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The Triumph of Words: The House of Spirits Essay

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A few words can make a dramatic impact. They can be used to destroy and manipulate, or they can be used to bring joy and strength. They shape the course of events big and small and then later narrate the stories of these events. In The House of the Spirits, various types of power vie for dominance, one of these being the power of words. The strength and duration of this power is compared to those of physical power, ambition, and more. Isabel Allende illustrates that the power of words is the strongest and most lasting form of power through the actions of Clara, Pedro Tercero, and Alba in her novel, The House of the Spirits.
Clara proves that the power of words is stronger and lasts longer than physical power through her conflicts with her husband, Esteban Trueba. Clara keeps journals all of her life. At a young age, “she was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities” (1). Thus, the power of words is associated with Clara, the person loved by all of the characters. Meanwhile, physical power and the power of ambition are associated with the almost universally despised character, Esteban Trueba. He uses violence and physical prowess to accomplish his goals, whether it be cutting off Pedro’s Tercero Garcia’s fingers to rid him from Blanca’s life or “[working] like a beast” (20) in the mines, trying to earn money to start a life for himself and Rosa. After Esteban hits Clara, she will not talk to him, and it drives him crazy. He “[pursues] her up and down the house, begging her with his eyes and drilling holes in the bathroom wall” (224), but she continues to ignore him. This shows the dominance of the power of words, or the lack of words, over physical po...


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... and then can be passed through generations, but the impact of ambition is essentially limited to the one feeling the ambition and only lasts for as long as one feels that desire to achieve. Similar to Clara, through an encounter with Esteban Trueba, Pedro Tercero proves the strength of words. When the peasants of Tres Marias take Esteban hostage, the physical force of the national guard could not make the peasants release him, but Pedro Tercero’s persuasive words could, showing the triumph of words over physical power. Furthermore, after being taken prisoner by Esteban Garcia, Alba initially tries to use physical force to fight back and try to escape. However, it did not succeed, and Alba eventually found that words could get her through the torture. Clearly, words are a powerful device. They bring strength in tumultuous times and provide strong and lasting power.



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