The novel One Hundred Years of Solitude explores several interesting ideas that stem from the human condition. One of these ideas is the relationships among the past, present, and future. Time is a curious thing in general, but when explored in Gabriel Garcia Marquezs novel it is both non-existent and utterly crucial all at once. The idea of factual history weaved with magical notions and mythology is also recurring throughout the story. Events are stated with such certainty, yet the language used represents a figurative presentation of the idea.
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The notion of an Edenic state is explored within the novel, such that many archetypal images associated with that state can be found in several instances. The relationships between past, present, and future are very interesting in Garcia Marquezs novel. Much of the novel is a repetition of a previous event, and so the story continues on in a sort of cycle. Whats interesting is that the pattern isnt perfectly cyclical, but progressively similar. The story never returned to the exact same point it started from, the family just moved forward in the same way many times over.
The return of the same names generation after generation should have been a clear sign that their past was being repeated continuously. Ursula was the only one who really saw this clearly, she saw the repetition of the names as the sign it should have been. Throughout the long history of the family the insistent repetition of names had made her draw some conclusions that seemed to be certain (181). Others in the story saw patterns, but none so clear as Ursulas insight.
Aureliano Segundo tries to warn the handsome stranger as to the dangers of his family, he says, Dont waste your time anymore, the women in this house are worse than mules (196). Obviously not as perceptive as Ursulas understanding, but still a sign that he recognized the similarity between the generations of his family. Pilar Ternera also had a certain understanding, as an outsider to the family, yet an avid contributor to their offspring she could see the repetitious nature from her position setback from all the drama. When Aureliano goes to her, underneath the mockery [he] found a reservoir of understanding (67).
With all the continuous events, the past, present, and future are not clear in the novel. The characters are so oblivious to their past, they forget about the consequences of their actions in the present, which lead to the same regretful situations in the future. Melquiades was a very interesting character, seemingly random at the start, then increasingly more significant as his prophecies were sought after by the Aurelianos of the story. He proved that events in time are continuous, by his prediction of the familys end.
In fact, the presence of his ghost, along with Jose Arcadio Buendias ghost is more proof that the past in which they lived has combined with the present. Time is so elegantly expressed within the story, seemingly non-existent, yet also of the utmost importance to the understanding of the familys end. Melquiades prophecies could just as well have been the novel. Reality and magic are woven intricately in One Hundred Years of Solitude. They are surprisingly both necessary to portray the specific events and conceptions of the world of Macondo.
Marquez represents his world not by one particular experience, but so individuals can interpret the story based on their own background. The perspectives amount to a magical realism that portrays the limbo that is the era caught between modernity and pre-industrialization. Times were changing fast, but no one could see what was coming. It was fearsome and endearing all at once, which forces the most withdrawn of characters to be affected by it. This magical realism was a perfect literary technique used to express the reality of Latin America.
Several times in the novel, events described were extremely similar to specific historical aspects of the region. The dictatorships of 20th century Cuba and Panama are represented in the time of Arcadio in the novel. The mention of Sir Francis Drake attacking the ancient city of Riohacha is interesting, because this even occurred in 1568. This is an obviously factual, historical event, yet it is tied into the birth of the Buendia family, with stories of children with pigs tails and the idea that nothing had names yet.
Obviously the pig tail is a magical element, and the notion of the world was so recent that many things lacked names, is mythological because obviously if it was 1568 when the family started, the world was far enough along that names would have existed previously. That statement introduces the idea that the novel is perhaps intended to sound like informal oral history, as if the story were being passed down through the generations. This in itself reminds one of mythologies, as it is how those great tales came to be.
Macondos evolution is a parable too, a cosmopolitan begins to be created, yet as in multiple events in history, several horrors of capitalism were brought with it. The insomnia plague is one instance of this, it spreads throughout the town just as capitalism does. Historically there have been many instances of horrific plagues destroying villages, even cities; yet this plague is mysterious, it causes the memory loss which motivates the people to write the names of every day objects on everything. They continued living in a reality that was slipping away, which could represent a loss of innocence within the town of Macondo.
Jose Arcadio Buendias ideal society was that of the perfectly functioning communist image. Yet the power hungry people which are indicative throughout history refused to allow it. Humans have oppressive tendencies, therefore the town turned to violence in fighting the dictatorships and cruel leaders. Horrific events such as the massacre of the workers in Macondo caused the confusion between reality and fiction. After witnessing such an event, real every day life becomes fantasy-like, which both terrifies and intrigues the people. Marquez uses the confusion of reality and magic, fiction and history to capture a sense of how real life works.
As well as many representatives of actual history within the novel, there is also a notion of an Edenic state. Several instances represent archetypal biblical images, which show the characters as allegorical of biblical figures. In fact, the story as a general whole is similar to the bible, with the creation of Macondo and its earliest days of innocence. It then continues to the apocalyptic end, including a cleansing flood. The quest for knowledge, ever present in the Bible and many works, is Jose Arcadio Buendias downfall as much as it was Adam and Eves.
The biblical characters were exiled after eating from the Tree of Knolwedge, just as Jose Arcadio Buendia lost his sanity and was made to live under the chestnut tree. He begins speaking only in Latin, which furthers the idea that language functions as a barrier between humans, just as in the biblical confusion of Babel. The way Marquez confuses the real and magical, the ordinary and sublime, historical and fictional is wonderfully enabling for readers to explore their own perspectives. His story incorporates specific physical events alongside huge, abstract emotions that completely imitate the reality of life.