One hundred years of solitude is a fictional work of art by former Spanish journalist and writer Gabriel Garcia. The work of art is about a village known as Macondo that starts as the author descriptively gives form and shape through the mixed chronological time movement an account of the human life conditions and situations of the characters in the novel.
This paper will focus on the Garcia’s presentation of the Latin-American society taking a critical outlook from his creative work of art One Hundred Years of Solitude.
In addition, this work will give examples and discuss the societal criticism of the Latin-American society arising from the mythical and magical realism presentation in the novel as in accordance to the given guidelines of this paper. Garcia’s novel is a clear work that starts and sees the rise of magical realism and myths in artists’ works.
This work, One Hundred Years of Solitude forms one of the early works to be taken seriously in the mythical and magical realism movement. While explaining the Latin-American life preconditions in symbol form of Macondo, the author lets us realize that he is speaking about the political, religious and banal issues of his society during his time.
Being a renowned fictional writer he received a Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 due to this work of art which though he believes that it is a representation of his childhood views we are limited to understand and get interpretation from the work.
This arises from the fact that an artist is the voice of the society thus what he codes in his work of art can be decoded by the reader in the process of reading this work. The author was brought up in Latin- American society in the 60 and 70s which corresponds to the pinnacle of communism.
. With his descriptions we get information that we are able to relate with history and that is evidenced in archives. However, the contents of Garcia’s work are shaped by the form and the structure of the novel in a kind of alternating relationship. The author presents issues from realistic point of concerns to unrealistic mythical factors with the characters not recognizing the occurring boundaries and even their predicaments.
The numbers of events transpiring in the novel occur in a mixed time set up playing from past, present and future thus the reader is thrown into a confusion of what exactly is happening.
Woven in the fabric of this work of art, are elements which are in forms of dreamlike ideals and notions that border fantasies. In this sense, the representation of the Latin American society is symbolized as a society where the individuals do not understand the forces that are behind their daily lives (Bell-Villada 45).
In the first chapters, Macondo is an image of the pre-civilized Latin America where the patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia is the founding father of this older society. The village interactions at this period of time are only limited to external gypsies who bring their small but magnificent technology and knowledge to Macondo.
At this time, the village has no contact with the outside world and probably it is surrounded by gigantic forests and wild animals. Ursula the founding mother discovers a way to the outside world during her journey in an attempt to mend her disintegrating family thus civilization is foreshadowed through her.
At this time the village access to water, food and other life necessities as per to the requirements of the time emanate from equal proposition from the village leader, Jose Arcadio Beundia.
This is a representation of communism in a communalistic society on which apparently the author wants the reader to connect that Latin- America has its history that can be referred to when looking for the explanation of what has happened in the recent history.
Besides, still Garcia with his writing magic may be implying to us that, the origin of the Latin American society is just like any other society starting from the most humble and lowest to the most complex and civilized society with difficulties and struggles of each era hence evolution.
The criticism thus arises that Latin America has been riddled by vicious elements of communism thus the political side of the society is a creation of different interests harbored by different members of the society. The rise of a repressive form of government led by magistrate Moscote is an indication of western society, modernity and colonialism effect to the poor nations.
Men like Colonel Aurelio Buendia are against such governments but the author in his work seems to suggest that colonialism is a strong combined force that attempts to fight against lead to years of civil war, unrest and deplorable conditions of life with the loss of life too.
Colonel’s final state of mind reveals the internal effects of modernity under the guise of colonialism. The most renowned soldier figure, Colonel Aurelio looses his insanity, a clear depiction of human degradation of the Latin society and the reeling effects of capitalism.
These forces bring in new technology which is foreign to Macondo but has the characteristics of exploitation and neo colonialism. This is well depicted by the fruit company with the large plantation which is an extension of capitalistic multinationals concerted efforts to own the largest means of production in the world (“Gabriel Garcia Marquez” Para. 5).
Garcia therefore criticizes Latin America explicitly by failing to take charge in unified efforts to create and curve a niche in the world by insisting on autonomy and own government from the initial start. The string of dictatorial and corrupt governments later in Macondo by Arcadio and Moscote are the results of poor corrupted leadership and capitalistic intentions respectively.
These lead to civil war and mass uprising of the concerned few people who seem to understand and at the same time don’t seem to relinquish the purpose and benefits of good governance.
The author at this point directs us to labor union conflicts with the capitalistic forces and the strikes are the muffled efforts to redeem themselves from the entangling web of capitalism. However, the force of communism tries to keep the society binding in the failing war.
Keeping to themselves the Latin Americans will never liberate themselves from the daily struggles and chains of poverty. Solitude in Latin- America in terms of ideologies does not help the society, but only a creation of doom in the sense of economy, political death in world politics and international sidelining.
In an implicit criticism pattern, Gabriel Garcia characteristically attacks the increased death rates from inhuman practices. With the civil war running for quite a span of time, many deaths occur in Macondo in the search of peace and stability. In addition, the tension and conflict between the unions and workers lead to a massacre that soon the Macondo people forget after the five year’s rainfall.
In this situation, the criticism lies in the Latin America long journey to freedom, self expression and pursuit of knowledge and happiness. Many people die due to this noble cause for the need of every democratic free society to experience growth and development.
The author seems to protest against this unnecessary waste of time, resources and energy by terminating human life. In accordance to the Holy Scriptures it is a commandment not to kill. This probably is the reason behind old Jose Arcadio Buendia crazy ending and his son Colonel Aurelio Buendia same insanity stance and later death. We cannot find excuse in terminating other human lives just by the mere proclamation of peace and freedom sentiments from a few with disguised interests (Smarr 81).
The right to pursue happiness, access to food, water and shelter, enjoy freedom of speech and do what one feels is good to all the public are some of the eternal pillars of well founded society. Garcia on this level focuses on the characters like Rebecca who is raised in Buendia’s family.
Rebecca is representation of failures of human nature and tendencies having to go through difficult situations so that she could survive. If the society had ensured access to water and shade on equal basis then why it is people like her have not to benefit from such claims.
In his life the author points out to the many human injustices that are present in Macondo as an image of Latin American society. Since the entry of human civilization in Macondo and modernity the question of human basic rights arises.
Why is that some person have what they need at the expense of the common man who is lost between the truth and fantasy in Macondo. Garcia’s bringing up in Aracataca is mirrored in this novel depicting the poverty and dilapidation that the town slipped in the face of capitalism.
In this sense, the author critics’ capitalism results in Latin America letting it known that it is the most dehumanizing form of ideology while on the other hand communist dictatorship tendencies like that portrayed by Arcadio have ruined Latin America’s pursuit of general progress and social order (Smith 268).
In the text open incest in the greatest family, the Buendia’s is largely found to espouse solitude characteristics with the tendencies of over family bonding resulting to family genetic aberrations. From the greatest ever lived Buendia, the search for wisdom in almost clandestine manner leaves him an insane man who transcends from ordinary human qualities to foreign exhibition.
This is clearly indicated by the priest’s announcement that Jose Arcadio Buendia speaks fluent Latin meaning that the pursuit of some ideals in human nature is sanity splintering and that life in its whole context is an institution full of social, historical and daily issues that improper comprehending by any individual would lead to insanity and genetic mutations.
At this juncture, Gabriel may be speaking focusing to Latin America and the human nature in whole like an actor in a play. This is very effective in the novel noting that most characters do not understand their positions in life and their purpose to their society as prophesied by Melquaides in the age old prophecies.
This is the author’s genius use of the riding theme of subjective reality that what is most true and of importance to the characters is only perceived by the reader alone thus inviting the reader to take part in the novel and correct the human race.
It is in the search of individual pursuits that the Village Macondo meets its end in the novel. Jose Arcadio Buendia starts the line by his quest for knowledge. He is followed by his son Colonel Aureliano who fights for equal rights as one of the major characters but in the end he becomes desperate and despaired.
The father ends being tied to a tree and his son locks himself in the laboratories with an attempted suicide legacy in his biography. From these incidences the author seems to comment on the vainness of human search and quest for worldly issues as only a waste of time and energy.
Ursula is depicted as the only character who connects with nature, people and who is probably the strongest by living for so long and exhibiting sound human qualities and nature that as a reader we connect with her thus we take her voice in the novel and learn to trust it.
The presentation of Latin American society in One Hundred Years of Solitude is major criticism of Latin American society and the whole human race at large. Gabriel from his experience as a journalist must have seen the human nature from different angles thus comparing them with his home region to bring out his artistic brilliance.
By alluding to the Holy Bible and the eventual destruction of Macondo we as the readers cannot help but identify probably with Marquez religious perspective and notions.
It is clear that the entry of civilization in Macondo foretells the disintegration and fall of the village. People like Jose Arcadio do not believe in religion so much observed from his sentiments about religion and the relationship with God (Pelayo 89).
It is possible that the law of nature which in Biblical language is the creation from God is the supreme force and that determines the destiny of men. The creation of ideologies, pursuit of knowledge, war and scientific inquiries are only men’s detour from their original destinations outlined in the law of nature.
If we have to believe Gabriel then this deviation from natural law only leads to destruction, despair and eventual death. Gabriel thus occurs to us as a modern day philosopher who is able to see the whole picture in the frame and live to tell fellow human beings what they sweat for in their lives endeavors.
In conclusion therefore, Latin America must therefore wake up and desist from destruction and despair. The celebrations of solitary politics are just voracious human sentiments meant for eventual decay and crumble.
The world at large must recognize such futile issues and steer clear if humanity will achieve true progress, democracy and freedom encapsulated in individual’s satisfaction and happiness. The search for unified solution starts from an individual’s completeness and sincere outlook towards the daily struggles for a better future as encapsulated by Garcia Gabriel.
Bell-Villada, H. Gene. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One hundred years of solitude: a casebook. Oxford, Oxford University Press US, 2002.Print.
“Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” Retrieved on 39th March 2010 from
Pelayo, Ruben. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: a critical companion: Critical companions to popular contemporary writers Greenwood Professional Guides in School Librarianship. Westport, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. Print
Smarr, L. Janet. Historical criticism and the challenge of theory. Illinois, University of Illinois Press, 1993. Print.
Smith, Verity. Concise encyclopedia of Latin American Literature. London, Taylor & Francis, 2000.Print.