Essay, Research Paper: Judge`s Wife By Allende

Literature: Frankenstein

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In “The Judge’s Wife” the author, Isabel Allende, uses a variety of
techniques to make full use of the limited space within her short story. By
using strong imagery, providing a background, providing believable human
actions, and examining justice, M. Allende creates a piece readers can
understand to the point of empathy. Because her short story examines human
behavior in respect to passions, justice, and emotion (love) in a plausible
manner one can find close similarities between her work and that of Mary
Shelly’s Frankenstein. The author makes use of imagery to embellish not only
upon her environment, but also her characters. M. Allende presents the ideas of
corruption, innocence, and strictness simply through well-selected adjectives
that lend eloquently to the descriptions of her characters. The strait laced
judge being “…dressed formally in black … and his boots always shone with
bees wax ” (Allende, 422). One can infer by details such as those that that
particular individual appreciates formality, and considering his desert
location, a strict adherence to it. The author also uses images of deformity
demonstrate the corruption of her main character, Nicholas Vidal; by providing
him with four (4) nipples and a scared face the reader can have a visual
representation of the character’s tragic formation. In much the same manner,
one can see such development within Frankenstein’s creation. The monster’s
grotesque outward appearance reflects his corrupted creation. Using such imagery
the author allows the readers to form a solid conception of the plight of their
characters. Mary Shelly uses lovely poetic imagery in much the same way to
define, and give three-dimensional presence to her characters. Such use of
imagery for the purpose of character definition can most clearly be seen in her
description of her monster: “His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected
his features as beautiful. Beautiful, Great GOD! His yellow skin scarcely
covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous
black and flowering; his teeth pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only
formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the
same colour as the dunwhite sockets in which they were set, his shriveled
complexion and strait black lips.” (Shelly, 56) In viewing the above passage,
much of the same type of character definition can be seen; very similar to the
manner in which Allende casts her deformed mold of her creature, Nicholas.
Beyond merely presenting imagery to enhance the characters, the Allende also
supplies background information in order to enhance the readers understanding of
how the main character arrived at his current state. The author focuses on the
main character’s fatherless and loveless conception in order to accentuate how
his development occurred. In a similar fashion Allende’s character Nicholas
Vidal was conceived in a similar fashion as Frankenstein’s monster. Both are
created and ultimately rejected by their creators who attempt to destroy them.
These horrid monsters are invariably unwanted by their creators, thus their
creators go to great lengths to attempt to snuff out the lives of the creations
in order that they not wreak havoc upon the world. Both authors using this
particular method of rejection to temper the souls of their monsters to the
hardness of iron (Allende, 423). In each case this extreme form of temperament
creates an almost supernatural being, filled with great destructive forces.
Further extending upon the parallel roles of Nicholas and the Monster, a clear
outcasting from society also aids in their murderous temperament. Each character
finds himself rejected by society. The monster, from Frankenstein, is rejected
by the family he assists solely due to his grotesque appearance. In much the
same way Nicholas is assumed early on in his life by “decent folk” to become
a criminal due to the telling marks on his face. It may well be said that though
the Judge, in his strait laced figure, may not have directly created Nicholas,
yet in reality he probably did in deed, like the rest of society, stereotyped
and eventually outcast Nicholas based solely upon the scars on his face. In each
case the author makes use of societies tendency to categorize and reject an
individual based solely on their exterior shells, rather than probing the unique
individual. To solely focus upon the main character within this story would be
folly when making a true comparison to Frankenstein. Indeed the role of the
judge has many overlapping qualities with Victor Frankenstein. Each man peruses,
as both texts put it, their own “creature”, to the points of virtual
insanity. In doing so, these men put the welfare of their families in danger,
and eventually cause their own inevitable demises. In both cases the authors
make use of the character’s deep passion for justice: literally in the form of
law and figuratively in the form of revenge. Allende takes the judge’s passion
a step further into the realm of juxtapose, by having that character create a
great injustice in order to attempt to find the justice he seeks. This ironic
dual standard for justice presides within Victor Frankenstein as well, and can
be seen in the initial and final sequences in the text. His lust for revenge
brings him to the poles of the world in search of his horrid creation. Shelly
and Allende rely upon the readers understanding of passion to enhance the
realistic level of their characters. It is interesting to make note however that
both authors severely censure those who go against the grains of natural
morality. At this point the characters of the two stories again overlap, being
that they both eventually die for the injustices they inflict. The judge
ultimately gets killed fleeing from the repercussions of his injustices, while,
in slight contrast, Frankenstein dies in the pursuit of avenging his injustice.
It should be noted that the antagonists to these characters are not the ones to
cause them physical harm, despite their intentions. Rather what kills these
characters stems from their internal mechanisms. Another point worth examining
in these stories stems from the authors’ use of women, given the consideration
that both authors are women. Women in both stories are characterized in
victimized roles, in which they are powerless creatures. Yet one must wonder
where the motivation, given the gender of the author, for such an exclusion
takes place. In societies such as that of 1817 England and 1944 Peru ideas of
civil liberties and sexual equality were not as prevalent as in today’s
society. As such, it can be inferred that in order to be a published writer in
those environments, one would have to appeal to the dominant male market. Yet a
contrast between 1817 and 1944 does arise that separates the roles of women
within these two periods. In Allende’s 1944 piece she allows the feminine
character, although weak and victimized, knowledge and use of her sexual power.
In fact the author uses this sexual power to finally bring the main character
Nicholas to justice. In looking at women’s roles within both of the stories it
becomes relevant to note that each author makes the clear the need for emotional
and physical contact from the opposite sex. The authors portraying the idea that
“Perhaps a woman’s love would have made” these tortured characters “…
less wretched” (Allende, 423). Indeed in The Judge’s Wife much of the main
character’s corruption is said to be to this. Similarly within the texts of
Frankenstein one can a similar pattern in the request of the creature for
feminine companionship. Allende and Shelly both make indications in their texts
that this type of love contains both a necessary and satisfying function. Isabel
Allende uses a combination of literary tools and techniques to assemble a piece
that in some ways reflects a great masterpiece. By refining strong imagery
Allende gives the reader the ability to define the character not only through
their dialog, but also through the visualization of the character. The author
adds another dimension to the side of her main character by including background
history. In combining all of these tools the characters are given a realistic
overtone that makes this short story easy for the reader to consume and
enjoy.
Bibliography
Allende, Isabel; “The Judge’s Wife;” The Compact Bedford Introduction
to Literature (Fourth Edition); pg 422- 427; Bedford Books; Boston, MA; 1997
Shelly, Mary; Frankenstein; Penguin Group; New York, New York; 1983
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