Explorting Masculine And Feminie Roles

.. mus. According to Jung’s theory, the mother is the origin of the anima quality in man. We are told that Trueba had never really loved his mother or felt at ease in her presence (71) and that she had peopled his childhood with prohibitions and terrors and weighed his manhood with responsibilities and guilt (72). Like his relationship with his mother, Trueba’s anima is underdeveloped, and his animus overcompensates for this.

Trueba’s temper is legendary; he is described as follows: his most salient trait was his moodiness and a tendency to grow violent and lose his head, a characteristic he had had since childhood, when he used to throw himself on the floor foaming at the mouth, so furious that he could scarcely breath, and kicking like one possessed by the devil. (41) In his book What Jung Really Said, E. A. Bennet claims the following about the animus: Jung asserts that an overdeveloped animus manifests when a man accepts the masculine role almost too thoroughly and everything feminine may become taboo. Nevertheless he cannot alter his nature completely.

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There remains in him his feminine side, and if this be repressed in favor of masculinity, his anima may appear in irrational moods, in peevishness or bad temper, and not infrequently in sexual deviation, often associated with immature emotional development (122). Trueba’s moodiness and temper are manifestations of an unconscious effort to bring about self-regulation through compensation (Bennet 122). After all we’ve learned about Trueba it is obvious how the above applies to his psyche, but we can also see how is applies to society itself. The society which exists in the novel represses the feminine nature, oppresses women, ropes them into patriarchally defined roles. Eventually, like the earthquakes in the novel, this tension festers and erupts in the form of the dictatorship, a power that destroys and devastates. Clara is the feminine archetype and demonstrates an overabundance of the feminine.

At times she operates almost completely on intuition and possesses supernatural powers that enable her to interpret dreams, predict the future, and move objects with her mind. These powers can’t be explained by reason or intellect, and they are associated only with the female characters of the book, until the crisis action, when Trueba begins to accept the feminine within himself. Clara does not learn practical, domestic tasks because of a nine-year period of her childhood in which she does not speak. She decides that speaking [is] pointless (73) after she is traumatized by witnessing the embalmment and sexual molestation of her sister’s corpse. This silence is voluntary, the family doctor declared that her case was not within his province to cure, since the child was silent because she did not feel like speaking, not because she was unable to (73).

Swanson asserts that Clara converts the traditional concept of feminine coyness and passivity into an act of will (241). She turns silence into something dynamic, something that motivates those around her and fosters the development of her intuitive powers. It becomes a powerful coping mechanism for Clara throughout her life, her last refuge (113). The notion of silence as inherently passive is turned upside down; silence becomes assertive, powerful. One could also interpret this silence as a symbol of the patriarchal definition of female passivity, even a mimicry of what is deemed feminine. An overabundance of this aspect of the feminine, as exemplified in Clara’s prolonged silence, is unhealthy for the individual and the society, and fosters the stereotype of the passive female. It is important to note that the event which inspires Clara’s silence is the rape of a dead female, her sister Rosa, who embodies the feminine even more than Clara.

In life and death, Rosa possesses a preternatural beauty, mermaid-like qualities. This provides more symbolic representation of how the masculine in this society violates and stifles the feminine. Clara’s supernatural powers can be interpreted as a characteristic of the feminine. Jung’s theory of syncronicity supports this assertion. Synchronicity occurs when dreams, visions, and premonitions have a correspondence to external reality. It bridges the unconscious, which is associated with the feminine, and the real world (Walz).

Clara’s prescience is a manifestation of the feminine within the individual. Jenkins confirms this when she asserts that the supernatural is closely linked to the female voice. . . spirits provide authority for articulation and identity.

Such authority . . . proves a genuine challenge to patriarchal authority (69). Examples of this challenge can be seen in the way some of the men react to Clara, particularly men related to the church and government, institutions where the masculine runs amok. Father Retrespo, the fanatical parish priest, says that Clara is possessed by the devil (7).

Clara’s father, Severo del Valle, fears that his daughter’s powers will affect his political future and he forbade her to read the future in cards and to invoke ghosts and mischievous spirits (77). Esteban Trueba also realizes that his wife’s special abilities have the power to affect his future in politics and insists that she only express her spiritual side, thus her femininity, in the domestic sphere. This is symbolic of the way the society of the novel restricts the feminine to the domestic sphere. Clara’s powers increase with the onset of menstruation, which emphasizes their connection with the feminine. She can predict the future and recognize people’s intentions and develops the ability to move objects without touching them.

. . [she] was so accomplished that she could move the keys on the piano with the cover down, even though she never learned to move the instrument itself around the drawing room (77). Here is representation of the imbalance of the rational and the irrational within the feminine. Clara can play music on the piano with her powers, which provides pleasure, but she can’t move the piano, which is practical. Clara is not docile, at times she participates actively in the lives of her family and society, but during these times her special powers diminish.

Clara immerses herself completely in helping those in her community, in one instance she tends to the poor in a task that had neither beginning nor end. . . she left the house early in the morning and at times returned close to midnight. She emptied the wardrobes of the house, taking the children’s clothes, the blankets from the beds, her husband’s jackets.

She paced up food from the pantry. . . to distribute among the poor. (135) We see Clara operating from her heart, her actions exemplify the connectedness of the feminine. Clara is described as the life of the house, and reigns over the domestic sphere like a small, happy, toothless queen (210).

In light of the complexity of the character of Clara and her activities, I must disagree with Patricia Hart in Narrative Magic in the Fiction of Isabel Allende, when she asserts that Clara is an essentially passive human being (52). The text of then novel proves otherwise. As shown above, Clara is active in many ways, particularly in her connections with other human beings. Hart erroneously suggests that her passivity in a metaphorical sense is closely related to and excused by her clairvoyance (52). On the contrary, Clara’s powers are more of a representation of the power of the feminine, rather than a negative, disabling aspect. The feminine remains passive in the family and society because of the dominance of the masculine, not because of Clara’s innate passivity.

Furthermore, passivity itself is not a characteristic of the feminine. To assert this buys into the patriarchally inscribed definition of the feminine. Hart criticizes Clara further, insisting that she uses her prescience as a tool to get her own way (52) and to try to appear important by intuiting something that everyone else already knows through observation (52). This degrades the character of Clara unjustly. Clara’s prescience is presented throughout the book as something real, other people see the effects of her powers, it is not contrived.

It is a representation of the power of the feminine in an individual. However, at times Clara indulges in her supernatural powers to a point where they become debilitative and affect her ability to function in the real world. We see the detrimental effects of an overabundance of the anima in an individual when Clara uses her powers to escape reality and in the process neglects her family and community. At one point in the novel Clara grows increasing remote, strange and inaccessible (127). She seeks God through Tibetan sciences, consulting spirits with a three-legged table that gave little jolts — two for yes, three for no — deciphering messages from other worlds that could even give her the forecast for rain but she is incapable of braiding Blanca’s [her daughter’s] hair for school (127) Her obsessive involvement with her powers prevents her from functioning practically.

During these times, Clara floats through life on a sailboat on a sea of calm blue silken water (96). She is associated with this image throughout the book, particularly when she is immersed in her supernatural powers. The incredible knowledge to which her powers allow access give her the potential to act in many ways, to affect great change in the world, but she doesn’t use them to enact change. Instead she clings to the ideas of fate and destiny. This is where I would accuse Clara of passivity, but this passivity is not related to her prescience, it is related to the traditions of the culture, traditions prescribed by the patriarchy, traditions that limit her action to the domestic sphere (which includes her charitable activities), the only realm in which the feminine is traditionally allowed within the world of the novel.

Her granddaughter Alba, on the other hand, rejects the idea of fate and takes control of her own destiny and her country’s destiny. Clara is a powerful force. She holds the family together, is described as the soul of the big house on the corner (283). When she dies the house loses its flowers, its nomadic friends, and its playful spirits and enters into an era of decline (283). The anima, which is the Latin word for soul and breath of life, departs with Clara. Jung says that women merge things together rather than separate them and that their moon-like consciousness holds a large family together regardless of all the differences (Walz).

When Clara, the feminine archetype, dies, the spirit of the house disconnects, separates. It is no accident that Clara’s death coincides with the political unrest in the country and the rise of the militant government. We can symbolically connect these two events, the feminine grows weaker while the masculine strengthens, representing the continued masculine domination of the feminine on individual, social, and political levels. Fortunately we see an uprising of the feminine in Alba, an individual who fights for the feminine and tames the masculine in social and political realms. We can also see an uprising of the feminine in the solidarity of the women prisoners on the concentration camps. Alba is the daughter of Pedro Tercero, socialist revolutionary singer, and Blanca, Esteban and Clara’s daughter.

Alba emerges as the hero archetype, the savior. The union of Blanca and Pedro Tercero represents many paradoxical unions: rich and poor, conservative and socialist, and the masculine and feminine. The product of their union is Alba, who represents the amalgamation of the masculine and the feminine, a paradoxical unity. Alba is a woman who acts outside the domestic realm. While Clara acted within her assigned roles, Alba gets involved in the political activities of the Socialist party. She participates in student protests, steals food from her mother’s stockpile during the military siege to give to the poor, she even smuggles weapons out of her grandfather’s arsenal, which were originally collected for the right-wing government, and passes them on to the socialists to use in defense of the people.

She risks her life by secur[ing] asylum for those in danger of death (378). She actively participates in the revolution, acts decisively, rationally, for the good of her country and in the name of humanity for its people. She uses her reason and rationale to accomplish deeds in the name of humanity, connection. She combines the best of both of her grandparents, the masculine and feminine archetypes. She represents a new breed of woman in the world, one that effects change outside of what the patriarch has deemed appropriate, but without sacrificing her connection to emotion.

Those in power on the left and right, led by the masculine elements, attempt to enact change for what they think is the good of the country, but they do so without humanity. They do so at the expense of the dignity and welfare of the citizens of the country. It is important that the person in which these masculine and feminine elements come together is a woman. The masculine has been dominate in the political and social worlds of the story. The figure of Alba represents the emergence of the power of the feminine in these worlds. Another aspect of the story that suggests balance is possible is the progressive change in Esteban Trueba.

By the end of the story, Trueba is operating through his emotions rather than his logic and reason. During the military takeover, Trueba’s son Jaime is killed by the new government. Trueba does not want to believe that the government he has supported could be involved in such an act, so he denies the news. But when Jaime never turns up, Esteban turns to his intuition: In my deluded solitude, I sat waiting for my son in the armchair of my library, my eyes glued to the doorsill, calling to him with my mind, as I used to call for Clara. I called him so many times that I finally saw him, but when he came he was covered with dried blood and rags, dragging streamers of barbed wire across the waxed parquet floors.

That was how I learned that he had died exactly as the soldier reported. (376) This begins to change his attitude, his rationale. He says only then did I begin to speak of tyranny (376) and admits error, says that I began to think I had been wrong to do as I had (377) in supporting the military government. He recognizes the importance of intuition at this point and the importance in can play in our own decis Bibliography see attached.


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