In Search of Identity: A Slave, a Half-Blood, a Senhora
- УДК / UDK: 82(091)
- Author: Elena Ogneva
- About the author:
Elena Ogneva (PhD, leading research fellow; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia)
The present article is devoted to the study of the genesis of the “strong woman” type in Latin American prose. It shows that this type, traditionally associated with the modern novel, has appeared in the literature of the continent as early as in the XIX century. The analysis of female images created in the cult novels of leading Latin American writers (an Argentinean José Mármol, a Cuban Cirilo Villaverde and Brazilian Bernardo Guimarães and José de Alencar) during the period of formation of young nations, allows to conclude that they bear the imprint of a chaotic contradiction -based reality. There is a pattern performed by the “strong” female characters of the analyzed novels, marked by the features of social, gender, and racial hybridity; in search of their identity they assert themselves in one way or another in the world of men. The article examines various means via which the characters manage to acquire their own identity, be it dissociation from the civilizing principle, unwillingness or inability to recognize their own “roots”, or “self -actualization” attempts of a talented person. Thus, María Josefa Ezcurra in Amalia by Mármol and Aurelia in Senhora by Alencar – each in her own way – become “men in women’s guise”: the image of the former embodies the “barbaric” essence of young Argentina; the image of the latter embodies “masculine” pragmatism of the transitional era in Brazil. The daring and self -willed Cecilia Valdés from Villaverde's eponymous novel, the “victim” and “executioner” of a white man, painfully realizes her place in the mestizo society of colonial Cuba, passions and vices of which have determined her character. At the bottom of this scale of self -determination in prose of period there is a slave, as it is illustrated in Bernardo Guimarães’s novel Isaura, The Slave Girl.
- Keywords: Latin American prose, romanticism, female images, José Mármol, Cirilo Villaverde, José de Alencar, Bernardo Guimarães, racial identity, gender identity.
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