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What if the roles were reversed?

[ Edited ]
Something that occurred to me while reading last night really made me wonder -- what if the roles were reversed? What if Fermina were insane with passion and promiscuous and pining her life away for Florentino ... and Florentino was the one who married well and tried to get on with life?

How would this change the feel of the book? Would we as readers be more quick to dismiss Fermina as 'hysterical'? How would we view Florentino's decisions?

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-11-2007 10:28 AM
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Re: What if the roles were reversed?

This is very interesting; the novel would definitely be drastically different and probably not nearly as effective. I think that, stereotypically (especially in older literature), women are depicted as the weak ones for whom love is an even greater weakness because it supports the idea that a woman needs a man to survive happily, whereas men are depicted as stronger than their emotions and therefore stronger than females. I love what Marquez has done to dispel this notion (whether or not that was his intention, I don't know) by making Fermina the headstrong, grounded one and assigning Florentino the role of the deeply emotional, sensitive, poetic soul, unable to overcome his love for Fermina. I definitely think that, were Fermina to be the lovesick character rather than Florentino, we would dismiss her as a silly girl who gets too carried away by her emotions, simply because a lot of literature has displayed females in this way and because females are supposed to be the more emotional of the two sexes. By making Florentino the character who gets completely swept off his feet and who is unable to suppress his emotions, Marquez allows the depth and nature of love to be conveyed without letting cultural bias in terms of gender get in the way. I think that a lot of people wouldn't get it if Fermina acted like Florentino in the novel, and the ability of love to really affect a person would be lost to a lot of readers. Man is traditionally supposed to be the rational thinker, and woman is supposed to be irrational (with which I think most of us would disagree). So by calling that into question, the reader sees how love can affect someone so much that a person will abandon all logic. I'm not sure if I've explained this well enough, or the way I meant to explain it, but something would definitely be lost if the roles were to be reversed, I think.
"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Kafka
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