Defense Mechanisms as Mental Perspective In 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'

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One Hundred Years of Solitude is the story of seven generations of Buendia family, the rise anf fall of the small village Macondo. The characters in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude manifest fear, denial, compensation, displacement, and regression as their defense mechanisms against their guilty conscience. Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. In the novel the major characters fear for their committed sin and endeavour to get away from their guilt. Fear is one of the main spiritual roots of sickness and disease. It runs deep, requires enormous emotional energy, and demands action. The roots of fear begin with the first man and first woman. As in Genesis Adam and Eve began to fear of not having enough when in actuality they had it all. The founding of Macondo has its origin in an exodus to find peace from the guilt of a crime committed Jose Arcadio Buendia, who flee from Riohacha to Macondo. Ursula and Jose Arcadio Buendia are native to the village of Riohacha. Their incest union is a recurrent motif in the story. Ursula and Jose Arcadio Buendia are cousins. The tradition of such incestuous unions is ill-fated. Ursula’s aunt married Jose Arcadio Buendia’s uncle, and their offspring was born with a pig’s tail, a boy who met an early death when butcher attempted to remove it with a whack of the knife.

Ursula who marries Jose Arcadio Buendia, mind was filled with the fear and guilt of committing incest and the customary belief that they “would suffer the shame of breeding iguanas” (OHYS, 20) refuses to have intercourse, fending off his attempts with a chastity belt made of sail cloth, leather straps, and an iron buckle. Meanwhile, in order to assuage his sexual frustration, Jose Arcadio Buendia pursues his hobby of raising fighting cocks. This aspect uncovers the other side of compensation. Compensation is an act of satisfying a need by granting a parallel wish instead of the needed. In the novel Jose Arcadia Buendia assuages his sexual frustration by raising fighting cocks in the village, as a compensation act.

When one of his cocks beats the cock of a man named Prudencio Aguilar, the enraged Prudencio Aguilar insults his opponent, insinuating that Ursula, even after one year of marriage, is a virgin and suggesting that may be Jose Arcadio Buendia’s is frustrated not by a chastity belt, but by his own inadequacy. In order to defend his honour, Jose Arcadio Buendia killed Prudencio Aguilar with spear, who had questioned the relationship between Buendia and his wife Ursula “The matter was put down as a duel in honor, but both of them were left with a twinge in their conscience.” (OHYS, 22)

Jose Arcadio Buendia persuaded his wife to remove her chastity garment, and the couple consummates their marriage for the first time. Prudencio’s death, however, took away Jose Arcadio Buendia’s peace of mind. At first, the feeling of guilt started haunting the couple and gradually they started seeing the ghost of Prudencio. Constantly tormented by the presence of the ghost, he decided to leave the place and thus began the journey in search of a new place, a place so far away that it would help erase the tormenting past and that was how they undertook the crossing of the mountain. Appearance of the ghost is a disguised guilty consciousness. Several friends of Jose Arcadio Buendia, young men like him, excited by the adventure, dismantled their houses and packed up, along with their wives and children, “to head toward the land that no one had promised them” (OHYS,23). Fear further paved way towards displacement. Dispalcement is changing or being changed from one position to another. The appearance of Prudencio’s ghost and fear of the committed sin made the major character Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iaguran to move from Riohacha, followed by the villagers.

After they get to Macondo, Jose Arcadio Buendia is never, in his lifetime, able to find a way out. Their fear results in denial. Merriam Webster defines denial as a refusal to admit the truth or reality of something. It is the subconscious or conscious processes of being blind to oneself towards negative self-concepts that one believes exist in them, but that one does not want to deal with or face. It is shielding to one’s negative self-concepts about people, places, or things that appears too severe to admit or deal with. Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula deny from their mistake of incest relationship before marriage, but after marriage they fear for their sin and pretend to be chaste.

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As Macondo is being founded, and during the journey, Ursula gives birth to their first son, Jose Arcadio, who is tail-free contrary to fear of Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula who follow chastity, in fear to the child with pig-tail due to their incest relationship. In order to escape from this mistake, they restrict to consummate their marriage. This frustration leads to murder Prudencio Aguilar and then they consummate their marriage. The guilt that they found to be fearsome previously, disappeared from their memory after Ursula gave birth to a child without a pig-tail. In these events the major characters Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iaguran try to sneak away not only from their guilt due to their insect relationship and murder of Prudencio Aguilar but also from their consequences, a child with a pig-tail. They find refuge in Maconda.

Displacement is seen in every character in the novel. The next settler in the town is Pilar Ternera “merry foul-mouthed, provocative woman” (OHYS,25), tempts Buendia more like the gypsies with her cards. Ternera was desperately in love with the man that raped her when she was fourteen; she fled from that love and ended in Macondo. Jose Arcadio II Ursula’s son and Pilar Ternera become lovers and while Pilar gets conceived with Jose’s child, the latter moves with gypsy girl, leaving the town. Ursula also leaves the town in search of her son. These events in the novel, traces out the characters’ escape from reality, their displacement. Ternera escapes from her love and ends up in Macondo. Jose Arcadio escapes from his reality, guilt due to his relationship with gypsy girl and finds a way to leave the town. Ursula in order to escape from her reality in Macondo leaves the town. Thus, all the three characters in these events eventually try to escape from their reality and find a way to move into fantasy. This is a sign of their conscience that tries to fade away from the guilt. Ursula’s return with Indians with straight hair and dark skin brought them to the discovery of the way to outside world that Jose Arcadio Buendia tried to find outside, in his frustrated search for the great inventions to Macondo. The dwellers in the outside world were familiar with good living; they had connection with the other part of the world through mail system. These shows there are people who found refugee in many other part of the world like people in Macondo and they have escaped from their own guilt and found indulged in other activities in order to run underneath their guilt.

Regression is the returning to an earlier time in our life when we were not so threatened with becoming negative self-concepts. One, remembers, returns to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of an earlier developmental stage as a result of self introspection. Amaranta's one wish is to outlive Rebeca, but death visits her and tells her that instead of making a funeral shroud for Rebeca she needs to make it for herself. Death reminds her that the shroud can be as beautiful, intricate, and time consuming as she wants it to be and that once she's finished she will die, as: Amaranta did not feel frustatred, but, on the contrary, free of all bitterness because death has awarded her the privilege…(OHYS,284)

Amaranta dies as a virgin having gone through a series of rejections, firstly Peitro Crespi followed by Colonel Gerineldo Marquez. During those times, she tried to substitute her missed love with her nephew, Aureliano Jose and small Jose Arcadio later on. Amaranta's fate changed ever since rejection of Peitro Crespi, as she was doomed into long-lasting solitude. Deep inside her love for Peitro Crespi was great but she failed to make it come true. Petra Cotes’ case she is tormented by unknown fear because Aurelaino Segundo started to take better care of Meme. The eldest daughter of Fernanda del Carpio and Aureliano Segundo. Fernanda calls her Renata, but the rest of the family and town call her Meme. She falls in love with Mauricio Babilonia, an auto mechanic, and gives birth to his child Aureliano. When she is caught kissing Mauricio Babilonia, she stops speaking and is sent to a convent, never heard from again. The act of repentence is clear in Fernanda’s decision of sending Meme to conven.Mauricio Babiliona dies of old age in solitude, tormrnted by Meme’s memories, that did not give him a moment’s peace.

It is clearly traced out that the characters in the novel experience defense mechanism such as fear, denial, compensation and regression in their progress throughout the novel. Jose Arcadio Buendia fears to face the reality and so leaves his native and finds his life in Macondo. There he indulges in worldly pursuit to distance himself from his guilt. Jose Arcadio II’s death is mysterious. His fear of marrying his sister urges him to find his death. Arcadio III becomes arrogant due to the inflicted solitude that he experienced since his childhood. Later he indulges in war and finally meets death, the real solitude.

Rebeca, after Jose Arcadio II’s death shuts herself in her house. It is due to her fear of marrying her brother. She ends in solitude. Amaranta weaves her own shroud. She is frightened because of her intention to revenge Rebeca. She is unable to accept anyone’s proposal due to the effect of her intention. Finally, she feels privileged as death has offered her the solitude. The arresting end in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is a full-scale denial of Jose Arcadio’s ill-begotten dream. The novel’s apocalyptic closure is a denial of progress, as conceived by either the scientist or the politician, and a momentary glimpse of the world that might have been, if the great patriarch had not been so carried away with his idea of the future if he had tried, instead, to understand history. Only Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano, the last adults in the line of the Buendias, face the uncertainty of the future.

The major characters starting from the first generation patriarchal Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran to the seventh generation Aureliano and Amaranta deny the reality due to fear and are bound in fantasy as compensation. They indulge in pleasure and luxury seeking actions losing their innocence and land into the state of decadence. Acceptance of guilt in the novel is the reverse pattern of the plot. Finally in the seventh generation, Aureliano and Amaranta’s child is born with pig tail. Their fear for pig tailed child, the main reason for their departure from guilt, comes true as per Melquides manuscript as:

He began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror.(OHYS,442) While Auerelaino deciphers the passage from Melquides manuscript, Macondo gets washed away in flood. Thus returning to its former state of solitude, after one hundred years. The novel says: Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave tat room, for it was forseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilaina would finish deciphering the parchment, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.(OHYS,442) Therefore, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, each character psychologically experience defense mechanism in order to escape from the reality but as per their fate they face their botches i.e. forced to accept the reality.

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