The ‘R’ in Relationships: Abusive and Intimate Bonds in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits Draft

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Topic: relationships and its importance

Throughout time, regardless of olden or modern ages, the human need/necessity to form connections/relations with others has always been present. Within Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Gabriel Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, the recurring role of relationships has become more than a crucial theme in their stories. The relationships established made both novels almost believable, molding seemingly static roles to dynamic ones [and] gingerly mimicking the associations we form in real life. Upon scrutinizing each of the characters’ bonds, it is seen that they delve further into the reality and gravity of relationships, whether if they are in a romantic or rushed sense. Through their legacies and individual stories, the characters from Allende’s work portray and even embody the importance (or role) of relationships. The “r” that stands for relationships does not merely limit itself to only romance, it can also personify the ability to become ripe, reliable, and even the overwhelming rush of them too.

A common interpretation of relationships is the raw romance experienced by passionate couples, however, Allende unveils the dark reality of the “rush” of them too. While reigning over his hacienda, Esteban’s frustrating sexual drive destroyed the lives of many young women, which was all due to his urge of wanting to feel “the pleasure of the flesh”. The male characters of Allende’s The House of the Spirits share the same habit of dehumanizing women as mere instruments of pleasure and being overly proud of their authority upon them. Similarly, Gloria Duran points out that the Spanish Surrealist painter, Remedios Varo, had similar ideas to Allendes’. The love-hate relationship of Esteban and Clara is comparable to the autobiographical painting “in which the house is seen as tower-prison… in which the captive becomes so drained of life that she merges into the furniture” made by Varo (Durán 9). Varo’s and Allende’s works illustrate how women are confined by the fast paced relationships and track of thought, in these scenarios, brought on by the overpowering males, which demonstrates that through their eyes, the women have value equal to only being pleasure materials or better yet pieces of furniture (that they can utilize and throw away if useless). Esteban’s entire character concentrates on the whole conservative notion/idea of women being docile and “man-handled”, which thus leads him to think forcing girls and women into a rushed relationship is entirely normal. Esteban may have been seen as civilized at first, but in the end, he became the central symbol of a savage. His mother, Dona Ester Trueba, even says “my god! you look like a savage” (Allende 106) on her deathbed, which doesn’t even faze Esteban’s attitude of himself. Afterwards, Esteban may have shaved and cleaned up his outer appearance, but when his mother labeled him a savage, he really should have checked his inner personality.

4795905            However, Allende shows that despite the risky ones, relationships are significant to open up and ripen a maiden’s heart, romantically or not. The newspaper, The Guardian, unveils the conservative labeling of “men being historically associated with rationality, straightforwardness, and logic; women with unpredictable emotions, outbursts, and madness” (Nunn 15-16).

Most notably, Almodovar and Allende’s works both portray heroines whose actions shatter this reasoning completely, which are Pepa and Alba respectively. The likeness between these two became apparent when I realized Pepa and Alba both were once very dependent on their lovers. However, towards the end of their stories, they sprouted into individuals who were free to think for themselves. Furthermore, both female protagonists broke away from the vicious cycle of revenge and hate, which, “obviously”, was created by the wicked and corrupt men. How did they do it though? Instead of giving into her stereotype and basing herself only off of emotion (like Lucia), Pepa rationalizes her anger and hatred to the point of even saving the life of the man who undermined and ignored her. While Ivan was swept away in his desire of lust and the glamour of new women, Pepa had the chance to ignore his dire situation and let him bear what he deserved. However instead she became the bigger, more levelheaded person and chose to save his life.

 

Important characteristic values of a relationship are also the reliable and raw traits. Allende demonstrates this through the strong relationships and actions between her female characters: Clara and Blanca. Even though she was upset when she discovered Blanca’s midnight escapades, Clara does not tell Esteban about it. Furthermore, Clara remains faithful to Blanca when Esteban rages over Blanca’s “impurity”, even taking her first punch from him because of her daughter. The mother and daughter bond of Clara and Blanca is so powerful that one takes abuse for another, which not only portrays Clara’s love for Blanca, but also Clara’s reliability as a mother. This is also seen inVolver as Raimunda takes full responsibility of Paco’s murder, even though Paula committed it. As Raimunda struggles to clean up the evidence and even take over a friend’s restaurant (without permission) to get rid of the body, she too illustrates how her daughter isn’t alone in this; they can get through the murder and other griefs of life together as a family. Additionally, a lot of Augustina’s personality was reflected in Ferula’s as they both had the charitable characteristic of taking care of others. As Augustina religiously takes care of Aunt Paula with the hope of someone doing the same to her missing mother, Ferula also parallels this train of thought as she dedicates her service to Clara. Both women help others and long for them to reciprocate the same quality of care to either themselves or loved ones. In Ferula’s case, she mainly took care of others to feel needed and only wanted love and compassion in return. On the other hand, Augustina properly took care of Aunt Paula in hope that her mother was being treated to the same level of comfort. So in a sense, both women devote their entire lives to others in a means of secretly conveying their own desires. These raw emotions experienced through the relationships between these two women are the inner reflections we barely see as an audience (since these characters are so closed off). Allende shows how the rawness of relationships really mark the importance of these bonds.

Works Cited:

 

Cooper, Sara E. Family Systems and National Subversion in Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

(http://www.jstor.org/stable/41210003?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents)

 

Dulfano, Isabel. “A Response to Isabel Allende’s Tanner Humanities Center Human Values Speech.” N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

(http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=26bb997f-a519-4fd2-b03c-a790f7870576%40sessionmgr4007&vid=5&hid=4210)

 

Durán, Gloria. “WOMEN AND HOUSES – FROM POE TO ALLENDE.”Confluencia 6.2 (1991): 9-15. JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

(http://www.jstor.org/stable/27922002?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents)

 

Jenkins, Ruth Y. Authorizing Female Voice and Experience: Ghosts and Spirits in Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Allende’s The House of the Spirits. N.p., 1 Sept. 1994. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

(http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=9c4787e8-4f43-4c13-a5e2-a609a7eafbef%40sessionmgr4007&vid=4&hid=4210)

 

[Creative Writing]

 

One dark and gloomy Tuesday afternoon, a particular lad sulked into his favorite grey armchair. The lad was turning a grand 31 this year, but was not, nonetheless, excited for any sort of celebration. The peculiar man, who still considered himself a mere boy, even sneered at the thought of how he managed to pass another weighty and burdensome year. As he continued to ponder on and relive his worst memories of the past year, the phone rang brightly and loudly. The boy stiffened and reached for the phone, it was his meddlesome sister again.

“Anders! Happy birthday little brother!”

The boy shriveled at the nostalgic sound of the woman’s voice and did not reply. However, the woman on the phone was charmingly relentless. “I’ll be coming to your birthday party at around nine, okay? I’ll bring a cake and everything, just like good old times!” the woman said cheerily.

“Beth. There is no party”

“That’s why I’m throwing you one silly! Tonight. You should be happy that I’m at least hosting it at your apartment. Mrs. Pepilis even said that she rarely sees you go out for grocery shopping anymore… so I figured I could bring the party to you! And don’t worry, I won’t bring your troublesome nephews, just us and Mrs. P, okay? Ah, want to say hi to the kids while we’re at it? Bill’s here too!” However, the growing lively atmosphere only darkened the boy’s mood further for he responded an immediate “no thanks” and hung up the phone. The bland air that constantly swirled the boy now began to suffocate him once more. The boy sighed, reached for a carton of cigarettes, lit the butt, and exhaled in mediocre satisfaction. The boy’s frustrations of his sister’s nosiness and his old neighbor’s useless motherly worries all hung in the smoke-filled air, making it heavier with gloom. His velvety grey armchair was perfect in scenarios like these, the greater the distress, the more inviting and comfortable the chair seemed to be. The boy’s chair was like a warm cabin in a frosty winter’s storm, like his own haven that disconnected him from the world, heck, it was even like his version of Beth’s kids and significant other. Yes, such a chair was dangerously crucial, for the boy was too contented with the worn down object. It was the only thing that truly made him feel at ease being alone. It was the origin and destructor of all his emotions; as he sank into the lush seating, he slowly unraveled the parts of him he never knew existed. But each time he stood from the fluffed pads, it was as if he awoke from a deep slumber. He resealed the hole he made while pondering in his chair and forgot the eureka’s he accumulated for self-improvement.

The boy abruptly stood up as he thought and thought of the day’s progressions: the neighbor’s loud dog barking again, his sister’s displeasing call, and even the very importance of birthdays itself—it was all too overwhelming. He finally sat back down on his beloved for the third time that day. Beginning to feel drowsy, the boy sank deeper into his chair and let it swallow him whole.

 

 

Although the supposed “party” swung into full action exactly at nine like Beth had promised, the night had grown moody and unwilling to shine even its dullest stars. The foggy, dark weather well suited the boy’s tattooed frown and obvious displeasure, yet the two unwelcome guests overlapped the dark bearings with their own vibrant gestures and ramblings. Still, the nosy sister and overly worrisome granny were uneasy with the boy’s lack of happiness, after all, it should be a joyous occasion. Prepared for such a turn of events, Beth also frowned and exclaimed, “Oh no, the cake! I forgot the cake at the store, Mrs. Pepilis! How could I have forgotten?” Beth turned slightly to the kind neighbor and winked. Catching on, Mrs. Pepilis briefly scolded Beth for her lack of responsibility and turned to the boy, “Anders, it’s far too late for your beautiful sister and an old, senile woman such as myself to go out, pick up the cake for us will you?”

For the first time since the start of the party, the boy agreed with his peers and unfolded himself from his beloved chair. “Don’t forget to wear your hat and scarf!” replied Mrs. Pepilis, referring to last year’s birthday presents. Stepping out into the cool, dark night, the boy felt uneasy, but still refreshed compared to how he felt while he was locked up inside his home with the intruders. However, the boy was unaware of how ridiculous he looked. The boy’s bright pink winter hat bounced, yellow knitted scarf swayed, puffy black jacket wiggled, and Hawaiian flowered shorts screamed for attention, yet forgetful of his surroundings, the boy marched on.

 

***

The boy meets a group of 4 adolescent teenagers while he has the cake. They barely stifle their laughs, bending their backs slightly back, the posture used for the best kinds of laughs. It came off as eerie to him, like they were a bunch of maniacal hyenas just before bouncing onto their prey. He sees they are crowded around something–somebody? He begins to quicken his pace. Out of a moment of curiosity, (as he gets closer) he steps a bit nearer, squinting his eyes to see what they were so eager about. It was a stray cat. Its tail was stomped off and one of the meatier boys preventing the cat from escaping sat on it. Still, the cat fought back, bending its paws to have a better angle to slice the ear of the pumpkin boy.

But it had no such weapon. It was declawed.

Savagely and desperately, it still bucked and churned like a wild stallion, pawing the smile of the pumpkin boy. And then, it died.

He dropped the cake and ran home

Boy went home and wept to two caretakers and hugged them lovingly as they presented him with his super-deluxe surprise special. The boy realized he couldn’t stay a boy forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Metaphors

If you sit and think about it, it won’t take long for you to realize that metaphors are all around us. We are exposed to metaphors whether we like it or not on a daily basis, which can be done from the advertising of big companies (Tropicana’s “your daily ray of sunshine”) to the idioms/sayings we use in personal conversations (“you’re the apple of my eye”).

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Likewise, though their plots and scenarios are independent from each other, the works 100 Years of Solitude, Il Postino, and Walking Around are all centered and connected through this literary device.

In  100 Years of Solitude, Márquez expresses his characters’ inner angst and loneliness through their objects and recurring habits. It is seen that most of the people in the Buendia family have endless voids of loneliness to fill in their hearts, which each member supplies with their own respective diversions. For example, Amaranta’s black bandage once depicted her remorse for the “victims” of her terrible cycle, which consisted of being jealous of Rebeca and rejecting her potential lovers. However later on, Márquez subtly shows that the black bandage on Amaranta’s hand transformed into a symbol for her pledge to virginity and obstinacy. Amaranta’s empty heart may have originated from her guilt of ruining other people’s lives or even from her fear of rejection. Nevertheless, Amaranta attempts to fill up this void by isolating herself from the possibility of serious relationships or marriage and obsessing over beating Rebeca in anything she can think of. Thus, Márquez ultimately packages the deeper, underlying problems of Amaranta inside the metaphor of her constantly worn black bandage. Furthermore, with the book’s central theme revolving around solitude, Márquez displays this element most notably through the several scenes of incest within the Buendia family. The Buendias’ incest and fear of pig-tailed children actually represent how ideas and logic can become deformed and corrupted when one only communicates and is exposed to oneself in solitude.

On a similar note, Michael Radford’s Il Postino captures the same principle of self-deterioration through isolation, which is seen through character Mario Ruoppolo’s sudden dynamic shift. In the opening, Mario lived in a world where he barely had enough material to have a proper conversation with his dad. However, similar to the gypsies’ effect on Macondo, Neruda’s appearance opened up Mario’s secluded and dull reality; he ultimately gave Mario a reason to truly live life. A critic from the Washington Post agrees stating, when Neruda breaks down a metaphor with the phrase ‘the sky is weeping’, “Mario’s eyes [were] opened to untold possibilities” (Howe 30-31). For Mario, metaphors are of high value since he communicates through them. Through his metaphors, Mario carries the emotions in which he couldn’t before: his sadness, happiness, love, and even his pride. For example, for the first time in his life, Mario charmingly creates his own metaphor from the depth of his lovesick heart: “your smile spreads like a butterfly”. Film reviewer, Roger Ebert, also detects Mario’s clear transition in character through metaphors by noting how he can “see that Mario, too, might have developed the soul of a poet” (Ebert 30-31). This film portrays metaphors to be expressions of imagination in cretumblr_ly0uhgus4g1qj71muo1_250ative truths. Essentially, these metaphors act as a medium for Mario’s emotions to be conveyed, or more arguably, they are the cause/catalyst which exposed him to more complex feelings. Mario’s metaphors morphed him from a hardened yet miserable son of a fisherman to the comical, young poet, which ultimately allowed him to obtain his own individuality as a person.

Similarly, Walking Around, a poem criticizing life and society, gives Neruda the independence and freedom to unveil his internal, bottled up thoughts. In this poem, Neruda finds a “felt-swan” more relatable than an actual human being, which demonstrate he feels like a faux human since he cannot sincerely feel (other than the emotion of disgust and loathing). Through this metaphor Neruda establishes his perspective of feeling sick of being a person in his society. Rather than being a felt-swan, it is implied that Neruda would rather actually live life than being a walking tombstone, waiting for death. In a more exaggerated metaphor of the poem, Neruda states that “It would be great to go through the streets with a green knife letting out yells until I died of the cold”. Regarding this, it is extremely unlikely that Neruda meant this metaphor to be taken realistically. Instead, the metaphor infers that Neruda longs to rebel and do something significant before his death, which would break the cycle of living his life tastelessly and half-heartedly.

As one of the most vital tools to wordsmiths, metaphors are seen to be utilized in various ways. For the sake of Márquez’s theme of isolation, metaphors were wielded to cover a deeper, more profound meaning. In Radford’s Il Postino and Neruda’s Walking Around, metaphors served as a platform for people to project their inner desires, fears, and emotions. Thus, no matter how simple or widespread they are in our society today, metaphors still hold their charm of  showcasing artistic expression from even the deepest pits of the heart.

 

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. “The Postman (Il Postino) Movie Review.” All Content. N.p., 23 June 1995. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Howe, Desson. Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 June 1995. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Neruda, Pablo. “Walking Around.” Poemhunter.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

 

 

“She’s a Super Freak!”

Have you ever heard of the 1980 smash hit “Super Freak” by Rick James?  If not, then you’ve probably heard of the famous bass line, which was reused in “U Can’t Touch This”.  In spite of the catchy tune, James phrased Super Freak to be about a sexually adventurous girl with a bold conduct in bed. However, why does Rick James describe women who are spunky and venturesome this way? Isn’t there women-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdownother, more flattering words to label people, especially women in this context? In Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the clear theme of women being seen as crazy and irrational (when being outspoken) by society resonates throughout the entire movie. In a similar light, The House of the Spirits also deals with men who perceive and will women to be the lesser beings; so that when the woman retaliates, she is seen as unreasonable and loony. This is seen when Esteban Trueba classifies Nivea del Valle as insane since she publicly stood up for women’s rights. The newspaper, The Guardian, protests against this injustice by unveiling the labeling of “men being historically associated with rationality, straightforwardness, and logic; women with unpredictable emotions, outbursts, and madness” (Nunn 15-16). Most notably, Almodovar and Allende’s works both portray heroines whose actions shatter this reasoning completely, which are Pepa and Alba respectively. The likeness between these two became apparent when I realized Pepa and Alba both were once very dependent on their lovers. However towards the end of their stories, they sprouted into individuals who were free to think for themselves. Furthermore, both female protagonists broke away from the vicious cycle of revenge and hate, which, “obviously”, was created by the wicked and corrupt men. How did they do it though? Instead of giving into her stereotype and basing herself only off of emotion (like Lucia), Pepa rationalizes her anger and hatred to the point of even saving the life of the man who undermined and ignored her. While Ivan was swept away in his desire of lust and the glamour of new women, Pepa had the chance to ignore his dire situation and let him bear what he deserved. However instead she became the bigger, more levelheaded person and chose to save his life. Almodovar, in this perception, flipped the stereotype of women being “hysterical” directly back onto the men as he stated “It’s easier to learn mechanics than male psychology” (Kempley 31-32). The very charm of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown bases itself off of the changed conservative perspective of only women being the crazy ones as humans. Almodovar and Allende both share the unseen viewpoints of what women go through, which give an explanation to why they were considered nonsensical in the first place (it was because of MEN). Nonetheless, both works left the audience thinking that the heroines were the only sane ones who overcame the barbarity of men at the end. Angeliki Coconi agrees with this by stating “[Pepa’s] realistic while outrageous, obsessed while reasonable” (Coconi 26-27), which indicate that even at the edge of a nervous breakdown a woman can still be sensible.

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All in all, both works make you think twice about labeling a woman hysterical, or better yet a super freak.

Works Cited:

Coconi, Angeliki. “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) by Pedro Almodóvar.” Unsung Films. N.p., 12 May 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Kempley, Rita. “‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ (NR).”Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Nunn, Gary. “The Feminisation of Madness Is Crazy | Mind Your Language.”The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

 

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (minus the pants)

rs_560x415-140423142327-1024-sisterhood-cm-42314_copyTruthfully when I first watched Pedro Almodovar’s piece Volver, I was dumbfounded at the movie’s peculiar string of events and what exactly the main point or purpose of the movie was. Upon reading several mixed reviews and watching the movie again, I realized that the narrative of Volver isn’t what appeals to critics; it was the movie’s portrayal of the relationships between the women. By making this discovery, I began to link many similarities between The House of the Spirits and Volver. The first obvious connection being the blatant focus on women, which demonstrates the unseen side of how they overcome the tribulation of life and the oppression of men as a pact. The women of both stories are seen as individuals who strive to be as independent as they can be, which can apply to opposing (in their own way) the authority of men or being resilient to the difficulty of life itself. This is seen through little instances like Aunt Paula objecting to be dependent in a nursing home to bigger, bolder oppositions such as Clara the Clairvoyant’s oath of not talking to her husband again after their physical encounter. An example of some tribulations the women in both works experience includes the lust of men. While reigning over his hacienda, Esteban’s frustrating sexual drive destroyed the lives of many young women, which was all due to his urge of wanting to feel “the pleasure of the flesh”. Likewise, Paco’s attempt to rape Paula ultimately scarred her for life, leaving her and Raimunda in life threatening situations. Both male characters share the same habit of dehumanizing women as mere instruments of pleasure and being overly proud of their authority upon them. Recognizing this, Ruth Stein notes that “lust is at the root of several generations of family tragedies”, which demonstrates that both works of art puts into light the darkest deeds of men that generally is taboo or overlooked in society (Stein 33). However, the main theme that both productions emphasize on is the community of women overcoming those troubles together. Peter Travers indicates how Almodovar’s Volver demonstrates a “passionate tribute to the community of women– living and dead– who nurtured him” (Travers 33). This portrays that Almodovar, touched by the bonds and burdens of women, meant to angle the movie to depict their sisterhood and support for one another. Allende also demonstrates this through the strong relationships and actions between her female characters: Clara and Blanca. Even though she was upset when she discovered Blanca’s midnight escapades, Clara does not tell Esteban about it. Furthermore, Clara remains faithful to Blanca when Esteban rages over Blanca’s “impurity”, even taking her first punch from him because of her daughter. This demonstrates how Clara and Blanca’s relationship is so powerful to the point of one taking abuse for another. gleeThis is also seen in Volver as Raimunda takes full responsibility of Paco’s murder, even though Paula committed it. As Raimunda struggles to clean up the evidence and even take over a friend’s restaurant (without permission) to get rid of the body, she too illustrates how her daughter isn’t alone in this; they can get through the murder and other griefs of life together as a family.

Interestingly, I also noticed that a lot of Augustina’s personality was reflected in Ferula’s as they both had the charitable characteristic of taking care of others. As Augustina religiously takes care of Aunt Paula with the hope of someone doing the same to her missing mother, Ferula also parallels this train of thought as she dedicates her service to Clara. Both women help others and long for them to reciprocate the same quality of care to either themselves or loved ones. In Ferula’s case, she mainly took  care of others to feel needed and  only wanted love and compassion in return. On the other hand, Augustina properly took care of Aunt Paula in hope that her mother was being treated to the same level of comfort. So in a sense, both women devote their entire lives to others in a means of secretly conveying their own desires.

Works Cited:

Stein, Ruthe. “Leave It to Mama to Clean up the Mess.” SFGate. N.p., 22 Nov. 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

Travers, Peter. “Volver.” Rolling Stone. N.p., 2 Nov. 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

 

Barbarism, Obsessions, and Violence Oh My!

Getting further in depth with The House of the Spirits, I have begun to discover the multiple themes and interesting contrasts that Allende has planted into this book. For example, the recurring facet of barbarism that is mainly in Tres Marias entices the reader to truly question the real definition of it. As Esteban travels to the countryside packed with “his fury and his outsized pride” (Allende 61), I began to suspect that situations in Tres Marias would ultimately not end well. The book makes it clear that Esteban considers the dwellers in Tres Marias as barbaric and in urgent need of civilization (with his help of course). However as I continued reading, I noticed that Esteban’s definition only allows the reader to view one side of barbarism, which is to be not in touch with society’s standards. Ironically, the more common definition of being barbaric is when one shows characteristics of being inhumane and “savagely cruel”, which Esteban persistently demonstrates. Such as when Esteban sexually abuses many girls during his long stay in Tres Marias. As Esteban can no longer tolerate his sexual frustrations, he first lashes out at fifteen year old Pancha Garcia. When Esteban was seen taking Pancha by force, “attacking her savagely, thrusting himself into her without preamble, with unnecessary brutality” (Allende 74), he contradicts himself since he too embodies barbarism (however in this scenario, he’s in a worse light compared to his workers). Additionally, being repulsed by Pancha’s pregnancy, Esteban inhumanly kicks her out and moves onto his next victims. Like a true barbarian and man of no class, Esteban and his irredeemable hubris and overall mentality selfishly ruins many lives and is similar to that of a true beast.

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 In his defense, Esteban began letting himself “little by little… be conquered by rusticity” (Allende 72), which in a sense, means that the countryside broke the seal of his inner rage. However, Esteban fighting his poverty-ridden, traumatic childhood with determined anger is what I think is his true origins of barbarism, which loops the blame of his wicked tendencies directly back to him. Additionally, Esteban’s sudden change from a courteous, madly in love gentleman to a sexually driven beast reminded me of William Golding’s classic The Lord of the Flies. In his novel, Golding clearly portrays that everyone, no matter what variation of quality in nurture and care one receives, has inner savageness that will some day break free. Golding’s theme is seen in Esteban’s self when his obsession and lust for Rosa was not fulfilled, which drove him into his repulsive ways. This is again seen when Clara sinks further into her spiritual realm, ignoring and forgetting Esteban while he is madly obsessed with her to the point of angrily raping other women.giphy

Whenever Esteban spazzes about Clara not giving him the love he deserves 

 

Esteban may have been seen as civilized at first, but in the end, he became the central symbol of a savage. His mother, Dona Ester Trueba, even says “my god! you look like a savage” (Allende 106) on her deathbed, which doesn’t even faze Esteban’s attitude of himself. Afterwards, Esteban may have shaved and cleaned up his outer appearance, but when his mother labeled him a savage, he really should have checked his inner personality.

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When she calls you a savage, but you’re in denial

 

On the other hand, there is one character in the story I constantly find myself rooting for recently. Ferula. At first, I had a cynical outlook on her character due to her forced yet fake caring attitude towards her mother. I was annoyed whenever she complained to Esteban that she gave up her own life because she was pressured into taking care of her mom. I thought rather than complaining and guilt tripping others for not sacrificing their own lives as well, one should either not involve others in their own indecisiveness or have the guts to get out of the situation. However, now I understand that either way, Ferula didn’t have much of a choice due to her society’s expectations of women in that era. Additionally, I realized how Ferula sort of reveled to be in the situations she hated, like she thought she sacrificed herself for the better. As Esteban dealt with the childhood trauma of having a bad father, sick mother, and poor life with anger, Ferula dealt with it by fooling herself to think she’s important and of worth. This is the reason why she clings to her sick mother even though she is miserable since she was of need somewhere. It really broke my heart when I grasped the reason of Ferula’s suffocating and demanding attitude; it was due to her need for tenderness and love. As soon as Clara showed compassion towards her, Ferula’s iron defenses were instantly down since she wasn’t used to one treating her so well. This is seen when Dona Ester demands to see Esteban before her death despite Ferula abandoning her life to make her mother’s comfortable. Hence it made me extremely happy to see Ferula (at first) noting she was “surprised not to feel jealousy” when Esteban looked rejuvenated with Clara’s company (Allende 118).

 

El Laberinto del Fauno

Pan’s Labyrinth, a mystical and fairytale-esque film written and directed by genius Guillermo del Toro Gomez, won several awards and critically acclaimed reviews, and rightfully so. When one finishes the movie, the first thought one generally ponders on is whether Ofelia made a fantasy to cope with her dynamic struggles or whether the mysterious land is indeed true. However, Pan’s Labyrinth should instead be focused on the point of view that Guillermo del Toro directed his cameras to: Ofelia, the young, innocent girl. As a person watches the movie through little Ofelia’s eyes (except the one scene in the viewpoint of Vidal), they are exposed to various situations where morals and ethics are heavily taken into consideration. With this in mind, the central message behind Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece is that one should always be in touch with one’s inner morals. Gomez accomplishes this by creating a world only those (like Ofelia) who are innocent and not yet corrupted by things like greed and bloodlust can see. By including the scene where Vidal is not included or aware of Ofelia’s magical world, Gomez actually juxtaposes the two character’s levels of  their moral mentality. However, the beauty of Pan’s Labyrinth mainly rests on Guillermo del Toro’s generosity to induce the viewer to contemplate what they think is the true underlying meaning behind the ending, and furthermore, movie as a whole. Instead of slapping the spectator in the face with a revealing ending he desired, Guillermo del Toro instead permits the watcher to figure the true significance of the movie for themselves.