Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative Literature


Montano, Rafael


This dissertation seeks to examine the representation of violence in Jorge Amado’s 1958 novel Gabriela, Cravo e Canela, Gabriel García Márquez’ novel La mala hora (1962), Ariel Dorfman’s 1990 play La muerte y la doncella, and the film adaptations of these works. Each of the texts presents a different time frame of violence relative to the establishment of a repressive regime. Amado’s novel shows a society on the eve of a major revolution. In La mala hora, readers are exposed to a regime that has taken over but whose power and authority are being challenged. Lastly, Dorfman’s play focuses on the aftermath of an authoritarian-like regime where democracy exists but must face the burden of the past.

In examining these three texts and the adaptations, I seek to, first, analyze the role of violence in each one. Is violence merely a destructive force? Or does it play a deeper role in society? Secondly, I examine the complex issues that arise when violence occurs in each pair; these points include but are not limited to breaking established traditions, trauma, recovery, reconciliation, justice, and moving on after a violent regime. In doing so, I explain what society can learn from these deeper points addressed by the texts and films. Lastly, with specific regard to the film adaptations, I argue that the way in which violence is depicted (or in some cases is omitted) is a reflection of the society of the target audience. In many cases, the target audience for the book and film are not the same. The movie may be intended for a completely dissimilar culture or audiences within the same nation but from different eras.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis examines the representation of violence in works by Jorge Amado, Gabriel García, Márquez, and Ariel Dorfman alongside the film adaptations based on the source texts. Specifically, I analyze how violence is presented, what deeper and complex issues related to violence are addressed, and what the way violence is represented in the film adaptations teaches us about the society that the film is made for.