Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

The movie Women on the Urge of a Nervous Breakdown is not distinctly connected with the book The House of Spirits. The reader has to closely evaluate the themes of feminism and power within both works of art. In the movie, we see the main characters as predominately women as we see in The House of Spirits. Not only this but yet again we see the men holding some form of power and wealth. Ivan (Pepa’s lover), in the movie Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (WOUNB), is an extremely popular and wealthy man. In House of Spirits we see Esteban holding even more power being a wealthy politician who owns a whole community as well (Tres Marias). I noticed that with this “power” the men in both works derive a specific attitude. Ivan assumes that Pepa is ignorant and will fail to figure out why he hasn’t returned her calls. Esteban assumes the same of Clara when he becomes bored and begins to resume his affairs with peasants and prostitutes. Also when I see Clara stuck in moments of silence (pregnancy) or clairvoyance or when she tries to become politically active (when she joins the feminist organization), I notice that Esteban automatically assumes she is incompetent or laughs at her. So in conclusion I notice that men automatically assume that women, in their natural states of mind, are hysterical or outrageous. The article from the guardian supports this notion by giving an example of Harriet Harman (female politician ) and how she is described in a news article. The article mentions that instead of “proposing policies” she embarked on a “crazy crusade”. Now regardless of Harman’s policies or views, it obvious to see belittlement of Harman solely because of her gender. There are countless other modern day examples of sexism towards women that I will not go into detail about. My point is that men usually have higher positions within society, especially today, and with this power we see the overall attitude of men towards women (working in the same fields) as belittling. An overlapping theme that I mentioned in my last blog was the power of women. The women in The House of Spirits are strong in the deepest form of the word as well as the women portrayed in WOUNB. These women are not physically strong but mentally and spiritually powerful, which is something that most of the male characters in both plots lack. Pepa is independent before she even meets Ivan and has a successful career in the acting department. From figuring out Ivan’s plans to drugging investigating cops, Pepa is the ultimate badass within the movie and her strength and wittiness are portrayed even further when she saves Ivan’s life yet still walks away from him. I could compare this to the strength that Clara possesses as she is able to ignore/tolerate Esteban and still be able to find joy through other things. Esteban cannot get over this and becomes obssessed with her till the day he dies. I think it’s ironic to see the man with so much power and prowess (who even believes that Clara is ignorant) to succumb to her mental and spiritual strength. In conclusion I believe that both power and feminism stood out as some of the more important and clear themes within both works.


Nunn, Gary. “The Feminisation of Madness Is Crazy | Mind Your Language.”The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Canby, Vincent. “Concentric Eccentricities in Almodovar Tale.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Sept. 1988. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Sutton, Ed. “Plot Summary.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.



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