Charles Darwin once said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’ This quotation fits in perfectly, as only in one line, it describes the cause that led to the downfall of the Buendias and the Truebas in the novels ‘One hundred Years of Solitude’ and ‘The House of the Spirits’ respectively. In both the novels, the winds of change blow throughout passages of time. However, since the characters fail to accept this change in the best spirit, time for them moves in a circle, as history repeats itself-again and again.
One of the main themes in both these novels of magic realism is the role that fate plays in the progression of events and during the lifetimes of both the Buendias and the Truebas. And it is precisely this fate that interweaves the concepts of the passage of time and the winds of change in both the works. Although there are lots of opportunities for the characters in the novels to change and grow, these characters always show a strong resistance against this change, against science and technology and thus, they are all entangled in a web of relationships that remain severed and time that moves very slowly indeed.
The march of progress is most often deemed as positive and inevitable. However, in these two novels, change and progress are depicted as completely undesired occurrences, which perhaps lead to the downfall of the Buendias and the Truebas. The most evident form of change in both the texts is one which is brought about by new scientific technologies. However, the masses remain largely ignorant of such changes. In ‘the house of the Spirits’, Esteban Trueba is immensely interested in the latest techniques and hopes to modernize Tres Marias with them. Esteban does his best to collect such technologies from all over and enlighten the inhabitants of the long forgotten town.
However, the tenants pay no attention to these new developments, as ‘These were fairy tales, which did nothing to alter the narrowness of their existence’ [pg61] In fact the characters in this novel believe much more in magic than they do in technology. More importance is given to the long drawn traditions and myths, while new age developments like cars are called ‘satanic’. In some instances, the superiority of ‘spirits’ and ‘telepathic communication’ over science is clearly highlighted, as Old Pedro Garcï¿½a dispels the hacienda’s ant plague just by talking to the insects, rather than using scientific techniques, which have all failed. These changes slowly lead to a struggle between classes, as lower classes claim that wealth is not equally distributed. However, some of these changes also prove to be positive as the rural people rise up and fight for their rights.
Similarly, in ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, change plays an important role, as ‘Macondo’, the town first described as a virgin Eden-like territory in a world ‘which was so recent, that many things lacked names…’ , slowly embarks on a journey of progress, though eventually coming back to square one. The first evidence of technology comes in when the gypsies, led by Melquiades, bring in magnets, refracted glass, false teeth and theories of astronomy, which amuse and excite all the inhabitants of Macondo. This new modernization of the town is led by the founder Jose Arcadio Buendia. However, he is seen as insane by everyone due to his constant quest for knowledge and thus is tied to a chestnut tree for the rest of his life. Later, foreigners come in to Macondo and set up a banana plantation, which further instigates more changes.
However, the residents of Macondo fail to be impressed by such new technologies and consider balloon rides backward as compared to the gypsies’ flying carpets. The first modern generation of the Buendias is represented by Aureliano Segundo’s three children; Renata Remedios, Amaranto Ursula and Jose Arcadio. However, even despite all their exposure to Western education, they all land up in the same situations as their ancestors and thus, fail to make any real progress. By the end of the novel, when the second band of gypsies comes to Macondo, they are characterized as “purveyors of amusement” rather than “heralds of progress’. Indeed, they find that the inhabitants of Macondo, are still as amused by all these technologies as they were in the beginning of the town. This strongly outlines the idea of time not passing by and moving in a circle repeatedly in the novel.
Hence, it is evident that even though their are many changes or at least possibilities of those in both the novels, even progress does not stop from history repeating itself. There are many revolutionary movements in ‘The House of the Spirits’ for the upliftment of women, but in the end, Esteban’s grand daughter Alba is raped by Esteban Garcia, just as his grandmother Pancha had been raped by Esteban Trueba years ago. As Alba expresses in the epilogue; ‘I am beginning to suspect that it all corresponds to a fate laid down before my birth, and that Esteban Garcia is a part of the design’. [pg431] Indeed the lives of the characters in these novels are driven by a predetermined fate, and ironically, though the clock is ticking, time does not move for them.
These repetitions and blurriness of the past, present and future are present throughout the two novels. For instance, even in ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, the characters not only have the same names generation after generation, but their lives also mirror each others’. The same mistakes and actions are repeated over the course of a hundred years and to emphasize this cyclical nature of time, Mï¿½rquez gives the characters the ability to see into the future almost as they remember the past. This is best explained by a quotation in the end of the novel, when the last Aureliano realizes; ‘Melquï¿½ades had not put events in the order of a man’s conventional time, but had concentrated a century of daily episodes in such a way that they coexisted in one instant.” [pg.421]
Hence, in both the novels, we, as readers realize that time is not merely a linear succession of events, but something that constantly repeats itself. The lives of the characters in both the novels are pre-ordained and perhaps this is why the winds of change cannot uplift them and bring about a revolution. Instead, these changes bring them back to the places where they began and hence, all of it makes perfect sense to us in the last few pages of both the novels.