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Love is a strong, undefined emotion with no wrong definition because it is different for every person. This emotion is overwhelming and can be experienced in many ways, whether it’s between family, friends or lovers. Like Water for Chocolate a magical realism novel by Laura Esquivel, love is experienced, portrayed, and shared by many different characters in the novel. The author uses an aesthetic writing style, in which magical elements fuse to create an atmosphere of realism. The protagonist of the story, Tita, experiences love in a variety of ways, such as maternal love from Nacha, romantic feelings with Pedro and sincere friendship with Dr. Brown.
Maternal love is one of the strongest and most potent types of love in the world, Tita though almost deprived of it, forms a special bond with Nacha. Tita’s biological mother, Mama Elena “had enough to do between her mourning and the enormous responsibility of running the ranch, without having to worry about feeding a newborn baby on top of everything else.’ Ultimately Tita is abandoned by her mother who could not care less for Tita’s well being. That’s when Nacha takes on the role of Tita’s mother and caretaker. Furthermore, throughout Tita’s life, Nacha has been her guide and advisor. When Tita’s true love Pedro is about to marry her sister Rosaura, she is devastated. As Nacha tells her ‘now we’re alone in the kitchen, so go ahead and cry my child, because I don’t want them to see you crying tomorrow. Especially not Rosaura.’ In response, Tita considers Nacha to be a mentor to whom her misery can be conveyed. As she can express her sorrow and disappointment with Nacha, which she would not dare to demonstrate anywhere around Mama Elena. Nacha tells her to weep and let it out calling her my child and providing her with motherly comfort and support. Additionally, when she says she does not want them seeing Tita weep tomorrow during the wedding, it demonstrates the care and strong love Nacha has for Tita, given an effect of comfort and empathy. Furthermore, as Tita was cooking the king’s day bread, she reminisces about a time that ‘seemed to be so distant, those happy times when Nacha had been with her. Her noodles soup, her chilaquiles, her cream bread, all was a long way off.” This quote shows Tita reflecting on her childhood which she clearly misses. However, she mainly missed Nacha’s loving care. The maternal love Nacha provided for Tita, is fundable for any child.
Although Tita was forbidden to marry her true love and forced to remain unwed in order to take care of her mother, the star crossed lovers do not give up on their shared love and passion. As Mama Elena refuses Pedro from marrying Tita, she offers him Tita’s elder sister Rosaura which he agrees to marry. As Pedro explains to his father, ‘If it is told to you that you can’t marry the woman you love and your only hope of being close to her is to marry her sister, wouldn’t you do the same?’ (Esquivel 54). The use of rhetorical questions presents Pedro’s deep emotions and hope for their relationship as they can’t part away. He is not giving up on their relationship and is willing to marry her sister to remain close to Tita. Furthermore, Tita and Pedro fell in love with each other practically at first sight, “despite the time that had passed since that evening, she remembered it perfectly: the sounds, the smells, the way her new dress had grazed the freshly waxed floor, the look Pedro gave her. It was then she understood how the dough feels when it is plunged into burning oil. The heat that invaded her body was so real she was afraid she would start to bubble her face, her stomach, her heart, her breasts like batter”. It was then Tita can only understand and express her initial encounter with love through the context of the kitchen. She feels like ‘dough’ being fried whenever Pedro looks at her. From this point forward, Pedro’s gaze will always be accompanied by a sensation of heat. Tita shows her concerns when she uses food to express to Pedro her passionate emotions. The narrator uses descriptive words that convey imagery that creates a scene in perception, in this case making a connection between food and body. Tita and Pedro loved each other through thick and thin.
The profound harmony that Tita erects with Dr.John Brown starts after he saves her from the temporary folly that her oppressive mother has brought on her. Since Tita is escorted to live with Dr. Brown, she refuses to talk. He convinced her to write with phosphorus on the wall. The support of Dr. Brown is demonstrated “as that night he entered the laboratory, he was pleased to see the writing on the wall, in firm phosphorescent letters: “Because I don’t want to.” With those words, Tita had taken her first step toward freedom.” Instead of freeing her from the ranch, the doctor enables Tita to free herself and find out who she is, as a woman and as a person. Dr. Brown’s true character and true intentions are shown in the crucial scene where Tita writes on the wall. She listens to Dr. Brown’s matching recipes and theory before she is persuaded to write on the wall. He explains to Tita how ‘each of us was born with a box of matches inside us but we can not strike it all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help.’ In this case, the author metaphorically describes the oxygen would come from the breath of the person you love; as the candle would be any kind of passion, which would light up the matches. The fiery warmth from the matches is Dr. Brown describing an element of human nature, joy. He tells Tita that we can’t depend on ourselves for happiness alone at times. Dr.Brown “takes one of Tita’s hands in his, he added simply, There are many ways to dry out a box of damp matches, but you can be sure, there is a cure. Tita felt tears run down her face.” Dr.Brown gives Tita hope that she can cope with her past trauma and make progress in her life. The author personifies the tears running down her face, giving the tears the attribution of an abstract quality in human form which emphasizes Tita’s emotions. After comparing the human emotion and joy, Dr.Brown embraces his love in a way that shows a deep level of care and concern for Tita.
Love’s many different manifestations propose a challenge to people who are torn between complex emotions and a treacherous world. Nacha is responsible for teaching Tita everything she knows about family love and support. Additionally, when Pedro marries Tita’s sister, the marriage does not make their love for one another fade away, Tita and Pedro vowed to love each other forever. The support and investment of Dr. Brown in Tita never waver, even when she eventually chooses Pedro over him. Esquivel portrays maternal love, romance, and friendship through Tita’s life experiences with Nach, Pedro, and Dr. Brown.
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