Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 910
Ana Ozores (oh-SOH-rehs), the judge’s wife. She is a beautiful, sensitive woman of twenty-seven who has endured eight years of a childless marriage. A tireless reader of mystical and romantic literature, she longs to escape the suffocating world of the provincial capital in which she lives, the imaginary city of Vetusta. Her fabled virtue as a model wife is imperiled as she finds herself alternately torn between the promise of sexual fulfillment offered by the libertine Don Alvaro and the hope of spiritual communion with the priest Fermín de Pas. Ultimately, she succumbs to an adulterous affair with the former, which concludes with her husband’s death and her own complete ostracism by the community.
Victor Quintanar (keen-tah-NAHR), the chief stipendiary magistrate of the provincial court, now retired. Already in his fifties, he behaves more as a father than as a husband to his young wife, Ana. He encourages the nervous Ana to socialize more and thus inadvertently propels her into the arms of another man. Among his passions are hunting, fencing, and the reading of Spanish seventeenth century honor plays. When cuckolded, he is ironically unable to commit the murderous vengeance prescribed by the literature he so avidly consumes. He demands a duel of Alvaro but is killed unheroically by a single shot that ruptures his bladder.
Fermín de Pas
Fermín de Pas (fehr-MEEN deh pahs), a canon theologian and vicar-general of the Diocese of Vetusta. He is, at thirty-five years of age, a man of superior intelligence, physical strength, and worldliness. Once a lowly cowherd, he has risen to the position of the most powerful churchman in his city and as such is an object of both admiration and envy. As Ana’s new confessor, he initially views her as a kindred soul, spiritually superior to the mediocrity of Vetusta; later, he falls prey to a purely human love based on his physical attraction to her.
Alvaro Mesía (AHL-vah-roh meh-SEE-ah), the president of the Gentlemen’s Casino and leader of Vetusta’s liberal Dynastic Party. A fashionable dresser whose superficial elegance is much imitated, he is Vetusta’s aging Don Juan. A pragmatist in matters of love and politics, he considers his seduction of Ana both a challenge to Fermín de Pas’ power and a reaffirmation of his own masculine prowess, now in slow decline. After killing her husband, he abandons Ana and flees to Madrid.
Tomás Crespo (toh-MAHS KREHS-poh), or Frigilis (free-HEE-lees), Victor’s close friend, distinguished by his lack of social pretentiousness and his professed tolerance of human frailties. His chief avocations are hunting and botany. Responsible for first introducing Ana to her future husband, he stands alone in continuing to look after her once she is widowed and disgraced.
Petra, an opportunistic servant in the household of Ana and Victor. Resentful of her mistress, she resets Victor’s alarm clock so that he will awaken early and discover his wife’s infidelity.
Marquis of Vegallana
Marquis of Vegallana (veh-gah-YAH-nah) and
Marchioness of Vegallana
Marchioness of Vegallana, wealthy and dissolute aristocrats whose son Paco is one of Alvaro’s confidants. Ana, Victor, Fermín, and Alvaro frequently come together at their home in town and at their country estate, which are governed by the most relaxed of moral standards and known to be a haven for all manner of sexual escapades among their social intimates.
Doña Paula (POW-lah), Fermín de Pas’ tyrannical, conniving mother. Born into poverty in a small mining village, she finds economic salvation as housekeeper to a local parish priest and thereafter devotes her formidable energies and ambitions to furthering her son’s ecclesiastical career.
Doña Petronila Rianzares
(The entire section contains 1532 words.)
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