It is only now that he realizes the superiority of Nature to Science. This truth had been presented to him in the opening chapter but he had failed to see it. He persists in continuing his journey, although he does not know where he is, because he is sure that by following the advice of the townsfolk of Villamojada, «adelante, siempre adelante», he will reach the mines at Socartes. Or, as he declares confidently: «No puedo equivocarme [...]. La ley universal de la locomoción no puede fallar en este momento»(703). The directions seem wonderfully apposite for a 19th century Positivist as Teodoro gleefully remarks: «me gusta esta frase, y si yo tuviera escudo, no le pondría otra divisa» (703). But the further he progresses, the more lost he finds himself. Eventually, he is forced to come to a halt and to sit down on a stone awaiting the appearance of the moon. It is the sweet voice of Nela singing (704) that first brings the oculist some hope of being rescued, although it is Pablo who actually appears first on the scene. There is great irony in the fact that this genius of a doctor is rescued from amidst the thickets and bushes by a blind man and his dog. Galdós certainly gains considerable comic effect in this first chapter. The same heavily ironic note is sounded at the end of the novel too. After a very funny account of the funeral ceremonies and burial, kindly paid for by Florentina (774), Galdós relates that two tourists visit the village and on seeing the impressive gravestone erected to Marianela's memory, conclude «sin más averiguaciones» that she must have been a beautiful, aristocratic lady. Thereupon, they proceed to concoct: a highly romantic account of her life for publication in an English newspaper. As is so often the case in Galdós' work, the use of irony serves to present a serious truth. At the beginning of Marianela, we are shown that the world of Nature does not follow the laws of logic, of science. At the end, we see that Nela is, spiritually, the equal to any high-born, beautiful heroine one may care to imagine. The rest of the novel which flows between these two poles is an illustration of these truths.
Choto compares very favourably with some of the human beings in the story. He can at least appreciate Nela's problems and succeeds in leading Teodoro to her (757).
She has the face «de avecilla graciosa y vivaracha» (720). She would like to be like a bird: «Estaba pensando que por qué no nos daría Dios a nosotras las personas alas para volar como los pájaros» (723). She listens open-mouthed to Pablo's talk on the books his father is reading to him: «Para apoderarse de aquellas esencias y causas de que su amo le hablaba, abría el pico como el pájaro que acecha el vuelo de la mosca que quiere cazar» (724). The reflection of her face in the water of the pond is that of a bird: «la movible fisonomía de pájaro» (725). Nela herself describes her face thus: «esta figurilla de pájaro» (743). Emerging from her basket-bed, she has the appearance of a clam (713).
For a more detailed examination of her charity, see J. L. Brooks, «The Character of Doña Guillermina Pacheco in Galdós' novel Fortunata y Jacinta», Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, XXXVIII (1961), 86-94.
There are two excellent studies of these «spiritual» novels in volume II of Anales galdosianos (1967). See Ciriaco Morón Arroyo, «Nazarín y Halma: sentido y unidad», 67-81; and A. A. Parker, «Nazarín, or the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Galdós», 83-101.
See Vera Colin, «A Note on Tolstoy and Galdós», Anales galdosianos, II (1967), 155-68. Also by the same writer, «Tolstoy and Galdós' Santiuste: Their Ideology on War and Their Spiritual Conversion», Hispania, LIII (1970), 836-41. See also the article by Parker cited in previous note.
For a comprehensive study of her character, see Robert M. Russell, «The Christ Figure in Misericordia», Anales galdosianos, II (1967), 103-30. For a wider study of the theme of charity in this novel, see J. E. Varey, «Charity in Misericordia», Galdós Studies (London, 1970), 164-94.
Montesinos, I, 241.
This view, first put forward by Casalduero in his Vida y obra de Galdós (Buenos Aires, 1943), has been accepted by the majority of subsequent writers on Galdós. A recent exception, however, is R. Cardwell's «Galdós' early novels and the segunda manera: a case for a total view», Renaissance and Modern Studies, XV (1971), 44-62. For a discussion of naturalism in La desheredada see C. Rovetta, «El naturalismo de Galdós en La desheredada», Nosotros, No. 84 (March 1943), and Eamnon Rodgers, «Galdós' La desheredada and naturalism», BHS, XLV (1968), 285-98.
For an account of the critical reaction to naturalism prior to La cuestión palpitante see W. T. Pattison, El naturalismo español (Madrid, 1965).