Title

Negotiating the Conflict between Gender Roles on the Spectrum of Reality and Fantasy in The House of the Spirits

Presenter Information

Nick Flerchinger

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 135

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

This analysis of Isabel Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits focuses on the use of Magical Realism as a means to empower the female characters within a patriarchal society that vilifies women’s supernatural attunement and validates male power. I explore the extent to which women in the text are associated with the supernatural and how their position within a spiritual otherworldly realm functions to combat the control and power that men possess in the material and social realm. Through her psychic sensitivity and interaction with spirits, Clara Trueba is identified in opposition to the patriarchs of both her household and the Catholic Church, the major religious institution in Chile. In contrast, Esteban Trueba lacks access to the spiritual realm and is instead a character developed as a master of the concrete, real world. By examining the characters of Clara and Esteban, one can see that Allende employs the literary conventions of Magical Realism in order to contrive a method of empowering women in a patriarchal society wherein they would otherwise be powerless and counter the culture of male dominance, control, and power.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Christopher Schedler

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 16th, 3:20 PM May 16th, 3:40 PM

Negotiating the Conflict between Gender Roles on the Spectrum of Reality and Fantasy in The House of the Spirits

SURC 135

This analysis of Isabel Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits focuses on the use of Magical Realism as a means to empower the female characters within a patriarchal society that vilifies women’s supernatural attunement and validates male power. I explore the extent to which women in the text are associated with the supernatural and how their position within a spiritual otherworldly realm functions to combat the control and power that men possess in the material and social realm. Through her psychic sensitivity and interaction with spirits, Clara Trueba is identified in opposition to the patriarchs of both her household and the Catholic Church, the major religious institution in Chile. In contrast, Esteban Trueba lacks access to the spiritual realm and is instead a character developed as a master of the concrete, real world. By examining the characters of Clara and Esteban, one can see that Allende employs the literary conventions of Magical Realism in order to contrive a method of empowering women in a patriarchal society wherein they would otherwise be powerless and counter the culture of male dominance, control, and power.