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Magic Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Magic Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez uses “magic realism,” to depict how human beings deal with their self-created solitude. “Magic realism” [Note that the German art critic Franz Roh coined the term “magic realism” in 1925 to describe “a magic insight into reality”][1] is the art of captivating something that in the real world would not be possible and manufacturing it to be believable. It is very different from fairy tale magic, where things are quite astonishing, unbelievable, and over done. Instead, magic realism makes magic seem more spiritual and ordinary. Gabriel García Márquez does a superb job of combining the truly amazing and magical with everyday life, so that magic in Macondo seems normal. Gabriel García Márquez, in part, is successful in “magic realism” because he makes ordinary events extraordinary, and that makes them mundane.

Márquez uses a technique that allows magic realism to work well in this novel, because he uses an exaggerated style of life. Macondo is a magical place, which permits the characters not to notice the magic, especially the exaggerated forms of life. At the same time the style that Márquez uses allows the reader to believe the magic. The extent in which people in the novel age is astounding; this phenomenon is exemplified in the length of Pilar Ternera’s life. “Years before, when she had reached one hundred forty-five years of age, she had given up the pernicious custom of keeping track of her age and she went on living in the static and marginal time of memories.”(424) It is rare today that someone lives to be over 100, and Pilar lives to well over 145 years of age, yet she is not celebrate…

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…at magic is a normal occurrence and that there is no need for excitement. The characters are too involved in their solitude to notice how special and magical their village is. It is this perverse ability to remain in isolation and wrapped in solitude that leads to their ultimate downfall. If they were not as obsessed with their solitude and could have realized the wondrous world they were living in, they could have made the best of their magical gifts. But they did not, and because of their ignorance, their lives and the village was destroyed. “…Because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.” (422)

[1] Liberal Studies 402, on Tuesday, March 28, 1995, by Ian Johnston (lecture)

Works Cited:

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.

Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter

Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter

Among the multiplicity of arcane elements hidden beneath the words in Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, none is so apparent, yet strikingly subtle to the reader’s perception and consumption of characterization than the allegorical play on words within the names of the characters. Both the protagonist and her rival within the plot are blessed with conveniently appropriate, fitting names. The four pillars supporting this novel are all cloaked with foreshadowing names, which silently clue the reader into what traits and significance the character holds as the story unfolds. These pillars that solidify the novel are Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Pearl.

The first, possibly strongest column supporting the evolution of themes in the novel is Hester Prynne. Hester is the young woman who is abandoned by her older, disfigured husband, and falls in love with a young, passionately God-fearing man who subsequently conceives a child, thus revealing her “adultery” and is punished by the Puritan society that he represents. She is instructed to wear a red letter, hence the title of the book. Through her punishment, she acquires and applies several motifs that the novel boasts, the most powerful one being represented perpetually throughout the story, sin. Apparently, in efforts to stress her significance and origin of decisions in the story, Hawthorne skillfully gave this woman whom the story revolves around the name of Hester Prynne, comfortably in sync with the word she is faced with constantly: sin. Her last name, rhyming with the word is no mistake, and though subtle in its existence, is ingenious in its implication, and an almo…

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…r Dimmesdale divulges the less than resplendent qualities the young minister displayed in his lack of resolve and spirit. Finally, Pearl implies the costly, lamentable result of a debacle that was ironically conceived from affection and tender ardor. The intricate constituents of this endless metaphor of a novel would vaporize without concrete, stationary components that solidify the plot and stimulate its growth, each reactive and influential upon the other. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” would crumble into an insipid, low faceted pile of a couple plot twists, monotonous characters, juvenile prose, and a stack of aged papers from Hawthorne’s basement that would have never reached the new millennia without those four pillars of metaphorical ambiguity.

Work Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Brian Harding. Oxford: Oxford 1990.

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