Description of Female Characters in “Two Words” and “Toad’s Mouth” by Isabel Allende, “The Image of Misfortune” by Juan C. Onetti and “The Psychiatrist” by Machado de Assis

The works of the Latin American writers inspire by their realistic setting and the representation of main characters. The thing is that the artistic work related to the Latin American writers is unique. It designates the reliability and truthfulness of the time without any point on censorship. This makes their works so popular not only in their countries but overseas. The paper illustrates the analysis of four works by three authors. The stories by Isabel Allende Two Words and Toad’s Mouth are contrasted to the works by Juan Carlos Onetti The Image of Misfortune and Joaquim Maria Machado de Asis The Psychiatrist. In fact, the description and representation of female characters in theses books are under discussion. It is vital to point out the difference in role of female characters among writers. In the historical cut women were ignored and considered to be of less importance for the society. The social and the historical development of a woman, as a survivor, in Latin America are shown in all four works with different characterization.

In Allende’s short stories the role of the female character forms the concept of the stories. Thus, Belisa Crepusculario, giving sense of words, is described as a strong and insistent woman. She proves her deserved position among men when helping the colonel in political slogan for elections. Notwithstanding the fact, that she is poverty survivor, she tries to do her best for consulting people. The power of word is imposed in the inner state of this woman. Belisa improved the position of the Colonel in his urge to be the President. Her primitive, for the first sight, words “What for?” do not seem afterwards so simple. In this she makes the sense for every man. Thus, she intends Colonel for direct actions starting from him.

Hermelinda in Toad’s Mouth is similar in most characteristic features to Belisa Crepusculario. She feels her strong motives for life in the male society where she scarcely can say a word. However, the figure of Hermelinda is the example of powerful woman who struggles for life. Her main struggle is with men due to the sexual way. In this respect the miserable living of Hermelinda provides her hopes for living with gentle and devoted to her man. Her beliefs are broken down owing to her observation of life. In comparison to Belisa she makes everything to support men in life. They are strong enough to go through the condemnation of men. This makes them united in their urge for equal living with men, notwithstanding that they do not pretend on this. However, men do not acknowledge such good intentions of these two women. The scene in Two Words proves this assertion:

I brought this witch here so you can give her back her words, Colonel,” El Mulato said, pointing the barrel of his rifle at the woman’s head. “And then she can give you back your manhood (Allende Two Words 7).

Juan Carlos Onetti represents in his female characters the sadness of reality. In The image of Misfortune the author realizes the idea of independent and vulnerable woman. Such characterization, however, does not mean that the girl in the bicycle is strong in her intentions to resist men. She is the victim of sexual obscenity among men. The men look at her, as an object of their pleasure and cruel behavior toward woman. She represents the sufferings of women in Latin American countries. The girl in the bicycle is shown as deaf and weak. However, the narrator looks at her, as an object for his sexual dreams: “Now she was facing sideways, her hands joined behind her back, without breasts as yet” (Onetti 262)…

In the concept of female weakness a reader discloses the character of Dona Evarista. Joaquim Maria Machado de Asis depicts he figure of his female character in terms of her intellectuality and ability to be helpful in complex issues. Her mind, however, does not even valued by her husband Bacamarte. She fails to receive his deferential attitude toward her. She is not so pretty, but she is apt to love. Nonetheless, she is a typical example of unloved and sterile woman. Her destiny seems to have no positive continuation. Once having married, she became a victim of the men’s world. Machado de Asis interprets the same idea, as was stated by Onetti, about the weakness of women in the world and in Latin America, in particular.

Thus, it is vital to admit that similarity of Allende’s female characters differs from the similarity of Onetti and Machado’s ones. In this line for discussion he points on strength and weakness appears to be opposite. Allende is straightforwardly intended to depict the power of a woman. She never fails in representing a woman who does not defeat before the power of a man. On the other hand, Onetti describes an example of a female character that is unsuspicious of sexual intentions from the side of surrounding men. However, Machado describes a woman who is weak due to her subordinate reliance to husband.

Works cited

Allende, Isabel. “Toad’s Mouth” in The Stories of Eva Luna. Translated by Peden, Margaret Sayers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Allende, Isabel. “Two Words” in The Stories of Eva Luna. Translated by Peden, Margaret Sayers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Asis de, Joaquim Maria Machado. “The Psychiatrist” in The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories by Echevarría, Roberto González. Oxford: Oxford University Press US, 1999.

Onetti, Juan Carlos. “The Image of Misfortune” in The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories by Echevarría, Roberto González. Oxford: Oxford University Press US, 1999.

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