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The power behind the power: Women’s roles in Like Water for Chocolate and The House of the Spirits

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The power behind the power: Women's roles in Like Water for Chocolate and The House of the Spirits "The very first Of human life must spring from woman's breast, Your first small words are taught you from her lips, Your first tears quench'd by her, and your last sighs Too often breathes out in a woman's hearing, When men have shrunk from the ignoble care Of watching the last hour of him who led them."1 Women have been historically considered inferior to men. Even religion subordinates them: in the Bible, Eve was created from Adam's rib. Women have been frequently considered the "weaker sex" and even less intelligent than men. Power in society is mainly exercised by men. Politically speaking, most presidents and prime ministers have been male. Even at a family level, men are often supposed to direct and guide the family; they seem to be the ones who have the final say in making decisions. However, the power of women should not be overlooked. Books like House of the Spirits and Like Water for Chocolate propose that women are the "power behind the power". In these books, women are portrayed as powerful beings who have control of the situation or that influence men's behavior. One of the ways in which some females are controlling is through a strong character, being almost like dictators or absolute rulers. ...read more.


Besides, even when she seems very fragile and weak when compared to Esteban Trueba, an ostentatiously virile figure, she is very influential to him. He strives to have her, to possess her. He does everything he can to please her: he even stops drinking, going to brothels, and raping women. He cannot be happy without her; he needs her to feel complete and to give meaning to his life. "I stopped eating at the house even a the weekends, because without Clara's catalyzing presence there was no reason why I should put up with my children's bickering."5 Clara is also the force that makes the family stay together. After she dies, the family starts falling apart and they no longer communicate with each other. "Everybody in the family sensed that without Clara all reason to stay together had been lost: they had almost nothing to say to each other."6 Transito Soto is an example of the great extent that a woman's influence can have: the power of sex. At the beginning of the book she is a young, poor girl that is one of Esteban Trueba's sexual companions from a countryside brothel. She asks him for fifty pesos and leaves the Red Lantern to become a prostitute at an important brothel. With that money and her own effort, she becomes the rich owner of a hotel. ...read more.


Blanca, similarly to Tita, has to obey her parents, in her case, Esteban Trueba. She has to comply to his every order. When she becomes pregnant, her father orders her to marry Jean de Satigny, and she does, even when she does not love him, but also deeply influenced by the idea that Pedro Tercero, the father of the child, is dead. However, she also rebels against her father's orders and has a sexual affair with Pedro Tercero, knowing that he disapproves of the relationship. In spite of this, they try to be together as much as possible and, ironically, at the end of the story Trueba helps them to stay together by assisting them to escape from Chile. As we can see, feminine power should definitely not be overlooked. Sex proves to be extremely powerful; this animal instinct, which is part of human nature and more present in the minds of men, permits women to exert an undeniable influence in their behavior. Nevertheless, it is the deeper and emotional nature of love, the 'real' love, which really provides women with control. Women can also influence others the 'old-fashioned' way: through a 'masculine' authoritarianism. Besides, other 'magical' abilities like Tita's and Clara's helps them to control, albeit unconsciously, other people. However, as was mentioned before, female influence is rarely considered as important. Women are really very commonly considered the 'weaker sex'. Males do not seem to realize to what extent they are being induced by females. Perhaps, it is this fact what really makes women the 'power behind the power'. ...read more.

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