Magical Realism

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Two of the most widely recognized major contributors to Latin American Literature are Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Isabel Allende’s Eva Luna. Both are written in the genre of magical realism, a literary form that describes fantasy and imaginary events in such a way that it becomes believable and real to the reader. Specifically, these books describe the geopolitical turmoil of Latin America during the early twentieth century and the mid twentieth century; respectively, dealing with war, suffering and death. Although the authors are of different genders, both of these books are written from a feminist perspective and merge fantasy with reality by introducing the reader to myths, prophecies, and legends that coexist with technology and modernity. In these two books, figurative language is used to address some of the most difficult and meaningful themes, such as: magical realism, fortitude and feminism, and time. Both books use magical realism to portray the harsh truth of everyday reality in an oppressive Latin American environment. In order for Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende to express their opinions and move for social change, they intertwined myth and magic into reality in order to make it difficult to distinguish the boundary between reality and fiction. Márquez uses magical realism to catch your attention from its very first pages. One Hundred Years of Solitude takes place in a mythical Latin American town called Macondo and tells the story of its founders José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Úrsula Iguarán, who are first cousins. Due to previous inbreeding between Úrsula’s aunt and José’s uncle that produced a pig-tailed boy, Úrsula wore a chastity belt for the first eighteen months of marriage. Macondo started as a rigid, dirty town but became modernized in only a few short years with the help of José Arcadio Buendía when the town became acquainted with the gypsies and was influenced by their technology. Melquíades, the main gypsy, sold José Arcadio Buendía many of his products, including a telescope in which he proclaimed, “In a short time, man will be able to see what is happening in any place in the world without leaving his house” (Márquez p. 2). José Arcadio Buendía became completely absorbed by Melquíades’ products and so convinced that he spent Úrsula’s gold coins “that her father had put together over an entire life…” (Márquez p. 3). Melquíades reportedly, “had survived pellagara in Persia, scurvy in the Malayan archipelago, leprosy in Alexandria, beri beri in Japan, bubonic plaque in Madagascar, an earthquake in Sicily, and a disastrous shipwreck in the Strait of Magellan” (Márquez p. 5). It was at this point that Macondo changed not for the better, but for the worse. Modernity entered the town with devastating effects and concluded the town’s destruction. Throughout the remainder of the book, Gabriel García Márquez exaggerates every event with fantasy to gain a sense of reality. The fantasies range from literally extraordinary and not possible, to the extremes of physically unlikely. Examples of the first include the whole village contracting the insomnia plaque, the ability of José Arcadio Buendía to be chained to an oak tree for years in implement weather with little food or drink, reproduction of farm animals on a daily basis, and Melquíades written epigraphs on parchments detailing Macondo’s fate over the next one hundred years. Some other instances of this type include when Colonel Aureliano Buendía shot himself in the chest and the bullet exits through his back without injuring a single vital organ and when Úrsula Iguarán determined the rotation of the sun by the shadows it casted, even though she was blind. The next level of unreality is the use of hyperboles to exaggerate things in order to create a strong impression. The exaggeration in this book is almost always numerically specific, for instance, when Úrsula Iguarán took over the headship of the family for...
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