Dr. Cecilia Rodríguez-Milanés


Isabel Allende's debut novel The House of the Spirits follows three generations of a Chilean family, focusing primarily on the lives of the grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter. Living under a controlling patriarch and an oppressive government, these women strive to reclaim and maintain their identities in a world that denies and rejects their agency and experiences. This literary critical essay discusses the means through which Allende's characters, and Allende herself, create their own narratives: silence, speech, and writing. Through extensive close reading and analysis of Allende's text, I examine the individual and combined narratives constructed by these methods, and how the characters and author move within patriarchal limitations. I also discuss the evolution of the characters' perceptions of their personal narrative within their familial narrative, and their familial narrative within the grand narrative of time. By both subverting and writing back against traditional patriarchal narratives regarding women's lives, Allende's characters utilize the power of words through speech and writing to construct portrayals of themselves and their experiences with their own voices.

About the Author

Emily Thomson is an English graduate from Orlando who will be attending graduate school for Literary Studies in the upcoming fall semester. She specializes in feminist critique with a focus on the agency of female characters in both contemporary and historical texts, and she enjoys literature of all kinds.


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