As the title suggests, the novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Garcia Marquez deals with practical and nostalgic love. The author has the ability of portraying excellent determination in his eagerness to develop his stylistic range. Supporting almost a mythical quality grounded with an air of daily gossip, the novel includes descriptions of love which drift between unearthly beauty and terror. Love in the Time of Cholera is a mixture of two contrasting factors: the purity of love, and the way love is personified in everyday life.
Love in the Time of Cholera is seen almost as an anatomy of love. The novel's most original descriptions, both in an anatomical and a creative sense, could be compared to the development from seed to flower in the progression of love out of disrespectful neighborhoods of 'convenience.' ' Most of the meaningless attacks of day to day life, shared by two people who have bonded with each other - all the repulsive smells, undignified tasks and boring routines; all the unspoken bitterness; all the gloomy emphasis on unlived possibilities - are unmercifully described. Love's strength to grow in such dark circumstances, to rise above life's evil forces and still remain slightly unharmed, and to even stay sacred, is perhaps the most expertly portrayed theme in the novel. Just as the superior power of spiritual love may overcome the seriousness of level-headedness, so too it may overwhelm passionate strength, transforming Florentino's nostalgia of love into the reality of love as it must be lived in the present. Ironically, while Dr. Urbino's studies in France include his protection under 'the most outstanding epidemiologist of his time...
professor Adrien Proust, father of the famous novelist,' ' Florentino is fated to live in the haze of a "Proustian nightmare", evoking almost an overfed nostalgia for Fermina. While his time is spent with 622 different lovers, at the end of it all he still considers himself a virgin, untouched by anything other than his unfulfilled love for Fermina. After waiting half a century for Dr. Urbino to pass away, Florentino enthusiastically decides to end his emotional separation of exactly fifty one years, nine months and four day's worth of "unrequited love." Regrettably, he declares his 'vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love'' to Fermina while she is at her husband's funeral, and still in mourning. Outraged by his impulsive timing, Fermina forbids Florentino to return.
However, through a number of letters which are thoughtful and philosophic, rather than flowery and romantic, Florentino continues, and the concluding courtship of Love in the Time of Cholera begins. Concluding in their steamboat voyage on the Magdalena River, the themes of the novel combine in a symbolically complex and emotionally unquestionable adventure. Throughout the final chapter, Garcia Marquez evokes the highest characteristics of love while at the same time sustaining dark humor, '... he looked at her and saw her naked to her waist, just as he had imagined her. Her shoulders were wrinkled, her breasts sagged, her ribs were covered by a flabby skin as pale and cold as a frog's.' ' At one stage during their riverboat journey, Florentino Ariz a reflects on a quote, 'Love becomes greater and nobler in calamity.' After a while, as they paddle down the river, and as they pass the great stretches of bare forests, ''... the nauseating stench of corpses floating down the river...
the bogs of ashes... the vast silence of a ravaged land''. The quote questions the notion of the endurance of values in the middle of decomposition. Florentino's momentary philosophical consideration therefore marks the beginning of history, a beginning which is equally stripped of natural beauty as it is disrespectful in concerns of the soul. When life had been destroyed by the cholera epidemic, the first signs of man-made ecological devastation begin to take charge. Therefore, the trip they take up-river mirrors this historic voyage.
Past the decay of aging experienced in the personal lives of Florentino and Fermina, the aging of South America and of the world-at-large are also revealed. They are unsettled not only by the horrific images, but are also sadly haunted by all that is lost forever. '... the alligators ate the last buttery and the maternal manatees were gone, the parrots, the monkeys, the villages were gone: everything was gone.' However, the imagery of determination remains vaguely balanced beside the human drama of 'love eternal... between the fanciful flights of uncaring youth and the irrevocable termination of death." It is evident, after reading Love in the Time of Cholera that nostalgic love and practical love go hand in hand. This novel has made it clear to me that the purity of love, and the way love is personified in everyday life, are equally important in our day to day lives.
It may be possible that love's purity and its personification in everyday life cannot exist independently. However, this depends on the point of view of the reader, and perhaps even the reader's mood on a particular day. In either case, people will always believe in the purity of love, and love will be personified in our daily lives forever.