Mohsen madness and wildness. One Hundred Years of Solitude

Mohsen JamalMr. SkeggsENG-4U1-0511 January 2018Feminism in One Hundred Years of Solitude and Surfacing Female stereotypes are defined as a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women, socially constructed by society. Female stereotypes can be seen in the speculative fiction of Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Surfacing revolves around an unnamed narrator who is accompanied by her best friends, Joseph, Anna, and David. The characters must face a near-impossible task, of finding Anna’s missing father on an island in Quebec; he went missing on April 11th, 1963. The narrator’s search is constantly disrupted as she meets her past in her childhood house, recalling experienced events and feelings from her childhood, driving her into the realm of madness and wildness. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a multi-generational story that revolves around the Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia, and his wife Ursula Iguaran, leave Riohacha, Colombia in search of a new life. In both novels, women find themselves inhibited by stereotypical expectations, that render them capable of realizing complete independence. This is shown through the struggle to resolve external conflict between genders, the theme of alienation of women through societal positions, and the portrayal of the characters personalities through symbols. Through the struggle of resolution of external conflict between genders, women find themselves inhibited by the stereotypical expectations and the physical presence of men, that leave them capable of acquiring complete independence.  In Surfacing, the character Anna is constantly worried about her appearance and what the other characters think of her; waking up before everybody else on the island to put on her makeup and dress herself up. This habit is driven by David, Anna’s husband, who constantly threatens that he will leave her if she ever becomes ugly.  To resolve this, the narrator exposes the corrupt relationship which Anna and David share, which causes Anna to realize that she can no longer be controlled by David. In the book, the unnamed narrator explains, “She can’t keep watching David control Anna like this, like David’s sex doll, it has to stop.” (Atwood 113). This proves that the narrator is the main factor of Anna’s realization of her corrupt relationship. After this conversation, Anna decides she is no longer going to be treated like this, and detaches herself from the relationship and moves into a house of her own. In S. Banurekaa’s article Atwood’s Feminism in Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, it is outlined that David does not give Anna the proper respect which she deserves if he truly loves her. In the article, Mead explains “The constant verbal and physical abuse projected towards Anna by David drove her to make the most important decision of her life, leaving David to live on her own” (Banurekaa). This proves that the eroticism in every man for women is reflected in Surfacing. David constantly demands Anna to wear makeup, in order to see her to be young and beautiful always. Anna is terrified that her body might lose its hold over him. However, she keeps herself charming and beautiful for David’s ‘needs’. Moving forward, in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, the character Ursula is stereotypically portrayed as passive, unimportant, and inferior to men.The expedition that Jose Arcadio so passionately plans is very important to him and to the success of Macondo. However, despite the importance, women are not invited or involved in the trip, as they are thought of as useless and unfit for this journey. Ursula explains “So he handed out clearing tools and hunting weapons to the same men who had been with him during the founding of Macondo,” (Marquez 10). This proves how the women in Macondo are excluded, until the men realize that they are essential to a successful trip due to their supernatural characteristics. To resolve this, after the men on the trip realize that they will not be successful during the voyage to the unknown land without the wisdom and supernatural clairvoyance of the women from Macondo. Several women are then taken on the trip, and are given the task to complete the trip to the Banana plant alone. Not only does how one stand up to sexual harassment result in the improvement of character augmentation, based on Anna allowing David to use her as sexual entertainment, women’s use of  their wisdom to defy the stereotypical stigma in Macondo, and the role of supporting females in both of the characters lives, but also because of the total alienation of women. Through the total alienation of women, women find themselves repressed by the desires and the lingering presence of men, that leave them equipped for seeking complete independence. In surfacing, the women’s lives in the novel are constantly hidden under a blanket of feminist stereotypes and beliefs. In the novel, Anna along with her friends are staying at a cabin located in Quebec. Throughout the stay, Anna and the narrator are constantly prohibited from many activities, as they are made to stay home and take care of housekeeping duties. Sadly, the men are aware that their actions are promoting the alienation of women, but they ignore their feelings and continue to treat the women poorly when they are camping. In the novel, it is explained by David “‘Should we bring the sluts? Nevermind, the cabin looks like our college dorm, lets go.'” (Atwood 79). This  proves the inadequate amount of respect shown towards the women in the novel. David constantly treats the women poorly and harasses them verbally and physically. In Ramya Niranji’s article Self-Discovery through Natuire in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing it is outlined that women in the novel are treated poorly, and are only appreciated for their sexual image and housekeeping talents. In the article, Niranji explains: “The book represents what everyday life in the 60’s was like for women. The true beauty of women was omitted, they were only appreciated for their bodies and sexual images.” (Niranji). This proves that the setting the plot carries is an excuse for the appalling behaviour shown towards Anna and the narrator throughout the novel. Men at this time are reckless with their words along with their actions, and have no respect for the opposite gender. Moving forward, in One Hundred Years of Solitude female characters are constantly valued less than the male characters. The story revolves around the evolution of Macondo, due to the heroic actions of the men in the town. However, it is noticeable that women play a huge role in the development of the plot, but the characters are blind to this. In the novel, Ursula Buendia treats every character with nothing but love and respect, and opens her home to anyone in need during the strike. However, her husband Jose fails to acknowledge the family at all throughout the story, as he is always out seeking the magic of the Gypsies. Jose is distraught by the magic sold by the gypsies, and does not realize that what he is being offered is fake and will not help him in life. Jose continues to believe that since Ursula is the female, it is her job to take care of the house. In the book Garcia explains: “Jose was so enthusiastic about his findings, he forgot he’s been away for three days now.” (Marquez 278). This proves that Jose chooses his work over his family, leaving Ursula with no choice but to seek her complete independence, and do the housekeeping and look after the kids. Jose believes that he should be the only one to do the work, while Ursula stays home alone for countless days with no way to access resources but her younger son. Therefore, the search for complete independence of women is not only driven by the alienation of women through Anna and the narrator being rejected participation in activities due to their housekeeping responsibilities, and Ursula Buendia being left to care for her children alone, but also through feminist symbols.Seen through the portrayal of personalities through feminist symbols, women see themselves stifled by the wants and the recurring presence of men, that prepare themselves to  seek independence. In Surfacing it can be seen many times that characters contrast their personalities that they project, through symbols. In the novel, it is understandable that Anna along with the narrator constantly worry about self image, and can never be seen in “bad shape”. Moving forward, this is driven by psychologically abusive men in the novel that claim to love their girlfriends for their personality, and natural beauty. However, Joe and David are constantly pestering the ladies about their looks. Insanely, the men are worried about how their women look when they are camping in the middle of the forest. This is extremely unfair for the women as the conditions they endure are no conditions that support cosmetics. In the novel, it is explained by Davids the group was leaving to hike to the waterfalls nearby the cabin: “Don’t come unless you look pretty! What if those americans see us with you two looking like that?” (Atwood 64). This proves how unreliable David’s true love towards Anna really is. David claims he loves Anna for her personality and amazing natural beauty. However, his artificial words are omitted by the symbol of makeup, as he is never able to leave the house with her natural beauty, even to go hiking. After Anna leaves David, she promises herself that she will never wear makeup ever again, seeking her complete independence. Moving forward, in One Hundred Years of Solitude,  Gabriel Garcia Marquez presents a general public that is similarly affected by men and women, despite the fact that they are assigned distinctive tasks and work in different parts of society. While the men look for work, power or knowledge outside of the household, the women practice efficient impact inside the domestic domain where they show unrivaled quality, cleverness and practicality. The physical limits of their allowed mobility imply that the women are regularly depicted as unmindful of the outside world. Ursula Buendia uses her pleasure in helping others and offering her endless hospitality to others, to project her matriarchal status. However, in the novel, Ursula starts up a candy business from her home, to make up for the money wasted by her unwilling  husband. To explain, the symbol of money, drives Ursula out of her societal shell, causing her to create a candy business. Ursula seeks her complete independence by successfully running the company and producing income to spend on her children and home. However, after making a great amount of money during the strike, Ursula explains “This is not enough, not enough for the money wasted, it will soon be enough.”(Marquez 341). This shows how successful Ursula becomes after grasping her independence and using it to benefit her family. Ursula’s selfless decisions lead to the family’s financial rebalance, and her husbands realization of his failures and wakening to reality by leaving the gypsy magic business. In Jonathan Corwin’s article One Hundred Years of Solitude, Indigenous Myth, and Meaning it is outlined that “In most cases, women are the practical sex. It’s men who are the romantics and who go off and do all kinds of crazy things; women know that life is hard. Úrsula is a prototype of that kind of practical, life-sustaining woman.” (Corwin). This proves that in the end, it is the women that keep Macondo alive, without them the men would not find the banana plantation, or be able to complete the journey across the lands. Ursula truly finds her complete independence by using her instincts and acting quickly in times of need, to benefit her family. Therefore, both Ursula and Anna contrast their personalities shaped by society through making decisions to use the symbols of money and makeup to seek their complete independence. Anna separates herself from David, and promises herself to never wear makeup again. While Ursula takes measures into her own hands to create income for her family, while her husband is busy chasing his unreliable dreams.In conclusion, in the two books, women find themselves repressed by cliché desires, that render them fit for seeking complete independence. This is seen through the struggle to resolve conflict between genders, the alienation of women through societal positions, and the depiction of the characters identities through feminist symbols. First, the struggle to resolve external conflicts between genders is seen through David and Anna from Surfacing, and by the women and men of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude. David constantly uses Anna for sex and only loves her artificial beauty, causing her to leave him. While Ursula and the women of Macondo are originally not given the chance to contribute to the adventure towards the Banana Plant, but the men fail on their trip, so the women are then invited. Secondly, the alienation of women is seen through Anna and the narrator’s prohibition of participation in activities due to housekeeping duties, and Ursula Buendia’s abandonment from her husband. Finally, the women in both books are driven to their complete independence by symbols. The symbol of makeup drives Anna to accept her natural beauty, and the symbol of money drives Ursula to take matters into her own hands and produce income for her family. The events in both books are a great representation of  the severe effects that sexist men pose on women’s lives.

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