This statement provides insight into a culturally rich society’s views about females and their position in the society. Marianismo in reality means semi-divinity, sexual purity and moral strength of a woman yet the wider mass of people most commonly visualize Marianismo as being something opposite to Machismo or being manly. The generalized view of Marianismo is being feminine and powerless. Following the colonization of Latin America by Catholic European invaders, the new economic system implanted a dichotomized sexual division of labor where men served as the producers and women as the reproducers.
In addition, the interpersonal dynamics of the existing social structure provided each sex with separate and complimentary ideals, namely Marianismo and Machismo, which demanded a certain sort of behavior from men and women. Where as in one hand, the males were allowed to display their aggressiveness, sexual infidelity, arrogance, stubbornness and callousness, a woman was expected to accept the fate that she has in her hand.
This might as well be cited as a reason for which there is so much gender discrimination, especially against women in Latin America. This matter for instance is clear from books such as Chronicles of a Death Foretold and Like Water for Chocolate. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Laura Esquivel use imagery, motifs, connotations, magical realism and characterization to emphasize the perceived mediocrity and inferiority of women in a traditional Latin American Society through Marianismo. Garcia Marquez and Esquivel portray the mediocrity and inferiority of women through different examples in a similar fashion which shows us that they carry similar view points about the topic of female gender roles in a male dominated Latin American society. Garcia Marquez and Esquivel highlight the inferiority of women through the usage similar motifs through out the respective literary pieces which shows us their similar view points about female gender roles.
Firstly, it is of utmost importance to know whether the authors of the books, being analyzed share a similar view point on Marianismo which is exemplified in their respective books. Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses the motif of sexual harassment of certain female characters in the Chronicles of a Death Foretold to show the vulnerability of females and their powerlessness in the society. For example when Divina Flor confessed to Santiago grabbing her “whole pussy” when she was caught “alone”. Divina had no power to object as she was the servant girl of Santiago.
This motif of sexual harassment in Chronicles has been further amplified by using characters such as Victoria Guzman who shared a sexual relationship with Ibrahim Nasar and Flora Miguel who after Santiago’s fateful death ran away with a Lieutenant and was later prostituted. The acts of sexual harassments on the female characters of this novel by the males basically show us the powerlessness and weakness of the female characters of the story for they couldn’t defend themselves. On the other hand Esquivel uses isolation as an example of a woman’s lack of freedom and thus their powerlessness. For example when the narrator for Chocolate states that “from that day on, Tita’s domain was the kitchen”, shows us the beginning when Nacha started taking care of Tita.
The usage of diction such as “domain” gives us a feeling of complete isolation from the rest of the world. Further this statement also serves as a foreshadowing of what lay in the future for Tita. Tita always found solace in the kitchen whenever she was hurt or she felt like crying because that was her domain. In conclusion both the authors share a similar view point on women’s role, expressing that women serve more as the inferior side of the society who are dominated and isolated.
Additionally, both Esquivel and Garcia Marquez use the motif of honor to show the desirability of moral and sexual purity of a woman in the society and to highlight the importance of Marianismo so as to comment upon the inferiority of women. For example in Chronicles when Pura Vicario, Angela’s mother, didn’t let Bayardo San Roman and Angela Vicario to visit their future house so as not to blacken her family’s honor. It is a tradition in a Latin American society where the future bride is not allowed to go out with the bridegroom before marriage. Pura Vicario decided to conserve this tradition so as to protect the “moral purity” of Angela. Further when Angela tries to fake her virginity to Bayardo, it shows us the desirability of sexual purity of a new bride.
The fear of not being a virgin was strong enough for Angela to be stimulated to lie to her husband, which shows us the importance of sexual purity in the society. The same phenomenon is observed in Chocolate when Mama Elena tries to protect the moral purity of Tita where she obligated Tita to obey the tradition of the family in order to protect the honor of the house. Further, the importance of sexual purity is also seen in Chocolate when Mama Elena’s ghost confronts Tita when she believed she was pregnant with the illegitimate child of Pedro.
Mama Elena proceeded to blight Tita by saying that she has “blackened” the family name form their “ancestors” to the “cursed baby”. This statement alone speaks for the masses, stating the essentiality of sexual purity in the society. So, in conclusion this aspect shows us the inferiority of women in the sense that women have limited scope of freedom in a society where they are expected to be “morally or sexually pure” where as men could get away with being “morally or sexually impure”.
In addition, Esquivel and Garcia Marquez use tradition as a motif to show the femininity of the chores that women involved in, in the time period that these two novels are based upon and thus prove the perceived inferiority of women. For example in Chocolate, Rosaura expected Esperanza to study piano, sing and dance rather than go to school. The reason being that Esperanza can provide Rosaura with entertainment in her old age and she might stand out in the social balls and might stand a chance to marry into an upper class family.
Actions such as dancing, singing and playing piano are often associated with feminine roles in a male dominated society and marriage of a woman is her priority. Further in Chronicles the fact that Pura Vicario’s daughters had been raised to do “screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash, iron” etc., shows the ideal quality a bride should possess. This is evident from the line before this that “girls had been reared to get married”. This shows us that Pura Vicario was making sure that the girls had all the ideals required to be a good bride. Thus, this shows us the femininity of the above stated chores. In conclusion, the authors have portrayed Marianismo through the various chores that females were supposed to do stating the femininity of the chores involved.
Further this also shows the perception of the society of females where they are expected to do household chores rather than jobs which are more productive, like the ones that males get to do which earn money. This further shows the perceived mediocrity of females in this male dominated Latin American society because women are not considered capable enough to earn money for a family.
Finally, Esquivel and Garcia Marquez use the motif of water to emphasize the action of crying in both of the novels. Crying could be used to portray Marianismo because crying is somewhat feminine and is considered a sign of weakness in many societies. For example in Chronicles crying is always associated with female characters. For example when Santiago died, Margot, the narrator’s sister, came home “gnawing at herself” inside to keep herself from “crying”. Further examples of crying include Angela Vicario crying when Pura Vicario beat her up when she was returned back by Bayardo. Similarly in Chocolate, water is one of the major motifs of the story which is shown through crying.
Tita is seen to be crying quite often throughout the story and this aspect of Tita crying is further emphasized through the magical realism element of the story. For example, John Brown was alarmed by the stream flowing down the stairs but in the end “he realized it was Tita’s tears”. All the other examples of crying are also attributed to female characters such as Chencha crying when she delivered the news that Roberto had died. Thus in conclusion, the authors’ attribution of crying to the female characters makes the action of crying seem more feminine. This also states the inferiority and the weakness of the females in the sense that crying is considered as a sign of weakness, and attributing crying to female characters proves the point that women are weak according to the society.
In conclusion, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Laura Esquivel use the motifs of sexual harassment, water and honor to very accurately depict the perceived inferiority and the mediocrity of women in a male dominated Latin American society. Furthermore, the authors display an optimistic tone towards the future of women in the society. This is evident from the fact that both Garcia Marquez and Esquivel decide to give a “happy ending” to the lead female characters of the story. In turn, Garcia Marquez and Esquivel display the significa006Ece of Marianismo in a conservative Latin American society where the females are expected to be sexually pure and loyal to their male counterparts.