Magic Realism in Wise Children by Angela Carter

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Magic Realism in Wise Children by Angela Carter Magical realism is a primarily Latin American literary movement from the 1960s onwards, which integrates realistic portrayals of the ordinary with elements of fantasy and myths. The result of this is a rich but disturbing world that appears at once to be very dreamlike. The term ‘magical realism’ was first used by German art critic, Franz Roh, who said it was a way of depicting ‘the enigmas of reality’ and literary critic Isabel Allende has said that ‘in magic realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal. It is predominantly an art of surprises. Time exists in a kind of fluidity and the unreal happens as part of reality. Once the reader accepts the fait accompli, the rest follows with logical precision.’ Many critics have associated Angela Carter’s style of writing with magical realism, a term which refers to a writer portraying imaginary or improbable elements in a realistic, ordinary way. The novel conforms to the device of magical realism through the use of references and allusions to Shakespeare: there are five chapters, just as there are always five acts in a Shakespearean comedy; Dora and Nora live on Bard Road; art imitates life when Ranulph plays Othello, later catches his wife in bed with someone else and kills them and himself; also, Tiffany is a reflection of Ophelia, driven mad by love, when she has a breakdown on a live TV game show; there are disguises, twins, mistaken identities and love problems, all key elements of Shakespearean comedy. This kind of intertextuality is a subtle manifestation of magical realism. All the Shakespearean-style villainy, comic relief and intricate plot elemen... ... middle of paper ... ...down to earth when Dora mentions that a zookeeper came soon after with a net to recapture the beautiful insects. This is a perfect example of magical realism. As mentioned before, magical realism has its dark and disturbing side, and this is apparent in Wise Children. When Saskia, Dora’s enemy, is a little girl, she is seen savagely devouring the carcass of a roasted swan. Later in life, Saskia becomes a TV cook and seems to take sadistic pleasure in disembodying animals. Magical realism is combined with carnivalesque literature in Wise Children to create a flamboyant, theatrical world within a humble, earthy reality. Both genres compliment each other in the novel, as both involve fantasy-like events and nightmarish imagery, and elaborate, rational explanations are used by Carter to encourage readers to suspend their disbelief, if only for a moment.

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