Last Updated 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.
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.
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 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.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 481
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 Consuelo, but he embraces her in shadowed moonlight and accepts his dark destiny.
Señora Consuelo Llorente
Señora Consuelo Llorente (kohn-SWEH-loh yohr-EHN-tay), Aura’s strange, eccentric aunt, whom Felipe figures is about 109 years old. Obsessed with prolonging her youth and unwilling to relinquish the past, Consuelo dabbles in the occult, keeping odd medicines in her decrepit house, growing exotic herbs and plants in a dank garden, and performing obscure rituals and bizarre communion feasts before dim candles and a tortured black Christ. She married General Llorente at the age of fifteen and was widowed thirty-four years later in 1901, but she has remained ageless through her illusory double, Aura, waiting for the fated reappearance of her beloved groom.
Aura (OW-rah), Consuelo’s young niece. Pale and beautiful, with loose black hair and astonishing green eyes, Aura seduces Felipe, luring him into the old widow’s plot to re-create her dead husband and preserve their love forever by mating Felipe with the young girl. Aura is lovely, provocative, and spectral. Felipe sees her only in shadows; he senses her more than he actually feels her, although she inflames his desire for her and he does possess her. In loving her, Felipe loses himself, for Aura is merely Consuelo’s imagined self, a materialization of the old woman’s past. Aura’s role is to open herself sexually and “like an altar” to Felipe until he is spent and drained of his own will, his animus submerged in the dark anima figure, whose “fleshless lips” he kisses at the end.