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Magical Realism And Unrequited Love In Isabel Allende’s “The Little Heidelberg”

1068 words - 4 pages

Throughout Isabel Allende’s Story, “The Little Heidelberg”, love and magical realism can be observed. There are plentiful details in describing the physical characteristics of the setting and the people and scenery within the tale. These techniques reinforce the theme, of which is unrequited love.

“The Little Heidelberg” is the story of a small dance hall. The customers of The Little Heidelberg are typically older men and women, many of whom are foreigners who cannot speak English. One of these is El Capitán, a retired Finnish sea captain, who has been dancing with niña Eloísa, a lovely Russian woman, weekly for forty years. They have never spoken to each other because of language barriers. One day some Scandinavian tourists come to the Heidelberg. El Capitán hears them speaking his language and asks them to translate to Eloísa for him. In this scene it is the first time that anyone has ever heard him speak. Eloísa learns that El Capitán wants to marry her, and she says yes. The couple begin a celebratory dance, and as they start twirling Eloísa begins to turn “to lace, to froth, to mist” until she is first a shadow and then completely disappears (Allende, 179). In the magic of the scene, she twirls out of existence. Her disappearance seems to reflect the dreamscape nature of the scene.

The setting of the story is surprising. It is a little tavern on a Caribbean island. The Little Heidleberg is a place full of improvisations and the unexpected. In this tropical area resides a place with walls decorated with “bucolic scenes of country life in the Alps…” (Allende, 174). Mango and guava are used in strudel due to the absence of apples. The musicians are clad in “lederhosen, woolen knee socks, Tyrolean suspenders, and felt hats” (Allende, 174). The placements of the tables are arranged for that of dancing, “They play only polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, and European folk dances” (Allende, 174). Dona Burgel, wife of don Rupert whom owns the restaurant, works in the kitchen; she makes an “aphrodisiac stew” (Allende, 173). An aphrodisiac is generally used for arousing sexual desire. This is important to take into account when viewing this story. This stew helps to lighten ones mood; the people present at The Little Heidelberg are in good spirits and sensuality can be observed amongst the guests. This establishment has been around for numerous years. There is refuse of the past and the uniforms of the musicians have faded. The median age of the women present at The Little Heidelberg is seventy. These women have been coming there for years, women such as Eloisa, who never missed a day. “The clientele is composed of European émigrés” they are described as “a pleasant and uncomplicated group of people” (Allende, 175). People venture to this haven to dance and spend time which is described by the quote “…language is secondary at The Little Heidelberg, for no one comes here to talk” (Allende, 176). It truly is such a place. El Capitán cannot...

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