The Role of Violence in The House of the Spirits
Violence plays a critical role in the plot of The House of the Spirits, as it weaves together each action and reaction of the characters. Violent actions connect the past with the present lives of the des Valle and Trueba family tree, linking them all together by their struggles. Sometimes we see that their hate is surprisingly synonymous with their love, and how violence becomes simply another part of their fate. The novel is saturated in violence that is crucial to the makeup of the novel, as it would not be the same without a bloody, sorrowful storyline somehow tinged with the delicacy of melancholy love pervading and linking the lives of each character.
The violence of the novel begins with the death of Rosa the Beautiful, a symbol of perfection and innocence. Her accidental death is caused by a poisoned brandy intended for her father. She becomes a blameless victim and takes Severo’s place in death, a gesture so unjust it symbolizes the beginning of the family’s violent timeline. After her autopsy, her dead body is molested by Dr. Cuevas’ assistant, who paradoxically violates her with such an eerie tenderness, that it sends a shocked Clara, who witnesses the incident, into a nine year silence. “She stayed until the young man she had never seen before kissed Rosa on the lips, the neck, the breasts, and between her legs… she stayed until the assistant took her in his arms with the same tenderness with which he would have picked her up and carried her across the threshold of the house if she had been his eyes… Silence filled her utterly” (39.) Allende takes something as graphic as molestation and portrays it in a delicate way that questions ethics and the right or wrongness of human nature.
Allende also does this when writing about Esteban Trueba, who is an unusual protagonist—a rapist. Although Clara went silent, no one was affected more violently than Esteban Garcia, her fiancé. After he...
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