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Shvoong Home>Books>Slave Isaura Review

Slave Isaura

Book Review   by:tscribe     Original Author: Bernardo Guimaráes
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This abstract was translated from A Escrava Isaura
 
On a magnificent farm, in the municipality of Campos de Goitacases (Rio de Janeiro) lives Isaura, a pretty slave with skin the colour of ivory. Isaura is the daughter of a beautiful slave who, since she will not submit to the sordid wishes of the commander, Almeida, suffers the most terrible deprivations. She has an affair with the supervisor Miguel, who is a good man and does not carry out the instructions to punish her ordered by his master, Isaura being the result of this relationship. Isaura is educated by the wife of the commander, and already endowed with natural kindness and warm-heartedness she also learns to play the piano and to read and write Italian and French. The wife of the commander wishes to free Isaura, but does not in order to keep her near to her and so to have company. Sr Almeida retires, retreating to the court and hands over the farm to his son Leôncio. He is a worthy heir of all the bad taste and debauchery of the commander. He marries for financial gain. He harbours for Isaura the most blind and violent love. He comes to the farm with his wife - Malvina - and his brother-in-law - Henrique. Malvina is a docile woman and she treats Isaura very well. Henrique is a rich son, a student of medicine, and is also touched by the beauty of Isaura. The mother of Leôncio dies without leaving a will that would free Isaura. Henrique quickly realizes Leôncio's intentions towards Isaura. Being afraid that he will betray his sister, he warns that he will not tolerate such an act. Henrique offers himself as a lover to Isaura and would give her her freedom in exchange. The gardener of the farm, a deformed being and abject, also offers himself as a lover. Isaura pays no attention to these proposals and vows never to marry without love. Leôncio is seen by Henry and Malvina when making a similar proposal to Isaura. Malvina pronounces: either her (Isaura) or me. In the midst of the heated discussion, the father of Isaura appears with sufficient money, an enormous amount of 10 contos, to buy her freedom in accordance with that which had been promised by the commander Almeida. Leôncio does not accepted the money giving empty excuses. Leôncio's father dies and he feigns immense sadness for days. After a certain time, Malvina continues to apply pressure to free Isaura. With Leôncio's excuses and dilatoriness, she decides to return to her father's house. With her exit the way is free for the indecent intentions of Leôncio. As Isaura continues to resist, Leôncio threatens torture. Miguel, knowing this, decides to escape with Isaura to the North. Arriving in Recife, the lovely Venice of America, Isaura changes her name to Elvira and Miguel his to Anselmo and they start to live on a smallholding in the district of Santo Antônio. Álvaro is a rich young man, son of an opulent family of distinction, liberal, republican and abolitionist to the extreme. He catches sight of Isaura when she is walking near to his smallholding and gets to knows her, visiting her constantly. Álvaro uses all his means to convince Isaura to go to a ball with him. Isaura does not want to go because she feels it means deceiving society and deluding her lover.
She several times tried to tell Álvaro that she is an escaped slave, but can't find the courage. She only accepts to go arguing that such reclusive behaviour would awaken the attention of the police. Isaura senses a bad presage about the ball. At the ball, Isaura stands out among all the women because of her beauty and her excellent ability at the piano. However, she is recognized by Martinho - a student, lustful with a sordid greed - who is holding back from announcing the secret that she is an escaped slave. He provokes a scandal during the ball and Isaura confesses in front of everyone that she is a slave. Álvaro, nonetheless, defends her and acts as her guarantor, so that she does not fall into the filthy hands of Martinho. He, not being able to take hold of her, writes to Leôncio informing him that he has found his slave. Thanks to the valuable intervention of Álvaro, Miguel and Isaura continue on his smallholding in Saint Antônio awaiting the result of the actions that he has promised to take. While Álvaro is at the smallholding with Isaura, Leôncio appears by surprise and demands to take Isaura. Leôncio obtains a warrant for the arrest of Miguel and guards to take his slave. A heated argument ensues and Álvaro strikes towards Leôncio. The fight ceases with the appearance of Isaura who delivers herself to her master. Isaura returns to the farm where where she is kept in the most complete seclusion. Leôncio would like to be reconciled with Malvina, since he is going to need his money. Miguel is duped into chains and convinced to try to persuade Isaura to get married to Belchior, the gardener on the farm, in exchange for his freedom and that of his daughter. Isaura accepts the sacrifice since she is without strength and without hope. Leôncio has already made all arrangements for the marriage, when he is informed that some gentlemen have arrived. Thinking it is the vicar and the public notary, he says to let them enter. He is taken by surprise to see Álvaro. He has gone to the Rio de Janeiro and discovered from traders that Leôncio is bankrupt. He buys and becomes the owner of the whole of Leôncio's debt. Álvaro tells Leôncio that he no longer owns anything, that the whole his farm including the slaves have become his in the liquidation of his debts. Isaura embraces Álvaro. Leôncio swears that he will never plead for his generosity to relieve the debt. He goes from the room and commits suicide.
Published: July 19, 2006   
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