Everything in society must progress or be left behind….-Gabriela

“Many men inevitably greeted changes and threatened changes in gender roles with insecurity, frustration, and growing fears of demasculinization.”

In Gabriela, there are two contrasting scenes. As the movie goes on one grows into the other. The first is of the man coming into the house and killing the two lovers. The other is of the couple coming out of the house at the end of the movie after the husband has found them. This progression mirrors the progress of Brazil that also occurs in the movie.

Through the progress that occurs in Brazil Marriage is also progressed. As Besse stated the idea that men killed their wives, as a right was barbaric. For Brazil to be brought up to the civilized “ideal” they had to lose this old tradition. To insist on order the disorder in marriage had to be taken out. This disorder was the relentless unchecked passion. If these passions were not stopped than they would cut down the progress that they had made. As seen in the movie between Mr. Nacib and Gabriela if there is not murder than it does not stop the social progress in the town. In the beginning of the movie when the man knows that his wife is cheating he hires a man that is a peasant to go and kill them. This also contributes to violent peasant involvement. It cut down the decency in the middle class life. It also disrupted the social life in the town. After the murder is committed everyone talks about it and life is stopped. To the modern person in Europe this unchecked male vanity and control of women would have seemed uncivilized. It would be a step back from everything they had worked to.

Like everything in the town marriage had to be modernized, at the end of the movie Mr. Nacib does not kill his wife and the cheater. He says he is afraid that people will judge him but they do not. A decent break up between the two was becoming the norm in the society. To just go back to the way they were. It also helped to set back into civilization a marriage that in itself was uncivilized.

Gabriela is the incarnation of the old peasant population of Brazil. She is the population that is wild and untamed. They are affected by all of changes brought in by the invading population. They new population tries to modernize them. Such as Mr. Nacib with Gabriela. Gabriela is a wild peasant that is brought in and she is fine with the social situation that comes between her and Mr. Nacib. She does not understand the need of marriage. But, just as Brazil is becoming civilized, she is forced into marriage. She tries to fit into the very specific mold that is set for her. She tries to wear the constricting clothes especially the shoes. Her unwillingness to wear shoes is very symbolic of the fact that she cannot change into the progressive strict mold. In the end just like in Brazil there is a population that gets left behind in the modernization. They do not progress but just have to watch and even be exploited.

As Sueann Caulfield argues racial improvement was being tried throughout Brazil especially in the cities. They believed if they made the cities more progressive by bringing in Europeans that it would then make them more European and attract that kind of civilization. The police in defending this progression also promoted the family and the maintaining of it. Through a man killing his wife and her lover it created a scene in which visitors would be privy to. But, if separations were done in a progressive silent manner it would not attract attention. Another perfect example from the movie of such a separation was the professor and his lover. The Colonel went into the house and then the lovers came out and left. One man is even heard during this scene stating this is even to, “This is to progressive for me.”

Caulfield also brings up the idea that Gabriela as “the servant” could have also been constituted in society as a prostitute. This can be seen especially into movie through the contrasting clothes that she wears in the beginning then when she is married to him. Through society’s shunning of this role of prostitute, Mr. Nacib is pressured to marry her to take away this potential label.

Till next week,