Sean and Baby Caroline, his neice
25 April 2012
To follow emotions blindly is to follow destruction. In the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel, we are taught a subtle lesson in the choice of moderation or unrestricted passion. The novel tells of a young woman named Tita, who follows her feelings down a road marked with suffering. She is forbidden to be with her childhood love as a teenage girl, and remains attached to that love for the duration of her life. It is this attachment that is the cause for most of Tita’s problems and her eventual death.
In the beginning of the novel Tita is confronted by a young man named Pedro who expresses his interest in her. She too, has an interest in this boy and secretly hopes to marry him. After a few encounters, Pedro proposes the idea of marriage to Tita’s mother, Mama Elena, who promptly denies the marriage and offers him an alternative. Instead of marrying Tita, Pedro agrees to marry Tita’s sister Rosaura in an effort to be near Tita. Pedro, without thinking about Rosaura and how it might affect her, makes this selfish choice. After marrying Rosaura, Pedro makes his intentions known to Tita, and they both secretly harbor lust for one another without consideration of Rosaura’s feelings. One might argue that Pedro’s decision to marry Rosaura, in the effort to be near Tita, was an act of love. It is clear however that he disregarded Rosaura’s feelings to follow his own selfish desire to be near Tita. This initial choice by Pedro sparks the suffering of Tita and the De La Garza’s that echoes throughout the remainder of the novel.
Some may feel sympathy for Tita and Pedro because they were forbidden to be together, but it was the choice of the two to follow their passions without thought of the repercussions that led to their downfall. There is a scene in the novel in which Tita is given the choice to marry a man named John, who is portrayed in the novel as the safe choice but as a less flashy and passionate alternative. Tita admits that she loves John but cannot let go of the passion she has for Pedro. After already agreeing to marry John, she makes the conscious choice to have an affair with Pedro instead, and calls off the wedding. It is here we see Tita step on the hopes of John, in addition to breaking the sanctity of Rosaura’s marriage to Pedro, so that she can follow her own selfish desires.
As the novel progresses we see both Pedro and Tita follow their passion for one another without thought of where their choices may lead. Though they believe their decisions are made out of love, it is a selfish love without thought for others that produces a harvest of pain and sorrow. By refusing to let go of the idea of being with Pedro, Tita holds on to feelings of regret, longing, jealousy, anger, and sorrow. Tita and Pedro’s affair is born out of an effort to quell the overwhelming emotions festering underneath the surface. By the end of the novel, both Tita and Pedro are consumed by their emotions and die during an intimate love scene of release and unbridled passion.
The themes of forbidden love and compulsive emotion represented in the novel are themes that are repeated throughout famous literature, scriptures, movies, and songs. A famous example of this is the play, Romeo and Juliet, By William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet, the stars of the famous play, are also forbidden to be together and are ruled by their powerful emotions for one another. By the end of the play they both lose their lives in result of this passion. In both Esquivel’s novel and Shakespeare’s play we are shown that following feelings of passion in spite of the consequences lead to sorrow and tragedy. It is through these stories we learn the dangers of following our emotions.
There is a lesson to be learned from Esquivel’s novel that is somewhat subtle. There is a very real danger associated with clinging to emotions and not allowing oneself to move on. Pedro had the opportunity to find happiness with his wife Rosaura, but because he chose to remain attached to a love forbidden, he ruined both his and Rosaura’s chance at it. Tita was given the opportunity to move on and find happiness with John, but she chose to remain chained to the idea of a life with Pedro.
Pedro and Tita’s relationship in the novel masquerades as love, but true love sacrifices itself for the happiness of others. We are given a glimpse of the true meaning of love with John’s response to Tita’s admission losing her virginity to Pedro, and calling off their marriage. John replies,
Tita, it doesn’t matter to me what you did, there are some things
in life that shouldn’t be given so much importance, if they don’t
change what is essential. What you’ve told me hasn’t changed
the way I think; I’ll say again, I would be delighted to be your
companion for the rest of your life—but you must think over very
carefully whether I am the man for you or not. If your answer is yes,
we will celebrate our wedding in a few days. If it’s no, I will be
the first to congratulate Pedro and ask him to give you the respect
Pedro and Tita mistook their lustful passion for one another to be love, and waged a war on everyone else in its name.
Emotions are complex and confusing, especially for teenagers, and following them to their completion is seldom successful. The hardest lesson to learn in life is that we don’t always get what we want, and sometimes we must sacrifice that want, for the good of others, and ourselves. Refusal to let go is a great risk that carries dire consequences.