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Frequent Contributor
Jessica
Posts: 968
Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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Lovesickness

Perhaps the major theme of this book is Lovesickness. There are countless passages that compare being love to having the plague (or worse!). Let's post some of our favorites here.

I'll start.

In Chapter 3, when Fermina is getting married: "She was married forever after at the main altar of the Cathedral ... and without a single charitable thought for Florentino Ariza, who at that hour was delirious with fever, dying because of her, lying without shelter on a boat that was not to carry him to forgetting."

In fact, this was one of many sudden fevers he got as he wallowed in the idea of Fermina's wedding day. (Remember, at one point, the Captain of the boat had to quarantine him and give him bromides?)

We think of lovesickness as a mental state, but here, it's definitely physical. Who else in the novel experiences this illness? And why does Florentino seem to have the worst case of it (what is it about him)?

What are some of your favorite examples of lovesickness from the novel?
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BarbaraN
Posts: 519
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
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Re: Lovesickness

I wasn't quite sure where to put this. I have started Chapter 2 (pages 54-103, I'm up to page 70) and I am noticing a abundance of flowers and birds. I'm not sure yet of their significance but they are so prevalent that they must signify something. Florentino seems to regularly see Fermina in flowers--her floral scent, his camellia gift, his inscription of poetry on flower petals, etc. I didn't really pay much attention at first but flowers seem to represent their love. He himself gets lovesick and is given an infusion of linden blossom by a homeopathic practitioner to treat his lovesickness. Florentino also eats camellias while waiting to hear from Fermina and then roses after he does.

Birds seem important as well. There is the famous parrot of chapter 1, that causes the demise of Dr Urbino but by Chapter 2 there is a whole flock of them in print. The prostitutes are called birds, a bird "blesses" the first letter exchange between Florentino and Fermina with his droppings (can't be good). There are lots of swallow references: page 64 "his reveries left nests of dark swallows in the balconies", page 65 "he became drunk on Fermina Daza in abrasive swallows", page 66 "Fermina Daza knew very little about this taciturn suitor who had appeared in her life like a winter swallow"--and that was on three succeeding pages!

From now on, I will have to look out for flower and bird references.
Frequent Contributor
Jessica
Posts: 968
Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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Re: Lovesickness - flowers & birds


BarbaraN wrote: I wasn't quite sure where to put this. I have started Chapter 2 (pages 54-103, I'm up to page 70) and I am noticing a abundance of flowers and birds. I'm not sure yet of their significance but they are so prevalent that they must signify something. Florentino seems to regularly see Fermina in flowers--her floral scent, his camellia gift, his inscription of poetry on flower petals, etc. I didn't really pay much attention at first but flowers seem to represent their love. He himself gets lovesick and is given an infusion of linden blossom by a homeopathic practitioner to treat his lovesickness. Florentino also eats camellias while waiting to hear from Fermina and then roses after he does.

Birds seem important as well. There is the famous parrot of chapter 1, that causes the demise of Dr Urbino but by Chapter 2 there is a whole flock of them in print. The prostitutes are called birds, a bird "blesses" the first letter exchange between Florentino and Fermina with his droppings (can't be good). There are lots of swallow references: page 64 "his reveries left nests of dark swallows in the balconies", page 65 "he became drunk on Fermina Daza in abrasive swallows", page 66 "Fermina Daza knew very little about this taciturn suitor who had appeared in her life like a winter swallow"--and that was on three succeeding pages!

From now on, I will have to look out for flower and bird references.


Barbara,

What great observations! I looked up some of the symbolism of flowers. Camellias represent admiration, perfection, loveliness, and are considered a good luck gift.
Red Roses, of course, represent love.

And here's something I learned a while ago and never forgot (see how this random stuff comes in handy?) -- in many Impressionist paintings, parrots are symbols of prostitution.

A number of famous 19th-century courtesans owned parrots (example - Marie Duplessis, who inspired Verdi's La Traviata). Possibly they symbolized courtesans because both were slightly gaudy and they were "kept" in gilded cages. Whatever the reason, the motif of a courtesan posing with a parrot was so common by the time of Manet (Woman with a Parrot) and Courbet (Woman with a Parrot) that a "respectable" woman would certainly think twice before posing with her pet bird...

Makes me reconsider how parrots are represented in this book. Think about the parrot in Chapter 1 "who knew only the blasphemies of sailors but said them in a voice so human that he was well worth the extravagant price of twelve centavos."
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