Matriarchs Are The Most Influential Characters In

The Novels ‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’ And ‘Th Essay, Research Paper

“I had lost my wife and my daughter. My mother, my sister, dear old

Nana?were all dead. Even Rosa returned to haunt me like an unforgettable

grief.”a Both ‘One hundred Years Of

Solitude’ and ‘The House Of The Spirits’ have men as their most apparent

decision makers, but behind the scenes women control and influence the decisions

of men to the extent that without the input of these few women, the course of

the plots in these novels would have taken an entirely different route. Each of

these women represents a different entity and each has a different way of

influencing the men in their lives. Ursula Buendia from

‘Solitude’b, and Clara Trueba from ‘House

of Spirits’c are the matriarchs in their

respective novels and therefore the most influential women in their novels.

Clara manipulates the course of decisions through her mystical ways of

forecasting. Ursula on the other hand communicates with Jose Arcadio Buendia and

influences him in a more firm and stable manner through her assertive

personality. Clara has a tremendous influence over Esteban’s decisions through her

mysterious and mystical ways. “Clara the clairvoyant could interpret

dreams.”e She is such a mysterious person, which

attracts Esteban to her and what little he knows and understands about her, and

at the same time tells him to keep his distance until she allows him to approach

her, like the time she left Tres Marias two days after he hit her and he did not

try to stop her. “Clara never spoke to her husband again? Two days

later, Clara and Blanca left Tres Marias.”f This

shows Clara’s indifferent attitude towards Esteban’s feelings and establishes

that Clara does not need Esteban as much as he needs her. Clara from then on

seemed to control most of Esteban’s thoughts, lifestyle and emotions through

“I felt so alone after that?Loneliness would never leave

me.”gEsteban bent over backwards in order to

please Clara “It was the special surprise he had prepared for

her.”h Ursula has different characteristics than Clara, but she too is dominant over

her husband’s decisions. She is assertive, firm and capable and has

“unbreakable nerves”mand will stand no

nonsense from Jose Arcadio Buendia or his crazy notions. She prevents Jose

Arcadio Buendia from leaving Macondo. “We will not leave?We will stay

here.”u The matriarchs influence their families because they take care of their

families and they are the heads of their families while their husbands pursue

other interests like dedicating time to Tres Marias in the case of Esteban

“I was going to spend many years – perhaps even my whole life – Tres

Marias.”i and thus the husbands are ineffective

in managing their households and thus showing the matriarchs dominance in their

households.. Jose Arcadio Buendia for example pursues his interests in science and

therefore forgets that he has a family “Instead of going around thinking

about your crazy inventions, you should be worrying about your sons? Look at the

state they are in, running wild just like

donkeys.”j Ursula reprimands him for neglecting

his children and thus exercises her influence by stopping him to have a look at

the world around him and take responsibility for his family. Esteban on the other hand pursues his interests in Tres Marias and whilst

building it up he forgets about Ferula and his Mother. “It bothered her?

bored, tired and unhappy while her brother had no taste of such

obligations.”k The author’s use of a list of

words to portray the extent of ferula’s frustrations. It reveals that Esteban

does not care about handling his sick mother or the household and leaves that to

Ferula. Esteban later pursues his business interests and politics and forgets

about his family. “Esteban Trueba was so busy ? that he had no time to

think about anything.”l This includes his family

and mother and sister. Whilst their husbands are pursuing their interests and busy, the wives are

busy taking over their households and organizing and restructuring them

according to their own tastes. Ursula was a strong woman and “thanks to

her the floors of tamped earth, the unwhitewashed mud walls? were always

clean.”m Whilst Clara worked “between the sewing

workshop, the general store, the school.”n This shows that

Clara is not as clairvoyant as she seems and is capable of taking

responsibility. The wives are using their husband’s weak influences in the domestic area to

fight their husband’s dominance and therefore they use time and familiarity as

tools. Over time the household’s become use to the matriarchs as the backbones

of the family. The households’ familiarity with the women makes the matriarchs

more willing to fill in the gaps left by their husbands. Also the actions of the

husbands alienate themselves from the rest of the rest of the family. Esteban’s

violence alienates him from his family “He lost control and struck her

in the face, knocking her against the wall? Clara never spoke to her husband

again,”o and Jose Arcadio Buendia’s crazy fits accelerate

his loss of influence over his household. “He acquired a habit of

talking to himself, of walking through the house without paying attention to

anyone? his feverish activity was interrupted and was replaced by a kind of

fascination,”p Jose Arcadio Buendia’s crazy fits

forces Ursula to take action and since she loves him and wont let him go on

crazy journeys, she ties him to a tree for the rest of his days. “?With

the savage violence of his uncommon strength he smashed to dust the equipment in

the alchemy laboratory?ten men were needed to get him down, fourteen to tie him

up?left him tied up, barking in the strange language and giving off a green

froth at the mouth.”vThe deliberate exaggeration

in the choice of words show how undesirably violent Jose Arcadio Buendia could

be. Both men had traits that made them undesirable and made them stand out from

the rest of their households. Jose Arcadio Buendia’s fits and Esteban’s violence

led them to slowly destroy any links and with that any influence they ever held

over their families. Clara and Ursula’s influence does not only affect the men in the family.

Their influence is powerful enough to affect the direction of the plots of both

novels since through the males they influence the direction that the plot takes.

These two female characters have portrayed actions and influences that affected

the plot to the extent that their actions have been felt throughout their

respective novels. Clara influences the plot in “House of Spirits” when Esteban

becomes more humble and realizes that he has lost Clara the night he hit her

“He knelt by her side, crying and begging her forgiveness, trying to

explain,”q and since then she has not spoken to

him. Clara does not tell him about her feelings but rather withdraws in to

silence and thus portrays this image for Esteban to take as a form of a victory.

Esteban also does not understand Clara and thus he struggles to win back her

favor without ever succeeding. “Two days later, Clara and Blanca left ?

Esteban ? remained with a sensation that something in his life had been

destroyed forever.”r Ursula on the other hand is quite different to Clara in reacting to events

and she fights for justice and what she believes in. When the story becomes more

chaotic due to the war, Colonel Aureliano Buendia goes to fight while Jose

Arcadio becomes the dictator of Macondo. Ursula shows her influence by being

firm with her son and limiting his activities and getting rid of his laws.

“Whipping him without mercy? Arcadio curled up like a snail? From that

time on she was the one who ruled in the

town.”sThe simile clearly portrays Arcadio’s

defensive instincts and helplessness. Therefore, Ursula exercises her influence

over him as a matriarch and as a mother and she holds that influence until old

age when she became too weak physically to exercise her influence over the

family and thus the children started playing with her like a doll

“Ursula cried in lamentation when she discovered that for more than

three years she had been a plaything for the

children,”t and the adults began to leave and

slowly the household that Ursula had managed for most of a century began to fall

apart. Ursula is given an image of a toy for the children, the opposite image of

what she used to really be before.Even though these two novels seem to

be dominated by men, in this essay I have shown that in fact women are more

influential then men and thus dominate the action. The matriarchs are the most

influential of all the women; it is in fact arguable that their influence is

such that they have a possibility of being the protagonists in the novel due to

their influence on events. Footnotes a)House Of Spirits – pg 235 b)Key: Solitude is short for ‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’ by G.G.M c)Key: House Of Spirits – ‘The House Of The Spirits’ By Isabelle Allende. e) House Of Spirits – pg 95 f) House Of Spirits – pg 234 g) House Of Spirits – pg 235 h) House Of Spirits – pg 119 i) House Of Spirits – pg 69 j) Solitude – pg 14 k) House Of Spirits – pg 59 l) House Of Spirits – pg 71 m) Solitude – Pg 9 n) House Of Spirits – pg 127 o) House Of Spirits – pg 233-234 p) Solitude – pg 4-5 q) House Of Spirits – pg 234 r) House Of Spirits – pg 234 s) Solitude – Pg 108-109 t) Solitude – pg 339 u) Solitude – pg 14 v) Solitude – pg 81 Word Count: 1,475 words BIBLIOGRAPHY Book: The House Of The Spirits Author: Isabel Allende Publisher: Cox & Wyman Ltd, A Black Swan book. Date Published: Black Swan edition 1998 Copyright Date: 1985 by Isabel Allende & Alfred A.

Knopf, Inc. Book: One Hundred Years Of Solitude Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez Publisher: Penguin Group Date Published: Penguin books 1972 Copyright Date: 1970 by Harper & Row, Publishers


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