Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2011

Document Type



In this paper, I plan to investigate the evolution of the national hero in Brazilian literature, beginning with 19th century romanticism, with the novel Iracema, by José Alencar, and ending with Macunaíma, the famous modernist novel by Mario de Andrade. I will also examine the work of Lima Barreto, an important Brazilian writer whose work represents an important facet of national identity during the transitional period between Romanticism and Modernism. This thesis will focus on national identity and its manifestation in the heroes of these novels. Because it is impossible to properly examine identity in a post-colonial nation without understanding that of the colonizer, I will also briefly consider the literary tradition of Os Lusíadas, by Luis Vaz de Camões, which is universally considered the magnum opus of the Portuguese writer, and literary embodiment of the Portuguese identity. The goal of my study is to first show the shortcomings of Alencar’s Romantic novel as an attempt to distill the Brazilian national identity, and then to define Lima Barreto’s role in the transition from this failure to the overwhelming success of Mario de Andrade. The four principal works that I will use to conduct this investigation are “Os Lusíadas,” “Iracema,” “O triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma” and “Macunaima.” I will also use literary criticism and short stories to further expand on the writers and their contributions to the project of defining Brazilian national identity. This paper is written in the Portuguese language.