Dijkstra writes of the obsession with the figure of Salome as a bloodthirsty virgin. “In the turn-of-the-century imagination, the figure of Salome epitomized the inherent perversity of women: their eternal circularity and their ability to destroy the male’s soul even while they remained nominally chaste in body” (Dijkstra 384). He then eloquently explicates the fin de siècle rhetoric of virginity as related to the femme fatale.
virginity is the worst form of feminine whoredom, because in her virginity woman maintains her self-sufficiency, and hence her power to Ôdecapitate’ the male by making him wait in impotent longing for her compliance to his wishes. Then, when he loses patience, she, in effect, perversely Ôforces’ him to rape her, to Ôslay’ her in order to regain his masculinity (Dijkstra 385).
In the same vein, the French poet and critic Stephane Mallarme spent his entire lifetime writing the poem entitled “Herodiade” in which he explores the theme of Salome as a virgin whore. In Salome’s voice, Mallarme writes (in Dijkstra 385),
I love the horror of virginity,
The dread my tresses give me when I lie
Retired at night, reptilian on my couch,
My useless flesh inviolate to the touch,
Feeling cold sparks from your lucidity,
You who die, you who burn with chastity,
White night of icicles and cruel snow!
And your solitary sister, 0 mine forever now,
My dream shall rise toward you: already such,
Rare clarity of a heart desiring it so much,
I am alone in my monotonous country,
While all those around me live in the idolatry
Of a mirror reflecting in its depths serene
Herodiade, whose gaze is diamond keen ...
O final enchantment! yes, I sense it, I am alone.