Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 275

Dom Casmurro is a novel written by Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. The book was published in 1899. The narrator of the novel is Bento Santiago, a lawyer, who gained the nickname "Dom Casmurro" ("Mr. Stubborn" in Brazilian Portuguese) during his youth.

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Since the narrative is told from the viewpoint of Bento, the reader is given a biased one-dimensional perspective of the events that occur in the novel. In fact, one can interpret the narration of Bento as the diary of a man with a complex psyche. The lawyer narrates his life as if trying to convince a jury, which, in this case, is the reader. Bento exhibits traits of someone who is extremely insecure, paranoid, and cynical. Bento can be perceived as a sociopath or as a psychopath. In the novel, Bento contemplates and almost attempts both suicide and homicide of his loved ones.

Bento's suspicion regarding his wife's faithfulness is framed in a way that makes Bento look like the victim of a conspiracy. The novel is filled with tragedies: his friend, whom he accuses of having an affair with his wife, dies; his wife later dies in Europe after she begs Bento to join her and their son; later on, Bento's son dies during an archaeological expedition in the Middle East.

Bento shows contempt for everyone around him. His paranoia appears to stem from delusional imaginings. His wife has reiterated multiple times that she did not cheat on him and that their son is indeed his, not the offspring of his friend.

Bento represents the weak masculinity in society at the time—patriarchal and yet full of insecurities, especially regarding cuckoldry.

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