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The Novel Dona Perfecta And Anticlericalism English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5511 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Anticlericalism is a movement in history that opposed the power and influence of the religious institutions on the public and political life, in its most extreme manifestation this movement led to violent attacks against the clergy seizure of the Church’s property as well as vandalism against the sites that were religious. Anticlericalism is often directed against the Catholic Church and its clergy and goes beyond advocating merely for the absence of religious interference in matters government. The goal of the movement is to restrict religion to a strictly private activity. The movement has existed in one form or another in the history of the Christian Church. However, it was most prominent during the Protestant Reformation on the sixteenth century. During the “Enlightenment” error, philosophers such as Voltaire leveled bitter attack alleging the Catholic Church’s moral corruption; this was a factor that contributed largely to the wholesome attacks that threatened the Church’s very existence during the French Revolution. In Spain, anti-clericalism played an important role in the country’s politics despite it being predominantly a Catholic state. In particular, Spain experienced this movement during the country’s first Civil War from 1820 to 1823.

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In the Catalunya riots, a total of 20 clergymen were killed by the liberal movement members in retaliation to the church siding with the absolutist supporters of the then ruler, Ferdinand vii. Following the First Carlist War in 1836, the new regime abolished some of the country’s covenants and monasteries. Spain experienced most of the severe cases of anticlericalism during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. This period is termed as Spain’s Red Terror with numerous assaults leveled against the Catholic supporters, its clergy and as an institution. It also resulted in numerous deaths and martyring of victims linked to the church. Spanish literatures during nineteenth and early twentieth century have been anticlerical to say the least. This excerpt aims at analysis the anticlerical imagery that is to found in three of these which have been translated into English: Dona Perfecta, La Regenta, and Requiem por un Campesino

Summary of Dona Perfecta

Dona Perfecta by Galdos is a presentation of the problem of anticlericalism as it takes place in a small cathedral town. In the novel, Dona Perfecta is a symbol of tradition and faith. According to her, learning and science threatens to destroy the spirit’s life. On the other hand, Pepe Rey is a young engineer of liberal ideas. He comes to the town of Orbasajo with the anxious intention of marrying his cousin who is the daughter of Dona Perfecta. He as such, represents science as the form of enlightenment. These two points of view meet inevitably with deadly conflict. The town priest is a man of ironic humility and as expected sides with Dona Perfecta. The entire town is personification of intolerance and views Pepe as a heretic for the views he holds. Towards the end, the young man makes an attempt at eloping with his sweetheart. He ends up being murdered by a Carlist partisan. The girl he aimed at marrying is committed to an asylum as she is deemed as showing signs of instability. In the end the atmosphere of the town returns to its form cold and rift less gray.

Dona perfecta connects an authoritarian sexuality to the cult of Mary, the engulfing styles of motherhood that are found in Iberia, as well as the many difficulties that many priests are forced to experiences with their code identity of gender. The book shows anticlerical counter discourse that is covered in a struggle to break the identify not only from the mother but also from the religious beliefs of the mother. A clear pattern can be seen out of the autobiographies and the biographies of the anticlerical writers found in Spain in the nineteenth and twentieth century. We see the male child typically begins his life under the wing and influence of the mother aunts, grandmother, female caretakers and the female folk in general. As such, the child absorbs their sentimental, fussy and almost superstitious beliefs according to Caro. Many of the boys in this culture were allowed and at times encourage playing priest, which is, dressing up like the priests and even pretending to say mass. However, with the onset of puberty and the peer-bonding that occur with their male counterparts, friends and cousins, the previously little angle would come to learn to mock the feminine piety as well as to reject all activity that would be viewed as “sissy”. Only when old age caught up with the man and the proximity of death was apparent would a man’s man then consider returning to regularly participating in religious activities (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).

At times, the peer pressure to cement ones gender identity triggered an out-and-out rebellion against the boys’ parents, teachers and any other authority figure in general, many of the men that belonged to the Spanish bourgeoisie and born around 1840 to 1860 were anticlerical. Caro writes that they were rapidly anticlerical and unlike what we may think they were simultaneously extraordinarily talented and had a great deal of ability. It is significant also to note that many of the anticlerical had all gone to religious schools of great repute only to react furiously against the educators their. It is probable that in some cases the rage was rooted in some shame-inducing episode of physical molestation or punishment that had been hushed-up. It would seem at the very least that the vehemence portrayed by many of the anticlerical was an indirect measure of the staying power and strength of the negative religious messages and the regimes, familial, ecclesiastical and national, that were not only repressive but also allow these messages to proliferate (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).

Female Spanish writers in the nineteenth century were generally disciplined if they as much made such attacks. This is not to be mistaken to mean that they were incapable of spotting religious dysfunction symptoms. On the other hand, Benito Perez Galdos (1843-1920) was the model male anticlerical writer of the nineteenth century and early the next century although he was still catholic. He may have adopted certain elements of realist style but he belonged to both a political persuasion and gender identity formation whose main aim was to deconstruct the Spanish ultra-Catholism. At the same time it was being reconstructed by mystics such as Monsignor Claret amongst other. Dona Perfecta written in 1876 became the writer’s classic work of liberal anticlericalism. The novel presents a major expose of the rigid motherly and priestly personalities that were responsible for sustaining religious abuse in Spain (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).

Like in most anticlerical plays or novels, the plot of Dona Perfecta is that of a dysfunctional family drama. The writer intended for the reader to identify with Pepe (Jose’ Rey), thirty four years of age, who is the ideal liberal martyr. He is well educated, is patriotic and a man of scientific orientation. His tragic “flaw” is his inability to be a liar and to refrain from criticizing what needs criticism regarding Orbajosa, an archetypal provincial town in Spain. Pepe commits his first big mistake under Don Inocencio’s, the wily priest, relentless goading which results in him launching into a devastating critique. This is particularly directed at the bad taste that is purportedly displayed at the local cathedral. In particular he concentrated on the garish baroque clothing that adorns the Christian icons such as the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus. The priest all along has been waiting for this faux pas (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).

The canon takes great pleasure in tearing apart Pepe’s criticism. He first indicates that the image Pepe sees as being ridiculous according to his pantheistic philosophy is the town’s “Our Lady of Succor, intercessor and patroness”. He indicates that the inhabitants of Orbajosa would not hesitate to drag anyone who speaks ill of her down the streets. He further indicates that Dona Perfecta, Pepe’s aunt, is the lady-in waiting to the Virgin Mary, the Holiest Virgin of Succor. In addition the purportedly grotesque dress won by the icon was in fact made in that very house with the trousers of the Child Jesus being sawn by the needle and the piety of his cousin Rosalito (Mitchell and Mitchell 44).

This is scene as Galdo’s one economical scene where he manages to communicate the intimate connection that exist between the women who are earthly and supernatural, the young engineer’s desire to distance himself from the maternal superstitions that are so sentimental and the readiness of the people of Orbajosa to protect their Protect even using violence when deemed necessary (Mitchell and Mitchell 45).

The novel’s principal theme is the harm of good women when they internalize an omnipotent sense of the rights and duties of a mother. Galdos is quick to state that the maternal instinct is usually a good thing that gives allowance to a certain degree of exaggeration. However, a more striking phenomenon does take place in ones life. This is when the maternal affection exaltation does not coincide with the heart’s absolute purity and the perfect honesty. In the process, it becomes possible for it to go astray and as such result in a lamentable frenzy that in turn contributes to great errors and catastrophes just as other unbridled passion does. The women characters in the story, the widow Dona Perfecta, Maria Remedios, former maid and Dona’s friend, the priest’s live-in housekeeper and niece, are used to further the picture of perverse of unwholesome consequences of the mothering styles adopted. The first victim of these women is Rosarito, Dona’s daughter who is enamored to Pepe. In the concluding parts of the novel, Dona is quoted confiding to Remedios that she would rather any other evil befall her daughter even death than see her married to Pepe, her nephew. Remedios is seen to have in mind a less drastic solution. Once the priest makes the presumption that Rosarito has already taken to the libidinous urges of Pepe, her cousin, Remedios is quick to suggest that the girl was still as “pure as an angle”. She went further to state that the girl’s infatuation with Pepe could easily be cured. She suggest that all it takes to bring Rosarito back in line is just a couple of swipes on the chops or she be given six good whacks (Mitchell and Mitchell 45).

The link that exists between rule-bound religiosity and personality distortion is abundant in the text. Galdos omniscient narrator in the story places Perfecta at the centre of it. He describes Perfecta as aged prematurely as a result of her bilious constitution which was combined with dealings that were in excess with devout persons as well as thing that were meant to exalt her imagination in a manner that was sterile. She as such did not look though she was. The text clams that she had managed to fashion an outer crust, a callous, a stony cover and likened her to a snail in its portable house, through her habits and way of life. This makes it almost impossible to think of what a loving Perfecta would be like. When she abhorred, it was likened to the vehemence of a guardian angle sent to counter discord among men. This is the effect that such a rigid character produces. In addition it lacked natural kindness by exaltation under religion where it is based in narrow formulas answerable only to ecclesiastical interest instead of being guided by the conscience and the truth that is revealed by simple principals such as beauty (Galdos 23).

Perfectionist rigidity has been identified by a liberal Spanish priest in present days as one of the way in which men and women can practice celibacy. David Shiparo points out based on his profession, psychiatry, that a defensive and rigid personality will most likely only resort to one thing in situations of crisis: stiffen further. As such Galdos displays his psychological astuteness when he portrays Perfecta with increased rigidity as well as messianic paranoia in the few last chapters of the book (Mitchell and Mitchell 56).

Dona perfecta offer a lot for people to learn in regard to the masochistic personality type that is associated with the ultra-Catholism of Spain. This is similar to the diagnosis made by Shapiro on his patients. He finds not acquiescence or resignation but a dignified refusal focused on forgetting humiliations in the past and in indeed to nurse or even exaggerate them so as to ultimately achieve at the very least a victory of morality. This same determination to neither forgive nor forget ever is exactly like the one that the clergymen who counsel Dona Perfecta possess (Galdos 25).

The Liberal Spanish state had succeeded in dis-entailing the Church’s property as well as implementing limitations on the religious community numbers by 1876. The final outbreaks of the violence on the Carlist hinterlands, Catalunya and Aragon, which were inspired by the clergy, had been experienced in the early 1870s. As such, many of the priests were now sincerely feeling that they were now being victimized as well as humiliated by the liberal state of Spain. This was the case even in the façade of the conservative pseudo-parliament as it froze into after the First Republic failed, 1873. Accordingly, in Dona Perfecta, we are presented with the portrait of Orbajosa’s cathedral dean, an old man who is suffering from an eating disorder whose world was turned upside down by Mendizabal’s liberal reform years earlier. The dean only discussed only matters that revolved around religion and from the onset manifested a disdain for Pepe Rey that was most thorough. Don Inocencio is however the priest with a chip on his shoulder. He is a secular clergy member, presbyter and confessor of the high school and in addition is the local high school rhetoric and Latin teacher. He constantly takes offence with the newcomer who come fro Madrid and find fault with the socioeconomic backwardness Orbajosa. He has a defensive pride which is matched by his sense of inferiority to Pepe’s modern scientific learning. This is more so displayed when the young engineer embarks on an eloquent rehash of the critiques of superstition by the eighteenth-century rationalists. In response, the priest shows exaggerated self-depreciation, acknowledging in an unflinching manner his vulnerability to humiliation by praising the young university graduate on his intellectual gifts (Galdos 27).

It comes out clearly that this reaction is a simple maneuvering to outflank the young engines the same kind as is described by Shapiro. In specific terms, this is a picture of an individual who instead of surrendering concedes territory on his own terms in essence so as not to have to surrender. Trauma-induced shame is regarded as a major factor in the psychogenesis of deployed persons according to Rena Moses-Hrushovski, an Israeli psychiatrist. The “deployed persons” constantly demonstrate on how they have been wrong and further protest against it after years of being victims of suffering and humiliation. The Church men of Spain displayed prevalently such personality traits (Mitchell and Mitchell 46).

According to Callagan, by the 1870s the energy of the ecclesiastic were no longer directed towards reforming the Church from the within but were now more focused on blaming a variety of external forces for their attempt to de-catholicize Spain. The main concerns at the time included the liberal state’s sale of property belonging to the Church, the politicians did not care for the Church’s theocratic admonitions and the country’s intellectuals were advocating cultural innovation, the picture that Galdos paints of this period is both historically and psychologically accurate. The central government for the most part victimized priests and monks who in turn took refuge in regionalism. This was both as a defensive and a bulwark position. The local pride in the country is very different from the boosting that is displayed by the Americans. Rather in Spanish nineteenth century this pride was inseparable from religious dysfunction, Carlism, clerical paranoia, agrarian backwardness as well as civil insurrection. Pepe belittles the town of Orbajosa by describing it to his aunt as having no more than garlic fields and a bunch of bandits. He claimed that those who rose up to seek adventure after every five or four year in the name of some political or religious idea could go by no other name other than bandits (Galdos 31).

A landholding plutocracy arose as a result of the disentailment; it soon realized however that to maintain power in the capital Madrid, then it had to control the small villages and towns that were scattered around the countryside. This is where most of the land was located. The Guardia Civil, 1844, and became much feared was created so as to protect the property rights of the new owners as well as to repress malcontents. The opening of Dona Perfecta shows a scene of renegade peasants as they are executed by the Civil Guards. Later on in the text, the central government sends a group of troops to the town of Orbajosa so as to squelch a Carlist-type uprising. The troops are under the command of Pepe’s friends. In response to this, Perfecta stiffens and constructs a view of the situation that is perfectly millenarian and Manichaean. A strong chord of recognition is struck by the way Don Inocencio is portrayed in his incitation of the brutish local lads to rebel against the troops while in public he pays lip service to piece. This has the effect of creating repulsion in a liberal reader. However, a stronger chord that might resonate with today’s reader is the priests’ prediction of the massacre of priests in the future. He claimed that he new very of the terrible days that awaited those who wear the priests’ habit in Spain. As such, their lives were hanging by a thread. He compared what was to come to the French Revolution where thousands of pious priests had all perished in a single day (Galdos 32).

Perfecta used an Inquisition-style confinement by locking her daughter in her room after forbidding her from marrying Pepe following his insult of the sacred mother figure of the town. When Pepe manages to communicate with her, he is able to convince her that the nervous illness she is experiencing is as a result of the horrible violence she is experiencing from he pro-clerical mother. Rosarito is finally convinced that she is not ill rather is only intimated and to an extent fascinated. In Pepe’s eyes, Rosarito symbolizes an angle of God who is under the hypnosis and control of her mother. In essence, this injustice, the unheard violence directed to her is what turns him rectitude into barbarism, his reasoning into force, his honesty into violence that can be compared to that of thieves and murderers. The text tells us that the Pepe experiences the mood in which even the most prudent man feels violent flames, blind and brutal forces within him that inclines him to strike, strangle, break skulls as well as crush bones. However, Pepe does not succumb to his righteous rage by adopting the dirty tactics of the mothers. In the end he ends up a victim of their machinations (Galdos 34).

Anticlericalism in Requiem por un Campesino Espanol

Requiem por un Campesino Espanol which translates into Requiem for a Spanish Peasant is a short novel by Ramon J. Sender in the category of twentieth-century literature from Spain which very famous. The text is basically the thoughts and emories of a Catholic parish priest, Mosen Millan. This takes place as he is sitting in a Church’s vest in the unmade village in Aragonese. He is making preparations to conduct a requiem mass that is aimed at celebrating the life of Paco, a young peasant who had been murdered by the Nationalist army an year before this date. This had been in the Spanish Civil War outbreak. The priest’s thoughts are occasionally interrupted by an altar boy who comes and goes about his business in the vestry. The boy is humming an anonymous balled to himself. Initially, the novel had been given the title of Mosen Millan but the title was changed by the author so as to shift the focus to the peasant protagonist and away from the priest (Sender and McDermott 24).

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In the ballad the priest is, “the named one” with the clerical style and personal name indicating that he symbolizes a public mask of the institutional office private mask of egotistical individualism. The Christian name is derived from the medieval Castile patron saint whose intervention in a supernatural manner alongside Santiago which enabled the victory of the Christian military-aristocratic caste in Re-conquest. It however brings to mind the surname of General Millan Astray, a most sinister Franco’s new Crusader. His war cry is said to epitomize the ethos of Fascist Spain. The ritual of “Mata judios” during the Holy Saturday ceremonies reminds one of the poignant memories to the exiled Diaspora about the church’s part and collaboration in the dissent eradication and the creation of the vengeful sectarian violence climate in the country (Sender and McDermott 24).

The name Millan sums up the Catholic Church’s historical continuity of its Imperial order and its alliance with the military and the aristocracy in order to establish and restore that order. This is symbolized by the greasy patch that is formed by the priests head on the sacristy wall over the period of a half a century as the priest seated in his chair mechanically reciting his daily office of the liturgical language, Latin, a dead language from a dead empire. To Sendor, the priest represents ‘la inercua de la historia y el peso de aquella inercia’ (Sender and McDermott 24).

The author perceives the priest as being symbolic of how the church reacts to tough and problematic historical goings the priest retreat back into private payer in his private house refuge. His house is termed ‘abadia’ bringing into mind the former dependence on the foundation of the medieval monastery whose active mission aimed at assisting the poor is in decline. The priest is as such trapped seemingly like a grasshopper; his silent agony is witnessed through his window. This is seen through the persona of the church, a historical institution that had sought earthly power by preferring the hypocrite, and the rich who were the mask of caring for the eternal soul of parishioners while taking care of his temporal body. He is portrayed as lacking in action. He puts the sacrament on permanent exposition in the Holy Church while on the other hand the Falangists litter unburied bodies in the countryside. He would then protest hat the dead are denied the opportunity of having a last confession. The priest is only concerned with saving his own skin which results in him betraying and losing the real presence of Christ’s body that he is unable to see in the people like Paco (Sender and McDermott 24).

The author is keen to portray the priest’s conscious concern for eternal salvation in another-worldly manner proclaims the gospel according to St John which states that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. He however limits the great commandment of charity to God’s love. This portrays a lack of understanding the message of St. Matthew. This is introduced to the writer as an ironic inter-text where the priest self-references as belonging to the biblical age when the salt is said to lose its flavor. The beginning of the Kingdom of God in the world is in living your neighbor as yourself and ministering the hard work of mercy to brethrens who are of the least importance. The priest fails in his crucial test in the cave episode as he makes perfunctory performance of the victims’ lasts rite and is in haste to leave. He is evasive in his replies to the questions of Paco’s, only a child, regarding responsibility and poverty. In the process he propagates a fatalistic resignation to the way of God’s work and the acceptance of suffering and poverty. He refuses Paco to seek aid in his name which is the practical thing to do (Sender and McDermott 25).

Millan does not recognize the error of his judgment in his conduct to introduce Paco to the caves even as he recognizes the significance of the boy’s action experiences. He accuses Paco of deceiving himself by having visions of a village that is not under Civil Guard as well as without poor people who live in caves when he confronts him on behalf of the Civil Guard regarding the rifles Paco has removed. On confronting Paco this time on behalf of the Duke’s estate-manage on matters regarding the rent-strike, he urges that Paco uses restraint and caution instead of hot-blooded action. However when it comes to the non-payment of Mass fee by the municipal he puts up a spirited argument throwing his lot definitively along with the oligarchy as this threatens his livelihood. The priest remains rooted in his post even as the oligarchy depart in a spirit Christian martyrdom. However, his fortitude is not put under the test even as the village comes under a new order. Paco laughs at this claiming it unjustified fear. Under the former old order, the priest desires to restore his integrity and loyalty as a man. He attempts to seek out Paco’s secret hideout and court an interrogation. However, he fails miserably when he backs down on the first threat from a Falangist pistol. He is well aware that the life of a human being lies on whether he replies or not. He however bows his head on submission rationalizing his action as being a divine dimension of some form of eternal salvation and that because of his love for God, he cannot lie (Sender and McDermott 25).

The human nature of the clergy is portrayed as having an animal sense of submission stemming from an animal instinct of self-preservation and fear. The proests body is material with his memory dwelling on the feast during Paco’s wedding and baptism. The text portrayed the priest hood as a meal ticket that gives the priest a way out of the trap of poverty. After the christening of Pacom and incident occurs that divides the priest and the midwife, an opposition between the earth mother and the Heavenly Father, between the collective matriarchal pagan unconsciousness in the private and the collective patriarchal Christian consciousness in public life. This also highlights the opposition between the ecclesiastical culture related to death and the folk culture related to life. The ministry is portrayed as the minister of death and Jeronima as the fairy godmother of life (Sender and McDermott 25).

At the wedding, the priest portrays the church as a fount of eternal and temporal life. But in reality, the church is seen as a patriarchal institution that is presided over by the solitary man dressed in all black. The text also is portrays the village church as having shadows an unnatural sounds particularly during the Holy week when it is Christ’s monumental tomb. It states that this is counterbalanced by the collective feminine voices and the natural light in the public communal space of old wives (Sender and McDermott 26).

Paco is used to represent the people of Spain as they were peasants. He is a literary counter myth of the Falangist leader, Antonio. He is indicative of affection and familiarity in the small world that exists in this closed world. Paco as the leader of community wishes to create a new era that is guided by enlightenment that is both rational and economic and is in harmony with nature. He refuses the priest advice as a child by wanting to follow his father’s footsteps to become a farmer instead of a soldier or a priest (Sender and McDermott 27).

He portrays considerable moral education even as a child as witnessed in his questioning of the priest with regard to poverty in their rounds to the caves. The child and not the priest is able to make a mental equation between Christ suffering on the cross and the feet of the men dying in the caves. He then sets out to mobilize charitable actions so as to help the poor using the priest’s name. The priest refuses him and thus Paco resorts to seek social reforms outside of the church. The text portrays him as transforming to serve man from Goa in the caves which leads him to a life of revolutionary humanistic ethic (Sender and McDermott 32).

Anticlericalism in La regenta

In Dona Perfecta, the society portrayed is still up for grabs compared to Rosarito, it is still liable to fall of the edge into madness in this case civil war the Alphonsine Restoration had however managed to prove itself by the next decade. This is was able to do by being a loyal subordinate to capitalism. The mining and railroad interests were now under the control of foreigners. The Andalusia agrarian bourgeoisie, which is supported by the financial and mercantile communities is also tolerated by the military and is administered by a legion of loyal bureaucrats in Madrid. The Church hierarchy under the persuasion of the conservative liberals has abandoned the pipedreams of the Carlists. In addition, the country has stabilized into a mostly cooperative and peaceful buy mostly corrupt relations socially. The Spanish conservative liberals now realized that he Church the best protection against the restless unionists, university professors and journalists which was on the increase. The bourgeoisie which include many families whose ancestor had been at the forefront of buying the disentailed Church’s proper at merge prices were now at the forefront, eagerly participating in the resurgence of new-Catholic in all spheres of life (Mitchell and Mitchell 47).

This movement had a strong presence on provincial Spain. This is the world that is portrayed in a very accurate manner by Leopoldo also known as Clarin (1852-1901). This writer is regarded as the most penetrating observer of the behavior and misbehavior of the clergy in his time. The two volumes of La Reganta are regarded as his master piece. They are set in the fictional name of Oviedo, the capital of Asturias province in northern Spain, “Vestusta”. Compared to Galdos, Clarin is not as tendentious with perceived critics hailing La Regenta for its Cervantes-like sociological acumen and ideological neutrality. Clarin’s perspective is more distanced which enables the author to engage in an examination of the role that religious dysfunctions played in the lives of the Spaniards that is more thorough. In the process, he is able to give the reader a psychological peak into celibate sexuality for the first time (Mitchell and Mitchell 47).

La Reganta’s first characters are the altar-boys who are also victims of abuse. One of them Bismarck, a substitute bell-ringer, is described as having become accustomed to being kicked and slappers for no apparent reason. As such, he develops a concept of authority, of someone who is important in the world, as being nothing else than having the power to kick and slap at will. More disturbing is his companions’ fledgling deviant personality. The text describes Celeonio, a twelve/thirteen year old, as having already developed the ability to adjust his facial muscle according to liturgical requirements. His eyes were large and dirty- brown and he would them in an affectation manner when performing ecclesiastical functions imitating the beatas and the priest he knew and associated with. He was not aware that he gave the people of cloth a cynical and lubricious look easily comparable to the way a prostitute does to announce her commerce with the look of her eyes. It is easy to make a prediction that in future, these kids would display perversion of the natural instincts that have already been provoker by the distorted education’s aberrations. Clarin portrays what is similar to the poisonous pedagogy of Alice Miller (Wayne 12).

Don Fermin de Pas embodies the higher clergy’s formidable power. He holds many titles, theologian, an eloquent preacher, a holder the cathedral’s hierarchy most coveted offices and is the bishop’s right-hand man. He is often referred to as “el senor Provisor” and “El Magistral” in the novel. Don Fermin has realized that knowledg


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