Images of Birds as Symbols of Character Traits and Struggles
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Images of Birds as Symbols of Character Traits and Struggles In addition to their importance in dreams, birds are significant to literature in a myriad of ways. As a common symbol in dreams, they sometimes appear soaring high in the sky, sometimes trapped in a cage. Birds in flight symbolize liberation, while caged birds represent suffering and the strong desire for freedom. The literary material gathered through examining bird imagery in the novels Dom Casmurro and Chronicle of a Death Foretold is critical in strengthening the reader's understanding of characters' inner struggles. Throughout this paper I will compare how the authors Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis and Gabriel García Márquez use different images of birds to unveil the characters' aspirations for freedom, embody their struggles to break free from encagement and identify important character traits. García Márquez and Machado de Assis both use extensive bird imagery to portray certain traits in their characters, and Bayardo San Román is no exception. An aristocrat like him is commonly associated with predatory birds such as falcons and hawks due to their aggressive hunting tendencies. In this sense, Bayardo San Román is very much like a falcon hot in pursuit of its prey, a notion first introduced in the novel's epigraph "The pursuit of love is like falconry" (1).
He exchanged birds with other amateurs, bought some, and caught others in his own yard, setting traps for them. If they fell ill, he looked after them just as if they were human. (30) Like Angela Vicario, Paduá and his caged birds are the image of pleasure. However, just as his birds on dependent on him, Paduá is highly dependent on the state. In fact, his place in the bureaucratic hierarchy is so fixed that promotion is near impossible, even after him becoming director temporarily. Neither is Paduá a wealthy man, he only owns his house because by a stroke of luck he won the lottery. Therefore, Paduá spends his days making do with imaginary compensations, raising birds, and pretending to be happy. Like Paduá's fixed place in the bureaucratic hierarchy, José Dias also has little freedom of maneuver, his wearing starched and old-fashioned clothes being one debilitating habit. This encagement of his spirit results in his strong urge for liberation. Despite his status of being merely a dependent of the Santiago family, José Dias does not have the freedom to come and go as he please. This lack of freedom consummates in him never giving up the prospect of breaking free from his duties and embarking on an all-expense-paid trip to Europe.
Angela was not the only one encaged by marriage. Subject to Bento's jealousy, Capitu "was like a bird out of its cage" whenever she and Bento went for an outing to the theatre (182). Sadly she was not able to control her own destiny as Angela did, for Bento abandoned her in Switzerland and refused to see her in the last years of her life. Unlike Angela, who became "lucid, overbearing, mistress of her own free will" in her sudden obsession with Bayardo San Román and "recognized no other authority than her own", Capitu did too break free from her marriage, but never did possess the freedom to make her own choices (93). Humans often envy birds of flight, and with good reason to. Besides symbolizing aspirations to break free from encagement, images of birds also reveal unspoken character traits and relationships. One is certain to encounter a plethora of surprises by taking a closer look at the subtle relationships between bird imagery and character struggles. The struggle between one's own will and the pressures placed upon them by society is eternal, and bird imagery continues to embody that ordeal. Word count: 1548 words.
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