Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate is the fantastic and romantic depiction of a young Mexican girl named Tita who, in accordance with Mexican tradition, cannot marry because she is the youngest girl in the family. The depravity her situation is only compounded by Mama Elena, her castrating mother, who does everything to make Tita’s life miserable. Tita’s only escape from her monotonous and demanding life comes when a fiery Pedro Musquez asks for her hand in marriage. Tita is crestfallen when she discovers that her own mother selfishly denies her Pedro, but this does not stop the fiery passion Tita and Pedro share. Moreover, in the novel fire and heat are not only representative of love; but also destruction that emanates both directly and indirectly from their powerful attraction. Equivel uses a variety of literary devices to symbolically characterize fire and to give it either a positive or negative connotation. Especially prevalent is the use figurative language, objectification, magical realism and hyperbole to illustrate the dualism of passion through fire.
This duality is exemplified in the first passage, from the final scene of the novel, where Tita and Pedro’s love finally consummates in a fiery “volcano”(Esquivel 176). The description of Pedro and Tita’s love as a volcano creates a sensual and emotion-provoking tone through the use of hyperbole and magical realism. Additionally, in this passage through the metaphor of fire Esquivel comments on the nature of soul and the repercussions of passion. The purpose of these exaggerated and hyperbolic descriptions is to create a fantasy world and evoke strong emotions. For instance the exaggerated description of the “enormous bedspread…that covered the whole ranch” (Esq...
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...rown puts it “Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help” (Esquivel 115), in Tita’s case the candle was an actual candle and the fire took the form of real fire, in order to bring the extended metaphor or fire and matches as a symbolic representation of the soul to a magical and passionate climax. Esquivel uses fire to symbolically represent passion and love, which in just like fire, is not without negative effects. Passion and love can be used as a tool of spite, as it was by the ghost of Mama Elena or it can be pure bliss. Either way, the exaggeration of the attributes and pivotal role of fire as the driving force of life illustrate a deeper truth about the dualistic nature of passion.
Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Print.
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