Thursday, February 23, 2012

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World"

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" starts with the children playing on the beach with the waterlogged body of a dead man and ends with the town changing the appearance of their doors and buildings to honor this dead man they never knew. For the purposes of this essay, I want to focus on the metaphor of celebrity culture found in this "handsomest drowned man in the world" and this town's reaction to him.This dead stranger, who "has the face of someone called Esteban," according to the oldest woman in the town, is treated to a cleaning by all the women in this town. They notice the vegetation and dirt they are rubbing off of him is from "faraway oceans and deep water". He is not one of them. This adds to his mysterious, exotic nature. They clean him up and stitch him a set of clothes. Then, they sit around him, fascinated by his huge size and his beauty". Oftentimes in our culture, celebrities live lives completely removed from ours, yet people sit around fascinated by them. They endlessly discuss their beauty, their clothing, and what they do with their time. And here, we have this same thing happening. This handsome drowned man who lived his entire life completely removed from this tiny village is suddenly now almost being worshipped by the villagers. They imagine him having the best house and the "happiest woman" for his wife. They imagine that "he would have had so much authority that he could have drawn fish out the sea simply by calling their names". This larger-than-life, skewed view of this man is similar to our culture's view of celebrities.
Finally, in our culture's obsession with beauty and glamour, it is often tempting to compare our significant others with the Brad Pitts or Angelina Jolies of the day. In the same way, the women in this tiny little village look upon Esteban and "secretly (compare) him to their own men, thinking that for all their lives (their own men) were incapable of doing what (Esteban) could do in one night". They make assumptions based on Esteban's looks and begin to fantasize about his accomplishments. This causes a great deal of discontent with the men in their own lives, the men who have most likely loved them and provided for them. Now, a handsome (but still very much dead) man shows up on their beach, and the women decide he beats their husbands and brothers hands down. They become enamored with his looks and the strength he most likely possessed and seem to be willing to trade away the men in their lives now. They see him as "the most peaceful and most obliging man on earth," when in all reality, he was just a man. He had his own faults and shortcomings, but none of the women in the village seem to comprehend this. They see him as perfect. This is a sad comment on celebrity culture this idea that there is that ideal of perfection in another human being. All faults are glossed over, and only Esteban's exotic, mysterious, faade of perfection is left for the villagers to mourn.

chevlyn fernandes roll no 12

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