Chronicle Of A Death Foretold: Critical Analysis of Gabriel García Márquez's Novella

In this paper "Chronicle Of A Death Foretold Critical Essays" we will research the literary devices and use of irony. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez uses irony to criticize Machismo and Marianismo. The roles of men and women in Colombian society are shown by a number of characters. Márquez uses them to criticize Machismo and Marianismo by using irony in their lives. During the 1950s, the ideas of Machismo and Marianismo were very prominent in Colombian society. Men were supposed to have a masculine and dominating role in society and women were expected to be kind, reserved, helpers, caregivers, and “beneath” their husbands.

The lives of the Vicario brothers are filled with irony. In this society, men are expected to uphold their honor and display masculinity. Pedro Vicario shaves with a butcher knife and his wife, Clotilde, said it was “the height of machismo” and looked like “a killer in the movies”, but he only shaved like that because he learned it in the army. “...he [Pedro] explained to me later, and it was true, in the army he'd learned to shave with a straight razor and couldn't do it any other way ever since”. While the Vicario brothers are going to kill Santiago to avenge their sister’s honor, they purposely do things so they do not have to kill Santiago because they do not want to really do it. Pedro was wasting time by changing is his gauze just to avoid killing Santiago. “...he [Pablo] interpreted it as some new trick on his brother's part to waste time until dawn. So he put the knife in his hand and dragged him off almost by force in search of their sister's lost honour”. The brothers had even stabbed Santiago so many times to show their anger at Santiago for ‘taking Angela’s virginity’. “The strange thing is that the knife kept coming out clean...I'd [Pedro] given it to him at least three times and there wasn't a drop of blood.' The only reason for this would be because previously the Vicario brothers had hung out with Santiago at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes's house. “The Vicario brothers were there and they were drinking with us and singing with Santiago Nasar five hours before killing him”. If they did not ruthlessly murder Santiago, the whole town would be under the impression that the brothers did not mean it and didn’t avenge Angela’s honor.

The expectations of Angela and her brothers are not maintained at the same severity. Angela is beaten by her mother after being returned by Bayardo and finding out she’s not a virgin, yet Angela’s brothers are allowed to be at a brothel. “They found Angela Vicario lying face down on the dining room couch, her face all bruised… [Pedro] ‘All right, girl… tell us who it was’”. Angela was “reared to get married”. And according to her mother, she was “raised to suffer”. After being abandoned and humiliated, Angela writes to Bayardo to get him back. “He was carrying a suitcase with clothing in order to stay and another just like it with almost two thousand letters that she had written him”. Angela felt trapped by societal expectations of women and marriage and didn’t want to follow them. “Angela Vicario dared to put on the veil and orange blossoms without being a virgin would be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity”. There is also irony in Angela’s name. Angela means ‘angel’ or ‘messenger of God’ which is quite contradictory to how Angela lives. Angela sleeping around with other people prior to marriage does not represent the image of an ‘angel’.

Marquez uses other minor characters to amplify ironies in Machismo and Marianismo. The characters of Prudencia and Maria are total opposites when it comes to societal norms, but both serve a purpose in the novel. Prudencia shows how society upholds the idea of defending one’s honor “I [Prudencia] never would have married him if he [Pablo] hadn't done what a man should do'. She also shows how men are pressured/trapped by the expectation of defending their honor. Maria Alejandrina Cervantes was a prostitute, who wasn’t really trapped by societal norms and wasn’t afraid of being different from others and breaking tradition. Although Angela is punished for not being a virgin, Maria and the men that were participating in such actions suffered no consequences. “Maria, the most elegant and the most tender woman I have ever known, and the most serviceable in bed, but she was also the strictest”. She develops the story of going against society's norms. Cristo Bedoya, a friend of Santiago, shows a moment of irony that reflects on society’s views on masculinity. When Cristo goes to get Santiago’s magnum, he decides that he’ll give it to Santiago because he had “never shot a gun”. After Santiago’s death, Cristo tells Marquez “If I’d known how to shoot a revolver, Santiago Nasar would be alive today”. There are two ironies within this statement. One, if Cristo had known how to shoot a revolver, Santiago would still be dead because he never kept his revolver loaded and Cristo only found this out afterward.“..Only after the crime did he [Cristo] realize that it was unloaded”. Another irony is that Cristo views it as heroic/masculine if he knows to fire a gun. Another minor character that amplifies ironies in Machismo and Marianismo is Divina Flor. Just like Angela, Divina Flor has a meaning behind her name. In Spanish ‘Divina Flor’ means ‘Divine Flower’. Her character represents how women in Colombia are expected to be kind, reserved, and caregivers. For example, Divina Flor served Santiago a cup of coffee and after serving it, she was grabbed by him sexually. “Santiago Nasar grabbed her by the wrist ‘The time has come for you to be tamed,’ he told her”. However, she was protected by her mother, Victoria Guzmán, who pulled a knife on him and said: “Let go of her, white man…”.

Gabriel García Márquez uses irony to criticize Machismo and Marianismo. The roles of men and women in Colombian society are shown by a number of characters. Márquez uses them to criticize Machismo and Marianismo by using irony in their lives. The Vicario brothers are used to show how men are expected to play a masculine and dominating role in society. Angela shows how women are trapped by the expectations of Marianismo. Prudencia and Maria show the two views women have of Marianismo in Colombia.

09 March 2021
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