Monday, August 18, 2014

Marquez and Magical Realism

Freshman year we read "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Marquez (in fact, this was written shortly after 100 Years of Solitude). Like 100 Years of Solitude, this work is based largely on magical realism. Here is a link to that story; it's worth a second read.

You'll notice that everyone kind of just accepts that there is an angel. The other characters are shocked, but do not doubt the authenticity of the angel (except for the local priest who asked for confirmation from the Pope). Also in this story, Marquez mentions a woman who turned into a spider and recounts the tale to a paying audience, another example of magical realism.

From nearly the start of 100 Years of Solitude Marquez makes it clear that this book has a large amount of magical realism. After José Arcadio Buendia kills Prudencio Aguilar, Prudencio's ghost comes back. The characters just accept this. The book has many examples of magical realism. Some of my favorite examples include Remedios the Beauty floating up to heaven on bed sheets, an old lady (representing Death) predicting Amaranta's death directly after her complement of the shroud, and Melquíades's ability to predict 100 years worth of history. The characters accept all of this. In fact, when Remedios was floating to heaven, Úrsula didn't even find that impressive because she had already seen magic flying carpets. By exaggerating events, Marquez makes them fantastical, but by being very specific he gives these events a sense of reality. 

Latin American culture is very superstitious, so including magical realism in this society makes sense. Below is an article if you want to read some Latin American superstitions. This article reminded me of Pilar Ternera and Úrsula as well. These are some things that they might try to tell others about. I could see Marquez including these superstitions in the magical reality of 100 Years of Solitude.

1 comment:

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I agree with Hari on the fact that magical realism definitely is an element that Marquez uses to tell the story throughout the novel and that it is accepted as if fantasy was actually reality. I began to think about why Marquez chose to use magical realism, and I started to realize that he uses magical realism to describe or announce a great tragedies or significant events in the novel. I began to question why would Marquez describe such great or tragic occurrences as a sort of fantasy when death, for example, has such a great effect on the characters. I sort of connected Marquez’s use of magical realism with the Unbearable Lightness of Being because I think that Marquez using magical realism to add a certain “weight” or profoundness to an event. After the mysterious death of Rebeca’s husband, Jose Arcadio, “a trickle of blood come out under the door, crossed the living room, went on into the street… and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Ursula was getting ready to crack thrity-six eggs to make bread” (p. 132). When I read this I thought Marquez depicted Jose Arcadio’s death in a very strange and bizarre way, but it ended up being one of my favorite examples of magical realism in the novel. Marquez describes death in such a striking and different way that I felt it caused me to feel a deeper impact than if Marquez would have described this death in another way. By accepting something completely that is considered “unreal” or a fantasy, distorts reality and redefines it. This new “definition” of the reality that the characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude experience adds more “weight” to the whole idea of reality. In my opinion, magical realism gives even a deeper meaning to occurrences that are already considered “weighty” subjects in our definition of reality. Another example of magical realism that is used to portray such a crucial and vital part of the novel is the idea of Melquiades returning from the dead several times. A character that comes and goes and is portrayed as a sort of fantasy wouldn’t necessarily cause me to believe that he was not a major part of the novel but maybe instead simply a way to add a supernatural element to the novel. I think it is much more than that though. Mequiades and his work on the translations reveal the whole idea of the one hundred years of solitude and the idea of cyclical history even though the reader does not figure this out until the end. Melquiades is written as a fantasy and supernatural character, but this does not make him inferior in any way. On the contrary, Marquez uses magical realism to impact the reader on a deeper level and make the reader realize the true “weight” and “heaviness” of reality.