Mapping the Male Ego: A Comparative Study of Estaban Trueba in The House of the Spirits and Pedro Musquiz in Like Water for Chocolate


  • Kavya R K Researcher, The Department of Indian & World Literatures, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India


Gender, Masculinity, Male Ego, Essentialism, Social Constructs


Being subjects of the higher order of life that extends beyond primitive means of sustenance, humans are designed to accustom themselves to the dynamic interrelations in society. Social interactions mould everyday life and are also instrumental in forming perceptions about the world. People are required to perform in multiple ways, and this gets them located in various subject positions. “Gender” and its implications as a social construct are of primary concern in this regard. Refined and reinterpreted over time, gender positively incorporates the possibilities for myriad levels of understanding associated with its practice. However, it is when people choose to selectively misconstrue gender roles that it becomes a problematic subject, thereby affecting the healthy existence of the male-female dichotomy in both personal and social spaces. Cultural conditioning and parental rearing are among the major factors that lead to the establishment of essentialist gender roles. Beginning with its base on the Freudian Psychoanalytic theory of male development, “masculinity” has come to be analysed from different standpoints by psychologists and literary theorists alike. In this paper, my attempt is to map the characteristics that outline the “masculinity” and “male ego” of the characters Esteban Trueba from The House of the Spirits and Pedro Musquiz from Like Water for Chocolate. Both the novels, though predominantly female-oriented, provide ample instances to explore the psyche of these not-so-minor male characters.