The novel “Love in the Time of Cholera,” basically defines love as a curse or sickness rather than simply a feeling. This best exemplified by Florentino Arizam one of the main characters in the novel, as he is seemingly cursed with an obsession for his love, Fermina Daza.
Generally, throughout the entire story, it was depicted that Florentino loved Fermina so much that it nearly drove him insane. It basically began when Florentino and Fermina were still young. Everyday Florentino would watch Fermina as she walks to her school. When Florentino was able to muster enough courage to approach Fermina, he did so very aggressively as he insisted that she asked permission from her father in order for him to be able to court her.
Even though Fermina showed no interest in him, Florentino still persisted and even went as far as saying that his need for her and his desire to be with her was a matter of life and death. This basically shows that from the start, Florentino was already determined to get Fermina.
In addition to that, Florentino’s obsession for Fermina could be not hindered by Lorenzo Daza, the latter’s father who forbade his daughter from marrying him. Even when Lorenzo took Fermina away on a journey, Florentino still found a way to secretly send telegrams to her, which basically stresses the fact that his feelings towards her were more of an obsession.
However, although Florentino’s expressions of his unfaltering love for Fermina can be initially viewed as admirable acts, it also showed the damages that love can do to a person. Basically, Florentino’s obsession towards Fermina can be likened to a disease called cholera, which was shown as an epidemic in the story in the story.
Basically, like cholera, Florentino is “lovesick” as he resorts to doing unusual things just to satisfy his desire for Fermina. In addition, when the two were away from each other, Florentino ate grass and drank cologne simply because he wanted to be familiar with her scent.
Moreover, when he was away from Fermina, Florenino would engage in sexual intercourse with several women just to satisfy his need for her. Although he promised to himself that he would reserve his virginity solely to Fermina, he was forced to break that vow because he felt that resorting to sexual intercourse would somehow alleviate the pain of being unable to be with her. In addition, as he was having sex with Rosalba, he was also thinking of his tormented love for Fermina which shows that sexual intercourse was a temporary antidote for his incurable sickness or obsession.
In other words, although in the modern world, love is generally perceived as a positive feeling, in the story it was depicted as both a physical and mental illness which is why it can be closely likened to cholera, which is a disease characterized by severe dehydration and vomiting. Florentino was so obsessed with Fermina that he was no longer able to function normally without thinking of her first. In addition, this also showed that his love for her not only physically ill but also mentally disturbed.
Furthemore, in the story, marriage was perceived as something that can be simply forced on someone instead of something that is governed by freedom of choice. This was basically shown when Lorenzo refused to allow her daughter, Fermina, to marry Florentino even though she had already accepted his proposal.
Moreover, even though Lorenzo knew that his refusal to allow her daughter to choose whom she wants to marry was similar to the disapproval of his wife’s family of their marriage, he still forced his will on Fermina which shows that he did not learn from his past mistakes. He still allowed history to repeat itself as he forced Fermina to marry Dr. Juvenal Urbnino.
Furthermore, in the novel, marriage was characterized as a means to commit infidelity as Dr. Urbino himself had an affair with a woman named Barbara Lynch. In addition, it was shown throughout the story that both Dr. Urbino and Fermina were not a happy with their marriage as they would constantly argue over the simplest things such as a little bar of soap.
This basically showed that since the two did not truly love each other, they were unable to live a happy and normal marriage. Moreover, this also supports the traditional definition of marriage which states that both the man and the woman must willingly agree in order for the bond to be successful and long lasting.
In short, the novel basically defined love and marriage as mere compulsive obsessions. The novel’s definition of love and marriage deviates from the dogmatic and traditional definitions which basically state that the two are sacred and long lasting bonds between two people that are governed by divine laws.
Basically, in the novel, love was defined as a feeling that can drive a person insane to the point that it becomes similar to a disease that cannot be simply cured which is best illustrated by Florentno’s obsession for Fermina.On the other hand, marriage was defined as a bond in which one cannot freely choose whom he or she would like to marry but rather as something that can be forced on a person by anyone.