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Social Criticism - The House of the Spirits

            Magic realism is about taking the world as one knows it, and incorporating the fantastical to change the way one views it. From this, things the reader thinks he or she knows are once again made extraordinary and force them to rethink what is real and true. Isabel Allende, in The House of the Spirits, uses this style of writing to outline Chile's tumultuous past as well as to provide her own social commentary on the current state of society. Her story follows the affairs and lives of two families, the Truebas and the Del Valles, across 50 years, spanning multiple generations. Over this extended period of time we are able to see the changes, both good and bad, which come with the modern era. Through all this, Allende critiques our notion of progress and advises that people, especially women, need to start playing a more active role in society. .
             Reading The House of the Spirits one can see that more and more problems seem to accumulate over time, and the quality of life never really improves. Even at the end of the story the nation and the family are left in a worse situation and are only hoping that it will end up getting better. This is due to the fact that Allende believes progress, moreover peoples' idea of it and how they see it, is corrupt. A main component of this is the growth of technology and modernization. After returning to his city from Tres Marinas, his plantation, Esteban describes his home by saying, "The city looked unfamiliar. There was a jumble of modernity an uproar of workers drilling holes in the pavement, knocking down trees to make room for telephone poles, knocking down telephone poles to make room for buildings, knocking down buildings to plant trees" (3.83) This contradicting idea is something that one never thinks about during their daily life, despite it still being true. Cities are being filled with towering skyscrapers and massive new buildings with everything and everyone trying to cram into one tiny space.

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