After reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, students wrote analytical essays. Here is one such piece:
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Amaranta experiences emotional turmoil as her inclination toward the virginal archetype is opposed by her sexual desires. Whenever she is prompted by suitors, she denies them marriage, suggesting she embraces her virginity. Amaranta frequently undergoes periods of seclusion and sulking as a result of her abstinent nature denying her exploration of her sexual desires. These desires still, however, manage to counteract her virginal ways and lead her to explore them.
Whenever Amaranta finds herself asked for her hand in marriage, she refuses the request. In addition, when given the chance, she expresses her virginity with great pride. Amaranta embraces her perpetual virginity and proclaims it to those who desire her almost teasingly: “But the day on which Colonel Gerineldo Márquez repeated his wish to marry [Amaranta], she rejected him. ‘I’m not going to marry anyone,’ she told him, ‘much less you’” (Márquez 138). In addition, as if to boast of her ‘purity’, Amaranta wears a black bandage of her hand which, “she interpreted [it] as an allusion to her virginity” (147). The bandage serves as a symbol of her abstinence, having resulted from the suicide of a former suitor, who took his own life in his desire for Amaranta and her purity. The cloth of the bandages is black, representing its cruel origin, and the impure and solitary aspects of her virginity. In her great desire to fit the virginal archetype of women, Amaranta “barred the door of her room forever” (149). The “barring the door of her room” is meant to represent her ultimate decision to refuse contact with the men who love her altogether so that she may never give into her desire.
Following Amaranta’s denial of a request, she often experiences emotional turmoil that results from her apparent inability to control her ambivalent emotions. Amaranta’s innate urge to be with the men who love her conflict greatly with her yearn to be regarded as very pure. This stark contrast of desires results in her reclusion and self-imposed emotional distress: “Shut up in her room, biting back her secret tears, Amaranta put her fingers in her ears so as not to hear the voice of the suitor…and in spite of the fact that she was dying to see him, she had the strength not to go out…” (138). Even though Amaranta feels the urge to give in to her desires, she causes herself a great deal of emotional pain by confining herself to the solitude of her room. Moreover, when Amaranta is placed in a situation where her virginity is potentially threatened, her burning impulse to give into her desires causes her fright and panic that she may do just that: “[Amaranta] could not repress the cold sweat and the chattering of her teeth when she realized that [Aureliano José] was completely naked. ‘Go away,’ she whispered, suffocating with curiosity. ‘Go away or I’ll scream’” (148). Amaranta not only fears that Aureliano José will take her virginity, but that she will allow and encourage him, as is noted the curiosity which she seeks to repress. Finally, despite her feigned indifference to them, Amaranta undergoes great emotional strife when she fears she may lose her suitors:
“‘I’m [Amaranta] taking these biscuits to Gerineldo because I’m sorry that sooner or later, they’re going to shoot him[…]that was the time that the government had announced its threat to shoot Colonel Gerineldo Márquez […] The visits stopped. Amaranta shut herself up to weep…” (137).
Although she was worried that the dismissive nature of her comments toward the man who loves her, Colonel Gerineldo Márquez, had somehow indirectly caused his death, it is clear that her grief also sprung from his absence. With or without men to desire her, Amaranta is still stuck between her physical and mental desires that cause her grief.
Despite her virginal ways, Amaranta’s strong urge to explore her sexual desire overcomes her reclusiveness at times and makes her frequently seek out ways to satisfy this desire. Amaranta selfishly uses men for sexual comfort in an arguably nonsexual way, even using her nephew at times: “[Aureliano José] felt Amaranta’s fingers searching across his stomach like warm and anxious caterpillars […] He felt the hand without the black bandage diving like a blind shellfish into the algae of his anxiety.” The fact that Amaranta uses specifically the hand which does not represent her virginity symbolizes her betrayal of virginal ways through this pseudo-sexual caressing. On the other hand, Amaranta enjoys the relationships that she shares with men as a way to feel desired without losing her virginity: “Amaranta was really making an effort to rekindle in her heart the forgotten ashes of her youthful passion. With an anxiety that came to be intolerable, she waited for the lunch days…” (138). However, another way Amaranta satisfies her sexual desires is by playing with the emotions of men. She uses men as if they were toys to occupy her and calm her craving for affection so it does not become unbearable. In the same way, she enjoys having this manipulative ability over men, and as is with Gerineldo Márquez, she denies every man who proposes to her: “’You can’t do that to a poor aunt unless you have a special dispensation from the Pope.’ Aureliano José promised to go to Rome, he promised to go across Europe on his knees and kiss the sandals of the Pontiff just so that she would lower her drawbridge”. Amaranta satisfies her sexual desires through this cruel torment of her suitors’ emotions, and she feeds on their desire for her. It is her perpetually conflicting nature that causes her to lead men on as she does.
Amaranta can constantly be seen in this wavering agony as her wishes to be abstinent conflict with the innate desire to be intimate with another. In pursuit of her dream to assume the virginal archetype, she embraces her purity and virginity proudly, flaunting her black bandage. This same virginity causes her such panic and emotional difficulties, which she deals with by secluding herself to the confines of her room. Although Amaranta feels shame for denying suitors, she uses this flirtatiousness and the feeling of being desired as a means of satisfying her sexual desires.
Dan T. — Grade 11