Of love and Other Demons is a novel written by Gabriel Garcia Marques. The novels setting is perhaps Gabriel Garcias greatest testament on his abilities as a writer. The writer is able to convey so much in a vivid manner and in a short period of time. In the novel, things are communicated instantaneously and one is not able to develop things in mind as you read the novel, since there is an immediacy of the setting and how things happen. The setup of the novel is a semi- exotic locale which is in a period of time which can easily swept away.
It is a story of a girl, Sierva Maria, who is the daughter of an aristocrat and a commoner whose childhood was one of a foundling. The girl was hated by her mother who nursed her only once and refused to continue nursing her for the fear that she would kill her. Domininga de Adventio took care of her and then consecrated her to a Yoruban deity after baptizing her in Christ. Sierva Maria learnt three African languages at the same time and she learnt to dance even before she could speak. She could glide past Christians unseen like an incorporeal being (Garcia 42,43).
In the novel, the young girl is bitten by a rabid dog and it is feared she is infected; this is the plot which the author uses to tell a story of injustice. Sierva Maria is a neglected child, her father was adamant about being a parent and her mother forced herself to him so that she could conceive. Clearly, her parents want nothing to do with her and her care is entrusted to the slaves of the family. After twelve years she is fluent in Mandingo, Yoruban and Congolese. She dances and sings to rival other African slaves, the only white thing about the child is her color. Her father always believed he loved her, but only admitted that as a matter of convenience since he feared her rabies. On the other hand, Bernada did not bother herself since she knew the girl did not love her and she didnt love her back either, so it seemed just fitting. Other qualities in Sierva Maria seemed to be the cause of part of the hatred. Nevertheless, Bernada was prepared to preserve her honor, and she was preparing to play out like a grief stricken mother. This was conditional that the cause of her daughters death was not a dogs disease but a seemly cause (Garcia 16).
Upon the dog incident, and the possibility of Sierva going mad from rabies, and dying, her father takes interest in her and tries to make up for a life time of his absence. This positively impacts Sierva Marias father, even after being convinced that Maria is fine. Servias father realizes that he doesnt know his daughter as he finds most of her actions fey and odd. He is convinced that his daughter needs to be institutionalized in a convent for exorcism because she is mad. Initially it is his love for his daughter that foreshadows her demise, ultimately, the love of others interferes with Sierva Marias happiness as they decry her.
When the church intervenes, matters are immensely complicated. The bishop sees Marias inexplicable occurrences and superstitions as the devils work and African magic. The strongest interactions in the novel include interactions with Delaura. He has an unlikely friendship with Abrenuncio who first vouched that Sierva did not have rabies. As they spent more time together, Delaura starts to see himself as Abrenuncio who is outside faith but possesses every book the church forbids. They have a relationship of shared intelligence, while those who are around them look for scapegoats when their reason fails to answer their mysterious occurrences.
In this novel Garcia Marques writes a story which is historical but avoids the common standard narration. He writes the story as if someone from the town is narrating the story. The presentation demands a little more from the reader but easy to read along. The story dwells much in Sierva Maria and her domed relationship with her parents and Delura.
The novel explores prcatices in the eighteenth century medicine and the boundaries between scientific reasoning. It also shows the tenacious adherence of the religious perceptions of the Catholic Church. The bishop explains the strange behavior of the bitten girl by a rabid dog as demon possession. The illiterate enigmatic Sierva Maria is reared amongst the slaves and upon being bitten by a dog, shes put to the care of the embittered Abbess of the covenant of Santa Clara. Delaura is sent to exorcise Sierva and falls madly in love with her. Seemingly, wherever Sierva goes there are reports of strange happenings thus casting doubts to the rational explanations of the fictional world of the novel.
The title of the novel in itself raises the possibility of a demonic possession. The novel flirts with fiction and reality at the same time and while alternatively handling the explanations of the perceived phenomena. Therefore, the novel enhances the atmosphere of destabilized rationality, thus rendering any absolute explanations impossible.
The themes in the novel Of Love and Other Demons include the theme of imprisonment, objection and devotion to religious beliefs versus scientific reasoning. The religious beliefs of the Catholic Church become the main catalysts of the story. The story takes place in the eighteenth century during the colonial period and waves magical realism throughout the novel. The story employs descriptive language throughout the novel and helps the reader see that Sierva Maria is not really possessed. The story pulls the reader from the first page and remains quite dark as well as moving. Through much of the story, Marquez weaves magical realism, altering aspects of facts and truth from the mystical aspects. An excellent example is when Marquez after falling in love with Dulce Olivia, a mad woman, later on marries a Spanish dignitary who is truck by lightening thought to be Dulce Olivia. The aftermath is a storm of paper birds which fall like snow reading that lightning bolt was mine. The magical realism is seen throughout the novel, and begins when Marquez decides to write a story after an attempt to gain access to the alter and instead witnesses a stream of living hair with copper color still attached to the skull of a young girl.
The protagonist, Servia Maria remains complex for the better part of the novel for a girl raised amongst the slaves. The main theme of the story revolves around the dichotomy of imprisonment and objection surrounding Servia. Clearly, she is not the master of her own fate, either being wanted or loved since birth. Shes raised in both Yoruban and Catholic faith, she remains in the periphery of life, as she belongs to neither faith nor culture. Even in an attempt to procure education, she does not grasp anything hence, she is considered as unfit for everything but insanity is not even considered as a factor; she is considered not to be of this world. She is abandoned in her childhood and considered demonic after being raised of other beliefs and languages. She trades one prison for another when she is sent to the convent after being bitten. The isolation of not conforming to the peninsulares nor the slaves is transferred to the convent where she goes to be exorcised form the demons. She is forced to remain trapped and she is never truly free.
Many allusions support the metaphor that Maria will never be free just like a caged animal. Servia Mariaa father has irrational fears of animals as he sees a chicken grow to the size of a cow. The analogy of such fears apply to Servia who lives among the slaves and becomes a fearsome monster. Servia Maria is seen as an animal, with certain satanic ferocity, and this analogy is differently used throughout the novel. She becomes the master of her own destiny when she develops some sort of relationship with Delaura. After the exorcisms, her behavior turns more animalistic and she faces more objections.
This book is important to read because Marques sets the story in the colonial era of South America; the home of enlightened thinkers, pirates, viceroys, bishops and inquisitors. The intentions behind this article illustrates the demonian realities of the cities situated in Latin America during the colonial era and the post-colonial period, found in the mentality of the common people. Magical realism is used by the author to vent over the passive colonization which is an unstoppable process, while expressing the effects of colonization. The novel helps to understand the rich colonial history while inviting attention to what happened so things took the present shape.
To sum up, Garcia Marques remains the king of magical realism blending superstitions and empirical methods on leaving the reader curious for clear view of the narratives of his works. The theme of objection and magical realism are prevalent throughout the story. The novel attempts to demonstrate the post-colonial reality in possible terms. It also shows the renowned political and social implications deep-rooted in the troubled Latin America history.
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Garcia, Marquez G. Of Love and Other Demons. London: Penguin, 1995. Print.
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Matos, Nicole C. Garcia Marquez's of Love and Other Demons. London: The Explicator, 2000. Print. 46-48.
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Reinholtz, Eric L. Bloom's How to Write About Gabriel Garcia Marquez. New York: Infobase
Pub, 2010. Internet resource.
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