Magical Realism Cultural Context English Literature Essay

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In Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a motif that is evident throughout the entire novel is magical realism. Marquez applies magical realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretold for many reasons, the most important reason being to exemplify unreliable deviation, otherwise noted as analysis of the characters that are vital to the plot, although they are amusing.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez repeatedly uses strange, surreal details to highlight otherwise ordinary events. One instance of this is his description of the local brothel, which sounds so nice that the reader at first has trouble discerning what exactly Maria Alejandrina Cervantes does -though she is a whore, the description her house is so beautiful that if one were to gloss over the description, they might perceive her house as an elegant domicile. Marquez uses magical realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretold to illustrate anecdotal digressions or details about characters that are not essential to the plot, though they are interesting. In the opening of the book, the narrator discusses the dream that Santiago Nasar has right before his death: "He'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit." This whimsical sort of details works against the journalistic investigative style of the narrative, and sends the reader into several different conceptual areas between reality and fiction that he then has to disentangle.

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold exhibits many of the aspects of a novel written in the magic realist style. For example, the novel makes oblique references to God and clairvoyance. Additionally, it has the magic realism aspect of a warped timeline. The main plot plays out five times--once in each of the five chapters--and each time information is given from a different individual in the community. This allows for the storyline to portray the idea of fragmentation, thus bringing in this idea of reality and fantasy. While this is reminiscent of the traditional tragic format, it turns it inside out. The narrator's inclusion of personal judgments, as well as the events occurring many years after the drama unfolds, seems to breach the definition of a chronicle. The kaleidoscopic imagery found in the novel adds to this impression and, combined with the contorted chronological structure and the townspeople's anticipation of Santiago Nasar's murder, erodes the plausibility of mere irresponsibility as an explanation for the tragedy. This incongruity fits with the magic realism style; it may be put down to fate. The opposite of unlikely powerlessness, unlikely endurance, is also present as Santiago Nasar's stench permeates the town even after he dies. The subtle intersection of human values and the supernatural with the physical world is a hallmark of magical realism.

Marquez uses exaggeration in Chronicle of a Death Foretold more than any other elements of magical realism in the book. When the narrator says, "The groom received a convertible with his name engraved in Gothic letters under the manufacturer's seal. The bride was given a chest with table settings in pure gold for twenty-four guests. They also brought in a ballet company and two waltz orchestras. " on page 44, this is clearly an exaggeration because there is no doubt that the tiny impoverished town could not afford such extravagant gifts. When Pedro says that the pain in his groin had reached his throat and how he could not sleep for eleven months is a straightforward sign of magical realism. The narrator implies that he believed what was said when he says, "He was carrying a suitcase with clothing in order to stay and another just like it with almost two thousand letters that she has written him they were arranged by date in bundles tied with colored ribbons, and they were all unopened."

The novel is written as a bizarre co-occurrence of events. Before the murder is actually described, however, the story moves to about a year earlier, when a strange and mysterious new man, Bayardo San Román, enters the town, seemingly searching for a wife. The story follows the romance of Bayard San Román and Angela Vicario. The wedding and after party are soon described, since the events of the wedding night have a direct effect on the eventual murder of Santiago Nasar. During the wedding night, Bayardo San Román discovers that Angela Vicario is not a virgin, and this discovery causes Angela's new husband to take her back to her mother, Pura Vicario, who brutally beats her. When Angela is forced by her brothers to expose the man accountable for her loss of honor", she replies Santiago. This basically sealed his fate. Angela's two brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, decide to take instant action to regain their sister's honor. They stray through the town holding pig slaughtering knives, announcing to everyone that they intend to take the life of Santiago Nasar. Colonel Aponte confiscates the weapons, but the brothers are not arrested and soon sharpen anew pair of knives and continue searching the town, while telling everyone who would listen to their plan. About an hour later, Santiago Nasar wakes up. He leaves the house unaware, because the cook, Victoria Guzman, and her daughter, Divina, dismisses a warning from a homeless woman about the murder. He goes to the docks, where the bishop passes by but does not stop, and then goes to his fiancé Flora Miguel's house for breakfast, where Flora Miguel and Santiago Nasar have a fight about something unrelated to the impending murder. Then Santiago leaves her house after talking to her father, Nahir Miguel, who informs him about the murder. This leaves Santiago confused as to what was happening and why, and he leaves without his gun on the day that he is about to be killed. I find this to be a very ironic bizarre event. On the street, he is met by shouts from all angles. A warning by Clotilde's causes him to run fifty yards to the front door, which he initially left open. This is also very ironic because the day that he is going to be murdered, they closed the door and locked it because his mother assumed that he was inside and in safe hands. This was the last bizarre event that sealed his fate. Everything within this "chronicle" of events seems to be essential for the murder to take place. Everyone knew about the murder, but did nothing to prevent it. If any of the warnings were heeded the killing could have been stopped. Even though the Vicario brothers asked the people of the town to, no one took their threats to murder Santiago Nasar seriously. All of this would seem difficult to believe but it is magical realism in the novel that distorts our belief.

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In conclusion, the genuine aspects of magical realism are all present in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and it is the foundation of the novel that makes us believe the magical realism inside it. There is a real life setting in a small Columbian village that could have been anywhere else in the world. Gabriel-Garcia Marquez presents the story as a narrative in order to insure that the matter at hand was fully understood. He also noted real events such as the revolution. The dialogue throughout the book remains realistic, even though the events were unordinary and ludicrous. The characters of the book made it seem as if the events at hand were quite normal. It is this reality-based foundation with real people and places, a recognizable setting, and believable conversations that enables Marquez to tamper with the readers belief on real life situations that are exaggerated, humorous, bizarre, and superstitious an element known as magical realism.