Like Water for Chocolate written by Laura Esquivel, a Mexican female novelist, use allegory and symbolism to enhance the themes of power, liberation and oppression which allegorized the Mexican Revolution. Through the development of the characters and conflicting events brought about by tradition, Laura Esquivel shows how the themes in the novel reflect the underlying effects of the Mexican revolution in the lives of the characters. Moreover, portraits the story that centers not only on passionate love but also in the truth the passion that comes from the main character’s thirst of liberation from the oppression.
The setting of the novel takes place in a ranch that is own and run by Mama Elena in the 1900s, where the Mexican revolution is taking place as well, with two different force taking part in it. One being the Rebels, the weaker force and one being the Federales, the stronger force, which also was the force that was ruling Mexico at the time under the Dictator, Porfirio Díaz.
With Elena possessing the ranch in the novel and it has showed case her to be in a higher position in the rank of all the characters, where she’s the only one having the capability to set different demands and giving orders, even more, portraits many traits of a dictator that we know of so to speak, having to lack compassion, being cold-hearted and harsh, “said in the novel itself Unquestionably, when it came to diving, dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying, or dominating, Mama Elena was a pro.
More or less symbolizing her as the absolute power in the novel. Mama Elena Being a mother, she nearly does not show any affection to Tita, her daughter that she has given birth to, seen in the novel where she finds Tita crying, she gives her ‘a tremendous slap that left her rolling in the dirt’. On another hand, she demands her complete submission. Mama Elena as character mirrors and symbolize the dictator that was dictating Mexico during the time of the Mexican revolution. Which was Dictator Diaz, with Diaz being the president he had all the power of the country, under the rule of Diaz he was seen by the people to be cold and curled to those who disobeyed him, always wanting to stay in power and dominate over others.
With Porfirio Díaz alone with power and in charge of making choices for those who weren’t allowed to make any, people in Mexico were very much living a life full of fear, denial and oppressed. The display of this power through the different act Mama Elena has carried out, has not only to strike fear in the hearts of many characters but also made her in the novel to be the cause of suffering to other characters, such as Tita, Chencha, Gertrudis and Pedro. Making her also using physical and non-physical force, to threaten them to keep them in shut and check, this can be seen when Mama Elena “I won’t let you start acting crazy. This is the first and last time for craziness. Or you will be sorry, I promise you that.” verbally threaten or physically abuse other characters from the evidence in the novel “Mama Elena went to her, picked up a wooden spoon, and smashed her across the face with it.”
Very much reflect back again to how Dictator Porfirio Díaz stayed in control, using force to scare the citizens so they would obey him, and jailing the editors of publication if they had published anything terrible about him, to a certain degree where no newspaper publishers had the courage to try and criticize him of an evil leader. With Tita, Chencha, Gertrudis and Pedro suffering the abuse from her, she has also denied Tita to marry the love of her life Pedro by the tradition she follows. Because Tita and other characters had to suffer throughout the novel, we can confidentially say that Tita and those who have suffered from the hands of Mama Elena, they symbolize the people that were oppressed when Porfirio Díaz was in power.
People in Mexico during the time being oppressed by Porfirio Díaz, people were in fear, terror even restricted to many rights, living under a roof that has made prisoners out of them, but most importantly they weren’t happy. At some point, some were willing to go all out and stand up against Porfirio Díaz to liberate themselves and gain freedom for those who couldn’t. As mentioned above Tita Chencha, Gertrudis and Pedro, being symbolized as the people that were oppressed, some of them does stand up to her Mama Elena time to time to fight for their right to be happy in many forms. Such as running away which Gertrudis did, or still making advance to Tita as Pedro did, as for Tita she fought her mother or what she stood for, indirectly from the food making, as recipes are passed down from one generation to another.
Tita changes or added her own ingredients into the recipes to show her emotion and changes the recipes, thus indirectly rebels against her mother and the tradition she that oppresses her, example would be the cake making for Pedro and Rosaura, although for Tita there is more, since she never really happy since she never got together with Pedro, not until the end of the book, where Mama Elena had already passed away, but still living on the ranch she was still oppressed with evidence such as Mam Elena’s ghost still hunting her, making the ranch hunted by Mama Elena, this would mean that the ranch is a part of Mama Elena making the ranch symbolizing the tradition Mama Elena had to enforce on Tita’s happiness, very much like the ideology of dictatorship the people of Mexico wanted to get rid of, which at they did.
For Tita, at the end, she made love to Pedro, which resulted in killing Pedro in the process, which had led her burning the ranch down killing herself to be with Pedro. All that just to burn what Mama Elena believe in, which is tradition and by doing so, she was free of Mama Elena’s oppression, and her passionate love she has for Pedro so undying not even death could separate them, just like the Rebels they started out only to take back the land that was taken by them form the sugar estates, but due to the reason that they tasted what it’s like to have what rightfully theirs, they gave everything they had and brought down the dictator.
To conclude with the use of allegory and symbolism, Laura Esquivel smartly enhance the power in Mama Elena allegorized to the dictator during the Mexican revolution, this had her to be more powerful in the sense of social statist than other characters, displaying an absolute power that has not only felt by other characters but the readers as well. With the display of one character holding such power over the others, the theme of oppression was greatly seen as well, not only through the traits of the characters but the what they have been through as well. The thirst liberation from oppression can be seen in the passion the character Tita and Pedro have for each other, as to how much the Mexican people wanted to be free of the dictators cruel grasp.