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


ArribaAbajoReligious conflict and didacticism in Gloria

E. J. Rodgers

Critical approaches to Galdós' Gloria to date have taken as their startingpoint a statement ascribed to the author by Clarín, in which the composition of the novel is referred to in these terms: «Gloria fue obra de un entusiasmo de quince días... se me ocurrió de golpe, viendo con claridad toda la primera parte. La segunda es postiza y tourmentée. ¡Ojalá no la hubiera escrito! X... tuvo la culpa de que yo escribiera esa segunda parte, porque me dijo... que debía sacar las consecuencias de la tesis y apurar el tema.»17 This remark has been made the basis for a view of the novel which sees the second volume as a badly-integrated afterthought, which adds little to our understanding of Part One. There has been a tendency, as a result, to consider each part in isolation from the other, rather than approach the novel as a fictional whole.

The veracity or otherwise of Clarín's testimony lies outside the scope of this article. I propose to leave aside altogether the question of whether Galdós originally intended to write a one -or two- volume novel, and proceed on the assumption that the two parts of Gloria together form a unified work. I shall attempt to discern the nature of the religious conflict which Galdós has chosen to treat in this novel, and to trace the way in which he shows this conflict through the relationships between the main characters. I hope it will emerge in the course of this that Galdós, though he treats his subject for most of the time with real mastery and insight, still lacks experience as a novelist, and that at times his interest in the didactic purpose of his work takes precedence over plausibility of character and situation.

The foundations for the development of the theme of religious discord are laid very early in the novel, by contrasting Gloria's temperament with the attitudes of her father and uncle. Don Juan's most obvious characteristic is his intransigence in religious belief and in moral conduct. He is completely dedicated to religious and political preoccupations, and particularly concerned with the militant defence of the Church in public life. His view of Catholicism is a polemical one, and is informed by the need which he feels for lay Christians, in the historical circumstances of his time, to engage in battle with the Church's «enemies», and to resist «foreign» or «revolutionary» influences. In morals, he adheres to that over-scrupulous and pessimistic view of human nature which, because of its conviction that the natural tendency of man, corrupted and weakened as he is by Original Sin, is towards evil, believes that «human» values are in some way in conflict with the love of God, and that moral perfection can best be achieved by denying them: «Querido Ángel», he says to his brother at one point in the novel, «no debe olvidarse que el amor es puramente humano», to which Don Angel's reply is: «Y la religión, divina...» (558a).18

One of the results of this attitude is that Don Juan too readily assumes that Gloria has been adequately prepared for life by the very fact of having received a convent education. He overlooks his responsibility for taking a sympathetic   —40→   interest in Gloria's total development as a person, particularly in her intellectual and emotional growth, and limits himself instead to ensuring that she will be brought up according to the strictest of moral codes, and will become a shining example of Christian womanhood: «[...] creía que con encerrar a su hija en el colegio bastaba. Lo importante era que en el colegio reinasen buenos principios» (510b). He is secure in the belief that his daughter has been protected from evil until now, and his view of her is consequently somewhat idealised: «Agradece a Dios», he tells her in Chapter 3 of Part One, «que te hizo buena, piadosa y honesta; que te dio natural honrado y generoso; que puso en tu alma las maravillas de la fe...» (508a). Nevertheless, Galdós warns us, if Gloria ever did stray from the path of virtue, her father's reaction would be clear and uncompromising: «Los que han reducido todas sus ideas a esta fórmula abrumadora: o Barrabás o Jesús, necesitan dejarse llevar hasta los últimos extremos, porque la menor flaqueza equivale en ellos a pasarse a Barrabás» (510b).

Gloria's temperament, on the other hand, is much less austere and pessimistic, and she has, in addition, a pleasing self-assurance and mental alertness which Clarín, in a particularly happy phrase, calls «fiebre de discernimiento».19 It is not long, however, before this part of her personality comes into conflict with the inflexibility of her father's attitudes. Don Juan is completely taken aback by the lack of diffidence which Gloria displays when exposing her views on certain historical and religious topics in Chapters 5 and 6 of Part One, and takes an unnecessarily severe view of her «unorthodox» interpretation of the Golden Age: «[...] encerróse con ella y la reprendió afablemente, ordenándole que en lo sucesivo interpretase con más rectitud la Historia y la Literatura. Afirmó que el entendimiento de una mujer era incapaz de apreciar asunto tan grande, para cuyo conocimiento no bastaban laboriosas lecturas, ni aun en hombres juiciosos y amaestrados en la crítica... y concluyó con una repetición burlesca de los disparates y abominaciones que Gloria había dicho, y que, evidentemente, la conducirían, no poniendo freno en ello, al extravío de la herejía y tal vez al pecado»; (514a-b, my italics). The result of this admonition is that Gloria, out of love for her father, and genuine respect for his authority and wisdom, accepts his condemnation of her opinions and makes a sincere, though unsuccessful attempt to halt the feverish activity of her mind: «Retiróse Gloria muy confusa... y a solas meditó largo rato, llegando, por fin, ¡tal era el ascendiente de su padre sobre ella!, a un convencimiento profundísimo de que había pensado mil tonterías y despropósitos abominables... Pero la verdad era que, aun sin manifestarse por medio del discurso, sus facultades estaban siempre en febril ejercicio, y a su observación no escapaba cosa alguna» (514b).

The conflict of the novel, of which this incident is the first example, shows itself in a more explicit way in Gloria's relationship with Don Ángel. It is clear from the outset that Gloria's love for her uncle is very closely linked to her religious sentiment: she loves and reveres him «como a una representación de Dios en la Tierra» (515b). Don Ángel's gentleness and piety are undeniable, but it would be a mistake to allow these admirable qualities to blind us to other aspects of his character. Galdós clearly wishes us to see the bishop's dominant characteristic as a certain childish naivety which makes him ill-equipped to be   —41→   a spiritual father, or to take a balanced and mature view of the serious problems he is called upon to deal with. One of Pereda's most important criticisms of the novel was that Galdós had painted an unfair picture of the Church by showing Don Ángel and the other representatives of Catholicism in an unflattering light. In a letter to Galdós, he complains that he did not show «[...] un Obispo con más talento que el glorioso hijo de Ficóbriga; un Obispo capaz, cuando menos, de quedar airoso, ya que no triunfante, en sus porfías teológicas con el hebreo, de modo que al proponerse aquél convertir a éste, no se riera el lector de la candidez del buen señor, sino que creyera posible la empresa».20 Don Ángel's optimism contrasts strikingly with the gloomy outlook of Don Juan, but it is the optimism of a person who has been sheltered, for most of his life, from any encounter with real evil or suffering. Besides, his militant and intolerant type of Catholicism is very similar to that professed by Don Juan and virtually all the Catholic characters of the novel. (When, for example, he is introducing the neo-Catholic political candidate, Rafael del Horro, he calls him «[...] (el) benemérito campeón de los buenos principios, de las creencias religiosas de la Iglesia católica, y (el) perseguidor del filosofismo, del ateísmo, de las irreverencias revolucionarias» 518b). The ultimate consequence of this is that when Don Ángel comes up against a situation which requires patience, insight and boundless compassion, his reactions are inadequate, and even cruel. There is certainly no gentleness in his letter to Doña Serafina in which he speaks of the separation decreed by him between Gloria and her child: «Puedes concederle... algún consuelo, permitiéndole ver a esa tierna criatura, aunque no conviene que se exalten demasiados sus sentimientos maternales. Puedes permitirle este desahogo tan natural y de tan buen origen; pero si por acaso el Malo (i.e., Daniel) se presentase en Ficóbriga, establece la incomunicación más absoluta; esconde a nuestro buen Jesús, que criamos para el Cielo; ponlo donde sus extraviados padres no puedan alcanzarlo...» (636b).

Gloria, however, cannot take a sufficiently detached view of her uncle to appreciate these defects in his character, and when her «unorthodox» ideas come into conflict with his intolerance, she submits, outwardly at least, to his condemnation of her views. As an illustration of this, the episode in which Gloria makes her confession to Don Ángel (Part One, Chapter 30, «Pecadora y hereje») repays detailed study. The most significant point conveyed here is that Don Ángel is disturbed less by the fact that Gloria has secretly been in love with a heretic than by her «latitudinarianism». It is true that his overidealised view of his niece as a privileged creature of God leads him to attach more guilt than necessary to her love for Daniel: «este pecado», he calls it, «tan grande y tal que jamás lo creyera en ti...» (564b). But it is to what he regards as her departure from strict orthodoxy that he attaches the more severe censure: «[...] la causa de mi enojo contigo es que, según me has confesado, han nacido en tu espíritu... ciertas ideas erróneas contrarias de todo en todo a la doctrina cristiana y a las decisiones de la Iglesia... estás infestada de la pestilencia muy común en nuestros días, y que es la mas peligrosa, porque tomando cierto tinte de generosidad, a muchos cautiva. Es lo que llamamos latitudinarismo» (565a-b). The pained reaction of her uncle hurts   —42→   Gloria deeply, but she cannot compromise her conscience by pretending a submission she does not feel: «[...] huyo de la mentira, huyo de confesarme creyente en ciertos puntos que no creo, porque no es capricho lo que me obliga a pensar lo que pienso, sino una fuerza poderosa, una llama tan viva como perdurable que hay en mi entendimiento» (566b). In the next chapter however, Gloria's resolution to maintain her freedom of conscience is overcome by the strength of her emotional attachment to her family: «Llegó, sin embargo, un punto en que las relaciones cariñosísimas entre ella y su padre y tío empezaron a quebrantarse, y aquí la sensibilidad de la infeliz muchacha se sobrepuso a todo. Perder el amor de ellos era desgracia irreparable, y resolvió echar en olvido sus errores, ya que no podía extirparlos» (567b, my italics).

So far, we have only considered the exterior pressure towards conformity exerted on Gloria by her relatives, and the way in which her emotional ties with them prevent her from resisting this pressure. Another important element in Gloria's spiritual conflict is that there is also something within herself which at times precludes her making other than a stock Catholic response to certain situations. In spite of her deep conviction of the rightness of her own position, she cannot escape from the consequences of the type of religious formation she has received. It is inevitable that, under certain conditions, she will act under the influence of the hyper-sensitive conscience and «spiritualised» attitudes she has inherited. As Clarín puts it: «[...] la educación ha hecho todos esos estragos en el alma de aquella niña, cuyo natural elevado, capaz de grandes ideas, se ve pronto combatido y desvirtuado por la acción del medio deletéreo en que vive...»21

The point is made with great force in Chapters 26 and 28 of Part One, the first of which has the significant title of «El ángel rebelde». In a series of soliloquies, Gloria turns over in her mind the agonising problem posed by her love for Daniel. She is convinced that their love is a good and noble thing in the sight of God: «No me avergüenzo de ello, y mi conciencia sigue tranquila. Dios está conmigo, lo conozco. Veo la mano inmensa que traza en mi interior la cruz, bendiciéndome» (556a). At the same time, her consciousness of the dividing power of their differing religious traditions imposes itself with a new urgeney: «Entre los dos cae el filo de una espada terrible. Nadie puede resolver esto, nadie puede hacer polvo esta muralla que se nos pone en medio...» (556b). For perhaps the first time in the novel, the full force of the intellectual and moral constraint under which she has been living is brought home to her: «Yo saldré fuera de este capullo en que estoy metida, porque ha sonado la hora de que salga, y Dios me dice: Sal, porque yo te hice para tener luz propia, como el Sol, no para reflejar la ajena, como un charco de agua» (557a-b).

Yet in spite of the strength of Gloria's instinct to rebel against family and religious tradition, when she is given the opportunity of testing her resolution, she lacks the almost superhuman energy and courage required to put it into effect. In her meeting with Daniel in Chapter 28, she shrinks from the prospect of seeking any solution to their dilemma which would place her outside the framework of her own Church, or at odds with her family. She would rather   —43→   live out her life in loneliness than attempt such a thing: «Jesucristo, a quien adoro, me ha enseñado el modo de hacer (el sacrificio) yo sola, si es preciso; pero si me da fuerzas para aceptar el de la vida, no me las da para aceptar el cáliz de un escandaloso cambio de religión, por casarme a disgusto de mi familia» (561a). Her spiritual anguish is caused as much by her resentment of the repressive discipline under which she lives as by the way in which her tortured conscience makes her submit to this discipline.

The religious problem which is the theme of the novel is, then, the conflict which arises when a person of «latitudinarian» outlook but predominantly Catholic formation is forced to contend with the forces of intolerance, embodied in people who are outwardly kind and generous, and to whom she is bound by strong ties of love. It must be emphasized, of course, that the term «latitudinarian» embraces much more than the view condemned by Pius IX, which consisted in believing that men of good faith could achieve the eternal rewards in the afterlife by following the dictates of conscience with regard to religious dogma. It includes also Gloria's belief in the goodness and lawfulness of a whole range of natural feelings and aspirations (her mental independence, her critical instinct, her love for Daniel and her maternal feelings for their child). By the same token, her family's opposition to latitudinarian ideas is not confined to rejecting her «heretical» belief that all men of goock will can be saved, but extends to all the other types of independence I have just mentioned, and which they refer to respectively as «soberbia», «perversa crítica de actos y de ideas emanadas de la autoridad» (636a), «esa insensata llama» (564b), and «sentimientos... a los cuales no tienes derecho a causa de tu culpa» (604b).

In the light of this, it is surely an oversimplification to say that the theme of Gloria is «le mariage contrarié par le 'fanatisme'».22 The rigid opposition of both the Lantiguas and the Mortons to a marriage between two people of different religions is certainly one of the most important elements in the novel. But it seems to me that it must be seen, in the context of the whole work, as only one part of a much wider preoccupation. The circumstances of the relationship between Daniel and Gloria have the dual effect both of demonstrating in a specific manner and intensifying a conflict which has already shown itself in other ways earlier in the novel, and which will continue in a much more acute form in Part Two. The fact that Gloria's conscience can, after the climax of Part One, accuse her of having given herself outside marriage, and to a person whose religious affiliation she regards with horror, suggests that Galdós is endeavouring to heighten the tragedy of her situation by imprisoning her within it as firmly as possible.23

Unhappily, however, Galdós tends to overstate this point in a way which often borders on melodrama. This appears particularly in his treatment of his Jewish hero. Chapters 12, 14, 15 and 16 of Part One represent a sustained attempt to create a romantic atmosphere of tragedy and fatality around the figure of Daniel. Gloria has strong premonitions of his coming long before he appears. He arrives in Ficóbriga as the result of a storm which nearly costs him his life. The atmosphere of impending catastrophe is reinforced by mention of a dream in which Caifás, the sexton of the parish church, saw Gloria   —44→   being carried off by «un hombre horrible... que había venido volando por los aires y que caía del cielo como un rayo» (530a). Again, on the occasion of Daniel's second visit to Ficóbriga, Galdós reiterates some of these melodramatic elements in order to emphasise the calamitous effects of the event which is about to take place. Daniel returns to the village in an attempt to clear Caifás of an unjust accusation made against him, and is detained there by a storm. His mind goes back to the first storm, which resulted in his shipwreck, and he makes a remark which suggests that Galdós wishes him to appear as the victim of a tragic destiny; «¡Pobre de mí! Las tempestades me trajeron y las tempestades me llevan... Está escrito que no naufrague yo una vez sola en Ficóbriga» (577a). The way in which Daniel is completely overcome by his passion and pushes his way into Gloria's house in pursuit of her is inconsistent with what we already know about his character. He has been shown throughout Part One to be a person of great intelligence, tact and courtesy, and one can only conclude that his somewhat unconvincing behaviour in this episode is a result of Galdós' conscious purpose of intensifying the conflict he is describing.

Unfortunately, I think that to some extent this overemphasis defeats itself. It is true that by the end of Part One, i.e., after the revelation of Daniel's Judaism., and the death of Gloria's father, Galdós has shown that the suffering of his heroine will be increased beyond measure by these events. But he has failed to give sufficient emphasis to the importance of the new stage which has been reached in the relationship between Gloria and Daniel. The consummation of their love is only referred to obliquely (and melodramatically) in terms of the storm then raging outside: «Después soplaba (el viento) de nuevo con rabia; las ramas, en su rozar vertiginoso, se azotaban unas a otras, y parecía que entre aquel torbellino, difundido por la inmensidad de los cielos, se estaba oyendo el rumor de las rotas alas de un ángel que caía lanzado del Paraíso» (579b). By concentrating on the fatality and violence of the passion which overwhelms Gloria and Daniel, Galdós robs it of some of its immediacy. It is only by the type of indirect reference I have just mentioned that the reader can deduce what has really happened. We are told only of Gloria's remorse after the event, but we know nothing of the thoughts or utterances of this unusually intelligent pair of lovers before they place their relationship on this completely new footing.

Another weakness in this section arises from the way in which Galdós holds back the revelation of Daniel's religion until the very last moment, in an effort to achieve something akin to a coup de théâtre. It is not made clear how Daniel succeeds in this concealment, which must have presented serious practical difficulties for him. He lives with the Lantigua family for nearly a month, and during this time has lengthy discussions on religious topics with Don Juan and Don Ángel. Besides, his physical resemblance to Christ is stressed frequently throughout the novel. Yet no one suspects that he is Jewish, and it is only when Gloria hears this fact from his own lips that she sees «junto a sí el característico rostro semítico» (580).

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to conclude that Daniel's appearances in the novel are marred throughout by this kind of over-dramatisation. As well   —45→   as being the cause of Gloria's dishonour, he has other important functions, which Galdós treats more convincingly. It is part of his role to reinforce Gloria's latitudinarian convictions by showing himself to be the living example of the truth that one can be good, honest, noble and generous without being a Catholic (or even, Galdós would say, a Christian). His personal excellence is noticed from the beginning by everyone with whom he comes in contact: «Pronto conoció don Juan que había dado albergue a una persona bien nacida, de trato muy afable, de carácter noble y recto, delicadísima, y adornada con instrucción tan vasta, que en casa de Lantigua todos estaban atónitos» (538a). Daniel's goodness is contrasted in a very interesting way with the attitudes of the other characters of the novel. Although he declares his hatred of «la inútil innovación cristiana» (618b), his actions are probably closer in practice to the real spirit of Christianity than those of the Catholics around him. This point is made effectively clear in Chapters 24 and 25 of Part One, entitled respectively «Una obra de caridad» and «Otra». The former refers to Don Juan's reaction to the plight of Caifás and his family, who have been expelled from the sacristan's house by the parish priest, Don Silvestre. Don Juan's «charity» only extends to arranging for the children to be given a daily meal at the Lantigua house. He refuses to do anything to help their father, because of his objections to Caifás' drinking habits and general shiftlessness: «No pienso hacer nada por él. Estoy cansado de favorecerle... Darle dinero es fomentar sus vicios» (551a-b). Daniel, on the other hand, sees Caifás' need and remedies it generously, without indulging in sententious moralising: «Tú no eres perverso, sino desgraciado», he tells him (555a). Ironically, it is this act of real charity which ultimately leads to the climax of Part One, since Daniel only returns to Ficóbriga to clear Caifás of the unjust charge of having stolen the money which he (Daniel) gave him. It is significant, too, that Daniel's encounter with Gloria is only made possible by the fact that everyone else has left the village to take part in the banquet which Don Silvestre is giving at his farm to celebrate a neo-Catholic political triumph. Daniel's behaviour contrasts strikingly with the militant atmosphere of self-righteous exultation which characterises the function, and which is well summed up in the speech of Rafael del Horro: «¿Qué valen algunos centenares de inicuos depravados contra la mayoría de una nación católica? Porque no sólo somos los mejores, sino que somos los más. Alcemos en esta Cruzada el glorioso estandarte, y digamos: 'Atrás, impíos, malvados, sectarios de Satanás, que contra el Reinado de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo no prevalecerán las puertas del infierno'» (572b-573a). There is, then, a certain ambiguity in Daniel's role. He is at once the tragic figure who brings disaster on the person he loves, and an example of moral uprightness which contrasts favourably with the intolerance of others.

By the end of Part One, the conflict between the two sets of moral attitudes enshrined in the main characters has been shown to be virtually insoluble as a result of the tragic events of the last five chapters. As I have already mentioned, Gloria's remorse at her fall from grace imprisons her in her situation. She is left defenceless against the cruel and humiliating pressures with which she has to contend. These pressures come mainly from a character who was onlymentioned briefly in Part One, and who now appears for the first time.


Doña Serafina's role is in some ways similar to that of Don Juan and Don Ángel, in that her primary concern is that Gloria be kept strictly to the path of moral rectitude. She partakes of the attitude summed up in the phrase used in connection with Don Juan, «o Barrabás o Jesús», and consequently believes that any independence on Gloria's part, or any attempt to question the humanity of other people's conduct towards her places her soul once more in danger of eternal damnation. At the same time, she is not merely a dédoublement of Don Juan or Don Ángel, but has qualities of her own which differentiate her from them to some extent. The type of suffering she inflicts on her niece is much more intense and more sophisticated than anything Gloria has previously experienced.

In this connection, the story of Doña Serafina's disastrous marriage is particularly interesting. The heroic, almost masochistic resignation with which she accepts the cruel treatment meted out to her by her husband confirms her in that exaggerated mysticism which is her dominant characteristic. Besides, the fact that she has endured so much inclines her to that subtle type of spiritual arrogance which can so easily be mistaken for humility. The point is well illustrated by the way in which she contrives, by caring for her erring husband during his last illness, to heap coals of fire upon his head: «El marido cayó enfermo con lepra repugnante. La esposa, maltrecha y abofeteada, viendo llegar la ocasión propicia de su venganza, tomóla con arreglo a la idea evangélica, tan arraigada en su alma; es decir, que le abrumó a cariños, le abofeteó con cuidados y le clavó en la cruz de la más dulce solicitud y ternura» (588b-589a).

This part of Doña Serafina's experience has an important effect on her relationship with Gloria. Precisely because she has suffered so much, she tends to minimise the value of Gloria's efforts to work out her own salvation and to expiate her guilt by accepting her dishonour with resignation: «Te pareces al que por un rasguño se lamenta como si tuviera terribles heridas. ¡Padecer! ¿Sabes bien hasta donde alcanza este concepto?... Fijate bien en la Pasión que conmemoramos los católicos en esta semana, y tus alardes pueriles de sufrimiento te causarán risa» (604b). Indeed, the very fact that Gloria's suffering is freely and willingly accepted as a penance is seen by Doña Serafina es evidence of spiritual pride: «Padeces, si... pero no lo bastante. Hay en tu mismo martirio y en esa expiación de que hablas una independencia, una rebeldía, que ya es un nuevo pecado» (603b). Throughout the Second Part, Doña Serafina perversely keeps insisting that Gloria is really trying to achieve an easy and comfortable solution for herself, and that she can only save her soul by sacrificing the only thing which she refuses to give up, namely, her love for her child: «La maternidad podría hacerte feliz, y tú, si quieres salvarte, no debes ser feliz de ningún modo. Si para ti no debe haber ya más que penas, ¿por qué te apegas a los goces? Mientras más noble es el sentimiento que te deleita, más grande será el mérito de tu sacrificio... Es forzoso arrancar del corazón la fibra más sensible, arrojar la joya de más precio, matar lo más grande, lo querido y lo entrañable... Esta es la clave del cristianismo...» (638a-b). Gloria, though clinging passionately to her belief in the value and   —47→   rightness of her maternal instincts, cannot help absorbing some of Doña Serafina's unhealthy mysticism.

The insolubility of the conflict is presented from another angle through the character of Don Buenaventura. He is the only one of Gloria's family who sympathises, to any extent, with latitudinarian attitudes. Professor W. T. Pattison is surely being a little harsh when he describes him as a hypocrite.24 On the contrary, it seems clear that Galdós wishes us to see Don Buenaventura as a humane, tolerant and kindly person: «[...] don Buenaventura no había declarado la guerra a la generación presente, como su hermano (don Juan): tenía un carácter más franco, conciencia menos rigorista, pensar más elástico, aunque mucho menos brillante...» (589a). His affection for his niece is beyond question, as is the sincerity of his desire to bring her suffering to an end. He genuinely dislikes Doña Serafina's mysticism and the harsh and insensitive approach of Don Ángel. Yet these good qualities only serve to underline the truth that Don Buenaventura, for all his humanity, lacks the intelligence, courage and magnanimity necessary to resolve the conflict. Ultimately, he falls back on the «I-have-manyfriends-who-are-Jews» type of tolerance, and cannot rise above the idea of achieving a solution by means of a conversion, feigned or otherwise, on the part of Daniel. His tolerance is due, not to any deep commitment to the Christian ideal of charity, but to his rather conventional adherence to accepted social attitudes: «Para toda persona que se estima», he says, «y que sabe dar a los deberes sociales su valor propio hay leyes categóricas... hablo de las leyes del honor» (616a). It is therefore not surprising that his grasp of Catholicism is so superficial: «Soy católico sincero por educación, por convicción, por el ejemplo santo de mis virtuosos hermanos... porque si algún momento flaquease mi razón, vendría a fortalecerme el recuerdo de mi amorosa madre, y con recordarla sólo, la fe que en ella hizo prodigios de virtud, a mí me daría también fuerzas y consuelo...»; (617a, my italics).25 In his interview with Daniel in Chapter 11 of Part Two, Don Buenaventura completely fails to make allowance for the very special racial character of Judaism; for him, it is merely a «false» religion which any man of good sense can easily be persuaded to abandon. When the discussion begins to become heated, Don Buenaventura succumbs to the temptation to say things which in their context sound somewhat petty and tactless: «Un pueblo que ha resistido dieciocho siglos de desprecio», says Daniel, «es digno de mejor suerte»; to which Don Buenaventura's reply is: «Procuren ustedes mejorarla» (619a). Yet in spite of his defects, Don Buenaventura remains easily the most sympathetic member of Gloria's family. It is not entirely his fault that his good intentions are frustrated by the forces of religious antagonism.

The interview to which I have just referred is also important for stressing in yet another way the extent to which the religious conflict has become incapable of resolution. It is here that we are given certain insights into the nature of Daniel's religious upbringing, which enable us to see why an abjuration of his faith would be unthinkable. Ironically, the so-called «Jewish fanaticism» which appears here can ultimately be traced back to Christian intolerance,   —48→   and Daniel does not hesitate to point this out: «El mismo valladar establecido por los cristianos para que vivamos separados del resto del linaje humano, aviva y enciende más nuestra conciencia... ¡Abjurar!... Pasarnos a este enemigo implacable, que durante dieciocho siglos nos ha estado insultando, escupiendo y abofeteando... No, no puede ser...» (618b-619a).

This argument has particular force, coming as it does just after an episode in which Daniel has been subjected to all kinds of humiliation by the people of Ficóbriga, who, that very afternoon, took part with apparent devotion in a religious celebration. I mentioned earlier that comparison between Daniel and the Catholic characters of the novel made the latter appear in an unattractive light. This point is re-emphasised in a very striking way in Part Two by setting both the hatred evoked by Daniel's presence in Ficóbriga and the envy and malice directed against Gloria in the context of the celebration of the Holy Week liturgy. As Sr. Gustavo Correa has rightly pointed out,26 the ceremonies of Holy Week are a reenactment of precisely that historical event for which Daniel's race has been persecuted for centuries. But it seems to me that they have another more important function. The significance of the Palm Sunday ritual, in particular, is surely to emphasise the fact that Christ was to be denied, betrayed and finally put to death by those same people who acclaimed him when he entered Jerusalem. Similarly, Galdós seems to be suggesting, these latterday Pliarisees, «con falaz creencia de los labios, de rutinario entendimiento y corazón vacío», who assist with ostentatious fervour at religious functions, are capable of betraying in practice those Christian ideals in which they claim to believe. Daniel's words to the beggar in Chapter 9 of Part Two could be applied to a great many characters in the novel: «Haces alarde de cristianismo y no tienes lástima de mí, no te apiadas de la soledad en que estoy, sin un amigo, sin una voz que me consuele, sin otro hombre que me diga hermano y se siente junto a mi, aunque no sea sino para recordarme que ambos hemos sido hechos por el mismo Dios» (611b-612a). Daniel can hardly be blamed for hating something which he has seen to be «cruel e inútil» (618b). Galdós' success in making us appreciate how Catholicism can look to a non Christian, and how understandable Jewish intolerance can be, is one of the great strengths of this part of the novel.

At the same time, however, Part Two is not free from some of the defects which marred certain episodes in the first volume. Galdós has convincingly made his point about the irreconcilable nature of the conflict by the means to which I have referred: the relationship between Gloria and Doña Serafina, the characterisation of Don Buenaventura and Daniel's Sephardic background. However, his next attempt to reemphasise the same point involves a return to melodrama, with consequent distortion of one of the characters involved.

Daniel, after an agonising struggle with his conscience, decides that the only way to repair the injury done to Gloria is to feign a conversion to Christianity. Almost immediately after he announces his desire to become a Catholic to Gloria and her family, his mother, Esther Morton, arrives in Ficóbriga. She has suspected the purpose of Daniel's return to Spain and has followed him there determined to prevent any attempt on his part to abjure his faith. At the moment when Daniel is about to re-affirm, in front of the whole Lantigua   —49→   family, his determination to embrace Christianity, Esther suddenly appears accompanied by the alcalde of Ficóbriga, Don Juan Amarillo, who, on her behalf, falsely accuses Daniel of having robbed his own father, and of being a fugitive from justice. Daniel is so enraged that he has to be restrained forcibly from attacking Don Juan. Doña Serafina and Don Ángel are shocked by the revelation of Daniel's allegedly criminal past, and refuse to pursue the matter of his conversion any further. Gloria, for her part, declares her belief in Daniel's innocence, but almost immediately states that she no longer wishes to marry him, but desires to enter a convent.

The melodramatic tone of this scene hardly needs to be emphasised. A more serious weakness, however, is the way in which Galdós' desire to bring the Second Part to a climax just at this point gives rise to inconsistencies in the characterisation of Esther. Her ruthlessness and duplicity in this episode stand in striking contrast to what we know about her from her previous appearances. As soon as she arrives in Ficóbriga, her graciousness and affability engage the sympathies of everyone whom she meets. Galdós takes pains to stress the respect in which she and her family are held in distinguished society. Her conversation with Daniel in Chapters 27 and 28 reveals her deep love for her son, as well as her integrity: she is genuinely shocked by the dishonesty of his feigned conversion: «¿Luego engañas a esa pobre joven, engañas a una honrada familia?... ¡Daniel impostor! Lo que ahora me revelas es tan indigno de ti como la apostasía» (695b). Though the tone of the interview sometimes becomes heated, it ends on a note of tenderness and peace, with Daniel going to sleep with his head in his mother's lap. Yet this is the same Esther who, the very next day, publicly dishonours her son by fabricating a completely false criminal charge against him, and who has already made her preparations for this by bribing Don Juan Amarillo and the British consul. From any angle, whether as a mother, or as a representative of Judaism, Esther is an unconvincing character.

On the other hand, the conclusion of the novel is treated with much more skill. Galdós has prepared us for Gloria's death by frequent references to the decline in her health brought about by the mental and emotional strain to which she has been subjejcted. What is striking about her end is the way in which Galdós tries to suggest that she is at once defeated and victorious. She is defeated because she has been literally done to death by misguided fanaticism. Besides, her mind seems now to be occupied completely by the idea of martyrdom which her aunt has tried to instill into her: there are echoes, in her last conversation with Daniel, of Doña Serafina's influence: «Ves esto con mirada baja y pequeña. Yo llevo la idea de nuestros desposorios por caminos más altos. Tu lo verás cuando seas salvo, y entonces me darás las gracias, pobre ciego...» (676b). At the same time, there is an important sense in which Gloria remains unconquered: for the first time since the end of Part One, she confidently re-affirms her faith in the idea that the love of God can only be made real in this life through human love: «Pero la idea de usted, querida tía... no ha podido triunfar completamente en mi, y al presentarme delante de Dios, le ofrezco las prendas de mi corazón y los nobles afectos de que no puedo desprenderme... ¡Oh Dios mío!, no me es posible amarte   —50→   como a un novio. No te veo grande, superior a todas las cosas, sino cuando veo bajo tu sombra a los que he querido en el mundo» (678b). As Clarín has already pointed out, Gloria, in the last moments of her life, shows something of that self-assurance and independence of spirit which characterised her at the beginning of the novel.27

This is not, of course, to minimise the fact that the note on which the novel ends is a strongly pessimistic one. Religious intolerance leads to the deaths of both the main characters, as Daniel dies insane four years after Gloria. Galdós' last thought is that those who are aware of the magnitude of the conflict must work towards its eventual resolution, but he obviously holds out little hope of reconciliation in the foreseeable future: «La querella subsistía, subsiste y subsistirá pavorosa, y antes que se acabe, muchas Glorias sucumbirán, ofreciéndose como víctimas para aplacar al formidable monstruo que toca con la mitad de sus horribles patas a la Historia y con la otra mitad a la Filosofía, monstruo que no tiene nombre, y que si lo tuviera lo formaría juntando lo más bello, que es la religión, con lo más vil, que es la discordia; muchas Glorias sucumbirán, sí, arrebatandose del mundo que encuentran despreciable a causa de las disputas, y corriendo a presentar su querella ante el Juez absoluto» (680b-681a).

To sum up: the religious discord which is the theme of Gloria has its origin in the clash between intolerance and certain attitudes which can be included in the term latitudinarianism. In tracing the way in which Galdós intensifies this conflict so as to heighten its tragic consequences, I have suggested that while he shows a great deal of skill and insight in his handling of the Catholic characters, his conception of the role of Daniel and Esther Morton sometimes leads him into melodrama at the expense of plausibility of behaviour. The presence of these weaknesses is, I think, evidence of inexperience at this comparatively early stage in Galdós' career. But the good qualities of Gloria show that we are already in the presence of a novelist of genius, whose major achievements in the genre were still to be realised.28

Trinity College, Dublin.