Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The House of the Spirits” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary and analysis of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “The House of the Spirits” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Clairvoyance, Luck, and Fate
Several of the characters in The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende are described as being either clairvoyant (in the case of Clara) or exceptionally lucky (in the case of Alba). These are characteristics that are central not only to the characters’ own identities, but also to the development of the novel as a whole. There are also frequent references to the role that fate plays in the lives of the characters, as well as their larger cultural and political context. Given the centrality of these three abstract concepts, consider your own position with respect to the influence of clairvoyance, luck, and fate in The House of the Spirits. Consider whether you believe that clairvoyance, luck, and fate absolve the characters of personal and social responsibility, or whether these characteristics serve some deeper meaning and function within the text.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Roles of Women in The House of the Spirits
The women in The House of the Spirits are central, dynamic characters who seem to be primarily responsible for driving the plot forward. Their relationships with each other, as well as with the men in their lives, are complex and multi-layered, calling the reader to reflect upon the roles that women occupy in the novel. There are many ways that you can approach this subject. One way may be to write a persuasive essay in which you argue whether The House of the Spirits is a feminist novel. Alternately, you could choose to do an in-depth character analysis of one female character or a comparative analysis of two or more female characters in The House of the Spirits.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Value of Writing
In the beginning of the novel, the reader learns that the story which is to follow is constructed from the material of Clara del Valle’s journal. At the novel’s end, the journal is referenced again, signaling its importance to the reader. Throughout the novel, the act of writing is mentioned or alluded to frequently, particularly as it relates to female characters. For example, the reader is told when Clara and Alba learn to write, and significant moments when writing became important to the women are also noted. Considering the prominent place that writing is given within the novel, determine what this repeated emphasis means on a symbolic level. Convince your reader of your interpretation through the use of selected quotes that support your argument.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #4: Dual Narration
The House of the Spirits has two narrators, one female and one male, each with a distinct narrative voice. Write a persuasive essay in which you attempt to convince your reader to adopt your perspective about the efficacy of this narrative approach. Do not overlook issues such as narrator reliability. Similarly, you should consider whether having two narrators complicates or elucidates the contents and theme of the novel. You may also want to identify how these two narrative voices differ.
This list of important quotations from “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “House of the Spirits” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende they are referring to.
“She was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities, never suspecting that fifty years later I would use her notebooks to reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own.” (3)
“She preferred not to torment her daughter with earthly demands, for she had a premonition that her daughter was a heavenly being, and that she was not destined to last very long in the vulgar traffic of this world.” (7)
“Of all the del Valle children, Clara was the one with the greatest interest in and stamina for her uncle’s stories. She could repeat each and every one of them. She knew by heart words from several dialects of the Indians….” (16)
“I had had to weave my love out of memories and cravings that were impossible to satisfy, out of letters that took forever to arrive and arrived faded, and that were incapable of reflecting the intensity of my feelings or the pain of her absence, because I have no gift for letter-writing and much less for writing about my own emotions.” (32)
“It is a delight for me to read her notebooks from those years, which describe a magic world that no longer exists. Clara lived in a universe of her own invention, protected from life’s inclement weather, where the prosaic truth of material objects mingled with the tumultuous reality of dreams and the laws of physics and logic did not apply.” (72)
“Alba was born feet first, which is a sign of good luck…. ‘There’s no need to worry about this little girl. She will be lucky and she will be happy.” (223)
“She was one of those stoical, practical women of our country, the kind of woman who has a child with every man who passes through her life and… a woman who’s the pillar of many other lives, who raises her children to grow up and leave her and lets her men leave too, without a word of reproach, because she has more pressing things to worry about.” (365)
“It was my grandfather who had the idea that we should write this story.” (366)
“I am beginning to suspect that nothing that happens is fortuitous, that it all corresponds to a fate laid down before my birth….” (367)
“She also helped us write, and thanks to her presence Esteban Trueba was able to die happy, murmuring her name: Clara, clearest, clairvoyant.” (367)