Comparing Satire in 100 Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits

Comparing Satire in 100 Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits

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Use of Satire in 100 Years of Solitude and The House of the Spirits

 

        A major preoccupation with contemporary South American novelists,

as seen with Gabriel Marquez's "100 years of solitude" and Isabelle

Allende's "The house of the spirits", is the traditional and long lasting

conflict between the Liberals and the conservatives. Although a common

preoccupation with Marquez, Allende, and various other Latin American

novelists the manner in which this preoccupation is expressed varies

considerably depending on the author. In "100 years of solitude", Marquez

looks to satire in all it's forms, to express this preoccupation. This is

contrasted with  Allende's "The House of the Spirits" in which she uses

conflict in ideologies between generations as her method of exposition, as

seen for instance in the conflict between Esteban Trueba (a true

conservative) and his grandaughter Alba.

 

        To see how Garcia and Allende treat political issues we must first

examine why they chose to examine them. When Marquez wrote his first works

Colombia suffered the second greatest American fratricidal war of the

twentieth century, as a result of the assassination of the popular Liberal

leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, in 1948. His novels examine in his words "...

motives for that violence." The importance of politics in the Novel is

reflected in the choice of title 100 years of solitude which correspond to

the 100 years between the formation of Colombia, in 1830 to 1930 when

Conservative homogeny ended.  Allende on the other hand was the niece of

the first Socialist president in Chile who was killed following the Coup.

 

        The Oxford Dictionary defines satire as a piece "...in which

prevalent follies or vices are assailed with ridicule or serious

denunciation." This is exactly what Marquez has done. Hyperbole is well

used in the novel in the form of 'Magical realism'. Marquez believed that '

Magical Realism' "...provides a magnifying glass so readers can understand

reality better..." (as quoted in Playboy interview). We first see this used

in the opening pages of the novel where Marquez describes the world as "...so

recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was

necessary to point." This parallels the political naivety of the newly

formed Colombian republic. Macondo is a garden of Eden ".

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..so peaceful that

none of us has died, even of a natural death."  In this Garden Ursula

Iguaran is the Eve and Jose Arcadio Buendia is Adam.

 

        Macondo's innocence is ended with the arrival Don Apolinar Moscote,

the first magistrate sent by the Government. He orders them "...to paint the

front blue and not white as they had wanted." The absurdity of this demand

demonstrates Marquez satirising the use of colours to represent political

parties in Colombia and South America. In Colombia Blue represents the

Conservatives and red the liberals. This idea is further satirised when

Macondo is alternating politically between the 2 forces: "The houses

painted blue, then painted red, had ended up with and indefinable

colouration"  This shows the meaninglessness of the colours and how in the

conflict, the parties become indistinguishable in their barbarity.

Meanwhile Jose Arcadio Buendia refuses to Paint his house blue as he had

wished it to be white a symbol of both purity and neutrality. This

commences the neverending cycle of violence typical of South America as

Moscote returns within Eighty days with a handful of soldiers.  The

violence is limited h owever due to the marriage of Aureliano Buendia to

Moscote's daughter. The situation is rife with irony as while this marriage

limits the amount of violence at that stage it creates far more at a later

stage as this marriage serves to introduce Aureliano Buendia to politics as

he receives "...some schematic lessons."  in politics from his father in law.

Despite Moscote painting the Liberals as "...bad people..."  Aureliano comes

away from the lesson sympathising "...with the Liberal attitude."  Yet he

still cannot "...understand how people arrived at the extreme of waging war

over things that could not be touched with the hand."  The irony of this

statement is at the core of Marquez's satirical attack on political

conflict that being the stupidity in fighting over an idea. The irony in

the statement is that Aureliano eventually joins the fight on the side of

the Liberals following the conservatives fixing the ballot boxes. While at

first he thinks he fights for justice the fighting becomes so meaningless

to him that  he's "fighting because of pride."  And then when he realises that the

fighting is useless and that the Liberals rebels are now just "...fighting

for is power."  Ultimatley Aureliano comes to realise the pointlessness of

the fighting when he said "...we fought all those wars and all of it just so

that we didn't have to paint our houses blue."  It is here that Marquez

uses Bathos to satirise the conflict when after 32 armed failed uprisings

when Aureliano Buendia is finally on the verge of "...victory..."  he

negotiates a peace treaty and uses government forces to put down his own

officers who rebel and "...called for victory".

 

        Arcadio Buendia is a character used to satirise the typical Latin

American tyrant: "the cruelest ruler that Macondo had ever seen" . While he

is a liberal by word, by action he displays all the characteristics of a

conservative tyrant with his obsession with the symbols of power and his

immature conviction that through official stationary and proclamations one

can govern a society. This is paralleled with Aureliano who beomes what he

is fighting. This is seen when Moncada says "...out of so much hatred for the

military, out of fighting them so much and thinking about them so much,

you've ended up as bad as they are."  Marquez uses the execution of Arcadio

to satirise the Colombian political hero, shouting: "Long live the Liberal

party!" This is an authentic echo of Colombian political rhetoric this

reflects the insignificance of the parties and the fact that he died for

something that he did not even practise. This rhetoric is also seen with

Gerineldo Marquez who, when asked what he is fighting for buy Aureliano,

replies: "For the great Liberal Party."  Aureliano says that this is bad as

he is fighting for "...something that doesn't have any meaning for anyone"

This shows Marquez satirising the purposelessness of political conflict in

Colombia.
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