The house of the spirits themes/authoritarianism and freedom

THEMES of The House of the Spirits


The themes that are presented to us through this novel are varied. We will analyze those that are most relevant. It should be noted the existence of four main thematic axes around which the story revolves. The house of the spirits themes

  1. The conflict between authority/authoritarianism and freedom.
  2. The feeling of love in all its extension and in different and multiple demonstrations.
  3. The concept of women, the different roles they develop, and the differences in attitude towards a patriarchal society.
  4. The supernatural world and the theme of death. The house of the spirits themes


This theme is presented repeatedly, throughout the narrative around different spaces and social sectors.

On the one hand in the social planeWe note that authority is reflected by the state, corrupt political regimes, and dictatorships. The parallelism of the issues related to the political-social history of Chile is evident. In this way, the Tres Marías space is a symbol of that nation, Chile (which in turn could also generically reflect any Latin American country), a country whose economy and society are largely rural in nature where two opposing classes are established: the oligarchy, the caciques who own the land and the peasantry, the workers who until the late twentieth century remained a submissive and submissive class and who finally rebelled against the oppressor. In the urban area, a sector of upper society appears that supports the disadvantaged classes and will fight for social justice.

On the other hand, this conflict between authority and freedom is also reflected in the family environment . Esteban Trueba is the faithful reflection of the authoritarianism against which certain characters (especially female) who yearn for freedom oppose. The house of the spirits themes

2-THE FEELING OF LOVE The house of the spirits themes

Another great theme is love, it is an engine that drives the performances of the characters, sometimes the feeling of love and desire for freedom come together and conflict with authoritarianism. There are several ways to reflect this feeling, let’s see the most interesting.


Romantic love, love-passion is represented by the relationship between Blanca and Pedro Tercero. A love that in principle is presented as impossible because they both belong to different social classes, because they are outside the norms, outside of marriage, etc. ends up overcoming all difficulties and triumphs as a full, absolute, eternal feeling.

Other examples of passionate loves are those represented by Alba and Miguel who, after many difficulties and after overcoming situations of extreme violence, manage to make their feelings triumph. Another example with a different ending because it will not be reciprocated is Esteban Trueba’s obsessive love for Clara. The house of the spirits themes

2.2. LOVE TOWARDS THE FAMILY. The house of the spirits themes

The feelings of love within the family are experienced differently and with different intensity according to the characters, we will analyze the different family relationships through some characters.

 Esteban Trueba does not express paternal love towards his children with whom he maintains many differences and little proximity, however there is a great understanding and affection for his granddaughter Alba, affection that the young woman also shares and that serves to humanize Esteban and in some way power restore the damage that this character has caused in his family.

Clara  Despite being a character at times very distant because she is linked to the supernatural, to a magical, unreal, childish world … and despite not living a passionate love, she expresses in a special way the love for different members of her family, towards his uncle Marcos whom he admires, his sister-in-law Férula whom he protects, towards his children and that feeling will go beyond the limits of the family and altruistically help unprotected or marginalized characters.

Sunrise. The passionate love that he maintains with Miguel has already been pointed out, in addition he maintains a special relationship with his grandfather that no other character had professed before.

Amanda. Represents brotherly love. Capable of everything to save the life of his brother Miguel, offering his own life.


Examples appear throughout the story of truncated relationships, impossible that for various reasons do not end with the achievement of love. We will briefly point out some cases.

Esteban and Rosa’s relationship is cut short by the death of the young woman. A character like Rosa with unreal, supernatural and mythological aspects can inevitably lead to love impossibility.

Clara and Férula’s relationship. With some references to lesbianism on the part of Férula, he turns this affection into something impossible in a patriarchal and authoritarian family and society.

Another feeling not reached is the love that Jaime feels for Amanda, since she maintains a relationship with Nicolás and therefore Jaime will give up that feeling. The house of the spirits themes


Some characters show a desire to help and empathize with others, we point out as an example Jaime’s feelings, his desire for social justice, to help the most remote. In Clara’s case, her desire is also evident for indigenous women to assert their rights and to help them achieve freedom from male oppression.

2.5 LOVE FOR THE EARTH. The house of the spirits themes

There is an intense feeling towards the land but very different according to the interests of the characters. Esteban Trueba loves the land because it represents self-interest, it is the property that allows enrichment and provides power and authority. Faced with this material feeling there is another, the indigenous feeling that reflects the love for the land from which the force comes, the supernatural that roots man with the universe.


La casa de los espíritus , by Isabel Allende falls within the period known as the post-boom of Latin American literature, a period in which a greater intervention of women in literature is appreciated. This fact will influence the presentation and perception of the female characters who will acquire greater strength as it happens in this novel. Through the women of four generations Nívea, Clara, Blanca and Alba (whose names point to the referent of “whiteness”) the change can be appreciated, the evolution of women in society in Chile in the 20th century. The house of the spirits themes

Nívea : It belongs to the first generation. She has a traditional role, wife and mother (she gives birth to fifteen children), she supports her husband in his political career to get the vote for women.

Clara: Tendency to isolation. She marries an authoritarian, macho, conservative man, from whom she isolates herself, communicates with the supernatural world, and performs social work especially to bring culture and rights to peasant women.

Blanca: Independent character. He has a confrontation with his father for love. It is a symbol of freedom for the defense of his love against the rules and despite the difference in social class and the opposition of the father.

Alba: Young man with a university education, free. He is linked to the revolutionary movement, initially out of love for Miguel, later out of his own conviction.

Other supporting female characters: The house of the spirits themes

Pancha García: Victim of the authoritarianism of the system. Accept to be condemned to rape, contempt and marginalization. It represents the submission and hatred towards the class that enslaves her and that transmits it to her descendants.

Tránsito Soto: Proud of her economic independence. She faces her work as a prostitute without moral conflicts. She regrets the release of the woman because of the negative impact on her business.

Amanda: Character of contrasts. It represents freedom, it is autonomous, independent … marked by fragility (it will be carried away by drugs) and strength (it will give its life to protect its brother).

Splint : Reflects frustration. Life dedicated to the care of the mother. Submissive and frustrated victim of the role that society gives her. The affection she feels for her sister-in-law (not without shades of lesbianism) is a reason for repudiation and abandonment by her only relative, her brother. The house of the spirits themes


They are other themes that appear in the story although in a less relevant way. There are elements outside of reality that can have some influence on the course of events. Rosa’s beauty is out of this world, Clara’s extraordinary abilities, the appearance of Férula after her death, her attraction to esotericism, contribute to create a contrast between the real and the spiritual and also to naturally assume the presence of both worlds: the real one, that of life and that of the hereafter.


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