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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Virgins, Mothers, and Whores: Female Archetypes in Gabriel García Márquez's "Cien Años de Soledad" (1967) and Isabel Allende's "La Casa de los Espíritus" (1982)

  • Author(s): Burrows, Vera
  • et al.

Abstract: In “Literary Archetypes and Female Role Alternatives: The Woman and the Novel in Latin America,” Jane S. Jaquette divides the female characters in García Márquez’s Cien Años de Soledad into three archetypes: Mother, Witch/Mysterious Woman, and Wife/Concubine. Jaquette’s proposal is a departure from the traditional archetypes of women in Latin American literature of the Virgin, the Mother, and the Whore, all of which have their genesis in biblical literature. Unfortunately, Jaquette’s archetypal schema is inadequate, for only a few of Cien Años’s characters manage to fit into her three categories; she ignores important main characters that are neither mothers, nor witches, nor wives.

This paper explores the archetypes of the Virgin, the Mother, and the Whore, and how García Márquez applied and bent these traditional female roles in his classic Cien Años de Soledad (1967). This paper also explores how García Márquez’s novel laid the groundwork for Isabel Allende’s La Casa de los Espíritus (1982), which delved deeply into the psyche of these female archetypes—and broke them.

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