IB HL English
15 April 2016
Latin American Literary Movements in Relation to Assis’s Style
Dom Casmurro, by Machado de Assis, was published in Brazil in 1899 and later translated from Portuguese to English. In observing the characteristics of the novel, Dom Casmurro does not easily fit into the literary movements popular in Latin America: like romanticism, realism, and naturalism. Many commentators have criticized Assis for not incorporating the principle, nineteenth century Brazilian literary characteristics. In addition, many characterized Assis as a “romanticized realist” (Schwarz). The novel consists of the literary technique of metafiction, where the author and narrator are directly polar, which makes the reader question the narrator’s reliability. In understanding the style and tone of Dom Casmurro, the analysis of how Assis uses the characteristics from the prevalent literary movements of Latin America help the reader develop characterization by time, place, and normalcy.
During the nineteenth century, Latin America and Brazil struggled to stay ahead of the constant change set by the European nations. Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer, paved the road for the idea of romanticism in Europe, which introduced the idea to Latin American authors. The literary movements emerged during the time of Imperial Brazil under the reign of Emperor Pedro II from 1840 to 1889. Through the process of slow transformation in Brazil, the society was still a tradition, patriarchal society, relying on slaves to raise crops to trade with Europe. Brazil still consisted of wealthy upper class and lower class of African mulatto slaves. Many women dedicate...
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...urro fits into well; however, with Assis’s new literary style was able to incorporate a mixture of different elements. In transforming from Imperial, patriarchate Brazil into a realistic, intermixed society, Assis focuses on portraying the real qualities of mundane everyday life. In the separating the chapter structure into small individualistic stories, it is clear that Assis strays away from the traditional plot of a tragedy. Instead, Assis prioritizes the emotions of the narrator, Bento, and describes his love story through emotions rather than a direct linear plot. Assis’s use of metafiction and imagination, in filling in the blank, creates a question of credibility. The biased, exclusive first person point of view, use of strong, descriptive emotions, and the emphasis of imagination help in characterizing Bento as a self-interested, close-minded character.
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