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ArribaAbajoThe Evolution of Encarnación Guillén in La desheredada34

Martha G. Krow-Lucal

Encarnación Guillén, by her own admission «más charlatana que todos los cómicos de Madrid»35, rises up before us (talking at breakneck speed, of course) out of the sea of garbage that is the barrio de las Peñuelas like a caricature of Venus rising out of the sea at Cyprus, and becomes an important counterweight to Isidora in her mad flights of fancy. In a novel where language and ideas are so closely intertwined and used to indicate a character's moral and social worth, Encarnación's language separates her from -and in certain ways places her above- her fellow characters (Mariano grunts; Joaquín and Isidora use the highflown, empty language of the novela por entregas and bad Romantic theater; Relimpio declaims in imitation chivalresque style about his goddaughter's problematical honor; Bou thunders simplistic anarchism; Sánchez Botín is the embodiment of windy, meaningless parliamentary oratory; and Gaitica is unable to speak at all without the copious use of obscenity). While they are perverted by bad literature (except for Gaitica, who doubtless cannot read), Encarnación is a fount of fresh and pungent «pueblo» speech; the only visible «literate» influences are the Bible and (in passing) Celestina36. What the narrator calls her «verbosidad infinita» is not a series of meaningless commonplaces, but rather the most original language in the novel (aside from that of Miquis, another common-sense figure who presents a different problem). It is also a reflection of her praiseworthy character. Her language is clear, humorous and succinct in a novel where a lack of ability to express oneself clearly and simply all too often indicates a lack of ability to think clearly.

Not only is Encarnación's own language important; the words that Galdós uses to describe her have also been very carefully chosen. The purpose of this article is to examine the primitive and final manuscripts (especially the crossed-out portions of both) of Chapters II and III of La desheredada in order to show how Galdós' characterization of the Sanguijuelera changed as he was writing, and why those changes were necessary to her function in the novel.

After allowing Encarnación to paint her own verbal portrait in conversations with Isidora and Mariano, Galdós sums up the old woman's character: «Honradez y crueldad, un gran sentido para apreciar la realidad de las cosas, y un rigor extremado y brutal para castigar las faltas de los pequeños, sin dejar por eso de quererles, componían, con la verbosidad infinita, el carácter de Encarnación la Sanguijuelera» (pp. 1004b-1005a). The reader is reminded by the description that the author dedicated this novel to the schoolteachers of Spain as the only possible purveyors of the «benéficos reconstituyentes llamados Aritmética, Lógica, Moral y Sentido Común» (p. 985) which would help put Spain on the road to spiritual and social regeneration. Thus we   —22→   realize that Encarnación's nickname, like her given name, was not chosen at random; it reflects her curative function (or her attempts at one). On one level the trade of leech-selling is a picturesque one which reminds us that for centuries leeches were a medical instrument; the leeches that Encarnación sells are used to bleed patients. But she herself, on another level, bears a strong relation to her worms; she is certainly not Juan Bou's hated «sanguijuela del pueblo», but rather someone who draws blood (her tongue is sharp enough) and cures sickness at the same time. Her harsh words to Isidora are ultimately intended to bring the young woman back to reality and cure her of her madness. Encarnación is one of the two main characters in the novel (again, the other is Miquis) who is equipped with enough logic and common sense to be able to attempt Isidora's cure.

In her first dialogue with Isidora, the Sanguijuelera is immediately established as a woman with a very special language; in the first three paragraphs there are eight religious or Biblical references. She says of her great-nephew Mariano: «Es más malo que Anás y Caifás juntos... Yo le llamo Pecado, porque parece que vino al mundo por obra y gracia del Demonio» (p. 999a). Isidora is upset because Mariano must work, she would much prefer that he go to school. But her great-aunt explains that school has already been tried to no avail: «Ahí le puse en esa de los Herejes, donde dicen la misa por la tarde y el rosario por la mañana... Pero aguárdate, un día sí y otro no, me hacía novillos el tunante. Después le puse en los Católicos de abajo, y se me escapaba a las pedreas... Es un purgatorio saltando» (p. 999a-b). She goes on to complain that she has spent her entire life working, with nothing to show for it, in part because she has had to bail Isidora's family out of one scrape after another: «¡Ya ves qué polla estoy! sesenta y ocho años, chiquilla, sesenta y ocho Miércoles de Ceniza a la espalda. Toda la vida trabajando como el obispo y sin salir nunca de Cristos a porras» (p. 999b).

A number of these expressions are commonplace, no only in La desheredada but in many other Galdós novels. They are part of the oral Spanish that Galdós was at such great pains to reproduce. At the same time, such an accumulation of religious references37 in such a reduced space is a signpost for the reader; they are not being used casually. And we see from the manuscript that Galdós deliberately changed some of the expressions in order to enhance their religious implications. The Sanguijuelera says that she first placed Mariano in a Protestant school: «Ahí le puse en [la Protestantes, porque daban] esa de los Herejes, donde dicen la misa por la tarde y el rosario por la mañana. Daban un panecillo a cada muchacho, y esto ayuda» (ms. p. 76; OC p. 999a). By changing one word, the Sanguijuelera's character is changed radically from heterodoxy (she is willing to send her great-nephew to a Protestant school) to strictest orthodoxy (she calls a school heretical because, even though it is Catholic, it reverses the normal order of morning mass, evening rosary)38. And referring to her own age, she describes herself as having «sesenta y ocho [Carnavales] Miércoles de Ceniza a la espalda» (ms. p. 77; OC p. 999b). Again, by changing a single word (carnaval, traditionally a time of wild abandon) to another (Ash Wednesday, the solemn first day of Lent), the old woman's character is changed radically. The life   —23→   principle of a somewhat pagan woman (not unlike Lorca's Vieja primera in Yerma, who has always been «una mujer de faldas en el aire») is channelled into a more orthodox mold in order to make her more acceptable as a figure of truth to Galdós' readers.

The Biblical and religious references continue. When the two women go to the rope factory where Mariano works, his great-aunt, who has already described him once in Biblical terms («Anás», «Caifás», «Pecado», «Demonio», «purgatorio») adds: «Tiene más malicias que un Iscariote» (p. 1002a). And when he is finally allowed to leave for lunch, she examines his clothing for rips and upon finding one exclaims: «Ya me has roto los calzones... [Tunante, ya verás, ya verás] Ya verás, Holofernes, ya verás» (ms. p. 98; OC p. 1002b). And in the final scene of Chapter III between Isidora and Encarnación the references multiply. The Sanguijuelera opines that it would have been far better for all concerned had Isidora and Mariano never been born: «Nada habría perdido el mundo con que os hubierais quedado por allá... en el Limbo» (P. 10003b). When Isidora denies that Rufete and Francisca Guillén were her parents, Encarnación retorts: «Justo, justo, mi Francisca, mi ángel os parió por obra del Espíritu Santo o del Demonio» (p. 1004a). The old woman sarcastically invites her great-niece to continue the melodramatic version of her birth and Mariano's: «Pero acábame el cuento. Salimos con que [eres hija] sois hijos [de mi sobrina Paca] del nuncio...» (ms. p. 105; OC p. 1004a). And when Isidora insists on believing the Canónigo's absurd account of her birth, to the Sanguijuelera's contemptuous astonishment', the old woman exclaims: «No sé sino que te caes de boba. Eres más sosa que la capilla protestante» (p. 1004a).

Certainly these religious references are proper to the character of a hardworking lower-class woman, which is perhaps why they pass almost unnoticed at first. But these Biblical and otherwise religious references are not local color; they are too carefully inserted to be coincidental. Encarnación uses them because she is a prophetess, and at the end of Chapter III she will make a prophecy to Isidora and the Spain she represents. The narrator summarizes the Sanguijuelera's character a moment before the prophecy: «Honradez y crueldad, un gran sentido para apreciar la realidad de las cosas, y un rigor extremado y brutal para castigar las faltas de los pequeños sin dejar por eso de quererles, componían, con la verbosidad infinita, el carácter de Encarnación la Sanguijuelera» (pp. 1004b-1005a). With the groundwork thus laid and Isidora cowering at her great-aunt's feet, the Sanguijuelera predicts the course of Isidora's life and the natural outcome of her pretension to a position in the Aransis family: «¡Toma, toma, toma, duquesa, marquesas, puños, cachas!... Cabeza llena de viento... Vivirás en las mentiras como el pez en el agua y siempre serás una pisahormigas... Malditos Rufetes, maldita ralea de chiflados...» (p. 1005a).

It is too soon, however, for Galdós to announce his intention openly and give the ending away, so he retreats, using a religious reference ironically in order to undo the effect of all the serious religious references that have gone before. The narrator comments at the end of Encarnación's harangue: «Y cada palabra era un golpe y cada golpe un cardenal leve (es decir, subdiácono)...» (p. 1005a). Suddenly an uncertainty exists: are we witnessing   —24→   the vision of a prophetess or the temper tantrum of a strong-willed, eccentric old woman? As it turns out, Encarnación's prophecy is fulfilled to the letter. And as we will learn from the rest of the novel, she never abandons Biblical and religious references entirely39, since they are part of her prophetic character. But the other side of her character, that of a hardworking madrileña of the lower classes, is equally interesting and shows us as much about the author's conception of her function in the novel as the religious references.

The influence of English and French novelists (Dickens, Balzac: and Zola) on Galdós is well known. The influence of Zola especially was noted in La desheredada from the time it was published. Clarín, while deploring the fact that Galdós' latest novel (1881) had been received with almost absolute silence40, hailed the novel as a triumph for Naturalistic techniques: «[...] Galdós ha estudiado imparcialmente la cuestión [of Naturalism] y ha decidido, para bien de las letras españolas, seguir en gran parte los procedimientos y atender a los propósitos de ese naturalismo tan calumniado...» (Galdós, p. 97). There can be no doubt that Galdós was acquainted with and deeply interested in Zola's works; six Zola novels (the first six novels of the Rougon-Macquart series, all in French and all dated 1878) were found by Berkowitz in his library41. The author of La desheredada himself was aware that this novel was in many ways a departure from his previous ones; in his famous letter to Giner de los Ríos he admits that «Efectivamente, yo he querido en esta obra entrar por nuevo camino o inaugurar mi segunda o tercera manera...».42

The immediate reason for the classification of La desheredada as a Naturalistic novel was its subject matter. It is (on the most basic level) the story of a prostitute whose father died insane and who was brought up by an insane uncle (the «Naturalistic» influences of heredity and environment). She in only able to sustain herself spiritually by convincing herself that she is the long-lost daughter of a marchioness. Once that illusion is definitively destroyed she sinks into the lowest depths of Madrid society, never to rise again. But La desheredada is far more than a story about inevitable prostitution brought on by hereditary insanity and a perverse environment43. There is no clear-cut determinism in the novel; E. Rodgers, for example, feels that «however strong the various influences to which [Isidora] is subjected, she is ultimately responsible for her own downfall»44. If this is true, it would take her out of the realm of pure (that is to say, Zola's theoretical) Naturalism which Galdós was never ready to accept in its entirety, to judge by his novels. He seems to feel that Naturalism is one way of expressing a social and spiritual reality of Spain, but it is not an end in itself.

He did, however, intend to make the Sanguijuelera more «Naturalistic» that she appears in the final text (by «Naturalistic» we mean a character more closely resembling the Gervaise of the final chapter of L'Assommoir: miserably poor, drunk and half-deranged). Encarnación is struggling to earn a living in a poor barrio far from the center of Madrid when we first meet her. She is poor now, but was not always so; we discover that Isidora's mother and father between them finished off «diferentes veces las economías y la paciencia de Encarnación, que era trabajadora y tenía sus buenas libretas   —25→   del Monte de Piedad» (p. 1000a). Because of them the old woman lost various shops and a good deal of money. She has obviously come down in the world, though not through vice or hereditary stupidity. It is her generosity and family feeling which have brought her to this pass.

The Encarnación of the manuscript is certainly different from the one we encounter in the final version and printed text. She is described thus by the narrator: «No había [sido casada, no había] tenido hijos [y aun gustaba del buen aguardiente, y por nada se habría colgado su vida (según decía) en la fastidiosa percha de un marido] ni había sido casada» (ms. p. 81; OC p. 1000a). In the printed text, all references to a liking for strong liquor and a dislike of tiresome husbands are deleted; Encarnación simply had not married and had never had children of her own. The physical descriptions likewise change before reaching their final form. In the manuscript «Sus ojos, que habían sido grandes y hermosos, conservaban todavía un chispazo azul [en medio de su atroz desfiguración y decadencia], como el fuego fatuo bailando sobre el osario» (ms. p. 79; OC p. 999b). The use of the fuego fatuo simile emphasizes the life and intelligence that are still Encarnación's most important characteristics, rather than a decadence that would destroy her further usefulness to the author. Further descriptions of her are also softened in the final version; in the manuscript her arms are covered by «un pellejo [flácidol [flojo]» (ms. p. 80), while in the corrected version and printed text it is a «pellejo sobrante» (ms. p. 80; OC p. 1000a) that covers them. Her fingers begin by being stuck on with saliva: «las falanges [parecían pegadas con saliva]» (ms. p. 80) while in the final and printed versions they are «tan ágiles que parecían sueltas» (ms. p. 80; OC p. 1000a). Most insulting of all, in the manuscript Galdós actually describes her as a member of the Rufete family (the Canónigo's aunt):

[...] y más charlatana que todos los cómicos de Madrid.

[Pero no me has dicho nada, cachas!, qué puñales! Y mi sobrino tu tío el Canónigo?

Isidora no omitió nada que pudiese (illegible) habló largo rato de su tío el Canónigo, acomodado vecino del Tomelloso, de cuya prolija relación recibió no poca molestia la Sanguijuelera, porque todo lo que hablaban los demás le parecía un ataque a su incontestable derecho de usar de la palabra.]

(ms. p. 78; OC p. 999b)45                

Later she is depicted as half-demented, a state befitting a Rufete, in a fragment of the primitive manuscript which was intended to end Chapter III. Isidora has just escaped from the children who have followed her away from her great-aunt's house:

La Sanguijuelera se metió en su tienda, corrió al patio, volvió, fue, vino, dio varias vueltas, como un avechucho enjaulado, y después de hablar sola con febriles movimientos, cogió con ambas manos el delantal azul que de su cintura pendía, se lo llevó a los ojos, apretó fuerte, lanzó un gran berrido, y de sus ojos, de todos los orificios de su cara brotó un raudal. ¡Qué modo de llorar!

(primitive ms. p. 114, back of ms. p. 121)46                

Obviously Encarnación cannot be a prophetess and a Rufete at the same time; it is impossible for a drunken, degenerate Sanguijuelera to see the truth about Isidora's pretensions. Encarnación may be arbitrary but she cannot   —26→   be mad; and Galdós takes care to separate the Guilléns from the Rufetes in the final version of the novel. The prophetess remains; the madwoman does not.

It is in one of the pages of the primitive manuscript that we first meet Isidora's great-aunt, when the girl «fue a ver a su tía Asunción...» (primitive ms. p. 66, back of ms. p. 69). She is next mentioned by name as «aquella buena Asunción Guillén» (primitive ms. p. 71, back of ms. p. 72). She appears only once more as Asunción when the narrator explains that her niece Francisca's marriage to Rufete «consumió diferentes veces las economías y la paciencia [de Asunción] [Teresa Guillén] de Encarnación, que era trabajadora...» (ms. p. 81, OC p. 1000a). These are the only references to the Sanguijuelera as Asunción. From this point on (ms. p. 81), the names used will be Teresa and Encarnación47. The former seems much more in harmony with the harsh and caricaturesque descriptions of the Sanguijuelera than does the latter. She is called either Teresa or la Sanguijuelera until page 109 of the manuscript, when she becomes Encarnación definitively. Most probably Galdós changed the name at that point and then went back to the beginning of Chapter II to change the Asunciones and Teresas to Encarnaciones.48

Names of characters are often glaringly obvious in Galdós (Salvador Monsalud, Benigno Cordero de Paz, Torquemada, etc.), and it is therefore not strange that Teresa should give way to Encarnación, just as the drunken degenerate gives way to the eccentric but clear-sighted prophetess. The name Teresa is in one Hispanic tradition an aristocratic name; in another it belongs to the lower classes49. Espronceda's Teresa is certainly not lower-class, and his «Canto a Teresa» could not have been unknown to Galdós (nor could don Benito have failed to take into account the Saint of Avila, not of noble blood but a figure of the highest possible spirituality). However, in a novel so heavily influenced by Don Quijote and La Mancha, it might be more fruitful to look for a prototype of Teresa Guillén in Teresa Panza, who keeps a jar of wine by her spinning-wheel. In fact, Encarnación may be seen as a commonsense Sancho who uses popular speech (the nineteenth century equivalent of proverbs) and tries to show «reality» to a (degenerately) Quixotic Isidora.50

A parallel process takes place with the name of Encarnación's neighbor. She is first called «tía Gordita» (ms. p. 85), an appropriate name for the neighbor of a demented Teresa. She is rechristened «señá Agustina» in the final version and printed text (ms. p. 85; OC p. 1000b), and in Chapter VI is finally fixed as «Angustias» for the rest of the novel. «Angustias» is a much more appropriate and dignified companion than is «la tía Gordita» for the Encarnación of the end of Chapter III, the common-sense Word made flesh that Galdós felt Spain to be so in need of.

We have seen, then, two major developments in the Sanguijuelera's character that are really intertwined. First: she was originally conceived as an extremely «Naturalistic» denizen of Madrid's lower class. But this conception rapidly became too narrow; she could not serve Galdós' purpose if she were portrayed as nothing more than a drunken degenerate (and his purpose, as we understand it, is to juxtapose a rational figure to one whose   —27→   rationality has been eclipsed by too much imagination; a figure of naked truth contrasted with one of wilful blindness). She therefore had to be a hardworking, honest «woman of the people», one of the «decent poor», as Betty Higden says (she is another possible prototype for Encarnación; and the scene in which she appears with Sloppy, who is working the clothespress, may have been the seed from which both Encarnación and Mariano's work in the rope factory grew)51. The development away from degeneracy can be seen in the manuscript deletion of many characteristics suitable to Gervaise in the final stages of her fall; it can also be seen to an extent in the introduction and subsequent deletion of two of the Sanguijuelera's three names. And second: the constant religious references used by Encarnación indicate that she has something as important as Scripture to say to her great-niece'(hence the name that was finally chosen, Encarnación). For this reason she must be a recognizable figure of truth acceptable to Galdós' readers, an orthodox woman who would not allow her great-nephew to attend a Protestant school. The Sanguijuelera gives away the entire ending of the novel when she tells Isidora: «Vivirás en las mentiras como el pez en el agua, y siempre serás una pisahormigas» -but she does so in such a way that the reader is left wondering if she is telling the truth. It will only be confirmed definitively by the letter signed «Santiago Quijano-Quijada» which ends Part I. It is a tribute to Galdós' novelistic and stylistic skill that the signature can still come as a shock after Encarnación's prophecy at the end of Chapter III.

Harvard University

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