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Don't fall. Please don't fall, the way I did.... You must run for me and all of us" (p. 233). Victor's wife, Janice, is in thrall to the more prosaic cultural mythology Page 19 of the ideal wife, as defined by Victor. She is to be Snow White, the eternal virgin, "someone as pure and helpful as his own mother" (p. 154). But the mask of wifely respectability she assumes according to his wishes hardens as it obscures her individuality. Finally, she has become a type rather than a person, as Weldon's narrator sarcastically notes: What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is no woman, but a housewife.

160)and Gemma echoes the same sentiment when she says, "If only ... we women could learn from one another" (p. 183). Gemma's statement is both plaintive and ironic, reminding us that women in Weldon's fiction do learn from each othersometimes the wrong things, such as Gwyneth's old wives' tales and Mary Fisher's romances, and sometimes the right things, the "words of advice" that cut through the bonds of myths and fairy tales. Weldon's critique of the power of the tale is by no means completely negative.

158). Nowhere in Weldon's fiction is the need for myths and fantasy more clearly demonstrated than in the character Gwyneth in Female Friends, who "retreats from the truth into ignorance, and finds that the false beliefs and half-truths, interweaving, make a fine supportive pillow for a gentle person against whom God has taken an irrational dislike" (p. 45). She raises her daughter, Chloe, on old wives'tales and aphorisms: "Red flannel is warmer than white''; "Marry in haste, repent in leisure" (p.

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