A big theme in both Volver and The House of Spirits is magical realism, but the use of it is different in both of the texts. The magical realism in Volver furthers “the rich culture that surrounds death” because all of the female characters are faced with it (Almodovar, IndieWire). On the other hand in The House of Spirits the different female characters are faced with the culture of magic. Therefore, I’d like to provide certain examples of how magical realism was used to further these two different themes.

Death is everywhere in Volver, from the death of Paula’s “father” to the diagnosis of Agustina. The main example I want to focus on deals with Irene because the big realization of her not really being a ghost is what really added to the film as a whole. It is important to look at how the whole film was told because the way it was told is what made the audience think Irene was a ghost. Therefore, the magical realism that is present in the film could have possibly been avoided had the film been told differently. Either way this storytelling style allowed the film to maintain its magical element, while the element of death allowed for the film to mirror reality.

It is also important to note how the female characters regard the “culture of death” in comparison to the culture of magic because they seem to be accepting of it and their personalities remain unchanged. Meanwhile the female characters in The House of Spirits tend to seek magic, especially Clara in order to escape reality. So while the magical realism in Volver accepts death and it’s magical elements into their reality, the magical realism in Allende’s novel further separates the culture of magic from reality. Both texts dealt with strong male characters that inflicted pain on the female characters, but unlike the characters in Volver, women in The House of Spirits found an escape from their inequalities by submersing themselves in the culture of magic, either completely like Clara or simply by observing like Ferula. In the end I conclude the writers used magical realism to define their female characters a certain way by taking in account the cultures that surrounded them.

Work Cited:

“Making “Volver,” Pedro Almodovar’s Online Diary.” IndieWire. IndieWire, 29 Aug. 2005. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. http://www.indiewire.com/author/cfg/.

Scott, A. O. “The Darkest of Troubles in the Brightest of Colors.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/movies/03volv.html?_r=0.


One thought on “Death and Magic

  1. I find it interesting that you mentioned how ambiguous Volver’s magical element is. You’re right that if it had been told any differently then the magical element might not have even existed. I found that to be interesting, and it brings in a contrast between the two stories where otherwise the magical element would have been very similar.


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