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Exploring the Complex Character of Amadeo in Isabel Allende’s ‘If You Touched My Heart’

Jun 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

in “If You Touched My Heart,” Allende tells a story where the main character is Amadeo. Amadeo is thirty years old, a young man who has been forced into a life that he did not want. In essence the books centers on the tragedy that is Amadeo’s life. It seems that though he is successful, he can never find true happiness and in the end his own success destroys him. Though a humble, happy boy at the beginning of the story, he quickly transforms into the villain that his father desired. It is important to note the contrasting background, while Amadeo does not make decisions with his own will, he is rich and pretentious; on the other hand Hostensia comes from a poor home and background which sets her fate seemingly.


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Obedient: the main trait seen with regard to Amadeo is that he is obedient at least to his father. Cox (2003) states that the obedience of Amadeo has been a point of controversy for main critics. On the one hand, his obedience is seen as a sign of respect while on the other hand it is a sign of fear for his father. Unable to contradict and say no to his father, Amadeo is forced to slowly seduce a village “sweetheart”. The relationship that develops thereof is as a result of seeking his father’s approval. He seeks a woman he has no desire for, seduces her and a relationship ensues just so that he does not disappoint his father.

Gullible: Amadeo seems less strong willed and gullible as the story progresses. First, he begins a relationship with a woman simply because he is afraid to stand up to his father. He then joins life as a ruffian even though he does not approve or like the life he has been drawn to simply because all the male members of the clan are ruffians. In later years, we see Hostensia playing to his gullibility by begging him to rekindle their romance which leads to a complicated life for both of them. However, as Amadeo spends more time with Hostensia, in the cellar we see him develop a completely opposite side to the gullibility. Instead, he develops a villainous, manipulative side; convincing Hostensia who is locked in a cellar that despite the treatment he has granted her, he actually loves her (85).

Protective: while many critics view Amadeo’s actions, locking up Hostensia as a growth in his villain character, it seems more protective as one becomes aware of his intentions. In (pg78), it is seen that he has locked her in the cellar simply because he has a ravishing appetite for her and he fears she will be discovered by both the villagers and the gang of ruffians. However, it’s not just protection he is concerned about, Baldick (1992) states that this is just a front. Amadeo is more afraid that the villagers and the gang of ruffians would take away Hostensia from him. Since he has a ravishing appetite, and he thinks he cannot survive without her, he locks her up in a cellar where she cannot be found.


In conclusion, Amadeo’s character in “If You Touched My Heart” is a testament to the complexity of human nature. Though initially presenting himself as obedient and gullible, he undergoes a profound transformation that defies expectations. While his actions may be perplexing and at times morally questionable, they reveal the depth of his desires, fears, and the intricate web of emotions that shape his decisions. Amadeo embodies the inherent tragedy that exists within the world, where individuals grapple with conflicting forces, societal expectations, and their own internal struggles. Through his journey, Isabel Allende prompts us to ponder the enigmatic nature of human existence and the profound impact our choices can have on our lives and the lives of those around us. Amadeo serves as a poignant reminder that understanding the complexities of individuals is no easy task, as they possess the capacity for both transformation and tragedy, mirroring the intricate tapestry of the human experience.


Baldick, C. (1992). The Oxford book of gothic tales. Oxford [England: Oxford University Press.

Cox, K. C. (2003). Isabel Allende: A critical companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

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