Brazilian Literature Essay
For a long duration, Dom Casmurro, Machado de Assis’s novel has moved its readers to opening a debate on if Santiago’s wife, Capitolina, had been faithful to Santiago. The narrator was believed to have loved his wife since their childhood. His mother, who later passed on had wanted the narrator to become a priest thus avoid getting married to his girlfriend. They later got married but later starts to suspect the wife of an affair with Escobar, a close buddy of his. Escobar later on perishes in an accident and the narrator’s wife got a baby boy, Ezekiel.
The conflict of the narrator reaches climax as the people around him indicates that the born child resembles Escobar. The narrator is left sad with this as he accuses his wife of infidelity and longs for revenge while on the other hand trying to prevent himself. The supposed infidelity of the narrators wife is not the main issue, but the most debated issue in this novel is the manner in which reader is positioned by the novel in asking or deciding the himself question or just his version of the issue.
In order to respond to such questions, one is expected to view the events in the novel in order to take position. The whole narration comes out from the narrators view point as he converts the subjectivity into mere fiction. In the novel, the reader of the novel is enticed by the narrator, Casmurro into his confidence as well as being manipulated to condemn Capitu, his wife. This makes the reader perceive him as a person who took the responsibility of his wife’s death and the other reprehensible behaviors of the life he lived there after (Joaquim, Maria).
There are several clues in the presumed eyewitness’s account of truthfulness. But closely looking at the clues given by the narrator leaves one to finalize that the narrator is living a lie and the way in which the desire he expresses in trying to fill in the central existence of his, fails since the fact of the life he is living is in a lacunae which he is not in a position to have it in the story of his life. Casmurro, right from start, portrays himself as the figure with authority in the story and starts to manipulate the audience.
The insight into Casmurros personal traits is portrayed in the first chapter as in “DO titulo” (the title) he tries to link to audience with the way in which he got his nickname Dom Casmurro. He goes ahead to inform the reader not to find the meaning of the word Casmurro in the dictionary, however, he indicates that it implies tight-lipped person who is withdrawn within himself. On the other hand, the name is a old fashioned Portuguese word defined by the dictionary as obstinate, bull-headed or fearful, withdrawn, aloof, dour and gloomy(Scott).
The narrator is believed to have gotten his nick name from a young gentleman within his neighborhood who was feeling being insulted by Casmurro. This name, Dom Casmurro was given to the narrator during one of his journeys by train to Engenho Novo. On the way, he met the young man who was reading some poems for him. Tired, Casmurro fell asleep even without getting what the young man was reading for him in his poems. The following day, the man whop felt ignored stated calling the narrator ‘Dom Casmurro’. Because of the narrator’s humble nature, Dom was used in a belittling manner.
The entire neighborhood saw the name Casmurro as being fitting to him so much that it got stuck. Casmurro makes the nickname the title of his story after giving it definition for the audience as well as discrediting it with a lot of humor. He goes ahead to portray himself as a real gentleman and an honest man. Looking at the meaning of the name in the dictionary leaves on to start questioning the truthfulness of the narrator (Assis and Gledson 246). The narrator, who just refers to himself as Dom Casmurro, is reluctant in identifying his true identity.
The audience only learns later on that Casmurro’s real name is Bento Santiago. The narrator does not want to assume this identity but prefers to remain just as Dom Casmurro. He later tries to recall all the happenings of his earlier life hoping to go on with reorganizing his life the way it used to be. As he gives introduction of his memoirs, he talks of some recollections which he refers to as charming and sweet. As the narrator promises to provide a faithful narration of his earlier life, he also posses the expectations of having the reader taking his story as true but not consider issue outside the meaning of his narration.
The question the reader is left asking himself or herself is whether he or she can believe whatever the narrator is saying. With this said it is clear that Casmurro wants to relinquish the influence of the story as well as leaving the whole story in the reader’s hands. He does this by inviting the audience to have the gaps in the story filled. But the reader is left with little chance to do so since he is making sure that the reader adopts to his views and ignores the questions out side this. But the reader can condone the narrator’s behaviors if he decides to expose them.
In trying to tell the story from his own point of view, the narrator wants to create a link of trust as well as establish confidence with the audience. But he has indicated to the reader a number of his fault as well as discounting the sternness with unwarranted explanations for behaving in that manner. Casmurro comes out to be unable to keep the needed control over the audience in the chapter. In order to fill in this gaps the reader, can do so by taking the case of the narrator has been in long defense of himself. By misleading the reader in the initial narration, Casmurro conflates Bento Santiago with Dom Casmurro.
The narrator is sufficient distinct from bento Santiago and needs to be another character. As in the events which follow this, the narrator used the name Casmurro as the persona in the narrative to give picture of his life and allow him to relinquish the responsibilities that could be associated with Santiago wants life. The real truth of the story lies in the gaps left for the reader to fill which appears to be the responsibilities of the reader, thus the reader has to choose the role to play. The name Casmurro does not appear as the most suitable title for this story since it does not flow with the ideas of the story.
The slum This is a novel which takes one back to the history of a naturalistic movement of Brazil, in which the major characters are slum residents in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro which contributed to a great part of the social problems experienced in the society. This kind of live has disordered the slums growth and development for many years. One of the main characters, Joao Romao arrives in a scene of the slum yarning for money and more power. This indicates how the powerful have concentrated resources to them selves forgetting the poor ones in the slum.
The rich and powerful society of Brazilian as alienated from the Brazilian culture leaving the poor to struggle on their own. Many people, in the initial setting are exposed to the harsh slum live. The rich are depicted as being greedy merchants who like associating them selves with the Portuguese (Joaquim 254). The roles of the women in the slum include being submissive family heads, prostitutes, subjects to the rich and objects. There is a lot of racism exhibited considering the way the blacks are treated by the Portuguese and the Italians.
Bertoleza, a slave grocer living in the ghetto, represents the many people fighting to make survival. She sells ox baits and fried fish. She is a symbol of the many slum dwellers who are in their situation because of being black which is seen as the cost of working all day long for the masters. She works hard despite the low wages she raises from her job. Development in the slum is indicated when she intents to use some of the money she earns to purchase an earth strip for expansion of her business and built a house for herself as she is tired of the informal house she lives in the centre of the Rio de Janeiro slum.
The slum people have created a social macrocosm. Very early in the morning the slum live starts, the residents open not their eyes but their infinity of doors and allied windows. The characters exhibited to in the slum as fighting, working, copulating, singing or even singing. The slum comes out as a place where the blacks as well as the mulattos are ever engaged in scrambles with the Portuguese and Italian in order to move up from the bottom line of the social food chain.
This indicates a live that lack social pathologies, violence, sordid betrayals, illicit sexual relationships, lesbians and homosexuals as well as cheap prostitution business, illicit liquor, increased drug abuse and small organized crimes associated with increasing juvenile delinquency. The Portuguese civilians in the slum represented by Jeronimo and his wife find a group of people represented by Rita Baiana and Firmino who are the poor residents of the slum in the normal slum social groups.
The story of the slum is also concerned with the love affair of Romao, a land owner in the slum who gives out everything as well as his Brazilian wife in order to win a white lady and those of his land tenants ending up destroying several lives including those of spitfire Rita Bahiana and Jeronimo and his own too. He had risen from being a proprietor of a small business to a slum dog lord. This represents the urban discontent, is portrayed to have its people having some personal traits which exhibit rampant materialism as well as souls which are restlessly shaped and influenced by great ambition and desire to gain power and immediacy.
The social vices exhibited in the slum are as a result of the poverty associated with the slum which has driven its people to desire for more than what the society they are living in can offer. These are exhibited as the characters of most slum dwellers who survive at any opportunity, given the chance to find their breakthrough. The people with money in this society have taken the advantage of the situation to get cheap sexual satisfaction from the Poor’s wives. The near by neighborhood of Portuguese is seen as being rich one. The interaction of the Portuguese with the slum dwellers starts is believed to bring some changes to the slum.
It is due to this that the slum dwellers start to have closer relationships with the Portuguese who employ them in better jobs. Others get into personal relationships or even marriage with the Portuguese attracting better packs for their lives as the presence of the Portuguese increases in the slum. They start get interest of developing the slum into a better environment where they would invest. Some developments are portrayed when some of the rich slum people like Romao establishes a quarry and goes ahead to in invite Jeronimo to help in its management.
With so much rivalry developing in the slum due to hatred and envy of some Brazilian getting associated with the Portuguese, the slum is burned down at some point. Later on, it is built up with some improvement in the building structure by the middle class society thus eliminating the initial state of poverty and disorganization experienced by the slum dwellers before. This changes the former kind of live style that the slum dwellers had adapted. As the intermingling of the Brazilians with the Portuguese increase, the level and standard of living went up. The former slum dwellers started to live in better houses.
The number of marriages between the two societies increased and more investments were started in the former slum area which had developed into better residential area. After the slum is burnt and some new houses are developed by the middle class, most of the vices exhibited initial by the slum society are not any more. The cases of illicit sexual relationships, fights and poor housing are replaced by a society which has burning desire for development, as the middle class society starts to put their interest for investment which turns the once unhealthy society into a meaningful livelihood suitable for human settlement.
Other characters exhibited by the Brazilian slum live include the people’s despair, the slum excitement, and the perfumes. The dwellers of the slum always have the ever burning desire to live the lives of the neighborhood which is full of luxury. The slum itself is perceived as an organic unit, with all sorts of live present there. After the development, the slum starts to fills with urban college students and artists who also contribute to its gentrification.
The slum life was initially portrayed as full of sadness and tragedy as seen in its naturalism but with these developments some sense of lively hoods have started to be seen. Another major development of the slum is the manner of ownership that is shown before and after the burning and housing of the land. Initially, the bigger percentage of the slum land was owned by some few individuals such as the slum lord, Joao Pomao who is seen as one of the big hypocrites and who exhibited a lot of control over the slum many landless.
After the recreation of new houses most of the land was owned by several middle class people. Work Cited Caldwell, Hellen. The Brazilian Othello of Machado de Assis. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1953. Joaquim, Maria. Machado de Assis. Dom Casmurro, Berkeley: University of California Press. 1953. Scott, Infanger. Living a Lie: the Silence of Truth in Dom Casmuro, Vanderbilt University, 2002, viewed on 13 July 2009 from < http://www. umassd. edu/cas/portuguese/lyinginportuguese-texts/scott-livingalie. doc > Assis, Machado and Gledson, Joao. Dom Casmurro. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 246.