“The Secret Woman” and its Tie to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

As I delved into Colette’s “The Secret Woman,” I was immediately reminded of one of Stanley Kubrick’s popular films, Eyes Wide Shut. Eyes Wide Shut is a film concerned with a married couple and how the fantasies of other strangers, as well as anonymity, play in their sex lives. The main characters are Bill, a doctor, and Alice, a stay at home mother. The film brings to life the challenge of marriage and how couples have to veer between two different sides of the spectrum: one side being relations without intimacy and the other side being complete intimacy with a significant other, which is often associated with boredom. 

This film connects to “The Secret Woman” in various manners. The most straightforward way they connect is that both the male characters in the pieces are doctors who use their profession to their advantage. In the film, Bill often lies to Alice about leaving to work with a patient, when in reality he is up to other buisness. Similarly, in the short story, the male character begins with a lie that he was called out by a patient in order to avoid going to the ball. The two pieces also share this mysteriosity. Both stories incorporate the use of costumes to hide one’s identity. Finally, the female figure in both stories shares this urge for freedom. In the film, Alice and Bill go to a party together. She lies to him about needing to go to the bathroom when in reality she uses the opportunity to drink and indulge in flirtation with other men. She has an intense urge for this freedom from him and has to lie in order to get it. Additionally, in the short story the female figure finds liberation by disguising herself at a party. She indulges in the ability to be free of any ties to her husband and allows herself to move person to person indulging in sensory pleasure. Both women are chained to the total intimacy side of the spectrum back home, but crave relations without intimacy because of the invigorating nature of the anonymous. 

Meanwhile “The Secret Woman” is a short story, “Eyes Wide Shut” is a developed film that extends on a few ideas not mentioned in the short story. Regardless, I was pleased to realize how intensely similar the two pieces were to one another. 

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