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How a character's physical characteristics provide an insight into their states of mind in The novel The House of the Spirits, written by Isabel Allende

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The novel The House of the Spirits, written by Isabel Allende presents the reader with a microcosm that represents the life of the people in Chile. It is a story about the Del Valle and Trueba families spanning four generations that contains magical elements in it. This paper will examine how the author's portrayal of Esteban's appearance reveals his relationships and class differences in society. The differences in class are evident when Esteban is described to have a "high forehead, which [is] crowned with a lion's mane of hair" (41).The diction of "crowned" and the metaphor comparing him to a lion portray the stark contrast between classes in economic and social terms. Allende's comparison of Esteban to a lion could foreshadow his rise in power. This is significant because at Tres Mar´┐Żas Esteban is superior to the peasants economically and socially. As a result of Allende's diction, the reader learns that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is quite substantial in society. ...read more.


This underlines the fact that Transito Soto is completely different from the other ladies in this novel. As a result the reader learns that Esteban's relationship with Transito Soto is not of financial dependence, but more like that of a man who takes helps but returns it in the future. Soon after the earthquake Esteban notices that he was shrinking. His clothes do not fit him, "it [is] not only that things fit loosely; his sleeves and his pant legs [are] suddenly too long" (181). This could be an allusion to the symbol of clothes that were too big in the play Macbeth written by Shakespeare. It brings in the feeling that society is about to revolt against him. Esteban's shrinking might symbolize his image getting worse in the eyes of the peasant community due to his deteriorating character. Esteban's shrinking can also be an extended metaphor comparing the loss of Clara's love to Esteban's shrinking body. ...read more.


Esteban continues shrinking into old age. When the political police come to arrest Alba for her role in protecting Miguel, she sees Esteban "sitting fearfully on the sofa, tiny and wretched as a sick old man" (402). The diction of "tiny" is a contrast to his earlier self when he was huge. It signifies Esteban's loss of power both politically and physically until he can no longer free Alba from the political police. As a result of this, the reader learns that in the eyes of the political police class does not matter. They do not act differently towards the lower, middle or upper class. Esteban's appearance is pivotal in portraying the major events in the novel such as changes in Esteban's relationships and class differences. She also evokes sympathy for Esteban despite all his wrongdoings by showing a development in his character through his appearance. Esteban's appearance is significant also in portraying the cyclical nature of life, since he changes physically throughout the novel. Word Count: 1022 words. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dushyant Pattni The House of the Spirits Essay Grade 11S 10th November 2006 Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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