Feminism in Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate” Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Aug 25th, 2020

Laura Esquivel’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is a novel that was published in 1989 (Esquivel, 1993). The story brings out a typical Mexican home that strictly follows the traditions passed down by the forefathers. At the center of this story is Tita, a young woman who is the last born in her family. According to the Mexican tradition, the last born girl in a family is expected to take care of her mother until the mother dies before she can marry.

Tita finds herself in such a worrying situation where she has to take care of her ailing mother. As she blossoms into a young beautiful woman, she falls in love with Pedro. Unfortunately, the two lovers realize that they cannot be together because of the responsibilities laid on the young woman. Feminism is brought out in this book in a unique way. It strongly advocates for the freedom of women from unfair traditional practices. Using the character Tita, the author of this book clearly explains how women are sometimes forced, by the archaic traditions, to forego joy and success to take care of this family.

The author also shows that when women are subjected to suffering, it is not just these women who end up suffering but also men. In this case, society has placed a lot of responsibilities on women, some of which are unfair. However, when she falls in love with Pedro, we also see him undergoing the same pain and suffering. The novel demonstrates that that the pain of women is sometimes shared by men. Pedro and Tita both suffer because tradition makes it possible for them to be together. Feminism in this story also comes out based on the setting.

De la Garza kitchen is the setting of this story (Skipper, 2010). According to the Mexican tradition, women were expected to spend most of their time in the kitchen preparing meals for their families. Tita is no different. She is expected to prepare good meals for her aging mother and ensure that she is always comfortable. However, she is demonstrated as a person who is capable of more than just preparing meals. She is a successful and intelligent woman who is capable of achieving greater success given opportunity. The author makes it clear that women can be very successful if the issue of tradition is not used retrogressively to deny them the opportunity to achieve their ambitions.

I strongly believe that Laura Esquivel has used her skills in the literature to champion for the rights of women in a very unique way. She clearly portrays the true challenges that women face in a society that is characterized by archaic traditions. In this novel, the author skillfully intertwines the fate of women to that of men (Taylor, 2003).

The author tells her readers that the fate of a woman directly affects the fate of a man within society. If a woman cannot marry because she is the last born her family, she will share her pain and sufferings with a man who will fall in love with her. This is a very unique way of championing the right of women (Willingham, 2010). I like the fact that she is not begging her audience to re-evaluate some of these traditions that make women suffer. Instead, she tells her audience that if women are to suffer, then men should be ready to share their pain.


Esquivel, L. (1993). Like Water for Chocolate. London, UK: Black Swan.

Skipper, E. (2010). A recipe for discourse: Perspectives on Like water for chocolate. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi.

Taylor, C. (2003). Bodies and texts: Configurations of identity in the works of Griselda Gambaro, Albalucía Ángel and Laura Esquivel. Leeds, UK: Maney.

Willingham, E. (2010). Laura Esquivel’s Mexican fictions: Like water for chocolate, the law of love, Swift as desire, Malinche: a novel. Eastbourne, UK: Sussex Academic Press.

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