Fatal Attractions in Luso-Brazilian Literature: A Study of Machado de Assis, Eca de Queiros and Contemporary Poets

Glenna Berry-Horton
Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of California, Santa Barbara - UNITED STATES, 2005
December, 2005
Doctoral thesis


This dissertation focuses on the works of nineteenth-century writers, Machado de Assis (1839-1908) from Brazil and Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) from Portugal. In their search for love our protagonists confuse sexual allure and psychological obsession with true love which is spiritual. We observe how Machado and Eça guide their characters into adventures that seek love but actually divert it, leading to fatal attractions. Women are treated as less than human except for the Mythical Woman portrayed as both savior and Satan.

The Introduction examines love in Luso-Brazilian literature; proceeding to intellectual thought of the nineteenth-century. The role of women becomes evident through the depiction of men in nineteenth-century writings. The foreword closes with a review of Machado and Eça by their critics.

The two parts of this dissertation study novels and short stories by Machado and Eça Part One, Chapter One contains an analysis of the masks in Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas by Machado and A Relíquia by Eça. Chapter Two focuses on the women within these novels. Chapter three discusses their short stories: "Uns Braços," "Missa do Galo" and "A Causa Secreta" by Machado de Assis and "O Mandarim" by Eça de Queirós.

In Part Two, I consider Machado's and Eça's masterpieces: Dom Casmurro and Os Maias . Chapter One addresses Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro through the critics Hélio Pólvora, Helen Caldwell and Eugênio Gomes. This chapter considers the question of Capitú's adultery and her exile. Chapter Two probes Eça de Queirós's Os Maias , and the struggle with fate, resulting in the loss of the family line.

Through the works of Eça de Queirós and Machado de Assis we understand how fatal attractions are found at the heart of Portuguese and Brazilian literature. A new era begins with the birth of Pessoa in 1888, shortly before the death of Eça de Queirós in 1900. We arrive at the twentieth-century where our Portuguese/Brazilian poets: Manuel Bandeira, Oswald de Andrade, Pessoa, Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Sophia Breyner de Mello and Herberto Helder, continue the thread of fatal attractions in life and love.