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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 347

"Aura" is a short novella written by Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes and published in 1962. It was first published in English in 1965. It tells the story of young historian and writer Felipe Montero who takes a live-in job with Señora Consuelo Llorente, who is 109 years old.

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Felipe Montero is a history teacher who accepts a job offered by Señora Consuelo Llorente to edit her dead husband’s manuscripts. Felipe’s credentials fit the requirements of the job advertisement perfectly.

You're reading the advertisement: an offer like this isn't made every day. You read it and reread it. It seems to be addressed to you and nobody else.

At first, it would seem that Felipe is the only balanced character in the story but, it does become difficult to rationalize some of his decisions. For example, agreeing with Aura when she tells him that he is now her husband. As it becomes possible that Aura is, in fact, Señora Consuelo it also appears that Felipe is actually Consuelo’s dead husband, General Llorente. Not only is he like him physically but he also seems to be familiar with the dead man’s life. At the end of the novella, Felipe makes love to Aura, even though she has physically become Señora Consuelo.

Señora Consuelo is 109 years old and is the widow of General Llorente. She posts the job advertisement which Felipe sees. On the face of it, she is looking for somebody to edit her dead husband’s manuscripts but it soon becomes clear that she sees Felipe as a replacement for her husband—or that he is somehow General Llorente himself. Consuelo follows some unorthodox, possibly Satanic religious practices, including using Aura to behead a goat. Aura is introduced to Felipe as Consuelo’s niece but as the novella develops it becomes clear that, as he is General Llorente, she is a young Consuelo.

General Llorente is Consuelo's dead husband. He married Consuelo when she was fifteen-years-old and he was forty-seven. He died when he was eighty-two years old and Consuelo was fifty.

The Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 353

Because Aura is essentially a modern gothic romance, the characters of the story are not intended to be realistic, but rather representative. They are psychic archetypes in a parable of youth, love, age, and imagination. Montero is the fairy-tale protagonist who is magically summoned to fulfill old Consuelo’s desire—to recapture not only her own past, but also the past of her husband and of their love. Consuelo herself is one of Fuentes’s witchlike women with the magical power of imaginative creation. The headnote to the novel, from Jules Michelet, emphasizes the power of female imaginative creation embodied in the story: “Man hunts and struggles. Woman intrigues and dreams; she is the mother of fantasy, the mother of the gods. She has second sight, the wings that enable her to fly to the infinite of desire and the imagination.” Aura is a self-created image of Consuelo, an imaginative projection of her own youth.

Essentially there are only two characters in the story: Aura/Consuelo and Montero/ General Llorente, and neither is so much a character in the conventional sense of the term as an embodiment of an archetype—the former embodying Carl Jung’s anima, or archetypal female, the latter the questing male figure who yearns to unite with, and know the secret of, the mysterious woman. Montero is drawn out of the world of external reality and into the unconscious world of the imagination and thus becomes one with the occult reality of Aura/Consuelo. This basic nature of the characters explains the mysterious blend of the occult and the erotic which dominates the story. The same character configuration and the same union of the sexual and the supernatural can be seen in the works of...

(The entire section contains 1181 words.)

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Critical Essays