Selecciona una palabra y presiona la tecla d para obtener su definición.
Anterior Indice Siguiente

  —82→     —83→  

ArribaAbajoThe Sonata Form Structure of Tristana

Vernon A. Chamberlin

Tristana has attracted a variety of critics from Galdós' time to the present. It has served as the basis for a movie and, most recently, the prototypes of its three principal characters have been identified. And yet, to date, there has been no study of its structural plan. This article attempts to fill that lacuna and seeks to demonstrate the ways in which musical terminology and comparisons can elucidate the structural dynamics of Tristana117.

More than one method might be employed in such a study118, but a comparison with music seems appropriate. One remembers E. M. Forster's idea that «in music fiction is likely to find its nearest parallel»119. We also know of Galdós great love of music and that he did sometimes follow musical structural patterns -and, at least once without conscious forethought. Regarding the latter, he says in the prologue of the pre-publication galley proofs of Alma y vida, «Tracé y construí la ideal arquitectura de Alma y vida, siguiendo, sin darme de ello cuenta, el plan y módulos de la composición beethoviana»120. Moreover, there is the possibility that Galdós was speaking from personal experience when he has his character Máximo in Electra say, «La buena música es como espuela de las ideas que no afluyen fácilmente; es también como el gancho que saca las que están muy agarradas al fondo del magín» (III, 1). Within Tristana itself there is considerable interest in and textual integration of music. First, the title protagonist learns to play the organ and enjoys it much as Galdós himself did121. More importantly, as Tristana falls under the influence of the anesthesia just prior to the amputation of her leg, she complains that the operation is disconcerting because «está una tocando todas las sonatas de Beethoven, tocándolas tan bien... El piano no tiene secretos para mí... Soy el mismo Beethoven, su corazón, su cuerpo, aunque las manos sean otras»122.

This intriguing quotation suggests itself as a metaphorical clue to understanding the dynamics of Galdós' method of structuring and narrating Tristana. Furthermore, an examination of the manuscript of Tristana reveals a musical doodle -a musical staff with notes- in the middle of page seven, corroborating the suspicion that Galdós was thinking of music as he wrote123. What then, one may ask, is the relationship, if any, between Galdós' novel and a musical composition?

Working from the textual clue of «las sonatas de Beethoven», a detailed analysis of Galdós' entire novel reveals that there is indeed a parallel with music. Specifically, Tristana appears to be patterned structurally after part of a sonata, that section which is always referred to in musical terminology as sonata form. The sonata form is most frequently used as the basic structure for the first or last movement of a sonata (and sometimes also for a   —84→   movement in a symphony, as is the case of Beethoven's Third [Eroica] Symphony). In creative fiction it has served as the model for such well-known authors as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse124.

Leonard G. Ratner (Music: The Listener's Art, 2nd. ed, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966, p. 240) points out that one of the most distinguishing features of the sonata form is its similarity to a formal argument or debate (with the main parts being the exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda):

The first premise is the home key, represented by thematic material which we shall call A.

The second premise is the contrasting key, represented by thematic material which we shall call B.

The home key makes its point with A; the point is refuted by the contrasting key with B. This refutation takes longer to accomplish than the initial argument; it also makes its final point with great emphasis. (We are now at the end of the exposition.)

The premise of contrasting-key material is undermined by the digressions and explorations of the development.

Home-key A material returns (recapitulation) to reestablish the first premise, but in order to settle the argument and reconcile the two contrasting premises, the home key later incorporates the B material, showing that there can be unity, after all, between A and B. To make its point more powerfully, the home key asserts itself with great emphasis (coda).

Galdós's novel Tristana follows a similar structural plan, and the main correspondences between this novel and a typical sonata form can be outlined as follows:

Musical equivalent Galdós's chapters
Exposition One through five
Initial A theme First two paragraphs of chapter one
Initial B theme Remainder of chapter one and the first paragraph of chapter two
A theme restated Remainder of chapter two, all of three, and first four paragraphs of chapter four.
B theme restated Remainder of four and five.
Transition to development Six. Development Seven through nineteen
Recapitulation Twenty through twenty-eight
Coda Twenty-nine.

Let us now examine the details of Galdós's working out of this pattern. We shall do so in chronological order, beginning with the exposition.


In this opening portion Galdós, like a musical composer, presents (in the customary symmetrical pattern) the main themes he will be working with throughout the rest of the novel. He commences by presenting his A theme: the penchant for domination, which we shall see incarnated first and most often (but not exclusively) in his male protagonist, Don Lope Garrido. Galdós gives Lope's age, detailed physical description and explains his habits and philosophy of life. Very importantly, Galdós also delineates Lope's essential character traits, emphasizing his great liking for women and the fact that he is a «gran estratégico en lides de amor» (p. 1541). Climatically Galdós reveals that, although in public Lope is very polite and affable, at home he is the «amo indiscutible» (p. 1542).

Characteristically, after the presentation of the initial A theme, Beethoven created a «connecting episode», and Galdós follows suit with a transitional focus upon Lope's servant Saturna («un poco hombruna»). Then he presents his B theme: the desire for independence and self-fulfillment, personified first by Tristana. Again physical description and activities are important. The narrator explains that there has been considerable speculation as to Tristana's status in Lope's household; but she has no definable status really, and is even, it is implied, being sexually exploited by Lope. However this section builds to its conclusion with a crescendo like emphasis on independence and rebellion. Against the «despotismo» of her «dueño», Tristana is surely beginning to «demostrar carácter de persona libre» and «anhelos de persona independiente» (p. 1543). Thus Galdós brings us to the end of the B theme's initial statement, which also serves as a reply to the opening A theme.

As in the music of a sonata form, the A theme now comes back to reemphasize its previous statement. Galdós does this (in chapters two, three, and four) by showing the great financial sacrifices Lope had made earlier on behalf of Tristana's parents. First he went to considerable lengths to rescue Tristana's father from bankruptcy and even spent his personal fortune to get him out of jail. Then the narrator demonstrates that Lope was saddled with looking after the spendthrift, mentally-ill mother of Tristana. Once again he had to make great monetary sacrifices and when Tristana became his ward upon the death of her mother, he considered her a well-earned prize. «Contento estaba el caballero de su adquisición, porque la chica era linda, despabiladilla, de graciosos ademanes, fresca tez y seductora charla. 'Dígase lo que se quiera -argüía para su capote, recordando sus sacrificios por sostener a la madre y salvar de la deshonra al papá- bien me la he ganado'» (p. 1547). Thus Galdós' A theme concludes its second and final statement of the exposition section.

Now, as in a musical composition, the B theme is given a final chance for rebuttal. Characteristically, this can be quite lyrical, diffuse, and this openness permits the introduction of a multiplicity of subthemes which will   —86→   be developed later. Such is the case with Galdós' second presentation of the B theme. Specifically, Tristana experiences a definite «despertar» from her «pasividad muñequil» and «a medida que se cambiaba en sangre y médula de mujer la estopa de la muñeca, iba cobrando aborrecimiento y repugnancia a la miserable vida que llevaba bajo el poder de don Lope Garrido» (p. 1549). Her position becomes stronger as the servant Saturna becomes a true friend and ally. The two women talk at length about the possibilities of freedom for a woman in nineteenth-century Spanish society. Saturna, now a widow, has become free of masculine domination and prefers «libertad» to remarriage. She speaks to Tristana, «pintándole el mundo y los hombres con sincero realismo», while her young friend «lanzábase a los espacios del suponer y del presumir, armando castilletes de la vida futura» (p. 1549).

Tristana reveals that if she gets her freedom from Lope, it will not be to seek happiness in marriage. «Eso de encadenarse a otra persona por toda la vida es invención del diablo... no quisiera casarme nunca, que me gustaría vivir siempre libre» (p. 1549). Consequently, she knows that she will have to support herself and thus she thinks of various occupational choices: becoming an actress, a painter, a politician, or an expert in foreign languages. Although undecided about her vocation, she is determined to gain her freedom. «Acosada por la idea de abandonar la morada de don Lope, oyó en su mente el hondo tumulto de Madrid, vio la polvareda de luces que a lo lejos resplandecía y se sintió embelesada por el sentimiento de su independencia» (pp. 1550-51).

Thus we arrive at the end of the exposition. The two themes -the penchant for domination and the desire for independence and fulfillment- have been presented for development, with the B theme having the last word, in the formal argument or debate sense, and showing enough strength to make its triumph seem quite likely.

Transition to development section

In music (and certainly in Beethoven's sonatas) there is nearly always a transitional passage (using the A theme) which leads to the development section. In Galdós's novel a similar transitional passage occurs in chapter six. The focus here is upon Lope, who is experiencing a pronounced «bajón» of health, physical vigor, and self-confidence. This makes the old man less sure of his control over Tristana (his «esclava», «cautiva», pp. 1551-52), and he concludes the chapter by threatening to kill her, should she prove unfaithful.

This action on his part raises the contention between the A and B themes to transcendent proportions, elevates the emotional intensity for the reader and, on the plot level, gives the already-rebelling Tristana the stimulus of an added direct and personal challenge.

Development section

Before entering into a discussion of the long development section, let us pause to consider the main features of this part of the sonata form. The   —87→   purpose of this section, as its name suggests, is to develop the themes set forth in the exposition. The composer is at liberty to unfold and explore the manifold possibilities in each theme, modifying, fragmenting, complicating, and embellishing as much as his talent will permit. This is one of the more challenging segments of a sonata and a place where the composer may demonstrate his resourcefulness and imagination. However, there is one thing a composer must do. He is obliged to undermine gradually the key of the B theme (wich had appeared the stronger, more triumphant at the end of the exposition) so that its ultimate surrender and subsequent fading away, near the end of the entire sonata form section, will seem logical and readily acceptable to the listener. Ratner states that «as a rule, the section called the development goes far afield harmonically, creating a great deal of instability; toward the end the harmony settles so that a cadence to the home key of the A theme, is first promised, then accomplished at the recapitulation [the section following the development and preceding the coda]»125.

Let us now see how Galdós creates his own novelistic parallel to a musical development section in chapters seven through nineteen. Basically he is unfolding and exploring the various possibilities of the domination versus escape to liberty and self-realization themes, including the latter's subthemes (as laid out in chapter five): Tristana's tendency to escape through flights of ideational and emotional fantasy, her desire for an independent and honourable life without matrimony, as well as possible vocational opportunities for her as a painter, actress, or teacher of languages126. Already in chapter seven, Tristana reacts vigorously to Lope's latest challenge and views his threat to kill her as only an «ardid para dominarla» (p. 1552). Consequently she refuses to obey his prohibition of afternoon outings with Saturna and on one of these she meets a handsome young man, wondering if part of her attraction to him could be «la desesperación de la prisionera que descubre un agujerito por donde escaparse» (p. 1554). The relationship between Tristana and the young man (Horacio) grows and intensifies, and (in chapter eight and the first half of nine) he tells in detail his own past. It is helpful at this point to remember that it is quite common for a musical composer to show off his talent by creating a very marked variation of his two contending themes early on in the development section. Galdós follows suit at this juncture. He has Horacio reveal that he also was an orphan under the control of an old tyrant, one every bit as domineering and stifling as Lope. Horacio's «feroz abuelo» was determined to make him a pharmacist, tried to squelch his desire to become a painter, and even «le ataba las piernas a las patas de la mesa-escritorio» (p. 1557). However, Horacio first gained some independence (as Tristana has now) and then went on to become completely free, finding a satisfactory vocation in painting and succeeding in coming to terms with his own sexuality. This, the reader recognizes, is the normal pattern of development in young people, and one can extrapolate that what was possible for Horacio should also obtain in the case of Tristana.

Thus, in chapter ten, it is no surprise to see Tristana putting geographical distance between herself and Lope. Every afternoon she and Horacio rent a carriage and travel outside Madrid, even going as far as El Pardo   —88→   (sixteen kilometers). From here it would be very easy to escape to some other part of Spain -but, in a foreshadowing of the denouement of the novel, she returns each night to Lope.

Horacio offers Tristana sexual intimacy but she delays. Notwithstanding this, Horacio continues seteadfast in his affection, even after she confesses all the details of her past with Lope (chapter eleven). Moreover, he urges her to «romper cuanto antes aquellas nefandas relaciones [con don Lope]» (P. 1564).

Throughout these chapters Galdós' narrator has shown the fundamental ambivalence on the part of Tristana toward Lope. In many ways she admires him and even has a certain amount of affection for him. (This is one of Galdós' main techniques for undermining the strength of his B theme to parallel what happens to the same theme in a musical sonata form structure.) However (in chapter twelve), when Lope begins to reassert his dominance over Tristana (once again his «esclava» and «cautiva» [pp. 1567-68] and reminds her of the sacrifices he made for her parents, he succeeds only in making her want to escape from her «jaulita», her «cárcel», into an even closer relationship with Horacio.

Consummating her relationship with Horacio (chapter thirteen) not only stimulates Tristana emotionally but also intellectually, and she reaches an apex in the process of distancing herself emotionally from Lope, «lanzándose a los espacios libres del pensamiento y demostraba las aspiraciones más audaces» (p. 1569). Horacio also catches her enthusiasm. «Al contacto de la fantasía exuberante de ella, despertáronse en él poderosas energías de la mente; el ciclo de sus ideas se agrandó, y comunicándose de uno a otro el poderoso estímulo de sentir fuerte y pensar hondo, llegaron a un altísimo grado de tempestuosa embriaguez de los sentidos, con relámpagos de atrevidas utopías eróticas y sociales... Callaban las bocas y los espíritus seguían aleteando por el espacio» (p. 1570).

Galdós, who often played Beethoven's sonatas, knew well that the competing musical themes in the development section of the sonata form never fuse or even harmonize perfectly for long. Thus it is not surprising to find Galdós' narrator calling more and more attention to the increasingly apparent incompatibility of temperaments in the case of the young lovers. And, in fact, we soon see that their relationship also develops signs of the novel's basic conflict: domination versus the desire for freedom and self-expression. Horacio begins to tire of Tristana's exuberant flights of fantasy and he wishes she were «más mujer, más doméstica, más corriente y útil» (p. 1571). These feelings intensify when Tristana announces «nada de matrimonio» and that she has no intention of gaining her independence from Lope, only to become Horacio's «esclava» (p. 1572). Moreover, she insists that she and Horacio will live in separate houses and that, if they have a child, it will be more hers than his. This difference of opinions and temperaments manifests itself again (in chapter fifteen) when Horacio asserts that Tristana's main vocation in life should be in relation to him -helping, sustaining, and making him happy.

By chapter sixteen, the situation is reversed. No longer having any possibility of dominating Tristana and feeling himself overwhelmed by her,   —89→   Horacio seeks to escape from his present situation but «no veía forma humana de romper su amorosa cadena, ni siquiera de aflojarla» (p. 1577). Thus when his aunt, whose poor health is aggravated by Madrid winters, encourages him to accompany her to the Mediterranean coast, the lovers only briefly draw closer together in protest, declaring «antes morir que consentir tiranos» (p. 1578). Soon even Tristana is willing to accept the separation. «¿Sería que también a ella le pedían el cuerpo y el alma tregua, paréntesis, solución de continuidad?» (p. 1578). Expressions of passionate love continue, but now only in letters between the separated lovers. Also Tristana's emotional and ideational soaring continues, even without Horacio, and is evident in her letters to him (chapter seventeen and eighteen). On one occasion she says, «Vivo suspendida en el aire... [y] mis pies no tocan la tierra» (p. 1579). Horacio, on the other hand, has returned to earth. «Empezó a sentir las querencias del propietario, esas atracciones vagas que sujetan al suelo la planta, y el espíritu a las pequeñeces domésticas» (p, 1580). The lovers' incompatibility of temperament, goals, and values accentuates as each repeatedly makes fun in writing of the cherished beliefs of the other. Meanwhile the original A theme is still vigorous and, by the end of chapter eighteen, Lope is finding clever new ways to reassert his control over Tristana, most notably by stimulating her vocational ambitions and engaging an English-language teacher for her.

Galdós completes his development section in chapter nineteen. As in the music of a sonata form, Galdós's B theme (the striving for independence and fulfillment) has gone far afield in interesting explorations and development, but now must return to a weaker position than at the end of the exposition section (chapter four). Thus one sees a Tristana who has not only come down from her exuberant fantasies, but who also is still living in Lope's house and once again under his domination. Moreover, she now has the added burden of a painful leg affliction which confines her completely to a «sillón». She laments that if Horacio were back in Madrid, she would not even be able to go now to his studio (in contrast to earlier chapters). In fact, she perceives that she is again Lope's «esclava» and that her affliction «es como un grillete que la sujeta más a su malditísima persona» (p. 1585).


The recapitulation section in a typical sonata form brings about a final settlement of the A-theme B-theme contention or «argument» which has been the structural framework of the entire movement to this point. As the word recapitulation itself suggests, the material in this section is also a restatement and review of the most important ideas and elements that have gone before -specifically, the basic conflicts are once again expressed. In addition, the composer must demonstrate that, in spite of the A-theme B-theme contention, these two main themes can indeed coexist, and have in fact some capacity for a certain amount of harmony and compatibility. Although this may have been shown from time to time earlier, it must now be demonstrated explicitly in order to prepare the listener to accept the yielding of   —90→   the B theme at the end of the recapitulation section (rather than to expect the complete annihilation of one or both themes).

A musical composer can, in his recapitulation section, restate literally note for note his earlier material in precise chronological order. A novelist, of course, cannot127. He must be constantly introducing new material to hold the reader's interest and move his story forward. This is Galdós' technique as he reviews (recapitulates) for his reader, first, the fundamental conflict between domination and freedom -originally presented in his exposition- and, then, the essence of the development section: the highlights of the Tristana-Horacio story, including Tristana's vocational ambitions128.

Let us now see how Galdós does this. Remembering, of course, his original sequence and symmetry, our author begins the recapitulation with emphasis upon his A theme. Thus initially (in chapter twenty) the theme of dominance prevails. Lope now has Tristana, his «esclava» (p. 1587), completely in his power. As earlier, Lope is once again «el tirano» and a ferocious «león» (pp. 1588-89)129. Tristana, his «víctima» (p. 1588), is feeling «más que nunca el misterioso despotismo, que don Lope ejercía sobre ella, la cautiva» (p. 1589). He is determined to retain control over her, whom he designates as «mi último trofeo, y como el último, el más caro a mi corazón» (p. 1589).

Just as a musical composer may present his listener the repetition of a theme in a different key, so Galdós, early on in his own recapitulation, shows his consummate skill as a novelist by having interesting variations on his original themes. Unlike earlier chapters, Lope is now willing to have a Platonic relationship, within which to continue his domination. «La querré como hija, la defenderé contra todos... Ahora me da la gana de ser su padre, y de guardarla para mí solo... pues aún pienso vivir muchos años, y si no me cuadra retenerla como mujer, la retendré como hija querida; pero que nadie la toque, ¡vive Dios!, nadie la mire siquiera» (p. 1589). As part of his plan to retain control over Tristana, Lope paints a denigrating picture of matrimony and (unlike earlier chapters) now encourages Tristana to think of achieving a professional career and attaining her independence. «El marrullero galán sabía herirla en lo más sensible de su ser, adulando sus gustos y estimulando su soñadora fantasía» (p. 1588).

To all this the B theme responds (in chapter twenty-one). Although a prisoner of her painful leg affliction (itself a veritable «tirana», p. 1591) and Lope's domination, Tristana again finds her freedom and consolation «con los efluvios de su imaginación ardorosa» (p. 1.590). «La imaginación de la pobre enferma se lanzaba sin freno a los espacios de lo ideal, recorriéndolos como corcel desbocado, buscando el imposible fin de lo infinito sin sentir fatiga en su loca y gallarda carrera» (p. 1591)130. This activity its seen principally in her letters to Horacio in which she uses imagery of wings and flying, while speaking once again of her vocational ambitions and desire for a career. As she had done earlier, she again rejects the idea of matrimony and insists on the need for freedom. «Seré actriz del género trágico, que podré adorarte desde el castillo de mi independencia comiquil. Nos querremos de castillo a castillo, dueños absolutos de nuestras respectivas voluntades, tú libre, libre yo» (p. 1590)131. Later she adds, «Te quiero con más   —91→   alma que nunca, porque respetas mi libertad, porque no me amarras a la pata de una silla ni a la pata de una mesa con el cordel del matrimonio. Mi pasión reclama libertad» (p. 1592)132.

To such a strong statement, the A theme replies with increased vigor (in chapter twenty-two and most of chapter twenty-three). Just as in the second appearance of the A theme in the exposition, Galdós' focus is primarily upon Lope's penchant for domination. He reiterates his determination to maintain his control over Tristana: «Es el amor de mi vida, y no consiento perderla por nada de este mundo» (pp. 1593-94). However now, even more than Lope, illness becomes the vehicle for the expression of the A theme. The narrator reports (in the initial paragraph of chapter twenty-two) that «un repentino ataque de hemoptisis de doña Trinidad le encadenó [a Horacio] a Villajoyosa en tan mala ocasión» (p. 1593). Then illness tyrannizes Tristana also with a «noche infernal, con violentos accesos de fiebre, entrecortados de intensísimo frío en la espalda» (p. 1594) and causes her doctor to inform Lope that it is now necessary to amputate Tristana's leg (which, in turn, will ultimately limit all possibility of escape).

If Galdós were composing music, at this point he could be expected to recapitulate the strong expression of the B theme which had occurred at the end of the exposition. In Tristana, however, he chose not to do so, probably because he wished to intensify the cadential drive of his A theme toward its final triumph, and, simultaneously, to weaken the B theme. Thus, the B theme is almost entirely eclipsed by the A theme, preparing the reader to accept a similar denouement in the soon-to-be-reached concluding chapters of the novel.

Thus one sees that, although Galdós found the sonata form a very helpful pattern throughout Tristana until chapter twenty-three, he was perfectly willing to make a major departure from it, when he believed he could improve on it for his own literary purposes. (The precedent for this had been set six years earlier when Galdós was creating Fortunata y Jacinta, where he also called attention to the fact that he was departing from his prevailing pattern by a clever reference to the playing of musical instruments.)133

Although Tristana confronts the realities of her illness (in chapter twenty-three), all forcefulness and power reside in the A theme (Lope's domination as the original A theme and then the leg affliction as its principal recapitulation variation). After reading a letter Tristana has written to Horacio, Lope says, «Te he vencido... Ya me pertenece en absoluto hasta que mis días acaben. ¡Pobre muñeca con alas! Quiso alejarse de mí, quiso volar; pero... no contaba con Dios que me tiene ley... y cuando se me escapa lo que quiero... me lo trae atado de pies y manos... Ya nadie me la quita» (p. 1596). The second expression of the A theme (the tyrannizing leg affliction) also becomes more intense. Tristana complains that her «estúpida rodilla se ha erigido en tirana» and that her brain and heart (her ideas and feelings) on which she had always counted so much are now suffering «un absurdo despotismo» (p. 1591). Then «la cruel operación» (p. 1598), carried out with accompanying imagery of «serpiente» and «manzanas», represents a great fall for Tristana. However, Galdós has not forgotten his musical   —92→   pattern and just as Tristana slips under the influence of the anesthesia, she makes a valiant effort to assert herself. «¡Está una tocando todas las sonatas de Beethoven, tocándolas tan bien... al piano, cuando vienen estos tíos indecentes a pellizcarle a una las piernas!... Pues que sajen, que corten... y yo sigo tocando. El piano no tiene secretos para mí... Soy el mismo Beethoven, su corazón, su cuerpo aunque las manos sean otras... Que no me quiten también las manos, porque entonces... Nada, que no me dejo quitar esta mano; la agarro con la otra para que no me la lleven... y la otra la agarro con esta, y así no me la llevan ninguna» (p. 1597).

The fact that Tristana refers explicity to Beethoven's sonatas in this dreamlike state raises to the level of conscious discourse the underlying structural issue. Moreover, the above quotation tells us quite a bit about Tristana's innermost feelings. The mastery of «todas las sonatas de Beethoven» surely represents a great achievement, revealing consummate competence, as well as a mature knowledge of, and control over, many emotional states. This would indicate that Tristana now is becoming satisfied with herself. She dares to compare herself even to Beethoven, thus attaining the prestige and recognition toward which she has been striving. Consequently, the reference to the interrupted playing of the sonatas seems to represent the physical and psychic trauma Tristana is undergoing. The fear of losing her hand suggests a frantic wish to retain control as she sees that her life can never be the same again. She fears that she cannot now aspire to do what the novel itself is doing; there will be no possibility of playing out her own life in the beautiful, dramatic, ordered manner of a sonata. The irony of this revelation within the larger sonata form structure of the entire novel changes the tone, at once evading what might become bathetic and opening the structure for further elaboration.

Having completed the recapitulation of the exposition section, Galdós turns to his recapitulation of the Tristana-Horacio story from the development section. Just as Tristana had earlier sought to liberate herself from confining tyranny, she now must overcome the confining limitations of her amputation. She begins to adapt to her new situation and when her doctor says that she is doing so well that his services will no longer be required, «coincidió con esto una resurrección súbita del espiritualismo de la inválida». Once again there is imagery of wings, flying, and ascent (pp. 1598-99). Most important, as also occurred early in the development section (chapter seven), Tristana again has a male friend who may help her escape from Lope: Horacio, who is back in Madrid. Once more Saturna is the intermediary and as earlier she goes to Horacio's studio (p. 1600). Tristana (in chapter twenty-five) again finds herself surrounded by Horacio's paintings. Because Tristana is unable to go to Horacio's studio, Saturna brings them to Lope's house «[y] le recordaban [a Tristana] horas felices... y ella se transportaba a los tiempos del estudio y de las tardes deliciosas en compañía de Horacio» (pp. 1600-01). As in the exposition section, Lope comes to realize that he will have to «hacer la vista gorda» (p. 1602) and allow Tristana and Horacio to spend time alone together -and now in his own home!

Tristana and Horacio do have time alone together (in chapter twenty-six), as they did throughout much of the development section, but now with   —93→   Saturna listening at the door and Lope still in the house. As in earlier chapters, they use their own intimate, personal nicknames for one another and speak of «amor... y quererse siempre» (p. 1605). Once again, however, their personalities are incompatible. Tristana is still «enemiga irreconciliable del matrimonio» and Horacio recapitulates the essential difference between them (which had been seen earlier in chapters seventeen and eighteen). «[A Tristana] no le gusta el campo, ni la jardinería, ni la Naturaleza, ni las aves domésticas, ni la vida regalada y oscura que a mí me encantan y me enamoran. Soy yo muy terrestre, muy práctico, y ella muy soñadora, con unas alas de extraordinaria fuerza para subirse a los espacios sin fin» (p. 1606).

Tristana and Horacio continue distancing themselves emotionally from one another (in chapter twenty-seven). It will be remembered that in the development section, after it was apparent that Tristana and Horacio were of incompatible temperaments, Tristana continued to elevate herself emotionally and intellectually, soaring to new heights without Horacio134. This is accomplished now by Tristana's learning to play the organ. «Se engolfaba en su música, convirtiendo el grave instrumento en lenguaje de su alma... Su rostro se transfiguraba, adquiriendo celestial belleza; su alma se desprendía de todo lo terreno para mecerse en el seno pavoroso de una idealidad dulcísima» (p. 1608). As had also occurred earlier, Tristana's soaring is followed by Horacio's leaving Madrid because of his aunt's poor health. Once again Tristana and Horacio write letters to each other, but now they are only «cartas amistosas», crossing «por el mismo camino donde antes corrían las incendiarias cartas de señó Juan y de Paquita de Rimini» (p. 1609). Just as he had done near the end of the development section, Horacio again becomes very practical and adapts well. to life in Villajoyosa -so well, in fact, this time, that one day Lope enters Tristana's room with the news, «¿No sabes?... Nuestro don Horacio se casa» (p. 1609).

After this emotional blow to Tristana, Galdós concludes his recapitulation section in chapter twenty-eight. Once again Lope's «cautiva» must descend from the heights (as she had done at the end of the development section). «Después del acabamiento definitivo de sus locos amores... zambullose la señorita en el mare magnum musical, y allí se pasaba las horas... sumergiéndose en lo profundo». Then she emerges «triste... serena... desilusionada» (p. 1609). Now, with Horacio married to another, she has no hope of ever attaining her independence and freedom. Thus, as in the music of a sonata form, Galdós' B theme will yield finally and completely at the end of his recapitulation section. The details of this surrender include a complete renunciation by Tristana of all her previous goals and her desire for freedom. Moreover, she also undergoes marked physical deterioration:

En las buenas tardes del invierno salía a la calle en el carrito, que empujaba Saturna. La ausencia de toda presunción fue uno de los accidentes más característicos de aquella nueva metamorfosis de la señorita de Reluz: cuidaba poco de embellecer su persona; ataviábase sencillamente con mantón y pañuelo de seda a la cabeza...

Al año de su operación, su rostro había adelgazado tanto, que muchos que en buenos tiempos la trataron apenas la conocían ya, al verla pasar... Representaba cuarenta años cuando apenas tenía veinticinco. La pierna de palo que le pusieron a los dos meses de arrancada la de carne y hueso era de lo más perfecto de su clase; mas no podía la inválida acostumbrarse   —94→   a andar con ella, ayudada sólo de un bastón. Prefería las muletas, aunque estas le alzaran los hombros, destruyendo la gallardía de su cuello y de su busto.

(p. 1610)                

Horacio, whom Tristana had originally considered an «agujerito por donde escaparse» (p. 1554) is now completely forgotten. This loss occurs as Tristana spends more and more time in churches. «Pues la contemplación mental de su ídolo érale más fácil en la iglesia que fuera de ella, las formas plásticas del culto la ayudaban a sentirlo. Fue la mudanza del hombre en Dios tan completa al cabo de algún tiempo, que Tristana llegó a olvidarse del primer aspecto de su ideal, y no vio al fin más que el segundo, era seguramente el definitivo» (p. 1610).

Tristana also loses interest in music: and substitutes religion, gradually coming to accept and participate in «las prácticas católicas, el oír misa, la penitencia y comunión» (p. 1610). It will be remembered that one of the etymologies for the word religion formerly stressed (Latin re-ligare) means to tie or bind135 and this was especially true of the Spanish Church in the nineteenth century, which was opposed to the kind of individual freedom for women which Tristana had espoused. Thus, as at the end of the development section (with the confining leg affliction), Tristana is once more restricted and she becomes so devoid of her former ebullient personality that, by the end of the recapitulation section, she is only «la señora coja... y los acólitos la consideraban ya como parte integrante del edificio y aun de la institución» (6. 1611).


Galdós' last chapter (twenty-nine) is his coda. Willi Apel and Ralph Daniel define the coda as «a concluding passage or section, falling outside the basic structure of a composition, and added to obtain or heighten the impression of finality»136. The coda at the end of a sonata form composition traditionally emphasizes the A theme in order to demonstrate that -although the latter was overshadowed at the end of the exposition and throughout the development section- it has indeed triumphed and has the right to a final statement. However, the A theme itself, because of its constant contention and interplay with the B theme, has now ended up being considerably changed also.

Such a change is certainly noticeable in Galdós's final chapter. The old «guerrero de amor» (p. 1547) is not allowed to enjoy his victory unscathed. A nephew of Lope's, an «arcediano» of the church, informs him that two wealthy aunts are willing to subsidize Lope's senescent old age, and also provide for Tristana if she outlives him -if he will but renounce his present «amancebamiento criminal» and enter into Christian matrimony. This presents Lope with a major problem, one which the narrator sums up as «inverosimilitud, sarcasmo horrible de la vida tratándose de un hombre de ideales radicales y disolventes, como don Lope!» (p. 1611). However, in order to provide for Tristana's security, Lope is finally able to accede and marries her137. She has become at last, according to nineteenth-century Spanish law and custom, Lope's personal property. There is certainly, however, an ironic   —95→   twist here, because (as early as chapter four) Galdós had firmly established in his characterization of Lope that the old man «aborrecía el matrimonio; teníalo por la más espantosa fórmula de esclavitud» (p. 1548). With marriage, Lope himself must renounce his freedom and be tied down.

Thus one sees that the two nonconformists, Tristana and Lope, who struggled so hard against each other and against society's restrictions, are both overcome and -like two contending musical themes- their original strong impulses are now literally and figuratively played out. They must accommodate to one another and enter into harmonic resolution. On the plot level this is accomplished by the marriage and the forgetting of former desires and goals in favor of simple, mutually compatible, domestic interests.

Further consideration of the interplay between art (here music), fiction, and life and the complexity of vision implicit in the use of one art form within the scope and structure of another may merit an additional separate study. As a beginning, one may note that the principal themes, variations, and the structural dynamics of Tristana lend themselves to explication in terms of the typical sonata form138. In the process of recording in fictional form his love affair with Concha-Ruth Morell, Galdós -as he had done six years earlier with his masterpiece, Fortunata y Jacinta- once again successfully employed the pattern of a musical composition.

The University of Kansas

Anterior Indice Siguiente