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
Doña Petronila Rianzares (peh-troh-NEE-lah ree-ahn-SAHR-ehs), nicknamed “Constantine the Great,” a widow now devoted to the management of charitable organizations. Her home provides a place where Ana and Fermín may meet away from the watchful eye of Vetustan society.
Santos Barinaga (bah-ree-NAH-gah), a drunkard who has repudiated the Church, blaming the financial ruin of his shop, which sells religious articles, on the monopolistic trade practices of a competing store run by Doña Paula and her son Fermín. Barinaga’s refusal of the sacraments and civil burial are rallying points in the campaign waged by de Pas’ enemies to discredit him.
Pompeyo Guimarán (pohm-PA-yoh gee-mahr-AHN), a friend of Barinaga and a onetime atheist whose unexpected deathbed conversion and confession help restore Fermín de Pas’ reputation as a man of miraculous pastoral powers.
Cayetano Ripamilán (kah-yeh-TAH-noh rree-pah-mee-LAHN), the canon and archpriest of the cathedral. At seventy-six years of age, the birdlike Ripamilán passes the responsibility of serving as Ana’s confessor to Fermín de Pas and instead spends his time composing bucolic and epigrammatic poetry.
Visitación Olías de Cuervo
Visitación Olías de Cuervo (vee-see-tah-see-OHN oh-LEE-ahs deh KWEHR-voh) and
Obdulia Fandiño (ohb-DEW-lee-ah fahn-DEEN-yoh), two previous mistresses of Alvaro, the former known for her habit of sucking on caramels and pastries, the latter for her brassy mode of dress and comportment. Both encourage Alvaro in his attempts to seduce Ana, wishing to see her equally dishonored as they are.
Celedonio (seh-leh-DOH-nee-oh), the adolescent homosexual acolyte whose kiss at the conclusion of the novel signifies Ana’s moral fall and punishment.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 498
The first half of this seven-hundred-page novel, which covers only the first three days of the story’s three years, is devoted to the presentation of the four central characters and a portrayal of Vetusta and its inhabitants. Although the narrator’s point of view is omniscient, the characterization of Ana Ozores, Fermin de Pas, Alvaro Mesias, and Victor Quitanar is developed almost entirely through the characters’ self-awareness, through their own perspectives on their existence.
In the first volume of the novel, Ana reflects on her childhood, a time when she had the energy to resist the influence of the cold, unfeeling, capricious people who took care of her. Now, trapped in the same kind of environment, she fears that she is no longer able to survive. She longs for the fulfillment of love and for the experience of bearing a child, longings that intensify her attraction to Alvaro, in spite of her strict belief in morality and marital fidelity. Ana also develops an intense attraction to Fermin as her spiritual counselor. Her inner conflict grows as she is torn between her sensual desires and her self-image as a devout, pious sister of the Church, devoted to her husband.
Fermin de Pas also reflects on his youth and his close relationship to his mother, who sacrificed her own happiness to help him fulfill his strong ambitions in the Church. His sudden awareness of his attraction to Ana creates in him a moral and political dilemma. He must guide Ana through her moral crisis and, at the same time, suppress his sexual feelings for her if he is to succeed in his quest for recognition in the city as a significant spiritual guide. Thus, the possibility of Ana’s adultery takes on a dual meaning for him. Ana’s infidelity would represent Fermin’s failure as a priest, and it would also signify his inability, as a man, to keep her faithful to the frustrating relationship with him that his religious vows impose.
Alvaro and Victor are portrayed primarily through their self-identification with literary characters. Alvaro cultivates the opinion that the citizens of Vetusta have of him, that he is a dashing, heroic Don Juan figure. Aware of the legend that has grown up around him, he plays the role with an intense cynicism, thinking that it will help him get what he wants. Victor, on the other hand, is unaware of the extent to which his life has begun to parallel that of the characters in the honor plays of the Golden Age dramatist Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Night after night, he acts out the roles and imagines how he himself would act if his wife were unfaithful to him. Yet, when he sees Alvaro leaving his wife’s bedroom as he stands in the plaza, shotgun in hand, he is unable to act. He realizes that the drama of honor is pure fiction, that the reality of the situation is not heroic, but ugly and humiliating.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 124
Durand, Frank. “Characterization in La Regenta: Point of View and Theme,” in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. XLI (1964), pp. 86-100.
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