Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The most pervasive theme of the text of La Regenta, the interpenetration of life and literature in the society of Vetusta, is evident in Alvaro’s cynical self-identification with the Don Juan figure and in Victor’s immersion in the Golden Age dramas. A significant part of the novel is devoted to a portrayal of the minor characters who gather in the public meeting places and spend much of their time discussing the literary works that they have read. Consciously or unconsciously, they form concepts of themselves in relationship to the literary creations. Saturno Bermudez, for example, combats his innate shyness by idealizing himself as a romantic hero platonically enamored of married women.

The interplay of life and literature is most evident in the scene in which Ana and Alvaro sit together watching a performance of the Romantic drama Don Juan Tenorio. As the play’s action unfolds, paralleling to a large extent the events taking place in the reality of Vetusta, Ana identifies with the tragic protagonist of the play, Ines, while Alvaro concentrates on finding the right moment to touch Ana’s leg as the first step in seducing her.

The different perspectives of Ana and Alvaro on the action of the play, her romantic idealization of her predicament and Alvaro’s pragmatic opportunism, are related to the theme of power that is developed throughout the text. Much of Ana’s conflict is a result of the disadvantaged position...

(The entire section is 566 words.)