Loss of Strong Female Characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude and the House of the Spirits

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  • Topic: Gabriel García Márquez, Family, Isabel Allende
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  • Published : May 12, 2011
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Lineham 1 Blair Lineham Ms. Davis IB/AP English 23 January 2008 Loss of Strong Female Characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits In both Isabel Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits and Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, strong female characters form the structure and center of the family units.When they die, their families start to break apart.Marquez and Allende manipulate the relationships between family members to show how the absence of strong female characters leads to the destruction of their homes and families; both physically and emotionally. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ursula Iguaran is the strong woman that holds the Buendia family together.Ursula is the oldest member of Macondo; she helps discover it and is alive almost until it’s destruction over one hundred years later.Her sagacious and overseeing nature is implied by her sheer age and seniority.Marquez describes Ursula’s strength when he writes that, “Although she was already a hundred years old and on the point of going blind from cataracts, she still had her physical dynamism, her integrity of character, and her mental balance intact.No one would be better able than she to shape the virtuous man who would restore the prestige of the family” (Marquez 205).This passage directly follows Ursula agreeing to raise Aureliano Segundo’s newborn son.Marquez employs magical realism to express Ursula’s extreme mental strength.A woman that is over one hundred years of age and on the verge of being blind cannot raise an infant, and does not have “physical dynamism”.This use of Lineham 2 exaggerated magical realism exemplifies Ursula’s motherly qualities and how she provides the structure for the family because she wishes to take care of a child when she is at the age that most people can no longer even take care of themselves.

Although it may seem harsh at times, Ursula’s strong willed nature leads her to do whatever is necessary to keep her family together.She exiles Jose Arcadio and Rebeca from the Buendia house because they are related and they get married.Ursula sees this as “an inconceivable lack of respect” (102) not only to herself, but to the whole family line, which she tries to keep intact and pure.After Arcadio becomes the ruthless and violent dictator of Macondo, Ursula whips him to retake control, and “from that time on she was the one who ruled in the town” (116).The town becomes quite prosperous during the time that she governs it. When Ursula dies, the entire Buendia family starts to fall apart, until it is eventually completely wiped out.Members of the family start committing sins like having incest. Amaranta Ursula and her nephew Aureliano have a child together that has “the tail of a pig” (443).This is what Ursula had been worried about when she gave birth to a son from incest and she had constantly warned her family against incest because of the dreaded “pig’s tail” that could come of it.Because Ursula’s structure and warnings were absent, “They were not alarmed. Aureliano and Amaranta Ursula were not aware of the family precedent, nor did they remember Ursula’s frightening admonitions” (443).Marquez uses a very nonchalant tone when describing Aureliano and Amaranta Ursula’s feelings about their son having a pig’s tail to reflect their naivety about the near destruction of their family.Without Ursula’s discipline, her descendents forgot about the structure that would keep the family together. Lineham 3 Ursula’s death.Marquez also utilizes this word to convey a sense of hopelessness and despair before the Buendia family is completely wiped out by the hurricane in the end.Marquez uses irony when he tells the reader that “They found her [Ursula] dead on the morning of Good Friday” (369).This is clearly an allusion to the Bible and is comparing Ursula to Jesus Christ. The irony in this is that Jesus dies to stop people’s sins, while when Ursula dies, people start sinning.Marquez’s irony continues when...
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