Love in the Time of Cholera
Social and Thematic Context of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of the most well-known Columbian writers, whose literature spanned many different fields and subjects, with novels such as Love in the Time of Cholera combining different elements of fiction and history to increase the artistic accuracy of his work. Gabriel Garcia’s work is well known for its emphasis on historical accuracy, which helps to create a stronger narrative that associates real-life events with his characters’ lives. As a result, his narrative unfolds not in a vacuum but under predetermined social and historical contexts which are already familiar to the reader. There are, therefore, certain similarities between the events depicted in his novels and real-life occurrences such as the gold mining activity in Colombia which provides the availability of gold cyanide vapours. Moreover, other sociological similarities such as the gap between low and high class members of society are also used to provide a thematic context for the romantic elements of Love in the Time of Cholera. The problems which are encountered by the characters in the novel therefore reflect, to some degree, actual problems which were historically faced within the same region at a similar period. It is therefore necessary to compare the events which unfolds within the narrative of Gabriel Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera with similar social and thematic events to discover their causes within the novel.
Many of the events in Love in the Time of Cholera are caused by agents within the large historical or thematic context of the book. One of the most notable events in Gabriel Marquez’s is the death of Dr Urbino’s friend, Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, who inhaled gold cyanide vapours as an act of suicide. This event sets the morbid theme of the novel as the death of Saint-Amour introduces the main charters, Dr Urbino and his wife Fermina in a more melancholic context (Baig 67). The death of Saint-Amour by suicide is not described as an unusual death within the narrative, due to common knowledge regarding the high levels of toxicity contained in cyanide. However, as a suicide, Dr Urbino remarks that it is one of the first times he has seen someone take his own life for a reason other than love. Later, he discovers that Saint-Amour has a lover who knew about his plans of suicide, stating that he never wished to grow old and therefore always planned to kill himself by the age of sixty. Saint-Amour’s suicide is, therefore, an event within the narrative whose occurrence is caused by a thematic connection between the characters.
While the death of Saint-Amour appears to be an act of suicide geared towards avoiding the harsh realities of old age such as the decline in one’s physical health, it has a greater implication on the rest of the novel as the main characters experience life in contrast to Saint-Amour’s death. Love in the Time of Cholera, therefore, portrays life from these two perspectives, where it raises the question of whether life is better in old age or whether the decisions of Saint-Amour are justified (Corum 156). Therefore, Saint-Amour’s decisions to kill himself may be interpreted as the result of a larger narrative purpose which combines the ideologies of romance and old age, therefore necessitating the inclusion of other related thematic elements such as death (Jacob 19). Therefore, the cause of Saint-Amour’s death, when taken in this context, makes more narrative sense when its phasing is considered. Marquez described Saint-Amour’s inhalation of toxic fumes as ’escaping memory with the aromatic fumes of cyanide’, which provides a more positive undertone to his suicide, implying its preference over life in old age (Jacob 19). Therefore, the profundity of Saint-Amour’s death to the reader arises not from the fact that he is dead or in the unusual way that he has killed himself. Rather, the role this suicide plays and its contrast with the suffering of other characters such as Florentino who endures fifty years for a chance at love is more crucial to the narrative than the effect it has on Dr Ubino.
The concept of old age romance also occurs in a series of event which appears to occur both within the framework of the novel’s narrative as well as within certain sociological frameworks. For instance, Florentino and Fermina are kept apart by Dr Urbino’s entrance into the narrative, after Fermina’s return to Florentina After they meet in the marketplace and she feels disillusioned by the prospect of marriage, Dr. Urbino soon s becomes a more desirable suitor, as he falls in love with her while physically inspecting her (Jacob 19). However, the social difference between the two characters plays an even larger role in their romance and subsequent marriage than their personal feelings, which indicates the influence of sociological factors which historically played a large role in the real-life geographical setting of the narrative (Corum 133). One the one hand, the events which occur within the novel such as the ejection of Florentino appear to happen naturally, with inherent causes such as her disenchantment after their encounter (Corum 156). On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore the difference between Florentino and Dr Umrbino which makes the latter man the winning candidate for Fermina’s hand in marriage. The use of such sense within his works, which blends naturalistic causes with narrative events, makes Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s literature even more profound.
- Baig, Mirza Muhammad Zubair. Celebrating or Mourning Patriarchal Love: The Case of Curious Courtships in Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Khazar Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences 20.2 (2017): 67.
- Corum, John. The Relevance of Gabriel García Márquez to Contemporary Ecocritical Theory. (2016): 133-254.
- Jacob, Jaison P. The Carnivalesque and the Ideology of the Libertine: An Analysis of the Select Novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. IJELLH (International Journal of English Language, Literature in Humanities) 7.5 (2019): 19-19.
Love in the Time of Cholera: Overcoming the Obstacles of Love
In the novel Love in the Time of Cholera written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author focuses on the obstacles of love that Florentino faces with Fermina. Written in the late 1800s, author Gabriel Marquez tells the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. A young romantic couple who are split, only to be reunited with rejection. Fermina marries a doctor and for fifty-two years Florentino waits, but not without sleeping with many of different women. After Fermina’s husband dies, Florentino begins to make an attempt to confess his love for Fermina again. This is just one of the obstacles Florentino has to conquer. Throughout the story there are multiple of instances where it became challenging for Florentino and Fermina. But the determination from the both of them help overcome many of those obstacles.
The novel is set in a city in the Caribbean Sea. Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza are two teenagers who fall in love at a young age. Florentino and Fermina rarely see each other and write love letters for each other. Fermina is caught with a letter at school by her teacher, and the academy expels her. After this, her and her father move away for some time; when she returns, she shows her maturity when rejecting Florentino and choosing to marry wealthy doctor Juvenal Urbino. Throughout their marriage, Fermina discover her husband is having an affair. After she confronts him, he feels horrible from what he has done and tries to apologize. One day Urbino’s pet parrot escapes its cage in a tree nearby and he falls trying to reach for it and dies. Florentino is determined to win Fermina back and this was his chance. At Dr. Urbino’s wake, Florentino shows up and tells Fermina about the love he still has for her. She is appalled by Florentino’s attempt and she writes him a letter to show it. After Florentino calms Fermina down and writes her often, they get back together. Florentino asked Fermina to go with him on a cruise and she accepted. They fall in love but when they return, Fermina refuses to allow people to see her with Florentino. The ship raises a yellow flag to indicate a cholera outbreak, and no port will allow them dock. Florentino and Fermina cruised forever.
Love in the Time of Cholera is a sentimental novel about the enduring power of true love. This relates to “The Many Faces of Love” in Chapter 4, more specifically the obstacles to love. One of the obstacles mentioned by the book was age. Florentino and Fermina met at a young age. Florentino tried to give Fermina a love letter, but she refused until getting approval from her father. Florentino encounters his first obstacle, Fermina’s dad. He allows Florentino to give Fermina the letter, and they begin to frequently write love letters. Fermina is caught writing a letter at her academy and is expelled. Her father finds more letters in her room and punishes her. They leave on a journey and now have been presented a new obstacle. Now that they don’t see each other anymore there are no more letters, now they communicate by telegraph. Florentino’s biggest obstacle came when Fermina returned. He still had love for her, and she had matured. She married Dr. Juvenal Urbino upon her return; her father insisted she marry the doctor who was a physician. This presented Florentino with his biggest obstacle: Fermina being married. This created a class division. Florentino and Fermina were considered to be in two different social classes after Fermina married Dr. Urbino. Fermina was considered to be high-class and was highly respected by the community. However, Florentino was considered middle-class; he acquired his uncle’s company and became president, but he was not as popular. For fifty-two years Florentino faced many obstacles, but his time may have come. Dr. Urbino fell to his death after trying to get his pet parrot out of a tree after it had escaped. He fell while reaching for the parrot and died. When Florentino hears this, he ends his affair and attends Dr. Urbino’s wake to win back Fermina. He does so convincingly and asks her on a cruise. She accepts and long story short, they cruise forever.
Those were some of the emotional obstacles Florentino overcame, but there are physical obstacles he has to overcome as well. Márquez uses symbols such as flowers and animals to describe the effects of love and cholera throughout the novel. Fermina admires flowers because the smell and looks bring her joy. Florentino however does not receive as much joy from flowers. They remind him of the scent of Fermina and the love that he has for her. When he could not be with her, he ate flowers and became sick and would vomit. This sickness was comparable to cholera and the pain that it brought. The author also uses animals as an obstacle. Fermina loves animals but this presented an obstacle in her marriage. Dr. Urbino insisted on Fermina only having animals that could talk. “Nothing that does not speak will come into this house,” said Urbino. Urbino had a history with parrots, so she bought a parrot. The parrot would sleep outside except for December through March, where it would be inside a cage. One day it got out of its cage and was stuck in a tree. Dr. Urbino to climb a ladder to get the parrot and when he reached for the parrot, he fell and died. Fermina would later cut down the tree and gave the parrot to a museum to avoid being reminded of the death of her husband. These obstacles remind us of the many different barriers you may have to fac in a relationship or marriage, and how you can overcome those obstacles. It is important for the author to include these in the book because it allows for a couple of different plots throughout the novel. Each character is presented with a problem that they have to find a solution for. Some solutions are out of their control, but some can much more complicated than it may seem. The authors clever use of Florentino eating flowers allowed him to set up a comparison between his sickness and cholera. He brings awareness of how ill the disease can make someone.
Florentino’s style of love may have been noticed quickly by readers. He falls quickly in love with Fermina at a young age, and he is stuck on her for the rest of his life. This can be compared to “Lee’s Six Styles of Love” that are listed in the textbook. There are three primary styles and three derived styles explained in the book. Eros is an immediate attraction to the physical appearance of another, basically love at first sight, which is shown between Florentino and Fermina. “Erotic lovers are often preoccupied with pleasing their lover, and sexual intimacy is strongly desired,” says the textbook. This is a perfect description of Florentino’s character throughout the course of the novel. Ludus is described as a carefree, nonpossessive love, without a deep commitment or lasting emotional involvement. “A ludus lover often has several partners simultaneously…” as described in the textbook can also be compared to Florentino, which is a derived style of love called Mania. Mania combines eros and ludus. Manic love is characterized by obsession and possessiveness. According to Lee, “This type of love seldom, if ever, develops into a long-lasting, committed relationship.” Moving on from Florentino, Fermina has a different type of love. She may be viewed as storge. Storge is an unexciting and uneventful style of loving, which Fermina lives most of her life. “An affectionate style of love with an emphasis on companionship. It usually develops slowly and gradually develops into love.” This definition from the textbook is very similar to how Fermina is portrayed in the novel. Some might argue that she is the derived style, pragma, which combines ludus and storge. She is logical and practical, and compatibility is a must. “A pragmatic lover rationally chooses a partner who shares their background, interests, concerns, and values. Although she does not have an overwhelmingly derived love comparison, throughout the book she demonstrates both personalities.
Gabriel Marquez showed a lot of symbolism throughout his entire book. From start to finish, he shows how strong love can be. Florentino waited years for his chance to express his love to Fermina and overcame many obstacles along the way. Although his plan of dating and getting married to Fermina at a young age was put to a stop because of her marrying Dr. Urbino, Florentino’s love for Fermina stayed constant. Fermina also faced many obstacles along her journey in the novel. She fell in love with Florentino and dated him at a young age, then she returned much wiser, and rejected Florentino because of his immaturity. After she married Dr. Urbino she goes through many ups and downs throughout their marriage. When Dr. Urbino dies, she handles his death fairly well. When she moves on, it is with her continuous love, Florentino. His symbolism continues in their personalities and how they construct themselves. Florentino is a reckless lover, determined to be with Fermina. On the other hand, Fermina is changed by her childhood self, and has higher standards as an adult. She marries a doctor and moves on from Florentino’s childish love. This shows the maturity in Fermina and how she was determined to not let anyone bring her down. Although, in the end they do get together, their love was not always promising. Florentino’s determination to be with Fermina could never stop the love he felt for her.
Love in the Time of Cholera: Different Perspectives
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a Colombian novelist and short story writer which provided him a foundation base for his writing career. In the novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, implies that Love has many perspectives. Marquez develops this theme by emphasizing Florentino’s emotions over Fermina, then exaggerating Florentions actions, and finally clarifying both of their love for one another. Marquez’s purpose is to allow more than one perspective to be shown in order to have a better understanding of an event.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses figurative language and descriptive words to emphasize Florentino’s and Fermina’s relationship and emotion within it. Marquez uses imagery and personification to develop Florentino and Fermina’s perspectives. Marquez’s choice in words show that Florentino Ariza is n a hurry “ Florentino Ariza did not wait for the aunt to go into the house, and he crossed that street with a martial stride that allowed him to overcome the weakness in his knees” (Marquez 8). Marquez shows Florentino’s true perspective over his situation which is that he is no longer patient and needs to get to the point in telling Aunt Esclolastica his true emotions over Fermina. Not only this but Fermina’s perspective was that she was scared, “ Her statues of alarm was such that she avoided speaking at the table for fear some slip might betray her, and she became evasive even with her Aunt Escolastica” (Marquez 8). Marquez’s choice in words when using figurative language showed the true state of mind each character is in. Marquez shows that love has many perspectives throughout the characters Florentino and Fermina and Aunt Escalastica. Marquez uses this to show everyone’s point of view and be able to be in their shoes. Marquez uses Florentino to show us how love can sicken someone, he also uses Fermina to show how ones love can not be reached by the others love, and finally, Marquez uses Aunt Escolastica to demonstrate that there is a brick wall between Florentino’s and Fermina’s love. Marquez’s use of imagery and Personification allowed more than one perspective to be shown at a time. Marquez doing this, the same event was able to be described form many new perspectives.
Marquez gives a better understanding, experience, and representation of love and its many perspectives by embodying his characters. When Florentino kindly asks Aunt Escolastica if she can leave Fermina and him alone Aunt Escloastica responds shocked, “What impertinence!” (Marquez 8). Marquez here reveals to the readers the aunt’s true feelings. Aunt Escolatica was not expecting such demand from an ideal sweetheart by than again Marquez did illustrate that Florentino was in a rush to tell Fermina that he is deeply in love. Aunt Esclolastica was standing up with awareness because “She had the overwhelming impression that Florentino Ariza was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit” (Marquez 9). Marquez uses Aunt Escloastica as a friend and a tutor like more than an aunt for Fermina to educate her about love. Although Aunt Escolastica might be one of the most complicated perspectives that offer advice about love she helps Fermina Daza communicate with Florentino. Aunt Escolasticas perspective over Florentino’s entrance and his demands make her overthink the intentions he has over Fermina. Florentino made her second guess her way of thinking by the manner she was not expecting.
In closing, Marquez’s use of imagery and personification helped him develop his theme that love has many perspectives by emphasizing emotions and exaggerated actions. Marquez also was able to give a better understanding by showing more than one perspective to better clarify an event. The overall effect of Marquez’s doings built a foundation to develop the perspective of every character.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Comprehensive Analysis
Gabriel García Márquez has written many novels, short stories, and scripts, but he is most famous for his novels: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Tim of Cholera, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Many of his early works convey the reality of life in Columbia and are undoubtedly influenced by Márquez’s life. Love in the Time of Cholera is a prime example.
Gabriel García Márquez was born on March 6, 1927. For the first eight years of his life, Márquez lived with his maternal grandparents (Fishman). During his early years, his grandmother told him stories of local myths and legends (Fulton). She told these tales with naturalness and nonchalance (Fishman). Although he was young upon hearing these stories, they have greatly influenced Márquez’s writing style.
Love in the Time of Cholera reads like a nineteenth century novel in the narrative tradition. Unlike his other works, it follows a simple chronological order, except for a brief description of an event in the beginning of the novel. It intertwines reality and fantasy. This is called magical realism and was often used by Márquez in his works (Fulton). For example, in Love in the Time of Cholera, Márquez writes:
“This was also how he learned that four nautical leagues to the north of the Sotavento Archipelago, a Spanish galleon had been lying under water since the eighteen century with its cargo of more than five hundred billion pesos in pure gold and precious stones. The story astounded him, but awakened in him an overwhelming desire to salvage the sunken treasure so that Fermina Daza could bathe in showers of gold” (64).
In this passage, Márquez describes an old myth of a sunken Spanish galleon that Florentino Ariza wants to salvage. Florentino pictures a fantasy of Fermina Daza with the treasures.
Although Márquez is considered a master of magical realism, this concept evolved from his experiences of reading different works of literature (Rahman). During an interview for The Paris Review by Peter H. Stone, Márquez recounts a night when his roommate in college lent him a book of short stories by Franz Kafka:
“I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off my bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect…’ When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anybody was allowed to write like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago.”
When Márquez was a college student at the University of Bogotá, Kafka’s works influenced him greatly. A monumental discovery had been made; he realized his passion to become a writer. In addition, it was through Kafka’s works that Márquez drew upon the concept of magical realism (Rahman).
Gabriel Gacía Márquez was born in Aracataca, Columbia. As a retired colonel, his grandfather instilled in him a history of the area, especially the Columbian civil wars (Fulton). Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía was a veteran of the War of a Thousand Days which was a civil war fought within the newly formed republic of Columbia (Masters).
After his grandfather passed, Márquez studied at the National University of Columbia (Fulton). In 1948, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, who was a liberal populist candidate for the Columbian presidency, was assassinated (Fishman). This was marked by the conflict between the conservatives and the liberals and eventually started a decade a civil bloodshed (Swanson). After this, Márquez moved back to the coast in Cartagena where he wrote Love in the Time of Cholera (Fishman).
Love in the Time of Cholera is set between the late 1870s and early 1930s-the time in which Columbia transitions from the colonial to modern era. The setting is modeled after Cartagena, Columbia and is in a state of decay (Fulton). This state of decay is caused by civil unrest and a fight for independence from Spain (Masters). Dr. Urbino, an aristocrat in Love in the Time of Cholera, notes of the horrifying conditions of the city:
“For the city, his city, stood unchanging on the edge of time: the same burning dry city of his nocturnal terrors and the solitary pleasure of puberty, where flowers rusted and salt corroded, where nothing happened for four centuries except a slow aging among withered laurels and putrefying swamps. In winter sudden devastating downpours flooded the latrines and turned the streets into sickening bogs” (Márquez 16).
Márquez claims to be a socialist and believes in a socialist revolution since it would be the best course for Latin America. He also believes that the region not have other methods or ways of life imposed on it, but be left alone to evolve by itself (Estorino). This is shown through the character of Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Dr. Urbino is constantly trying to modernize the technology in his city by using Paris as his standard (“Love in the Time of Cholera: Essay Questions”). Márquez writes: “They spent their lives claiming their proud origins, the historic merits of the city, the value of the relics, its heroism, its beauty, but they were blind to the decay of the years. Dr. Juvenal Urbino, on the other hand, loved it enough to see it with the eyes of truth” (111).
When Dr. Urbino comes back to his city from studying at a medical school in Paris, he is shocked at the state of the city and begins his modernization. Dr. Urbino ultimately fails his dream of modernization. This goes along with Márquez’s view of leaving Latin America alone without any outside systems alone to evolve (“Love in the Time of Cholera: Essay Questions”)
In addition to having many political connections to the story, Márquez’s life at the time of his study in Bogotá also influenced his connection to Florentino Ariza in Love in the Time of Cholera (Márquez 1988). In the story, Florentino Ariza took many trips by boat and became familiar with river navigation: “Florentino Ariza was named manager and President of the Board of Directors and General Manager of the company (River Company of the Caribbean)” (Márquez 268). Similarly, Márquez traveled by boat from Baranquilla to La Dorada and then back to Bogotá. He also began becoming familiar with boats at the age of twelve (Márquez 1988).
Márquez recounts his experiences between his first and last boat trips saying, “I saw the decay in the river that appears in the book” (Márquez 1988). Towards the end of the novel, Márquez describes the horrific image of the river:
“The river became muddy and narrow, and instead of the tangle of colossal trees that had astonished Florentino Ariza on his first voyage, there were calcinated flatlands stripped of entire forests that had been devoured by the boilers of the riverboats and the debris of god-forsaken villages whose streets remained flooded even in the cruelest droughts…For there were no more wars or epidemics, but the swollen bodies still floated by” (336)
Márquez paints a picture of “how the river changed from a fresh and thriving stream and fell into decadence” (Márquez 1988).
In addition, Márquez relates his personal experience to the plot line of Love in the Time of Cholera by following the events of his parents’ life. Márquez’s parents were Luisa Santiago Márquez and Gabriel Eligo Gárcia (Masters). Luisa Santiago Márquez was the daughter of Tranquilina Iguaran and Colonel Márquez (Estorino). When Márquez’s parents fell desperately in love, Colonel Márquez immediately tried to dissuade the couple. Eligo García was not the man he had envisioned for his daughter, for he had a reputation for being a womanizer and already had four illegitimate children (Masters). Although his love for Santiago Márquez was met with much resentment, Eligo Gárcia pursued her with violin serenades, love poems, countless letters, and telegraph messages (“Gabriel García Márquez”).The couple finally married (Masters).
Similarly, In Love in the Time of Cholera, Florentino Ariza fell madly in love with Fermina Daza when “his innocence came to an end” (Márquez 54). After confessing his love to her through a letter, Fermina Daza accepts and soon writes love letters back to him (Márquez 68). Márquez describes their undying love through serenades, letters, and telegraph messages sent back to each other. For example, Márquez writes: “One night, without any warning, Fermina Daza awoke with a start: a solo violin was serenading her, playing the same waltz over and over again” (70). When Lorenzo Daza, the father of Fermina Daza, discovers of their relationship he visits Florentino Ariza delivering a harsh message: “‘Don’t force me to shoot you,’ he (Lorenzo Daza) said… ‘Shoot me,’ he (Florentino Ariza) said, with his hand on his chest. ‘There is no greater glory than to die for love’” (Márquez 82). Throughout the book, Márquez draws many parallels to his parents’ life as a young couple.
In conclusion, Gabriel García Márquez draws many connections from his personal life into his works of literature, especially Love in the Time of Cholera. By focusing on what he knows best, Márquez painted a vivid picture of the reality of the Columbian people.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Analysis of Saint-Amour’s Suicide
The first chapter of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera details the morbid, disordered scene in which Jeremiah de Saint-Amour commits suicide as a result of mental and physical turmoil. In the first chapter of this novel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez utilizes vivid imagery to create a setting reflective of the emotional and physical anguish that ultimately drove Saint-Amour to suicide.
Despite surviving a war, Saint-Amour returns disabled and proves unable to thrive on the mental and emotional battlefield. Marquez details certain pains that afflicted Saint-Amour in life: his body was “stiff and twisted,” an “old scar” ran “across his stomach” and “his defenseless legs looked like an orphan’s.” By blending these physical deformities that would hinder one in life with those characteristic of a corpse such as “luminous pupils” and “yellowish beard and hair,” Marquez communicates that these things led to an emotional death while Saint-Amour was physically alive. The room’s cluttered, disordered appearance bolster this notion by showing the accumulating hardships that drove him to suicide. The “crumbling pewter trays,” broken furniture,” and “glass plates” reflect his brokenness and fragility.
The “oppressive heaviness” of the enshrouding darkness gives the reader a glimpse into Saint-Amour’s life. Hardly any light permeates the room since the windows are “muffled with rags or sealed with black cardboard.” Only one window allows “the splendor of dawn” to leak through; ironically, instead of alleviating the heavy atmosphere, the light only reveals “the authority of death.” The most luminous light imagery exists in the “gold cyanide,” the compound that kills him, revealing that he felt death provided the only escape from his torment. However, his dog’s “snow-white chest” suggests that there could have been some inkling of hope in his seemingly hopeless situation. Amidst the dark, gloomy atmosphere, there is a solitary “ordinary light bulb covered with red paper.” This object contrasts the long list of dark, broken imagery, because it provides a source of light, perhaps symbolizing a small beacon of hope that Saint-Amour failed to recognize.
However, even if there is a glimmer of hope, the reader automatically knows that Saint-Amour doesn’t escape whatever fate awaits him as seen through the opening quote “it was inevitable.” Though Dr. Juvenal Urbino’s “urgent call” carries connotations of sudden disaster and emergency, Urbino knows that this fight “had lost all urgency many years before.” Urbino recognizes that any previous efforts to prevent Saint-Amour from killing himself would be a “futile struggle against death.” His room, in a disorder that seem to obey “an obscure determination of Divine Providence” carries the notion that Saint-Amour was fated to die. The “dying embers of hapless love” were bound to go out eventually, no matter how much anyone fanned the flames, trying to keep them alive.
Marquez details Saint-Amour’s disfigured corpse and his disheveled room to reflect the mental and physical hardships that he went through. His body has various injuries that would have hindered his everyday life, symbolizing the death that he felt in life. His room is covered in darkness, revealing the desolation and hopelessness he felt. Ultimately, Saint-Amour was a candle wick, fated to fizzle and die once the winds of life became too harsh to handle.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Feminist Critique of Love
A Feminist Critique of Love In The Time of Cholera
Thesis: Throughout Love In The Time of Cholera, a feminist plot reveals itself through Florentino’s pursuit of Fermina, the emphasis of female sexual virginity, and Florentino abuse of América.
In recent years, attention has been drawn to the fact that, despite being the subjects of many works of art, female artists themselves are underrepresented in museums such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Indeed, the plight of women doomed to be chased after without their active consent is illustrated in Love In The Time of Cholera. The plot of the book, after all, centers around Florentino Ariza’s lifelong pursuit of his “crowned goddess”, Fermina Daza (Márquez 88). Fermina’s well-illustrated life story is of meaning only in relation to Florentino’s chase of her. Despite marrying and producing children with another man, Fermina seems doomed to end up engaging again with the man she rejects “at the age of eighteen (Márquez 282)”. Indeed she does meet him again when “he [reiterates] his love for her, while the flowers for her dead husband [are] still perfuming the house (Márquez 282)”. Fermina suffers the loss of her husband; without time to properly grieve him, Florentino appears. In this way, the lack of control women hold over their own lives is illustrated.
Indeed, throughout the entirety of the novel, Florentino continually manifests his misogyny in the sexual mistreatment of women. He conducts numerous sexual affairs with many women while absent from Fermina’s company; yet, when he is in her presence again for the first time in a long while, he tells her that he is a virgin. Through this lie, Florentino reveals the symbolic importance of virginity; a virgin is pure, and a virginal woman is a woman of worth. This lack of sexual experience in females is also shown through Florentino’s long-enduring relationship with América, which he enjoys largely because of the “mild pleasure of [her] innocence (Márquez 272)”. The relationship between the two ends after she has encounters with him many times, destroying her purity many times.
Perhaps one of the most unforgivable points of the novel from a feminist perspective is Florentino’s inappropriately intimate relationship with the teenaged América Vicuña, “entrusted by her family to Florentino Ariza as her guardian and recognized blood relative (Márquez 272)”. América arrives at Florentino’s abode at the age of twelve, “still a child in every size of the word (Márquez 272)”. Ignoring her prepubescent age, Florentino, the man trusted by her family to protect and guide the girl, begins a sexual relationship, which today would meet the legal criteria for statutory rape and other crimes, with her. to In a way sinisterly similar to the grooming of a victim by a child molestor, Florentino “[cultivates] her during a slow year of Saturdays at the circus, Sundays in the park with ice cream, childish late afternoons, and [wins] her confidence (Márquez 272)”. After having done so, “he [leads] her by the hand, with the gentle astuteness of a kind grandfather, towards his secret slaughterhouse (Márquez 272)”. The slaughterhouse analogy ends up to be all too accurate;. After being introduced to the sexual act by Florentino, “the doors of heaven [open] up to América”, and she enjoys their illicit encounters as a pig would enjoy the feed that fattens it; after being eventually spurned by Florentino, who “never [imagines] how much she [loves] him”, she commits suicide (Márquez 316). At the beginning of América’s relationship with the predatorial Florentino, she had been an exceptional academic student and “a girl ready to learn about life (Márquez 272)”. The end of their encounter leaves her so despondent that before her final suicidal act, she “almost [fails] her final examinations (Márquez 316)”. After learning of América’s suicide via letter, Florentino continues with his pursuit of another woman, paying little heed to the life he introduced to sex before casually turning away from her. In so many ways, América, who “bears a resemblance that was more than casual” to Fermina Daza, was simply a stand-in for Florentino’s ultimate romantic goal, bound to be cast away in favor of Fermina (Márquez 272). América demonstrates the plight of the oft-ignored survivors of sexual abuse, doomed to go unheard, while the abusers roam free to do exactly as they like without any repercussions. América also serves as a literal symbol of the double standard that accompanies sexual appeal and feminine youth, which is desired by men but also used as a weapon, as seen through the sex-based insults at use today; this double standard can end in the literal or metaphorical death of those that are at the center of it.
The Beautiful Agony in Love in the Time of Cholera
An imminent era of lovesickness persuades the course of Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza’s love affair; it is this pending ailment – as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ title Love in the Time of Cholera suggests – that fuels the lovers’ final movement away from “the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion,” (345) and “straight to the heart of love” (345). Although the love between Fermina and Florentino is born out of a certain “senseless” and youthful passion, it is a passion nonetheless perpetuated by the suffering of each; while Florentino wallows in “a pool of fragrant vomit” (65) for his love, Fermina is “dying of fatigue and loose bowels” (85). In light of the torment that this love’s survival demands, years roll by in the favor of an affair that will one day be consummated, but only at a moment in time that is undeniably terminal, at an age where physical corrosion harmonizes with emotional strife, and when their self-inflicted passions become, finally, a compassion that cannot logically be disentangled from the slow dying that infiltrates each of their lives. Time, in the novel, passes as mercilessly as the two aging lovers are stubborn, for only when the hour is right – and in that sacred hour of sickness – will Fermina and Florentino finally escape together in their decrepitude.
Marquez presents an onslaught of emotional turmoil that is ostensibly incurable, extending for half a century; the reader’s consolation is a final reunion between Florentino and Fermina that comes neither too late nor too soon – and yet alarmingly near what would seem to be their physical ends. Only when Fermina is in her seventies can she actualize her love for Florentino, confident that it is not frivolous, “For… love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death” (345). Age thus finds Florentino and Fermina “less like belated lovers” (345), but right on time, “like an old married couple wary of life” (345), such that the thread of suffering born originally out of their unsubstantiated fervor leads them to find each other beneath the physical and emotional ruins of the years gone by – years sustained by the turmoil of distance, a severed relation needed to provoke the affliction that constitutes their love. The proximity of death, an imminence of calamity in a time of cholera, a gradual suffering, and not an instantaneous fatality, defines the stuff of Fermina’s and Florentino’s love when they are twenty and when they are eighty. The author of Love in the Time of Cholera dares to suggest that this affair, albeit consummated late, will not end by the strong hand of death or by any other force of time as we understand it; as the reader knows that Florentino has “never said anything [he] did not mean” (348), much less when “illuminated by the grace of the Holy Spirit” (348), he speaks: They will keep “coming and going” (348), along a river that teems with dead bodies ravaged by the violence of life; Fermina and Florentino wave the flag of cholera and set out to keep on “forever” (348) in that peaceful limbo between life and death, together wary of “the horror of real life” (348) and immersed in the ever-present prospect of a long and tortuous end.
Marquez’ two lovers come together in the midst of a wasteland, a river of extinction. As the mother of Florentino foreshadows early on that “women give themselves only to men of resolute spirit” (65), it is, in fact, the fundamental passage of time (and thus, civilization’s advances in technology) that allow Florentino to end feverishness and express his thoughts in a typewritten letter for the one woman who demands the exactitude of such an instrument. And only as the remnants of an elapsed era could these lovers unite – they are the “poor old couple” (334), waiting impatiently, fearing, to be “beaten to death in the boat” (334). In a final clear-sighted moment on the water, Florentino and Fermina find their everlasting grace; the lovers persist from where they began in their youth – undertaking, as they always have, a sacramental practice in anguish. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they will delight in eternal crucifixion.
Essential Emotions and Motives in Love in the Time of the Cholera
In Marquez’s Love in the Time of the Cholera, the relationships of the three main characters are predicated upon the different fundamental emotional needs they have. For example, Florentino needs love from Fermina, while Fermina needs not love but companionship and security from her husband Juvenal. In turn, Juvenal needs understanding and stability from Fermina, so what we have in the end is a rich tapestry of needs that govern each character’s actions and interactions.
Florentino’s basic need is the simplest to gauge, for it remains constant from the moment he sets his eyes on Fermina. His basic motivating need is love; all his actions speak to that inner drive. When he has Fermina’s love, “Requited love,” he has “a confidence and strength he had never known before” (74). Conversely, without Fermina he is only a shadow of himself, an object of pity. He “hunt[s] the abandoned little birds of the night for several years, still hoping to find a cure for the pain of Fermina Daza” (174). He rides the trolley and stalks the Carnivale looking for love, and other women are drawn to him because they sense his innate need. Even the cleaning woman at the transient hotel realizes that “he was just like her: someone in need of love” (78). This inner famine renders his behavior almost obsessive in his guarding of love. “He was a different person: the lover who never showed his face, the man most avid for love as well as most niggardly with it, the man who gave nothing and wanted everything, the man who did not allow anyone to leave a trace of her passing in his heart, the hunter lying in ambush…” (216). He guards his own love as well as that of others, never giving away too much of his heart but wanting all of his lovers that he can get. Sometimes, he has several loves going on at once in the heart of his that has “more rooms than a whorehouse,” and over the course of fifty years he has six hundred and twenty-two long term love affairs. We are told of many: Ausencia Santander, Sara Noriega, Olimpia Zuleta, the Widow Nazaret, to name a few. Ultimately though, he saves unfaithful but not disloyal heart for Fermina, longing with all his being for her love in return. His purpose in life is to wait for Juvenal to die and Fermina to love him, but in the meantime, various other loves temporarily satisfy his insatiable need for love.
For many years, Fermina will not satisfy Florentino’s need for love, but she herself has a different fundamental need. She is not as convinced that love is the basis of everything; on her long trip away from Florentino, she is surprised to find out that “one could be happy not only without love, but despite it” (87). Moreover, Juvenal’s suit further perplexes her, since it “had never been undertaken in the name of love, and it was curious, to say the least, that a militant Catholic like him would offer her only worldly goods: security, order, happiness, contiguous numbers that, once they were added together, might resemble love, almost be love. But they were not love, and these doubts increased her confusion, because she was also not convinced that love was really what she most needed to live” (205). However, after she marries him, she finds out that she also has deep-seated needs that, although they might not be love, are nonetheless not completely provided for in her marriage. Her deepest need is companionship, and by extension her “most terrible” (249) fear is the loss of her husband, who is her greatest companion. Just after they return from their honeymoon, the marriage enters a period of great unhappiness for Fermina. She feels lost and alone in her new palace, neglected by a husband who cannot alleviate her pains. Later, when in death he leaves her for good, “she wept…for her solitude and rage…she wept for herself because she had rarely slept alone in that bed since the loss of her virginity…” (50). It is as Juvenal himself had feared: the greatest worry about his death would be over “the solitary life Fermina Daza would lead without him” (45). What Fermina needs most is companionship, a person to dispel the loneliness; perhaps this root cause propels her to accept Florentino Ariza after her husband dies. “Come back whenever you like,” she says to him. “I am almost always alone” (308). In any case, it is interesting to note that so far, there is a parallel structure of incompletely fulfilled needs in Florentino yearning for Fermina and Fermina needing Juvenal, though the two needs are somewhat different.
Lastly, we turn to Juvenal’s basic spiritual motivation. It is quite evident from his life that he also does not need love; after all, one whose primary motivation is love would hardly make a marriage suit not based on it. We can clearly observe through his structured daily schedule and habitual traveling routes that Juvenal is a man in need of stability. Indeed, in a flash of inspiration after his death, Fermina
“understood the yearning of his love, the urgent need he felt to find in her the security that seemed to be the mainstay of his public life and that in reality he never possessed. One day, at the height of desperation, she had shouted at him: “You don’t understand how unhappy I am.” Unperturbed…in a single phrase he burdened her with the weight of his unbearable wisdom: “Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability””(300).
As compared to Fermina, he does not need love or companionship or happiness in his marriage, but just stability. Even in his consuming passion for Barbara Lynch, he chooses the stability of his marriage over his love for Barbara; when he confesses his sins to his priest, it may be that “his heart [was] broken but his soul [was] at peace” (248). Ultimately, it is not his heart that matters, but his peace. In addition, Juvenal seems to have another major motivation, mentioned in passing but nonetheless striking. As the affair of Barbara Lynch is revealed, we discover that “all he needed in life, even at the age of fifty-eight, was someone who understood him. So he turned to Fermina Daza, the person who loved him best and whom he loved best in the world, and with whom he had just eased his conscience” (247). Perhaps this understanding would have been a source of his peace had he had it in his lifetime. Fermina obviously does not understand his passion for Barbara; his tears are shed behind the door of a locked lavatory. Fermina does not even understand the basis of Juvenal’s “yearning” until after he is dead. Indeed, even a passing woman notes that “no one knows what he thinks” (192). His ultimate witness is God alone, and God alone can bear witness to the love and other emotions stored in his heart. His need for earthly understanding cannot be fulfilled by Fermina.
In short, we have in this novel three different characters and at least as many different unfulfilled needs. Florentino yearns for love most of all from Fermina, while Fermina yearns for companionship from Juvenal. In return, Juvenal would like nothing more than stability and understanding from Fermina, but ultimately no person’s needs are completely satisfied. Instead, misunderstandings of these deep needs often result in complex and unpredictable relationships. In the end, though, perhaps Marquez’s message about human life is just that: our deepest needs will probably not be perfectly satisfied; we may have to wait a lifetime.
Magical Realism and Its Manifestation in Love in the Time of Cholera
“Forever” (Marquez, 1988: 352). Thanks to this simple word — Florentino Ariza’s answer to the Riverboat captain’s question when asked how long he intends to keep the boat going — it is not hard to understand why many critics would label Love in the time of Cholera a love story of astonishing power. Ariza’s answer as the last line in the book and its placement as the conclusion to the tale make it, for less romantically inclined readers, all the more cringe-worthy. Even the story’s main plot points appear to have been lifted directly from a shallow romantic novel or even its film adaptation — a love triangle that survives the test of time, a protagonist who makes it his life’s work to make himself worthy of his beloved, an ending which is ultimately a happy one. The novel’s short length does nothing to discredit these accusations of frivolity either. Yet if one were to fully examine the novel, one would find that Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s hailed masterpiece is exactly that, a masterpiece.
Thus, this essay will attempt to prove the credibility of the novel as a work of postmodernism. This will be done by examining various excerpts from the book and identifying the use of magic realism within them. Special attention will also be paid to the main characters of the novel and how they amount to far more than simple mannequins placed in romantic scenes. Besides this, an explanation of the context of the novel and how Latin American literature differs from its North American counterpart will be explored.
Garcia Marquez’s penchant for magical realism is seen throughout the novel and elevates the story above the common romance tale. With regard to a definition, Stephen Slemon makes note of the term’s oxymoronic nature and how it is itself a conflict between two forces (Slemon, 1988: 11). When magical realism is employed in fiction, the two opposing natures of the fantastic and the realistic prevent each other from coming to their full fruition. Although the very concept of a force that endures the test of over half a century (Ariza’s supposed undying love for Fermina Daza) is already an abnormal concept, the magic realism of Marquez’s writing can be found in the reactions of his characters to the concept. This is witnessed early on in the novel at the wake of Dr Urbino. Florentino Ariza arrives and, after many of the guests have left, approaches Fermina Daza and once again declares his undying love for her. Daza, without emotion, simply tells him Ariza to go away and not return. This hints at the heavy use of magic realism throughout the rest of the novel. What could have been a heartfelt reaction to the power of love (magic) is instead brought back down to earth through a very realistic reaction (realism). If the novel were any other romantic story, the episode would have had a far more positive outcome.
Magical realism once again makes itself known through one of the core themes of the novel – love as a disease. During his first experience with love and Fermina Daza, Ariza experiences severe physical pain and is taken to the doctor by his mother, Transito Ariza, for treatment. Due to the ongoing epidemic happening at the time, the doctor mistakes Ariza’s ailments for Cholera, not heartache. Once again, an abnormal force is met with a very realistic reaction.
Yet these moments are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg in the case of the novel’s use of magic realism. Ariza’s quest to make himself worthy of Fermina Daza can be seen as the story’s greatest example of the magical in the real world. Although his belief that he will remain sexually pure until he has made Fermina Daza his own is admirable, it is not feasible in daily life. People change, including him. His meeting with Rosalba aboard the riverboat is the catalyst of this change: this first encounter with sex is brief and far from intimate yet still manages to sow the seed in his mind that sex is a feasible way in which to vent his yearning for Daza. This single encounter might be excusable as a minor hiccup in his quest for love, yet Ariza goes on to have sexual relations with over six hundred women, including a family relation. Ariza’s addiction to the “healing” power of sex shows that the purity of an enduring love is impossible in the real world. It also shows that Marquez’s novel is far more (or in this case less) than just an astonishing love story. It is a study of the nature of humanity and the fickleness of man.
Ariza’s quest itself is littered with moments full of magic realism. His quest to find a submerged shipwreck full of gold seems as if it were taken directly from the pages of Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Christo (Dumas, 1844). Unfortunately, Ariza’s quest does not meet the same positive outcome as that of Edmond Dantes. The search for gold does not end with fortune, or danger, or oven death. Instead, it ends with Ariza realizing that he has been led on by his guide, Euclides, the entire time. His betrayal at the hands of a boy once again demonstrates how any fantastic elements, including sunken ships full of treasure, will meet a very rational and chilling reaction.
Garcia Marquez’s use of magic realism outside of the reaches of love demonstrates how Love in the Time of Cholera is far more than just a love story. The episode of Doctor Urbino’s death and his relationship with his prized parrot show how magic realism can be used in all spheres of life. The event of Urbino’s death is dripping with metaphor, in the way that his prized parrot stands as a representation of his wife as well. The parrot, like Fermina, came from a poor background but was raised up by the aristocracy to become a subject to behold. The doctor’s words may at first seem cryptic when he declares to the parrot that he “finally understands” (Marquez, 1988). However, his words can be interpreted as if they were being spoken to his wife instead. Urbino finally understands that his time with Fermina has come to an end; although his love for her was good and honourable (for the most part), it is time for him to release her and allow her to experience the love of a man who has cradled it for her fifty-one years. The exit of the bird also speaks to Urbino’s character and his devout following of the church. His parrot leaves the earth the same way his savior did. Moments of such dramatic magnitude do not seem fitting, or even necessary in a conventional love story.
If anything, it is Garcia Marquez’s subtle writing of the three main characters that speaks of the novel’s depth as a romance. Florentino Ariza’s determination to do anything to win the hand of Fermina is admirable, yet ultimately twisted. But this strange determination is thinly veiled by Marquez imagining Ariza as a timid and sickly looking underdog. Indeed, he does go through all the motions that a love struck young man would go through in order to prove his love, but these motions transform him into a madman. In his quest for love, he becomes a rapist, a murderer, a pedophile as well as a man who passively longs for the death of his beloved’s husband so that he may court her as his own. In a conventional love triangle, Doctor Urbino would be taken as the antagonistic, secondary love interest. Yet he is so much more than that. Through him, Fermina Daza experiences all the highs and lows of a realistic marriage. Urbino does cheat on her and act cold towards her, but he also provides her with security, companionship, and a loving family. Urbino’s two sided-ness distinguishes him from being just the “bad guy”. In his old age he even becomes pitiable.
Moreover, Fermina Daza’s role as the main female character does not necessarily make her a damsel in distress. Although the reader first meets her when she is a young impressionable girl, her time abroad transforms her into a woman who commands respect and harnesses an indomitable determination. Yet this strong façade masks a nurturing side which she shows to her children and relatives. There is a common strand in all three of the characters’ dualities which speaks to the very nature of postmodernism – the deconstruction of the soul (Gregson, 2004: 41). By giving his characters more than one (opposing) layer, Garcia Marquez allows all three of them to distance themselves from a “stable core” (Gregson, 2004: 41).
Context is everything. It is through context that a reader can understand why Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece is misinterpreted by North American audiences as simply an astonishing love story. It is also through context that the reader can rectify this assumption. In his Nobel Prize acceptance lecture, Garcia Marquez explains that Latin Americans and their literature are alienated by their “The interpretation of [their] reality through patterns not [their] own, [which serves] only to make [them] ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.” (Garcia Marquez, 1982). With this explanation in mind, one can see why readers in the rest of the world would make such a bland assumption. This, combined with the fact that a literary avant-garde movement (like magic realism) is often dismissed as “unduly naïve”, paints a vivid picture of how the novel’s complexity could have been ignored (Hassan, 1987: 3). If anything, Love in the Time of Cholera stands as a lesson in understanding that one may be able to comprehend a story, but not necessarily understand it.
Bibliography Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo 2004, Barnes & Noble Books, New York. Boyne, Roy (ed.). Postmodernism and Society (Communications & Culture). Macmillan Education Ltd: London Gregson, Ian. 2004. Postmodernism Literature. Arnold Publishers: London. Hassan, Ihab. The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture. 1987. Ohio State University Press. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. 1988 . Love in the time of Cholera. Editorial Oveja Negra Ltda: Bogata. Nobelprize.org,. ‘Gabriel García Márquez – Nobel Lecture: The Solitude Of Latin America’. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 May 2015. Sfreporter.com,. ‘Lee On Literature: Elements Of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’S Magic’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. Slemon, Stephen. 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.
Fermina Daza: A Strong Independent Woman
The idea of equality of the sexes in Latin America is a relatively new phenomena. Until the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the time period of Love in the Time of Cholera, women were predominantly treated as the inferior sex. Therefore, women were also often excluded from taking part in public life like their male counterparts in areas such as those pertaining to politics, economics, and education. Although women of the time period do not enjoy the same social freedom of their male counterparts, Gabriel García Márquez in his novel Love in the Time of Cholera does not portray women as oppressed. Rather, Márquez portrays several of his female characters as strong, resourceful, and independent individuals. This is particularly evident in how the novel presents Fermina Daza in her marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino as a strong, independent woman who is the intellectual equal of her husband.
Despite not having received the same level of education as her husband, Fermina demonstrates that she is still the intellectual equal of her husband by outsmarting his rules. Unlike Fermina, who never finishes her studies nor receives her baccalaureate degree, Urbino “had completed advanced studies in medicine and surgery” to the point that “none of his contemporaries seemed as rigorous and as learned as he in his science” (Márquez 105). Yet, Urbino comes to appreciate his wife’s abundant domestic knowledge and skills after she becomes “tired of his lack of understanding” and “asked him for an unusual birthday gift: that for one day he would take care of the domestic chores” (Márquez 222). Through the course of her birthday, Urbino demonstrates himself to be completely helpless regarding domestic knowledge and skills so that Fermina must resume command of the house prior to lunch. Regardless of his claims that Fermina would equally struggle to cure the sick, both Urbino and Fermina learn from this experience that each must appreciate the other’s unique knowledge and skills. Similarly, after discovering a discrepancy in Urbino’s proclamation that “nothing that does not speak will come into [their] house”, resourcefully Fermina discovers and then buys a royal Paramaribo parrot, who speaks in a voice seemingly human (Márquez 23). Thus, Urbino “bowed to the ingenuity of his wife” and recognizes that she is capable of outsmarting him and his rules (Márquez 23). Therefore, by outsmarting Urbino’s rules Fermina demonstrates that despite her lacking as advanced tutelage as her husband received, she is still his intellectual equal and he should appreciate her as such.
Fermina’s strong character and resolve is most evident in her determination and refusal to let others, particularly her husband, influence her choices or make decisions for her. This is clearly seen when she decides to leave and go live with her cousin Hildebranda after she becomes aware that Urbino is having an affair. Since Urbino “knew the strength of her character very well”, he simply “accepted her decision with humility” (Márquez 235). However, this does not prevent Urbino from seeking to persuade Fermina in her decisions, especially using the intervention of religious authority figures. However, instead of swaying her in favor of Urbino and his ideas, the involvement of religious authority figures in Urbino’s and Fermina’s relationship makes her even more adamant in her own opinions and choices. This is particularly evident prior to their courtship, when Urbino’s last resort in wooing Fermina “was the mediation of Sister Franca de la Luz, Superior of the Academy” (Márquez 125). Since Fermina hates her, she becomes outraged and becomes increasingly more vehement in her refusal to speak with Urbino. Similarly, this occurs when Urbino sends the Bishop of Riohacha “on a pastoral visit” to Fermina while she is living with Hildebranda in order to convince her to return home to him (Márquez 236). Rather than give Urbino the satisfaction of her giving in to his request, Fermina “refused in an amiable but firm manner” when the Bishop asks to hear her confession “with the explicit argument that she had nothing to repent of” (Márquez 236). She does not allow her decision to be influenced by the Bishop, but does leave with Urbino when he visits only because “she would be happy to leave with him” (Márquez 254). This can also be seen during their honeymoon in how, although Fermina wanted to turn on the light in their suite, “she wanted to be the one to do it, without anyone’s ordering her to, and she had her way” (Márquez 158). Overall, Fermina is a strong character who does not allow others, especially her husband, to persuade her or make decisions for her, instead choosing what she wants or what is most beneficial to her.
Although Fermina Daza is dependent upon her husband like most women of her time, her husband is equally if not more dependent upon her. This is particularly evident after their golden wedding anniversary, when both “were not capable of living for an instant without the other… and that capacity diminished as their age increased” (Márquez 26). However, neither Fermina nor Urbino “could have said if their mutual dependence was based on love or convenience” (Márquez 26). Urbino’s dependence on Fermina is best illustrated through his need for her to care for him in his old age. Since Urbino is ten years older than Fermina, as he grows older he continually becomes weaker leaving Fermina as the strongest of the pair. At first, Fermina simply assists her husband with tasks such as bathing and dressing out of love, but for the last five years of Urbino’s life “she had been obliged to do it regardless of the reason because he could not dress himself” (Márquez 26). As Urbino declines in health with his increasing age, he increasingly comes to depend upon Fermina in order to live. Basically, Urbino depends on Fermina more than Fermina depends on him.
Despite Fermina’s seeming dependence on Urbino for stability and companionship, she is still very independent minded. Unlike many other women of her time, she is independent in how she does not necessarily rely on her husband for a place to live. This can be seen in how Fermina “threatened to move back to her father’s old house, which still belonged to her” during the escalating argument between herself & Urbino over whether or not there is any soap in the bath (Márquez 29). This is also demonstrated when she leaves and goes to live with her cousin Hildebranda after she becomes aware that Urbino is having an affair. However, her independence is most clearly illustrated in how Fermina continues living after Urbino’s sudden death. Despite his fear of any possible pain associated with death, “what worried Dr. Urbino most about dying was the solitary life Fermina Daza would lead without him” (Márquez 45). However, Urbino’s fear is unfounded because “from her first moment as a widow, it was obvious that Fermina Daza was not as helpless as her husband had feared” (Márquez 46). When Fermina’s son suggests his wife should accompany her on her riverboat journey, Fermina says that she is “too big to have anyone take care of [her]” (Márquez 325). Unlike her husband, Fermina is independent and does not need anyone to take care of nor provide for her.
Fermina’s marriage to Urbino reveals that she is a strong, independent woman who is the intellectual equal of her husband. Urbino depends on Fermina more than Fermina depends on him since she does not need anyone to take care of nor provide for her. Despite her lack of as advanced tutelage as her husband received, by outsmarting Urbino’s rules Fermina demonstrates she is still his intellectual equal and that he should appreciate her as such. In addition, Fermina is a strong character since she does not allow others, especially her husband, to persuade her or make decisions for her, instead choosing what she wants or what is most beneficial to her. Overall, by presenting Fermina Daza in her marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino as a strong, independent woman who is the intellectual equal of her husband, Márquez in his novel Love in the Time of Cholera does not portray women as oppressed but rather as quite equal to their male counterparts.