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The House of the Spirits

Isabel Allende

Analysis of Major Characters

Character List

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols


Clara is barely aware of the material world. She is most interested in communicating with spirits and only pays attention to mundane details such as domestic chores in times of extreme necessity. Clara is often described as floating through the world. At times, this refers to her literally levitating, at others it shows the way she is able to ignore much of what she does not want to deal with. Clara's temper is extremely calm. She inspires great respect and devotion in all those who meet her, from Esteban to his sister Ferula to his foreman Pedro Segundo. Although she can see it in advance, Clara never fights her destiny. She is not, however, passive. When she faces a situation that she does not like, she proceeds to change it in quiet, subtle ways, such as adding little rooms to the big house on the corner bit by bit until, although it looks the same on the outside and is completely transformed. Clara's character changes very little as she grows from a young girl to an old woman.


Blanca is very close to her mother and very distant from her father. She is raised by Clara and Ferula together and quickly devises illnesses that get her returned home when she is sent away to school. Unlike her mother, Blanca is quite practical. After her divorce from Jean de Satigny, and even more so after Clara's death, Blanca runs the big house on the corner. Like both of her parents, Blanca is incredibly stubborn. Even while she runs his house, she never asks for a cent from her father, instead supporting herself through her ceramics.

Blanca's character is defined primarily by her love for Pedro Tercero. However, she is not simply attached to him. In fact, for most of the novel she is separated from Pedro Tercero as much by her own choice as by outside circumstance. It is precisely the idea of her love for Pedro Tercero that defines Blanca more than any actual relationship the two may have.


Alba is defined primarily through the affects she has on those around her and through her reactions to their actions. It is in fact in reaction to her detention, torture, and rape at the hands of Esteban Garcia that she convinces her grandfather to help her write the story of their family in order to, as she puts it, "reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own."

Esteban Trueba

Esteban is obsessive, violent, and materialistic. He devotes his life to his business and political careers, determined first to become rich and then to become powerful. He owes much of his success to the labor of the peasants at Tres Marias, but he never treats them with respect or equality. From the time he becomes engaged to Clara through the end of his life, Esteban is passionately in love with her. His love for her is so strong it is like an obsession. It is not, however, enough to curb his temper, even toward her. Esteban achieves his material goals but is not able to be close to anyone except his granddaughter Alba. As he ages, Esteban begins to see the negative outcomes of his violent, selfish actions and becomes increasingly aware of how lonely he is.

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