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Food as a Metaphor for Unexpressed Emotions in Like Water for Chocolate

Food as a Metaphor for Unexpressed Emotions in Like Water for Chocolate

An oppressed soul finds means to escape through the preparation of food in the novel, Like Water for Chocolate (1992). Written by Laura Esquivel, the story is set in revolutionary Mexico at the turn of the century. Tita, the young heroine, is living on her family’s ranch with her two older sisters, her overbearing mother, and Nacha, the family cook and Tita’s surrogate mother. At a very young age, Tita is instilled with a deep love for food “for Tita, the joy of living was wrapped up in the delights of food” (7). The sudden death of Tita’s father, left Tita’s mother’s unable to nurse the infant Tita due to shock and grief. Therefore Nacha, “who [knows] everything about cooking” (6) offers to assume the responsibility of feeding and caring for the young Tita. “From that day on, Tita’s domain was the kitchen” (7). Throughout the novel, food is used as a constant metaphor for the intense feelings and emotions Tita is forced to conceal.

The story begins with Tita passionately in love with Pedro Muzquiz and he with her. “She would never forget the moment their hands accidentally touched as they both slowly bent down to pick up the same tray” (18). Their romance is cursed from the start, however, because of an old family tradition, stating that the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and care for the mother as long as either may live. Pedro, unaware of the tradition, comes to the ranch to ask Tita’s mother, Mama Elena, for Tita’s hand. Mama Elena tells Tita, “If he intends to ask for your hand, tell him not to bother. Heíll be wasting his time and mine, too. You know perfectly well that being the youngest daughter means you have to take car…

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… other,” and “[make] mad passionate love wherever they happened to end up” (242). Unlike the first wedding, Tita too is infected with the powerful enchantment of the food. “For the first time in their lives, Tita and Pedro made love freely” (243). The novel ends with both Pedro and Tita, overcome with pleasure and emotion, dying in each other arms.

Metaphors are powerful tools often used by authors to communicate a deeper meaning. Metaphors also tend to make the piece more thought provoking, and thus more interesting and intriguing. Laura Esquivel does a marvelous job of using food as a metaphor for unexpressed emotions in the novel Like Water for Chocolate. She takes the aching soul of a young girl and turns it into a cookbook of feelings and emotions cleverly disguised with food.

Work Cited

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. Doubleday, 1992.

The Timeless Truth of Madame Bovary

The Timeless Truth of Madame Bovary

Written in 1857, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary has become a literary classic. Emma Bovary is a middle class country girl with a taste for rich things; she marries a doctor and has a little girl. Her husband, Charles, adores her and thinks that she can do no wrong. He overlooks the sign of her adultery, telling himself that her unhappiness is caused from her poor health, and forgives her excessive spending. Madame Bovary’s excessive desires seem to come from her excessive reading of novels in which life seemed, to her, perfect. She “tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books” (45). Through Emma, Flaubert illustrates that not being satisfied with what one is given in life leads to a sorrow.

Soon after Emma marries Charles, she finds that she is not satisfied with her new life, due to Charles’ lack of romantics. Emma thinks to herself early on in the marriage, “A man, . . . should he not know everything, excel in the manifolds activities, initiate you into the energies of passion, the refinements of life, all mysteries? But this one [Charles] taught nothing, knew nothing, wished nothing. He thought her [Emma] happy; and she resented this calm, this serene heaviness, the very happiness she gave him” (54). Her need for Charles to be more romantic and his ignorance of her feelings lead her to despise him.

After a few years of their marriage, Emma has become so bored with her life that she has made herself sick from want. Her boredom is so great that she wishes she could talk to her servant, “but a sense of shame restrained her” (81). She held herself above everyone, therefore isolat…

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…ath does Emma come to realize that the best things in life is family and the happiness that it can provide. The selfishness that had ruled her life was nothing now all the things that were importune to before are now nothing. The things she had bought and the lovers she had been with are not with her now. Only Charles and her little girl, the ones she had tried to flee from are with her now.

The simple truth portrayed in Madame Bovary still pertains to the present, selfishness will lead to a life of discontentment. The Flaubert illustration of the unhappiness that thinking only of oneself can bring to others can still be seen in the world today. This is why Madame Bovary has lasted through the years as a novel full of timeless truth.

Works Cited

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovery. Translated by Marx-Aveling, Eleanor. Grolier Incorporated, New York. N.D.

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