Reviews tagging Sexual content

Galatea, by Madeline Miller

4 reviews

anntharai's review

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emotional sad fast-paced


Enjoyable and dark, I’d like it to have been a longer story. 

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annasatya's review

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dark emotional reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


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sassolinosassoletto's review against another edition

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dark mysterious reflective relaxing tense fast-paced


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marisa_n's review

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dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I originally gave this short story 3 stars. However, the more I think about the story, the more I think it deserves 4 stars.

The story is based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who creates a statue of his ideal of woman, which he falls in love with and names Galatea. After his pleading and sacrifices, Aphrodite turns brings the statue to life. In the original myth, the couple lives happily ever after. 

The author questions this happily ever after, and creates a captivating social commentary about the objectification of women and the sexualization of girlhood. 

Spoiler To Pygmalion, Galatea is quite literally an object brought to life for his sexual gratification. He begged the gods to breathe life into the beautiful statue, but this was only out of lust. He never imagined the sculpture having opinions or (god forbid) a personality of her own. He wants her to be seen, not heard, as shown by his rage over the smallest noise in the house. When Galatea tries to leave him, he locks her away. Similar to when he used to keep the statue lying on his couch, he forces Galatea to lie in bed all day and night, waiting for his conjugal visits.

"He had known me only as a statue, pure and beautiful and yielding to his art. Naturally, when he wished me to live, that’s what he wanted still, only warm so that he might fuck me. But it does seem foolish that he didn’t think it through, how I could not both live and still be a statue. I have only been born for eleven years, and even I know that." 

Pygmalion is also obsessed with the designed 'purity' and 'innocence' of Galatea. In the original myth, he created Galatea after being disgusted by the local prostitutes and losing all interest in real women. Galatea was the manifestation of his fantasy for a pure, innocent virgin.  

Each night, Pygmalion forces her to reenact her first moments of life, where she awakes and they have sex for the first time. This obsession with her "birth" and loss of virginity, suggests that he only finds her attractive when still imagining her as a pure, virginal statue. Even his own touch is degrading to his fantasy. 

" When I had once asked him how old he meant for me to be, he had said, “A virgin.” "

His next statue, in the making, is of a young girl of ten years old. There are some sinister undertones suggesting that he is sculpting in the image of their ten-year-old daughter. 

The story ends with a clear rejection of innocence, where Galatea commits the sins of murdering her husband and killing herself. 

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