Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Language, Literature and Media Studies

Faculty

Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Francisco Martinez

Abstract

The aim of this study is to analyse the political aspect of three of Isabel Allende's novels and the role this has played in the development of her fiction, and investigate the way in which reality and fantasy are woven together in her stories to produce a unique style in a South American setting. La casa de los espiritus recounts the lives, loves and politics of four generations of a South American family, finally culminating in a coup d'etat, followed by military atrocities. Although the country remains anonymous in Allende's novel, the circumstances and detailed description reveal to the informed reader that it is undeniably Chile, during the coup of 1973. In that year a military dictatorship took control of the country after deposing the elected socialist president. The president, Salvador Allende, Isabel Allende's uncle, died in the assault on the presidential palace. She was forced to flee the country to escape the military purges, and wrote La casa de los espiritus in Venezuela, where she had taken refuge. De amor y de sombra is based on an actual atrocity that occurred during the military regime, when the bodies of fifteen campesinos were discovered near Santiago, assassinated by the military. The perpetrators were eventually brought to justice, but escaped punishment. In this novel, Allende illustrates how a repressive dictatorship affects all levels of society, and the themes of love and death in turbulent times are explored again, following on from La casa de los espiritus. The principal character is a young journalist who discovers rape and murder in a small village, and is subsequently a target herself for the corrupt military. Allende was a journalist, and De amor y de sombra is undoubtedly partly autobiographical. Allende's third novel, Eva Luna, is about a young woman who is falsely accused of a murder and mistreated by the police. The setting is again a tropical South American country, ruled by a despotic military regime, and her childhood sweetheart is a guerrilla in the revolutionary movement which is trying to overthrow the dictatorship. Allende's central themes are explored in this thesis: political turmoil and its effects on the populace and the repression of the disadvantaged. The subject of feminism is also an integral part of her reuvre as the liberation of the traditionally subjugated female in the Latin American machista society has coincided with new-found political freedom. Although Allende paints a tragic picture of man's inhumanity and cruelty towards his fellow compatriots simply because of their political beliefs, the elements of fantasy and the supernatural temper the effect, and demonstrate that ultimately Allende believes that good will prevail.

Comments

Abstract in English, text in Spanish

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