The thesis examines first the situation of women in France today and their attitudes to the current questioning of women's rôles, which has arisen in part from the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's Le Deuxieme sexe, concluding that women are divided in their views. The early life and background of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Santre are considered, and their relationship and their attitudes to love, particularly in those respects which have influenced their writing This is followed by a brief account of aspects of existentialist philosophy as they have affected the lives of the two authors, and which are relevant in the study of their women characters, noting that it is Simone de Beauvoir who has explored the moral consequences of living in accordance with existentialist theories. The main points of Simone de Beauvoir's Le Deuxieme sexe are summarized, with some comments on criticisms of it, noting the sometimes hasty and not quite objective reactions of some critics and its sympathetic reception by some, but not all, women readers. Women characters in the works of each author are examined, to see how far the image presented expresses the philosophical ideas of the authors, with comments on the differences in the attitudes of the two authors to the characters, and women are then considered as they appear in their relationships with men, conventional or unconventional. The conclusion is that the image of woman presented is not one that may be considered an ideal representation of women living according to existentialist principles, but shows women of different degrees of existentialist authenticity, grappling with the problems of life.