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Home > Free Essays & Book Reports > English > “The Judge’S Wife” By Isabel Allende

“The Judge’S Wife” By Isabel Allende

In “The Judge’s Wife” the author, Isabel Allende, uses a variety of techniques to make full use of the limited space within her short story. By using strong imagery, providing a background, providing believable human actions, and examining justice, M. Allende creates a piece readers can understand to the point of empathy. Because her short story examines human behavior in respect to passions, justice, and emotion (love) in a plausible manner one can find close similarities between her work and that of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The author makes use of imagery to embellish not only upon her environment, but also her characters. M. Allende presents the ideas of corruption, innocence, and strictness simply through well-selected adjectives that lend eloquently to the descriptions of her characters. The strait laced judge being “…dressed formally in black … and his boots always shone with bees wax ” (Allende, 422). One can infer by details such as those that that particular individual appreciates formality, and considering his desert location, a strict adherence to it. The author also uses images of deformity demonstrate the corruption of her main character, Nicholas Vidal; by providing him with four (4) nipples and a scared face the reader can have a visual representation of the character’s tragic formation. In much the same manner, one can see such development within Frankenstein’s creation. The monster’s grotesque outward appearance reflects his corrupted creation. Using such imagery the author allows the readers to form a solid conception of the plight of their characters. Mary Shelly uses lovely poetic imagery in much the same way to define, and give three-dimensional presence to her characters. Such use of imagery for the purpose of character definition can most clearly be seen in her description of her monster: “His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful, Great GOD! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowering; his teeth pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dunwhite sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and strait black lips.” (Shelly, 56) In viewing the above passage, much of the same type of character definition can be seen; very similar to the manner in which Allende casts her deformed mold of her creature, Nicholas. Beyond merely presenting imagery to enhance the characters, the Allende also supplies background information in order to enhance the readers understanding of how the main character arrived at his current state. The author focuses on the main character’s fatherless and loveless conception in order to accentuate how his development occurred. In a similar fashion Allende’s character Nicholas Vidal was conceived in a similar fashion as Frankenstein’s monster. Both are created and ultimately rejected by their creators who attempt to destroy them. These horrid monsters are invariably unwanted by their creators, thus their creators go to great lengths to attempt to snuff out the lives of the creations in order that they not wreak havoc upon the world. Both authors using this particular method of rejection to temper the souls of their monsters to the hardness of iron (Allende, 423). In each case this extreme form of temperament creates an almost supernatural being, filled with great destructive forces. Further extending upon the parallel roles of Nicholas and the Monster, a clear outcasting from society also aids in their murderous temperament. Each character finds himself rejected by society. The monster, from Frankenstein, is rejected by the family he assists solely due to his grotesque appearance. In much the same way Nicholas is assumed early on in his life by “decent folk” to become a criminal due to the telling marks on his face. It may well be said that though the Judge, in his strait laced figure, may not have directly created Nicholas, yet in reality he probably did in deed, like the rest of society, stereotyped and eventually outcast Nicholas based solely upon the scars on his face. In each case the author makes use of societies tendency to categorize and reject an individual based solely on their exterior shells, rather than probing the unique individual. To solely focus upon the main character within this story would be folly when making a true comparison to Frankenstein. Indeed the role of the judge has many overlapping qualities with Victor Frankenstein. Each man peruses, as both texts put it, their own “creature”, to the points of virtual insanity. In doing so, these men put the welfare of their families in danger, and eventually cause their own inevitable demises. In both cases the authors make use of the character’s deep passion for justice: literally in the form of law and figuratively in the form of revenge. Allende takes the judge’s passion a step further into the realm of juxtapose, by having that character create a great injustice in order to attempt to find the justice he seeks. This ironic dual standard for justice presides within Victor Frankenstein as well, and can be seen in the initial and final sequences in the text. His lust for revenge brings him to the poles of the world in search of his horrid creation. Shelly and Allende rely upon the readers understanding of passion to enhance the realistic level of their characters. It is interesting to make note however that both authors severely censure those who go against the grains of natural morality. At this point the characters of the two stories again overlap, being that they both eventually die for the injustices they inflict. The judge ultimately gets killed fleeing from the repercussions of his injustices, while, in slight contrast, Frankenstein dies in the pursuit of avenging his injustice. It should be noted that the antagonists to these characters are not the ones to cause them physical harm, despite their intentions. Rather what kills these characters stems from their internal mechanisms. Another point worth examining in these stories stems from the authors’ use of women, given the consideration that both authors are women. Women in both stories are characterized in victimized roles, in which they are powerless creatures. Yet one must wonder where the motivation, given the gender of the author, for such an exclusion takes place. In societies such as that of 1817 England and 1944 Peru ideas of civil liberties and sexual equality were not as prevalent as in today’s society. As such, it can be inferred that in order to be a published writer in those environments, one would have to appeal to the dominant male market. Yet a contrast between 1817 and 1944 does arise that separates the roles of women within these two periods. In Allende’s 1944 piece she allows the feminine character, although weak and victimized, knowledge and use of her sexual power. In fact the author uses this sexual power to finally bring the main character Nicholas to justice. In looking at women’s roles within both of the stories it becomes relevant to note that each author makes the clear the need for emotional and physical contact from the opposite sex. The authors portraying the idea that “Perhaps a woman’s love would have made” these tortured characters “… less wretched” (Allende, 423). Indeed in The Judge’s Wife much of the main character’s corruption is said to be to this. Similarly within the texts of Frankenstein one can a similar pattern in the request of the creature for feminine companionship. Allende and Shelly both make indications in their texts that this type of love contains both a necessary and satisfying function. Isabel Allende uses a combination of literary tools and techniques to assemble a piece that in some ways reflects a great masterpiece. By refining strong imagery Allende gives the reader the ability to define the character not only through their dialog, but also through the visualization of the character. The author adds another dimension to the side of her main character by including background history. In combining all of these tools the characters are given a realistic overtone that makes this short story easy for the reader to consume and enjoy.


Allende, Isabel; “The Judge’s Wife;” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (Fourth Edition); pg 422- 427; Bedford Books; Boston, MA; 1997 Shelly, Mary; Frankenstein; Penguin Group; New York, New York; 1983

Words: 1396


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