The story of Lydgate and the actress is fun and also telling. Just as Laure says “… I do not like husbands”, she could very well be talking about Middlemarch which “counted on swallowing Lydgate and assimilating him very comfortably”.
Lydgate stands out as being someone who wants to make something of himself – like Mr. Bulstrode – but does not want to be assimilated. He dreams of fame perhaps.
I’d much rather be friends with idle Fred than either Mr. Featherstone or Mr. Bulstrode. They lord over everyone either with money or morality – they’re no different than Rosamond: petty and small. At least Fred has some fun.
Mary complains about feeling obliged to honor any many who falls in love with her – she should be independent too like men. Why should a woman be responsible for a man’s feelings?
The one aspect I struggle with in this novel is continually having to get up to speed with a new character every chapter. Not only do we not get much physical description of surroundings, but we jump right into the heart of situations and I feel a little bewildered at first. As a chapter goes on I get the “hang of it”, so I’m looking forward to knowing whom everyone is so I can concentrate on what’s going on
Beautiful image of the red and white windmill slowly turning above the countryside, and the stone cutters hammering at the quarry as if a poet was dictating to them. “Behind this toccata reigned the august silence of the countryside, like the immensity of the sky behind a cluster of stars.”
“… trying to tame pack animals and make human beings out of them.” Dona Lupa is quite the empathetic scoundrel.
Her convent is only completed in halves: the L shaped wing making a half cloister, the church half built, and the grounds near uncultivated land. Works in progress.
He paints a picture of the new religious quarter of Madrid as being tidy, but not strongly built (poor architecture). He says all the churches of Madrid are ugly and dusty and crumbly, the new ones just hide the filth a bit better. Wow, that’s quite a slam.
“Fortunata was divine – ‘in the full sense of the word.'” But Dona Lupa means her physical beauty, not her as a person. Close reading: Fortune is divine. The Word = divine. The Word is fortune to all sinners.
If only Fortunata knew what hypocrites everyone else was. Even Pituso from the first section knew enough to destroy the house, but she’s so worried about doing the wrong thing and is humble that she’s bewildered by these people. They’re going to ruin someone they think is ruined but in fact is better than them all.
What Galdos does in his writing is not over simplify the characters. Here Dona Lupa snuggles in the strawberries so Nicolas can’t have any, but she shares them with Maximiliano and Papitos. These are complicated people and that makes the satire more biting because it’s not unfair or cruel. There is no (cheap strawberries) low hanging fruit here
This speaks deeper to the point that we have to be careful with how we treat others. That just because we hold a deep conviction doesn’t mean we do any good forcing it on someone else. And she’s buying into it because she doesn’t know any better, she’s blinded by his authority and his big words she doesn’t understand.
“I’m very bad on ‘doktrim'” Her ignorance and illiteracy are actually to her benefit when faced with the nonsense the priest is telling her. She lives and loves by feeling, not by some stodgy rhetoric dreamt up by monks who never left the cloister. Society, religion, government- is all a sham.
He’s now telling her what real love is, as if he’d know anything about it, “His eyes brightened more readily at the sight of ham than hips…” At least Maximiliano has done at least some good, but the brother priest is condensation and ignorance in a robe.
“No woman can fool me.” he’s been hearing confession for a whole 5 years! Lol He has no idea how to save anyone, only Guillermina has made any real effort by getting people to help themselves. All this class morality is a joke. And it still persists to this day.
He’s a dirty, hairy slob, she’s clean and fit. Yet she thinks his being dirty makes him more holy. This is quite the indictment of the church. She’s seen as a diry woman, though she’s clean, and he’s seen as a moral authority though he’s a gluttonous buffoon.
Fortunata is worried about how to behave for this priest, yet the priest belches constantly, smokes, demands hot chocolate, and is generally unpleasant. Yet he’s to judge her? I have a feeling she’ll size him up quick.
The middle brother, Nicolas, the hairy priest, is quite comical, eating salad whose goo runs down his lips into his beard while wearing a black wool cap with pom pom jiggling about. Some priest. Though they did pay the old debt to their father’s friend.
She is dismantling the former wealthy of Spain one stick of furniture at a time. She rises without working but talks bad about someone who also doesn’t work. Times have not changed.
But do we condemn Dona Lupa, too? She’s a widow who had to take care of herself and her nephew. She needed an income, though she could have done more good opening a boarding house and not this money lending. And she’s missing a breast and all that imagery entails.
Of Dona Lupa: “A mere promissory note, made out and signed in the most cordial manner conceivable, was enough to convert the friend into a mortal enemy, the Christian into an Inquisitor.” This image goes deeper and indicts banking and business. Charity and finance are opposed.
She (and Torquemada) strangled a debtor? When he smashed the new piggy bank he’s making a statement about the wretched state of money. But it’s complicated too because they still need money to live. Just as his aunt is both right to think he’s a fool and wrong to not act in charity or believe a person can reform.
I didn’t realize he was 26, I thought maybe 17. The whole affair with the loan money is well placed. What starts as Dona Lupe moralizing to Maximiliano about not running with whores, she and Torquemada run a loan shark business and talk about how superior they are because they have the money.
But what has Fortunata ever really done? She’s just tried to get by, but with no education, no opportunities, she’s been forced to do and take what she can. She’s not bad, just poor. Does it matter if she’s not ‘refined’? She hasn’t hurt anyone and has had tragedy (the son). She just wants better.
Is this bad portrait supposed to represent the bad state the family dignity is in? Dona Lupe is a good woman, a little too doting and short tempered, but well meaning. And Maximiliano is a good kid too, though weak and foolish. There is strong class divisions here too, since Dona calls Fortunata a hussy (whore).
Interesting image of the bad painting of Dona Luke’s dead husband, The Turkey Man (“The artist must have specialized in signs for dairies or markets”). And the photos are all over the wall in no good order. This is where she confronts Maximiliano about Fortunata.
“… superior people do not inspire compassion”
I love the details in the novel. Here it’s the cooking of rice and giblets (no artichokes; not in season), lamb, onion, garlic, then as it all cooks she brushes her hair and you can smell the food cooking mixed with her black hair. It’s very beautiful.