"The House of Spirits": A Look Into the Antagonistic Nature of Man verses Woman

"The House of Spirits": A Look Into the Antagonistic Nature of Man verses Woman

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Throughout the novel “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende the reader sees many instances that exemplify the antagonistic nature of man verses woman. Through Esteban Trueba’s raping of many of the women at Tres Marias, his marriage with Clara, his relationship with his daughter Blanca and her with her lover Pedro Tercero Garcia and with Alba Trueba’s relationship with her lover Miguel and her Grandfather Esteban, much of what Allende wants the reader to know about the nature of man verses woman is exposed. Nature pits man against woman, in marriage, love, sex, work, and war. Women can choose their battles and fight them subtly, without really seeming to, because all women know that the men like to think they are in charge when they really aren’t, and that men will fight every battle just to prove that they are men. Triumph over a weaker opponent does not make men stronger. It only makes them feel powerful. Allende writes about women who are able to quietly persevere, always managing to get their own way, without seeming too, because they know the only way to keep men happy is to let them feel powerful and in charge.

Even as a child Clara knew that silence was a virtue. She chose to be silent for nine years, because she felt that “speaking was pointless”(73) and that she could get her own way without having to fight or argue. She had only to act as though she were perfectly happy in any situation when in reality she would adjust the circumstances to become something far more agreeable to her. Her silence “was [her] last refuge”(113), she retreated into her self when she felt troubled, and had no other outlet for her pain or suffering. Esteban “considered [Clara’s silence] a virtue” (88) but he did not really understand C...


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...s him, whether it is his wife, his daughter or his work.

The antagonistic nature of man verses woman is illustrated through Allende’s description and reactions of Clara and Esteban. Men and women are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of human nature, women know that men like to think they are in charge, because it gives them power, so women give into this little whim for the peace of mind and happiness that are essential in any relationship. Their instincts make their influence much more threatening and rebellious than the rage of one man who does not get his way. The women of Allende’s world are vibrant, spiritual, sensible and loving, the men are volatile, strong, and passionate, while they may be stereotypical, they help portray the true nature of man verses woman. Women may be physically weaker than men but they can match wits and daring with them any time.

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