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Commentary on Dom Casmurro by Joachim Maria Machado de Assis

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Dom Casmurro is considered the premier book of dark comedy, satire, and realism; and the author, Joachim Maria Machado de Assis, is considered one of the best Latin-American authors. Dom Casmurro is widely taught in Brazilian schools, and is praised all over the world. This is very ironic, considering the fact that the book has a poor protagonist, some deceptive chapters, an ending that is very unfulfilling, and no real message or lesson learned. There’s even a chapter entitled “Shake Your Head, Reader” which invites the reader to throw out the book, “if its tediousness hasn’t driven [them] this long since” (Machado de Assis 98). Indeed, it’s as if the book was intentionally written to be difficult to chew. If so, then Dom Casmurro is a satire of the very reader, in that it fails to meet their expectations.
One way Dom Casmurro fails to meet expectations is that the main character, Bento, is an unreliable protagonist. For example, Bento shows time and time again that he is a biased narrator. The entire novel is written in his perspective with little recognition if any, of Capitu’s side of the story. Bento perceives Capitu as a “capricious [creature]” with “undertow eyes” and spends much of the latter half of the book trying to undermine her credibility (244). This is because Bento is incredibly jealous of Capitu, so he perceives the most insignificant of gestures as an act of adultery. Keep in mind, Bento admits to having a terrible memory, claiming that he “can’t remember the color of [the trousers he] put on yesterday”, so the reader must question his statements often—especially when discussing Capitu (111). Another shortcoming of his is that he is neither hero nor antihero. He acts as if he has uncovered Capitu as a lying harl...

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...om Casmurro satirizes the reader. The main character, the protagonist, who readers are supposed to look up to or see as some sort of guiding light, failed in all of those endeavors. The book is ripe with random, pointless chapters, which trick readers to try and find a deeper meaning to them—only for the readers to end up lost and confused. Also, the ending is incredibly unfulfilling; not only through its speedy intensification, but through the short amount of time given to absorb said escalation. Major questions that the book raised weren’t even answered, so there was no closure for the reader. Lastly, the message—what many readers look for in a book—is entirely absent. Bento learned nothing in his life, convinced himself he was right, and refused to believe otherwise. Dom Casmurro took the readers’ expectations and shattered them—causing many to shake their head.
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