Gabriela - Progress, One Fair Lady at a Time

 <br /><div class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The film Gabriela, set in a small town in Brazil in the year 1925, tells the story of romance between Nacib, a fairly well-to-do barman, and Gabriela, his cook. After eventually falling in love with the Gabriela, Nacib weds her. The marriage is short-lived, however, as Gabriela, unimpressed with the expectations of her new status, eventually rebels against Nacib, ultimately ending up in bed with another man. Nacib is unable to kill her despite earlier professions that he would do just that should he find his wife in an act of infidelity. As a liberal progress begins to seep through the town, the outlook of relations in the town shifts and Nacib takes Gabriela, despite her unfaithfulness, as a mistress instead of a wife. The events of the film give some insight into the slowly evolving concepts of gender, status, and morality held by inhabitants of Brazil during that time.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>As Chasteen explains, the idea of liberalism and progress had finally come to Brazil by the end of the 19th century. Even toward slavery, the region remained under conservative ideals for quite some time. Although total abolition came to fruition around the time of the fall of the Brazilian monarchy, Gabriela shows that the conservative, patriarchal structure of society was still alive and well. In the film, Nacib views the brutal scene of an adulteress’s punishment. Her husband had slaughtered both her and her lover. According to Besse, before the 1920's, this "crime of passion" was accepted as the right of a cuckolded man. The inception of the Conselho Brasileiro de Hygiene Social, or CBHS, sought to remove this right not for the sake of the violence being exhibited between partners (mainly by men to women), but to improve the vision and status of Brazilian society, giving it the civilized and higher-minded image "fitting" of the growing industrial status of the region.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The predominant concept communicated by the film is society's regard to the status of women in Brazilian society. In the event of acts conceived as sexual vagrancy, such as adultery or prostitution, it is mainly the woman who is portrayed as the most culpable with the victim being the male whose honor is now blemished for not being able to keep her passions under control. Caulfield explains that in early 20th century Brazil, women were perceived to be more susceptible to degeneracy due to their "cranial formations and menstrual cycles" as well as their tendency to be emotional. This "lack of morality" in women was seen as a threat to the conservative family social structure. The character of Gabriela is built to suit this idea. She initially rejects the idea of marriage altogether, enjoying her relationship with Nacib as it was. However, when she is actually married, she does not enjoy the restricted structure of her life as a respectable wife and rebels against it. This confrontation with the Brazilian society's expected ideals results an act of adultery with Nacib's friend. Throughout the ordeal, Nacib and his fellows are mainly concerned not with Gabriela, but with his status in the community. They are able to annul his marriage to maintain his reputation. In taking Gabriela as a lover instead of a wife, Nacib shows that the progressive ideals were indeed making their way toward relationships in Brazil, but the change seemed still to benefit more the status of men than improve the patriarchal suppression of women at the time.</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>