Author: Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Publish Date: 1899
Genre: Fiction, Realism, Psychological Novel
Page Length: Approximately 240 pages (may vary depending on the edition)
Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis, published in 1899, is a fictional and psychologically intense novel that explores themes of love, jealousy, memory, and deception. The story is narrated by Bento Santiago, a middle-aged man known as Dom Casmurro, as he recounts his past and reflects on his relationships with his childhood sweetheart Capitu, his best friend Escobar, and the doubts that have haunted him throughout his life.
The narrative is divided into three parts which progressively delve deeper into the reflective mind of Dom Casmurro, providing insight into his recollections and motivations.
The novel begins with Dom Casmurro's recollections of his childhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Living in a modest home, he describes his father's death and his mother's subsequent decision to send him to the seminary to study for the priesthood. However, Casmurro's encounter with Escobar, a charismatic and charming schoolmate, alters his path and ignites their lifelong friendship.
As the narrative progresses, Dom Casmurro details his blossoming love affair with his childhood friend, Capitu. Their friendship evolves into a passionate romance, but they keep it a secret due to their fear of criticism. Meanwhile, Casmurro's relationship with his best friend Escobar grows closer, forming a powerful bond between the three.
However, as time goes on, Dom Casmurro begins to harbor doubts about his wife's fidelity, particularly surrounding the paternity of his son, Ezequiel. These suspicions arise due to a chance resemblance between his son and Escobar. Interactions between Capitu and Escobar, though seemingly innocent, further fuel his growing jealousy.
The final part of the book delves deep into Dom Casmurro's tormented mind, as he struggles with his jealous thoughts and attempts to make sense of his past. The narrative becomes more introspective and philosophical, as Casmurro contemplates his memories, his aging self, and the impact of jealousy on his relationships.
Throughout the novel, Machado de Assis masterfully portrays the complexities and contradictions of human nature, exposing the flaws and vulnerabilities of his characters. Dom Casmurro's unreliable and guilt-ridden narration raises questions about the reliability of memory and the power of deception.
The character of Dom Casmurro is a compelling study of jealousy, as he grapples with his conflicting emotions and struggles to discern reality from imagination. Capitu, a vivacious and intelligent woman, is portrayed with nuance, complicating the reader's understanding of her true character. Escobar, Dom Casmurro's best friend, serves as the object of his jealousy and provides a catalyst for the unraveling of their relationships.
Thematically, Dom Casmurro explores the nature of love, the fragility of relationships, and the destructive power of jealousy. It delves into the intricate web of human emotions and the unreliability of memory, engaging readers in a captivating and thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche.
This poignant and introspective novel by Machado de Assis has established itself as a classic of Brazilian literature and an important work within the broader context of world literature. Dom Casmurro continues to resonate with readers today, provoking discussions about the complexities of love, trust, and the subjective nature of truth.