Literary Analysis Essay on Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera is written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who grew up listening to his grandfather’s stories in the battlefield as a veteran of the War of a Thousand Days and to his grandmother’s tales of folklore, legends, and ghosts. His exposure to such stories seemed to develop his knack for story-telling with rich themes. Likewise, his life experiences have also inspired him in writing his novels. In an interview, the author himself confirms that the story is based on his own and other people’s experience. He describes that the book has “a lifetime’s experiences in it (Bel-Villada, 155). With this description, Love in the Time of Cholera seems to be a very interesting novel with all-encompassing themes. In this analysis, we look into war, love, and disease as the themes of the book.
The theme of violence and civil war in Love in the Time of Cholera is believed to have been based on real experiences over the past 180 plus years in the history of Columbia. In this book, the author makes a commentary about the massive number of lives lost because of civil wars and violence that seemed to be endless (Gonzales, 243). This theme could be considered as an evident manifestation of the influences of his grandfather who participated in the War of a Thousand Days. He grew up listening to stories about war and even witnessed perpetual violence in Columbia. The decaying bodies signify deaths due to violence created by differing political beliefs (Fahy, 51).
Love, as a theme in the story, is best reflected in the character of the main protagonist, Florentino Ariza. One critic describes him: “Florentino is a born lover, patient beyond belief, in love with love (platonic and sexual), an eroticist of impressive concentration (Kobak).” With this unrequited love, Florentino sees himself as a martyr. He even endures three nights in jail, just so he can serenade Fermina who was already married at that time. He sees himself as a loyal lover, even if he engages in countless sexual relationships with many women. He believes that even if he has sexual relationship with other women, he preserves his heart for Fermina alone.
However, love is also portrayed as disease. Marquez portrays love as a “disease contracted in adolescence, advanced in adulthood, and conquered in old age.” Florentino’s obsession towards Fermina could be seen like cholera. It drains much of Florentino’s life because he had been so obsessed with her. He even keeps a tally of the time when Fermina rejected his love: fifty-one years, nine months and four days. For more than fifty decades, Florentino patiently waits for Fermina to love him again. In the book, lovesickness is portrayed as a disease that has plagued him for more than five decades. He ultimately gives in to the disease when he orders the Captain of the ship to announce that there is a cholera outbreak in the ship. In this way, they will not be allowed to dock on any port. Hence, they will continue to drift in the middle of the ocean with the one he loves.
Love in the Time of Cholera is a very charming story which has rich themes. Marquez writes this novel with great consideration with his life’s stories and other people’s experiences. Accordingly, the Love in the Time of Cholera has rich themes. The most evident are war, love, and disease. The author used the book to comment against the wars and civil unrest in Columbia. Florentino Ariza embodies love and disease as themes. All of these themes show the ironies of life and the disease that a person can endure in the name of love.
Bell-Vida, Gene. Conversations with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. New York: University Press of Mississippi, 2006.
Fahy, Tom. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 2003.
Gonzales, Nelly. Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. CT: Greenwood Publishing, 2003.
Kobak, Jim. “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Kirkus Reviews. 15 March 1988.