In Reply to: Re: Question about House of Spirits posted by Deanna Gagnon on November 15, 2000 at 10:46:38:
I think what qualifies the relationship between Esteban and his workers as feudal is not the fact that they have no other choices, but that they're simply unaware of them. Probably most of them have lived all their lives in the hacienda - isolated, ignorant and with no communication to the outside world. Therefore they willingly (or at least not reluctantly) accept to work for Esteban, which may probably explain the paternalistic attitude that he assumes toward them. Also, they don't get paid in money for their labor, it is only mentioned that they will get enough food if they stay on the ranch. That again implies feudalism.
However, the application of the bondage contract in the film bothers me too, more specifically the controversy in Esteban's attitude and behavior toward the workers. He is furious when he finds out that Pedro educates them in their rights, he thinks the natives should be kept ignorant and unaware of their rights, but what for? Certainly in order to make them stay on his ranch, but then why does he let Pedro's father as well as his illigitemate son leave? Is it because it has already become obvious that the ranch is collapsing, and he has given up? (which doesn't seem very probable to me since it's not that easy to give up something one has worked all his life for). Or maybe the film itself doesn't display the economic raltionships realistically and in detail enough so that such conclusions could be drawn?
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