You’re Just as Sane as I am

Pretty much everything that happened in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was utterly ridiculous. If you could get past what was literally happening, like a woman accidentally setting her bed on fire, staring at it for a few minutes, then realizing it was probably a good idea to put the fire out, then you could really focus on the themes and ideas presented in the film.

Although the film title suggests it’s about a bunch of crazy women, I think it’s really about the women’s strength. This is especially true for the main character, Pepa, who unfortunately had to deal with everyone else’s problems. She had to deal with Candela, who slept with a terrorist and was paranoid about the police arresting her, Marisa, who was way too rude until she accidentally drank sleeping pills and woke up feeling ~F A N T A S T I C~, and Lucía, who basically tried to kill Pepa and her ex-lover at the end of the movie. And also she had her own problem of trying to kill the same crappy guy that Lucía was going to kill. With all of this heavily weighing on her, Pepa manages to pull it together and take care of everyone’s problems through her strength. She basically knocks out the people who were investigating Candela, gets Lucía arrested for attempted murder, takes care of Marisa while she was knocked out, and courageously saves her ex-lover only to tell him that she’s a strong independent woman who don’t need no man. And this all happened in one day. Basically Pepa is OP, and all women should be like her when crazy things happen to them.

It only seems unfair to have named the film how it was named because of the stigma our society has for women. This problem was analyzed in an article by Gary Nunn, in which he shows how powerful language can be. Our society has made a strong and unjust link between women and madness that is reflected through our language. Of course, this is supported by the use of the word hysteria, which used to be a legit diagnosis for women, and only women, really.

Another commentary on this unfair association is in the novel, The House of the Spirits. In the novel, Clara is sometimes described as crazy, or at the very least abnormal, because of her spiritual abilities. She even said herself that “‘in almost every family there’s a fool” and that they are “kept out of sight as if they were something to be ashamed of” (Allende, 293). This is exactly what happened to Clara when she was a child. She was kept indoors, away from the public so no one would notice her peculiarities. As the plot progresses, however, she becomes one of the wisest and strongest characters because of her abilities. I mean, she had the strength to put up with Esteban for all those years.


Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1985. Print.

Mujeres Al Borde De Un Ataque De Nervios. Dir. Pedro Almodóvar. Perf. Carmen Maura. 1988. DVD.

Nunn, Gary. “The Feminisation of Madness Is Crazy | Mind Your Language.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

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Moms’ Reactions to Murder and Porn

Volver, directed by Pedro Almodóvar, and The House of the Spirits, written by Isabel Allende, both present important themes through each of their stories. One of the most evident themes is the strength of maternal love.

In Volver we see Raimunda who is a strong-willed woman who has “room for every emotion except self-pity,” (). Instead, she turns her sentimental feelings towards her daughter, Paula. Throughout the movie, we see Raimunda go to great length to protect her daughter, Paula, after she is almost raped by her dad, Paco. Paula accidentally stabs her dad and leaves him to bleed out in the kitchen for her mother to take care of, and   Raimunda is just like “yeah, sweetie, I’ll take care of it.”

Raimunda deals with the body without batting an eye. To cover up the incidental stabbing, she struggles to stuff Paco into a refrigerator. I guess her husband’s death didn’t weigh too heavily on her conscious because she has time to open up a successful restaurant and flirt with the film crew while her dead husband is being chilled to perfection. Luckily, she realizes that storing a dead body in the restaurant freezer is against health regulations, so she enlists her prostitute friend to help her bury the body because if anyone knows how to bury a body, it’s going to be the neighborhood prostitute.

In the end, Raimunda successfully gets away with disposing the body, and her and Paula are able to live happily. She did everything in her power to deal with Paula’s incident and continued to provide for her financially, as well as emotionally. The bond between Raimunda and Paula is extremely strong, and this instance only provides evidence for how far a mother would go to take care of her children.


In chapter 8 of The House of the Spirits we read some crazy shit. Poor pregnant Blanca is exiled to the desert with her new husband because she went and got pregnant with the man her dad hates the most. While there, she stumbles upon her husband’s secret lair of porno starring himself, his Indian servants, and a llama. Kinky. Horrified, Blanca is like “omg, my baby can’t see this” and waddles to the train station so she can live with her mother. Just like with her own mother, Blanca already shows a deep connection with her unborn child. As Blanca progresses through her pregnancy, she spends her time knitting the baby clothes and having conversations with her/him/it. Similar to Clara, Blanca connects with her child through conversations and stories. Because Clara had spent so much time treating Blanca like an adult and telling her all of their family stories, their relationship has developed into, arguably, the strongest relationship in the novel. This type of love, a nurturing and caring love, is vastly contrasted with the kind of love one feels with a husband or wife. So far, the husband-wife relationships in this novel have been no bueno, which helps make the loving relationships between the mothers and their children more obvious.



Ebert, Roger. “Volver Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) | Roger Ebert.” Roger Ebert.

N.p., 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

Scott, A. O. “The Darkest of Troubles in the Brightest of Colors.” Rev. of Volver. The New

York Times. The New York Times, 3 Nov. 2006. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.



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Clara the Adult

I have to admit I found the fifth chapter of The House of the Spirits a little less interesting than previous chapters. This chapter is titled The Lovers, which is spot on because it is basically all about how Blanca and Pedro Tercero are sneaking out at night to “insatiably [enter] each other’s skins” (Allende 157). We get it, they love each other. *rolls eyes*

Besides their many night time adventures, this chapter sets up a lot for what is to occur later in the novel. The most obvious is the volcanic eruption that Clara predicted would be devastating, but no one took her seriously (158). This leads to the total destruction of the Trés Marías, the death of Nana, and the immobility of Esteban Trueba (karma’s a bitch, bro). Most importantly, we finally see some significant character development with Clara. Up until now, Clara has neglected her “duties” as a wife and has not even thought about domestic chores. Instead, she fills her time talking to spirits and meeting other people with similar abilities. Because of Esteban can only shout his demands from his little hut and express his anger by banging his cane around, Clara is forced to be grounded in the present and take on some  of that “earthly power” that we talked about in class. She had to, “for the first time in her life,”  take charge without the help of others (because they are all dead or immobile), which I think she should have done, idunno, maybe when she had her first child (164).

Clara waking up to her responsibilities:

The change in her character was not only evident to the reader, but also to other characters in the novel, such as Blanca who saw how she changed from a “lighthearted, absent-minded angel” into an “efficient woman with callused hands” (167). Her learning about responsibility is great for a mom (better late than never), but I think we should hope that she stays in touch with her spiritual abilities. After all, her ability has been a vital part of her character and an important tool for the progression of the novel, thus far. Her prophesies have predicted the deaths of Rosa and her parents, every earthquake, the names and numbers of her children, and the death of Férula. Furthermore, as Professor Duffey has mentioned before, the characters’ names in this novel are symbolic. Clara, as my group has discussed, is similar to clairvoyant, so having Clara lose touch with her abilities really wouldn’t make much sense, would it?

That Awkward Moment When an Atheist Goes to Church

Can we talk about that scene where the del Valle family has to run out of mass because of Clara (7)? Specifically, I found it interesting how Allende alluded to a biblical reference in describing the situation. Of course, I am talking about Lot’s wife. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is basically about this crappy city that God decides needs to be destroyed because of its overall sinfulness and Lot’s family is allowed to escape under one condition: no one is allowed to turn around and look at the city being torn apart. As you may guess, Lot’s wife ends up looking back and is turned into a pillar of salt in an instant.

So why did Allende use this reference? Looking at both of the stories superficially, I find it interesting that the del Valle family is the one fleeing from the scene when the leader of their household is atheist because in the Bible. And in this situation Father Restrepo is similar to Sodom, the city that was destroyed, even though he is a representative of the church.

I found this part interesting, and maybe I am looking to hard at it, but I decided to blog about it any way. It originally caught my attention because I read a poem about Lot’s wife in a previous English class and it made me think about the meaning of the poem, as well.

Pan’s Labyrinth

I honestly had to look up how to spell Pan’s Labyrinth before I started this post.

The film was interesting, but besides entertainment purposes I tried to understand how the film connected to my CI course which focuses on stories. Specifically, how stories function in our daily lives and if fictional stories are more or less important than true stories. I believe this film supports the idea that fictional stories are just as valuable in explaining our reality as true stories are. This is demonstrated through Ophelia’s interactions with the faun and the many tasks he gives her to complete. Throughout the film Ophelia is tested by the faun, and in the end it is through the tasks that she is able to understand selflessness and decency. By understanding these qualities, she is able to understand the Fascist  environment that she lives in and is able to not only understand its flaws, but to also break free from it through self-sacrifice. Although a fantastical example, Pan’s Labyrinth demonstrates the role of fairy tales and folk stories in our understanding of our world.


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