Comparison/Contrast Essay Although both Clarice Lispector’s “The Smallest Woman in the World” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” are magic realist stories showing the extreme sizes of two people, the stories depict differently how a society can react to a certain type of person. Through scenery and physical description, the authors show that different types of people can be loved or hated by a society. Marquez’s text starts off with children seeing a large being in the water.
The children think “it was an enemy ship” which can prove that the large size of a person can be very intimidating at first. Opposite to Marquez’s text, in Lispector’s text, the smallest woman is greeted with friendliness, she was immediately named by the French explorer. This can prove that the small size of the woman can be seen as less intimidating than a larger person. However, in both stories, the characters are suddenly treated differently once they have been displayed to a larger crowd.
Once the seaweed is removed from the drowned man, the children start to play with the man and are less afraid of him. Also once the woman of the village see the man, they seem to fall madly in love with him. They treat him almost like a god. In contrast, in Lispector’s text the people that read the article about the smallest woman in the world, they seem to dislike the idea of her size. The townspeople want her to be their slave or their toy. I think that the difference in size can be seen in both a literal and figurative sense.
Literally the large size of the man is what the woman see as a physical appeal to them while the small size of the woman is seen more a “creepy” or “strange” aspect of her appearance. However, I also believe that the size of the characters is used as symbolism. For example, we can see that the large size of the man could represent authority and power and this may be why the men of the village feel intimidated my him. It could also show that he is powerful or strong. The woman’s small size could be seen as weak or young.
It also can be compared to a lack of importance or lack of influence. In the story we see that even the kids don’t seem to respect her. The characters race also has a role on the societies views. For example, they describe the woman as being a “as black as a monkey”, describing how she may be animal-like or treated as a beast. They see her as a primitive being. The fact that she is black may also be why some of the people in France don’t seem to respect her. Throughout history black people have been oppressed which is a theme the author added in.
In Marquez’s text, the fact that the woman named the man as if they knew him, indicates that he was most likely of the same race as them. This is a fact that should be considered in why they feel a close bond with him. The authors also use setting to explain how the magical characters are treated. We can see that the man found from the ocean was treated better than the woman who was found in a dangerous part of an African forest. The woman of the town describe Esteban as ” most peaceful … man on earth” in which we can find similarities with how we describe the sea.
Many people think of the sea to also be peaceful or serene, which is where the drowned man came from. On the contrary, the woman was treated in a negative fashion which could be partially because of where she came from. The woman came from “the depths of … a jungle”. This can be seen as a dark and mysterious place which may insinuate why the people that read about her seem afraid or dislike her. Another difference between settings in the story is that in Marquez’s text, the town where the people discover the man seems to be a small village which isn’t the fact in Lispector’s text, which is the country of France.
Perhaps the authors were trying to show that people that grow up in bigger towns have more of a biased view on the outside world while people that grow up in smaller cities are more open minded, which would explain the different views on the characters in the story. In conclusion, Lispector’s “The Smallest Woman in the World” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” show how magic realist text are used to push the boundaries of fiction while explaining worldly views. Although both story depicts a magical character’s life, they show through physical description and setting that people can be treated differently.