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The House of Spirits by I. Allende

The House of Spirits by I. Allende


The paper represents a review and analysis of the book The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (2015). The essential topic which has been chosen to be covered is the issue of feminism and women’s depiction by the author. The paper consists of the combination of Allende’s (2015) points of view and their analysis. The claims provided are illustrated by the examples from the book. The primary aspect of feminism which is touched upon by Allende (2015) is the fact that women have always been oppressed by men and have never had any freedom. This aspect serves as a basis for the further chain of judgments: the aggression of men toward women, the lack of recognition of females’ rights, etc. Each of these factors constitutes the bulk of the book The House of Spirits by Allende (2015). Finally, being connected with the traditions’ aspect, Allende (2015) describes the topic of feminism as a concept which needs a constant analysis and development to help women have the same rights as the men do.

Keywords: women, men, feminism, book, gender.

The House of Spirits by I. Allende

The changes which the woman’s social movements have undergone in the modern world caused the need to rethink traditional views on the females’ nature. The book The House of Spirits by Allende (2015) marked the beginning of an entire intellectual tradition of Latin American thought, and frequently perceived under the name of gender studies. It is also possible to state that the book has developed as part of the feminist movement, exerting great influence on it and greatly expanding and deepening the understanding of its goals and objectives. This paper focuses on the analysis of the book The House of Spirits by Allende (2015) and determines the essential compounds of the feminist theme which the author has successfully depicted.

In theory, the modern feminism is not only aimed at achieving political and legal equality of women, but it also demands the revision of the entire Western spiritual priorities of the culture. This approach of revision is mainly dictated by the people’s view on the nature of society, wherein the human culture is not perceived as neutral as it used to seem before (Serrano-Amaya & Vidal-Ortiz, 2015). Oppositely, this nature is sexually based. Therefore, according to the idea presented in the book The House of Spirits, it is possible to discover that the membership in the feminist way of thinking is determined today by lack of relation to the so-called ‘women’s issues,’ and the recognition of a new gender-measuring approach to the outlook in general. It may also seem that Allende (2015) created The House of Spirits in order to recognize the feminist position. It means to recognize the sexual point of view on all aspects of intellectual and social activity.

The second half of the twentieth century was mainly marked by the intensification of dialogue between the humanities and areas of knowledge that led to the interdisciplinary approaches, strategies, and analytical methodologies aimed at a better understanding of the gender roles (Werneck, 2015). When reading The House of Spirits, it is possible to understand that one of these phenomena that occur at the intersection of various fields of intellectual and spiritual activity of society is feminism and its basis. When analyzing the book in question, it is possible to draw a conclusion that the application of the feminist-oriented approaches to the analysis of literary and artistic phenomena causes formation of feminist literary criticism. This type of criticism was applied to The House of Spirits because the book was not perceived positively by the male part of the society. This happened because of the fact that the objects of scientific attention and topics brought by the author are to some extent related to the women.

Depicting the events, Allende (2015) shows the main and the most critical point of her ideas: the fact that women have never had full freedom. Even now, in the 21st century, they are, as before, expected to get married and to live under the unchallenged authority of their parents until it happens. After the wedding, they become a part of the full and unlimited ownership of their husbands. The author wants to express the idea that the society is traditionally controlled by men, wherein the women are dictated their own rules of conduct. By this, the author hypothetically means that such an approach was based on the standard male and masculine position taken as universal. It is possible to illustrate this statement by the example from the book: “it was the custom then for women and children not to attend funerals, which were considered a male province, but at the last minute Clara managed to slip into the cortège to accompany her sister Rosa…” (Allende, 2015, p. 66).

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This kind of social relations had deep roots. In her book, Allende (2015) shows that the subordinate status of women was detected in those social institutions that existed in society. Any institution (be it military, industrial, political, financial or scientific) has always been patronized by the men. In this connection, the main character of the book states the following, “I would like to have been born a man, so I could leave too,” she said, full of hatred. “And I would not have liked to be a woman,” he said” (Allende, 2015, p. 19). Along with this, Allende (2015) states that all ethical rules of society: religion, philosophy, art, and everything at all had been created, adjusted, and maintained by men only. The women, as Allende (2015) shows, have ever had completely no rights. Even the hereditary code of society reflects the interests of boys and men, but not women.

That is why Allende (2015) intends to prove the fact that the oppression of women, which follows the ideology of patriarchy, was more serious than a simple economic oppression. Patriarchate inflicted great harm to women through subtle psychological pressure. In a patriarchal society, a woman’s body was seen as lower concept, which was small and weak. It has always been prone to exhaustion, loss of strength, and spirit. Besides, people believed that women were less effective from the point of view of the mental capacity, since they possess a less complex nervous system and greater susceptibility to certain diseases in comparison to men (Horton, 2015). Besides, the author shows that women are incomplete and defective versions of the men. In this case, the social relations in a society formed in such a way that the dependent status of the woman was seen as a natural and normal.

Allende (2015) critically evaluates the fact that the women are enslaved and subjugated (and this is said not in a figurative sense) because of their physical and mental superiority. Hence, a man was able to acquire a privileged position – thus, the men obtained a right to beat their women, which is unacceptable. In this regard, Allende (2015, p. 118) states, “since when has a man not beaten his wife? If he doesn’t beat her, it’s either because he doesn’t love her or because he isn’t a real man.” Thus, Allende (2015, p. 118) poses a wide range of questions, which are related to men and women’s relation, “since when is a man’s paycheck or the fruit of the earth or what the chickens lay shared between them, when everybody knows he is the one in charge? Since when has a woman ever done the same things as a man? Besides, she was born with a wound between her legs and without balls, right, Señora Clara?” Hence, analyzing the approaches of men and women, Isabel Allende (2015), who in her works has opened the topic of feminism, notes that women were peculiar to be characterized and described as the phenomenon which is natural. The behavior related to women’s needs had been traditionally permitted them by the men.

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In general, the role of the book The House of Spirits by Allende (2015) is to a great extent a feminist manifestation in the development of Latin American literature, and it is difficult to overestimate, for it has become truly revolutionary. Depicting the lives of women in her book, Allende (2015) was able to make a reversal of public mass consciousness of Latin American countries and other people around the world towards the need for understanding and taking into account the interests of women in the socio-economic, socio-political, as well as religious and cultural aspects of women’s lives.

In the book The House of Spirits by Allende (2015), the place of women is one of the central places. Hence, it is possible to state that the unity of the literary word and socio-political affairs denounced the idea of feminism to a wider audience, and laid the foundation for the subsequent writers, providing the researchers of feminism with a wide field of activity. Allende (2015) stands for feminism and the protection of ‘femininity,’ cultivating gender differences between men and women, recognizing their biologically determined nature. By depicting the lack of equality between men and women in the society, Allende (2015) states that today many influential women seek to demonstrate independence from feminism, which, in their opinion, has experienced the peak of its development. Besides, it is associated with the struggle for equality. According to the depiction of Allende (25015) in her book, women today can, figuratively speaking, do both – try on the pants (i.e. becoming masculinized) and wear a skirt, i.e. to perform feminization. With regard to the feminists and, especially, to the book The House of Spirits, women – as used to be 200 years ago – make attempts not only ‘to promote’ a positive image of women through the art of cinematography and literature. Moreover, they often impose such a way to the detriment of artistic values of their works.

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To summarize, the book The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (2015) is one of the most outstanding examples of the feminism subject in literature. The author provides a reader with the numerous insights into the essence of the men and women’s interrelations, and depicts men as more superior in comparison to the women, which is not a proper perception. Generally, the book stands for the equality between the two genders and promotes this point of view.