How does magical realism in The House of The Spirits affect the theme(s) of the novel?

Magical realism in The House of The Spirits affects the themes of love, gender and class inequality, and the limits of scientific progress.

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The intersection of magical or supernatural qualities with the detailed realism of daily life is shown throughout Isabel Allende ’s novel. While the numerous romantic relationships contain elements of conflict, the author shows genuine love resulting from a balance of spiritual and earthly concerns. As the magical qualities are primarily...

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The intersection of magical or supernatural qualities with the detailed realism of daily life is shown throughout Isabel Allende’s novel. While the numerous romantic relationships contain elements of conflict, the author shows genuine love resulting from a balance of spiritual and earthly concerns. As the magical qualities are primarily associated with the female characters, the author suggests that women have internal, spiritual, and authentic power that sets them apart from the external, material, and superficial power that men possess.

The political and economic control that men exercise over women includes the establishment Catholic Church and extends to individual control over females’ bodies. The gender inequality that characterizes society is associated with the class inequality and injustice in a rigidly hierarchical society. Allende further critiques the idea of progress by associating modern technology with the materialist aspect of male power, again contrasted to women's spiritual power.

As the novel constitutes a saga that spans centuries over generations, Allende not only shows female characters possessing the magical gifts but also transmitting them through the female line. The magic is represented as “light” within them, shown through their names—Clara, Blanca, and Alba. In the third generation, as the decreasing male power is shown through Esteban’s physical existence but shrinking size, Alba finds an equitable love with Miguel, fueled by their common passion for pursuing political equality, and channels her spiritual power through the creative act of writing.

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