The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

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 Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pushkin, and Sir H. Rider Haggard. The basic dichotomy between the male and the female principle which Aura embodies is that whereas man hunts and struggles in the profane world of everyday reality, always questing for the answers to metaphysical mysteries, woman is the passive dreamer, the creator, who achieves the fulfillment of her desires by imaginative creation.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Felipe Montero

Felipe Montero (feh-LEE-peh mohn-TEH-roh), a young historian and part-time teacher in a private school. Bored with his present job of teaching “useless facts” to “sleepy pupils,” he desires a change from his daily routine, and he is drawn to an advertisement that seems addressed personally to him. Restless and curious, he is particularly susceptible to the strange events and relationships that he encounters when he accepts the job of translating the memoirs of Señora Consuelo Llorente’s dead husband. Felipe leaves the known outer world and enters Consuelo’s dark, moldy home; in this mysterious, gothic setting he meets Aura, the ancient woman’s niece. Gradually, he is drawn into a series of bewildering, grotesque occurrences that suggest the fantastic bond between the two women. His growing desire for Aura is consummated when he makes love to her and swears, “Nothing can separate us.” Eventually, Felipe realizes that this “sterile conception” engenders another self, his own double, the embodiment of Consuelo’s late husband General Llorente; through his sexual union with young Aura and his promise of undying love, Felipe completes his role in Consuelo’s morbid scheme to perpetuate her youth and passionate marriage to the general. Felipe is too bewitched to protest; as he caresses Aura, he knows she is an image created by the withered, exhausted...

(The entire section is 481 words.)