Characterization, Symbolism, and Repetition in Hundred Years of Solitude

Characterization, Symbolism, and Repetition in One Hundred Years of Solitude

The names of characters often suggest something about their personalities, either straightforwardly or ironically. Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Prudencio Aguilar is neither "prudent" nor "eagle-like" (aguila means "eagle" in Spanish). Repetition of names and behaviors is another technique of characterization. Certain character types, e.g., the contemplative, stubborn man, or the impetuous, forceful man, the patient and nurturing woman, and so on, are represented by more than one individual in the several generations of the Buendia family. All the Jose Arcadios, for example, are assumed to have at least some of the traits of the original Jose Arcadio Buendia (impetuous and forceful), and all the Aurelianos have something in common with Colonel Aureliano Buendia (tendency toward solitude and contemplation). The repetitions are not exact, but the use of similar names is one way to suggest more about a character than is actually said. There are also repetitions of particular behaviors, for example, secluding oneself in a room for experiments or study.

Some characters have characteristic signs to identify them. Examples include Pilar Ternera's laugh, Colonel Aureliano Buendia's solitary look, Aureliano Segundo's extravagance, Fernanda's continual muttering, and so on.

Physical descriptions are used sparingly, letting the reader fill in the details beyond such generalities as "skinny" or "fat," "beautiful," "huge." An exception is made for Colonel Aureliano Buendia, who seems to be drawn from an especially clear mental image of the author's, as though copied from a photograph.

Some of the more spectacular individuals are ...

... middle of paper ...

...wears away the axle," until the whole system, including both the constant attempts to renew Macondo and the reproduction of the Buendia clan, breaks down.

Works Cited

Bell-Villada, Gene H. Garcia Marquez: The Man and His Work. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Griffin, Clive. "The Humour of One Hundred Years of Solitude." In McGuirk and Cardwell, 81-94.

James, Regina. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Revolutions in Wonderland. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1981.

McGuirk, Bernard and Richard Cardwell, edd. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: New Readings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

Williams, Raymond L. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

Wood, Michael. "Review of One Hundred Years of Solitude." In Critical Essays on Gabriel Garcia Marquez. McMurray, George R., ed. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987.
Get Access