Whether we realize it or not, the actions we take and the words we speak always have some kind of an impact on our lives in the future. The decisions we make when we are younger hint at what is in store for us in the future. In The House of the Spirits and Dom Casmurro, one can see a common similarity between the two books. In both of them, the literary element of foreshadowing is used as a hint to readers of what is to come later on in the novel. Small events that take place in the novels have a major impact on the outcome of major events that take place later on in the novel. There are many things that the characters say or do that signify more important events that occur later in their lives. The small events in life that may not seem important at the time end up having a large impact on ones life. In Dom Casmurro and The House of the Spirits, the small events that take place prove to have a larger affect on love in a marriage, the struggles a family must overcome, and the fate of a person.
The majority of people in the world experience love at some point in a lifetime, and it may have a large impact on a person. In The House of the Spirits and Dom Casmurro, what the characters do in their early love life, has an affect on their life later on and the entire novel. In the chapter Undertow Eyes in Dom Casmurro, Bentinho first notices the mysteriousness of Capitu’s eyes and the affect that they can have over a person. “They held some kind of mysteriousness, active fluid, a force that dragged one in, like the undertow of a wave retreating from the shore on stormy days.” (63) This mysteriousness he senses at a young age signifies what is to come later in Bentinho’s life when he suspects her of cheating on him. He can’t find the truth in her undertow eyes because there is something about them that still confuses him just as they did when he was younger. This uncertainty about her eyes ends up ruining their marriage because he cannot accept the fact that she may be telling the truth. Similar to the ideas of the love affairs in Dom Casmurro, in The House of the Spirits, Esteban Trueba had many love affairs as well. Whether it was with the peasant girls, or the prostitutes, he always needed to have someone.
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These affairs he had when he was young and reckless foreshadowed the affairs he would have in the future with the prostitute Transito Soto, while still married to Clara. As a young man, Esteban became accustomed to a lifestyle that he could not shed later on. Esteban truly loves Clara, however after a brutal beating due to an argument, she refuses to talk to him or touch him anymore, so he needs to find someone else to satisfy him. “She had decided to forget the man she had married and act as if he had never existed.” (267) Clara knows about these secret meetings because of her psychic abilities and premonitions. Even though Esteban is cheating on is wife, his relationship with Transito and her inner connections with the government ends up saving his granddaughter Alba’s life when she is being held captive by the government. In both of the novels, the common theme of affairs is foreshadowed by small events that take place early on in the novel. Both of the affairs involve immediate loved ones such as the spouses. However the result of the affairs in the novels both has different affects. In Dom Casmurro, it has a negative affect because it causes a marriage to crumble to the ground, yet Esteban’s affair in The House of the Spirits, has more of a positive affect because it saves the life of his granddaughter, even though it certainly does not help his marriage with Clara.
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Every family has tragic events that occur to them, and they must face the struggles it takes to overcome them. The life of a family and the struggles they must go through can be predicted through foreshadowing in both of the books. In Dom Casmurro, the fact that Ezequiel is born seems like a miracle to Bento and Capitu because they can not have children for a long time, yet Capitu is suddenly pregnant. Ezequiel’s attitude and looks are much similar to Escobar than Bento, which are some of the suggestions that say Ezequiel was not Bento’s son, but instead the son of Escobar. The struggle between Bento and Capitu about who the true father of Ezequiel is shows tragedy within the family because the fight separates them into two. In addition to this, Bento’s mothers first born son dies, just like Ezequiel, another first born son, dies. The birth of Ezequiel himself foreshadows the outcome of his life because several examples point out that he should not be alive in the first place. Likewise, in The House of the Spirits Rosas poisoning at the beginning of the novel foreshadows tragedies later to come in the Del Valle family. “It was the first of many acts of violence that marked the fate of the Del Valle family.” (32) After the death of Rosa, the family is never truly the same.
Rosa is a part of all of them and her death leads to terrible situations for the family in the future because they can never truly let her go. When a tragedy occurs in the family, a piece of Rosa is let go. Both of the Del Valle parents die in a car accident several years after the death of Rosa. Her death seems to be a curse on the family because Clara is beaten by Esteban several times throughout their marriage, and Alba is put through torturous situations when she is captured by Esteban Garcia. Many generations of Del Valles are put through horrible situations after the death of Rosa. Both of the novels show struggles that a family must go through; however theses struggles are shown and predicted through previous occurrences. The struggles begin in Dom Casmurro through the birth of a family member, however in The House of the Spirits, the struggles begin through a death in the family.
* For many, the personal fate of their life is foretold early on without even realizing it.
* In Dom Casmurro, when Bentinho decides to quit the seminary so he can be with Capitu, he is deciding his fate. He is breaking the promise his mother originally made to God when he is a baby saying she will give her second child to the church since her first born dies. Breaking a pledge made to God leads to a life of doom. Bento breaks his pledge to God for his own personal benefit and because of this, he is never truly happy in life. He is consumed with jealousy anytime anyone looks at Capitu, and he ends up alone and sad. Secondly, In The House of the Spirits when Miguel is a young boy, Amanda says that she will one day sacrifice her life for him. “She said in a moment of inspiration, ‘I’d give my life for you, Miguel.’” (224) Little does she know that this actually happens one day when she dies in custody of the police while being questioned about her brother’s involvement against the government. Amanda’s fate is decided for her when she promises her brother that she will do anything for him. She holds true to her words and fights for Miguel to the end. Both of the books show fates of the characters through foreshadowing, and the things they do or say when they are younger show what is to come of them later on in life. In both of the novels, the actions they took seemed like they didn’t matter at the time, but looking forward into their lives, we can see that they had a large impact on their fate in both cases.
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* In both Dom Casmurro and House of the Spirits, the use of foreshadowing is used to symbolize and predict events that are to come later in the novel. The major events that are foreshadowed in both of the novels are love, family, death, and personal fate. Love is foreshadowed through affairs, and how the affairs affect a marriage. The struggles a family must go through can be predicted early on through birth, and also through death. Lastly, a person’s fate can be decided for them through actions that they take early on in their lifetime. The events that are foreshadowed in the novels and life may be small, but they leave a long lasting impact.
Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits. Trans. Magada Bogin. New York: Bantam, 1986.
Machado de Assis, Joaquim Maria. Dom Casmurro. Trans. John Gledson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Word Count: 1465