Gabriela, is a movie about gender struggles and freedoms in Brazil and the hierarchy portrayed between sexes at that time. The movie was able to depict the general theme of the problems between genders of that time and the conflicts that went on during marriages and specifically that of adultery between husband and wife. In the film it was more commonly shown that the wives were the figures in the marriage committing a crime against the promise of marriage and therefore being ’justifiably’ man-slaughtered along with their lovers by their husbands. Susan Besse speaks in her article that this “epidemic” certainly did occur but more than likely not to the extent that Brazilian media wrote about. Besse hypothesizes that another part of the rising statistics of female murders by their husbands rose also in part due to the obsession of the public by these events. This is also demonstrated in the film by the murder at the beginning of the movie that Mr. Nacib witnesses after the fact as the husband was walking out of the house he had just murdered his wife and her lover in. Mr. Nacib quickly goes to the bar he works at and starts spreading the news. Men begin talking of how they agree of the wife and her lovers fate and that “if it had happened to them, they would’ve done the same.” Throughout the movie female and lover murders are repeatedly talked about at tables and between colleagues suggesting that it was overwhelmingly apart of everyday society in Brazil.
When Mr. Nacib finds his wife, Gabriela, in bed with not only another man, but his best friend he takes a few swings, says his piece and sends them on their way. He chooses not to react with such violence that involves murder but instead takes his chances with being shunned and laughed at in society. Besse states that it was often the fact that a cukolded man who didn’t respond to his wife’s adultery in a violent manner and taking his revenge was “scorned and disrespected, thrashed by ridicule and wounded by the most burning irony.” This was truthfully portrayed in the film by Mr. Nacib by after his lack of actions towards his wife and lover, he spoke to a friend of leaving town and escaping the humiliation of not doing anything. During this time period it was somewhat permitted to act in such irrational ways as to murder ones wife, because the law had stated that during such times of finding out shocking information to that extent, one was unable to control their actions, therefore it was unjust to prosecute them for what they had done. Sueann Caulfield notes that “men possessed their honor through the ‘honesty’ of women.” This hierarchy of marriage allowed the punishment and maltreatment towards women and Caulfield even went on to state in her article that “when diverted from their natural functions in the home, women easily became degenerate and instigated men to commit antisocial acts.” Gabriela was a different woman, and this could be seen from the beginning of the film by her free spirit and her love of dancing and having fun with the children. She never acted like a bourgeoisie, household wife like the country was so adamantly pushing for all wives to be. Even Mr. Nacib knew she was different which is why he had falsified papers for her and hid the fact she was illiterate. According to Caulfield, women of this nature was somewhat predetermined to seclude themselves from society and any type of normalcy.
Fortunately for Gabriela, times had began to change and men were beginning to have to account for their actions with jail time and a ruined lifestyle afterwards. Susan Besse speaks of how modernity had brought Brazil men’s honor being based on their own actions and not of those that their wife carried out. Women had become free individuals with their consequences to their actions and the outcome had nothing to do with their husband and he should therefore not have his honor depend on her actions. The film again portrays this transition into a more civilized society with the conviction of the first murder seen in the movie of a husband killing his wife.
Overall the movie portrayed a reasonable and reliable portrayal of the general theme that was occurring in Brazil during this time period and the changes in beliefs but yet the notion to uphold a controlled and noble community.