The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Dom Casmurro is a character-centered novel, and no character is more revealed than narrator/protagonist Bento, whose nearly every word and the tone and attitude that pervade his narrative presents an insecure, jealous, and envious man who sees himself as the victim.

Bento, from childhood through his married years, is either jealous or envious of numerous other characters at one point or another. This is particularly true of Capitú. As a newlywed, Bento is anxious to show off Capitú in order to make others envy him, but he is soon equally concerned that others might look at her as he does. Ultimately, Bento is sure that his wife and dead friend have betrayed him. His interpretation that Ezekiel resembles Escobar is all Bento’s insecurities need to lead him to conclude that Ezekiel is not his son.

This is not to say that Bento always paints himself in a flattering light. He is quite up front about his insecurities, jealousy, and envy, even as they apply to his own son. Even more revealing, particularly from a narrator so bent on winning the sympathy of his reader, is what he confesses concerning his treatment of Capitú and Ezekiel once he believes that he has been wronged. His behavior toward them is blatantly cruel.

Bento, then, comes across in many ways as a confused narrator/protagonist. He goes to considerable lengths to defend his thoughts and actions, but at the same time, he willingly shows his worst moments....

(The entire section is 426 words.)