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Femininity in Stepford

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Director: Bryan Forbes
Screen play: William Goldman
Based on a novel by Ira Levin, also wrote screen plays for Rosemary's Baby (1968), and The Boys from Brazil(1978)

Main Characters:
Joanna Eberhart: Katharine Ross
Bobbie Markowe: Paula Prentiss
Walter Eberhart: Peter Masterson (I)
Dale Coba ("Diz): Patraick O'Neal


Cultural Context: 1970s feminism

  • Women's Liberation Movement
  • Conscious-raising groups
  • The feminine mystique as cultural enslavement of women
  • In Stepford Wives: "the Men's Association Strikes Back"


The Stepford Plot and the Question of Gender

Film's suspense: What are the signs for the viewer that something is different in Stepford?

Plot archetype: "there is a conspiracy against my freedom, and no one sees it..."

  • A 'normal' world where something is strange
  • Mission; to uncover the conspiracy and expose it to the world
  • Finding allies, and losing them
  • A world from which there is no easy exit

Gender relations in several different scenes

  1. "Why bother to ask me at all?" (4): what is the problem between Joanna and Walter?
  2. Bobbie (7): what do Joanna and Bobbie have together?
  3. Stepford Men's Association (8+9): what is the real purpose in this meeting?
  4. "I thought we were friends" (23)
  5. Perfection (25+26 + 27): What do the men of Stepford want?

Technogologies of reproduction

  • Gothic horror in daylight
  • Android perfection
  • Special effects
Stepford Joanna: Special effects: Katharine Ross portando unos espléndidos pechos en la película "El graduado". En su interior no hay nada de silicona, pues solamente se trata de una prótesis externa.


What feminist critique of the "real world" does this film develop?

This page was composed by Professor William Warner. Last changed 4/2/02. This course is part of the Transcriptions Project of the Department of English at UC /Santa Barbara.