How is Like Water for Chocolate an example of magical realism?
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The origins of the sub genre of Magical Realism is attributed to Swiss-born essayist and writer Alejo Carpentier Valmont, who took residence in Cuba since infancy, and who considered himself a Latin American. He is one of the main influences of the most celebrated magical realism representatives, the Nobel Literature Prize Winner from Colombia, Gabriel García Márquez.
Magical Realism consists on the use of creative license to include unlikely elements or situations into the narrative. These can be magic, supernatural powers, ghosts, and any other factor that will take a regular situation to a much higher level. Keep in mind that it is still meant to be "realistic", therefore do not confuse it with a "fantasy". The meaning of this is that it must remain a human story about human issues. The difference is that, with Magical Realism, the senses that all humans have (plus one more, the psychic component) will be intensified to the core.
In the case of Tita De La Garza, everything from her birth and throughout her life has been directly related to the supernatural: Her basket of sorrows, the salt of the tears when she was born, and the effects that her pent up emotional frustrations cause in her immediate environment.
Aside from this, notice other instances of realism which, through the agency of the supernatural and the magical, make reality all the more powerful and colorful by unveiling the deepest passions of the human being.
Food, the conduit of it all, makes Tita different. She is not only a great cook but, similarly, a nurturer of people. She nurses her brother Roberto although she is a virgin and, as such, unable to produce any mother's milk.
Gertrudis, a woman with a super high libido, exerts her passion in a way that, according to the story, the men can "smell" it. Sex, hunger, passion, anger, revenge, and pain are at the core of this story that shows how oppression turns you into a modern day slave, even of your own family.
Magical Realism is a wonderful literary device, once in which the reader is invited to use ones five senses and imagination to get the depth of the story. It is more common in latin-american literature. Magical realism invites the reader to look at the normal surroundings and simply accept the magical elements that may occur.
Like Water for chochocolate is a good example of magical realism, because the setting and action are very mundane, completely ordinary; however, there is magic within this ordinary living.
Tita's recipes have the fantastical ability to changes people's emotions. Ghosts (her mother) walk along the living. Fire is one of the greatest elements of the fantastic or magical in this story. Tita's mother's ghost uses it as a revenge mechanism against Pablo. Gertrudis puts the shower in fire due to her internal lust. These are all examples of the magical within the ordinary living.
In the end Pedro and Tita's love was so immense that it consumed them in fire, this is really magical.
I hope this helps!
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