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Protagonist in the theatre of Antonio Buero Vallejo 1970

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THE PROTAGONIST IN THE THEATRE OF ANTONIO BUERO VALLEJO DOROTHY ELIZABETH YADA B.A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1Q63 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of HISPANIC AND ITALIAN STUDIES We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1970. I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f H i s p a n i c and I t a l i a n S t u d i e s T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a D a t e September 30, 1970. ABSTRACT The purpose of t h i s thesis i s to study the protagonists i n the theatre of Antonio Buero Vallejo and the themes that are demonstrated by means of them. In the f i r s t chapters the plays are grouped es s e n t i a l l y chronologically and the protagonists of each are discussed. The concluding chapter attempts to consolidate the findin, of the preceding chapters and examines the general characteristics and the chronological evolution of Buero's protagonists. i i i WORKS BY ANTONIO BUERO VALLEJO Hi s t o r i a de una escalera 1 9 ^ 9 Las palabras en l a arena 1 9 ^ 9 En l a ardiente oscuridad 1 9 5 0 La tejedora de suenos 1 9 5 2 La serial que se espera 1 9 5 2 Casi un cuento de hadas 1 9 5 3 Madrugada 1 1 9 5 3 Irene o e l tesoro 1 9 5 ^ Hoy es f i e s t a 1 9 5 6 Las cartas boca abajo 1 9 5 7 Un sonador para un pueblo 1 9 5 8 Las Meninas i 9 6 0 Hamlet, Principe de Dinamarca (Shakespeare) 1 9 6 1 E l concierto de San Ovidio 1 9 6 2 Aventura en l o gris ( d e f i n i t i v e version) 1 9 6 3 La doble h i s t o r i a del doctor Valmy 1 9 6 ^ Madre Coraje y sus hijos (Bertoit Brecht) 1 9 6 6 E l tragaluz 1 9 6 7 TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTER I : Some Early Plays En l a ardiente oscuridad Las palabras en l a arena La tejedora de suenos Page v 1 CHAPTER I I : Plays Written i n 1952 and 1953 La serial que se espera Casi un cuento de hadas Madrugada 11 CHAPTER I I I : Works Depicting Contemporary Social E v i l s H i s t o r i a de una escalera Hoy es f i e s t a Las cartas boca abajo Irene o e l tesoro 17 CHAPTER IV : Social C r i t i c i s m from an H i s t o r i c a l View- point Un sonador para un pueblo Las Meninas E l concierto de'San Ovidio 3^ CHAPTER V : Recent Plays (1963, 1967) Aventura en l o gri s E l traealuz h9 CHAPTER VI Conclusion 67 BIBLIOGRAPHY 77 V INTRODUCTION Antonio Buero Val l e j o i s a humanist; his p r i n c i p a l preoccupa- t i o n i s man. Thus, a study of his protagonists i s relevant to an under- standing of his theatre. E x i s t e n t i a l , moral, and s o c i a l problems are inseparable i n Buero's theatre and these are the problems that his protagonists demonstrate. His characters may be viewed on three l e v e l s : on the s u p e r f i c i a l l e v e l of t h e i r immediate problem i n the p l o t , on the l e v e l of the s o c i a l condition i n which they are situated, and on the universal l e v e l of t h e i r portrayal of man as a moral being faced with the problem of giving meaning to his existence. However, Buero's protagonists are more than symbols of e x i s t e n t i a l , moral, and s o c i a l positions. He was greatly influenced by Unamuno's ideas on personality and free w i l l and his characters come to l i f e as indiv i d u a l personalities who are faced with a choice or have made a choice i n the past. Frequently they end i n f a i l u r e and Buero's theatre i s sometimes considered to be pessimistic. Jose Monleon suggests that the meaning of Buero's tragedy i s "Hay que tener esperanza y, a l mismo tiempo es tonto tenerla""!' He sees the influence of Camus and the idea that: 1 . Jose Monleon, E l Mirlo Blanco 1 0 : Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , Madrid, Taurus Ediciones, 1 9 6 8 , p . 2 9 . v i "El absurdo existe porque e l hombre esta sometido a l a contradiccion entre su racionalidad y e l caos de su entorno, entre su necesidad de entender y ord^nar e l mundo y e l desorden y l a arbitrariedad que l o envuelven". However, B u e r o , himself does not believe that tragedy i s pessimistic. He states that: "La tragedia no surge cuando se cree en l a fuerza i n f a - l i b l e del destino, sino cuando, consciente o inconscientemente, se empieza a poner en cuestion a l destino. La tragedia intenta explorar de que modo las torpezas humanas se disfrazan de destino". Much of the existing e v i l i n the world results from man's own imperfection, egoism, and immorality. In the realm of s o c i a l and moral e v i l s there i s much that man can do to improve existing condi- t i o n s , even though changes may appear to be unattainable. Although complete solutions to the problems are impossible, one can s a t i s f y his anguish to a certain extent by giving supreme value and importance to man and directing his attention to improving the quality of l i f e as we know i t . However, the indiv i d u a l i s l i m i t e d i n his efforts to do so both by society and by his own imperfection. His need for freedom c o n f l i c t s with his need for r e s p o n s i b i l i t y towards his fellow man and he i s tortured by his conscience when he has behaved irresponsibly. He needs love and understanding, but he feels isolated from others p a r t l y because of his lack of communication with them. In the face of these obstacles, the surrounding chaos, and the certainty of death, the desire to give meaning to l i f e appears to be f u t i l e . Buero's characters demonstrate t h i s dilemma. 2 . l o c . c i t . 3 . Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , "Sobre teatro", E l mirlo bianco 1 0 : Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , ed. Jose Monleon, Madrid, Taurus Ediciones, 1 9 6 8 , p . 6 2 . CHAPTER I Some Early Plays En l a ardiente oscuridad Las palabras en l a arena La tejedora de suenos With the exception of H i s t o r i a de una escalera, which appeared i n 1 9 ^ 9 » Buero's early plays are es s e n t i a l l y e x i s t e n t i a l i n theme. The protagonists are confronted with the problem of how to l i v e to give meaning to t h e i r l i f e i n the midst of so much suffering and f r a i l t y and i n the face of death which awaits everyone. Of course, a perfect solution to t h i s problem i s impossible and the search causes them to be i n continual c o n f l i c t with others as well as within themselves. En l a ardiente oscuridad, Buero's f i r s t play, was written , A . . . . . i n one week i n the summer of 1 9 ^ 6 . I t i s set i n an i n s t i t u t i o n for the b l i n d i n which the residents are l i v i n g happy, "normal" l i v e s . They are b l i n d not only p h y s i c a l l y , but also s p i r i t u a l l y . They are b l i n d to the in t o l e r a b l e , true nature of t h e i r existence. Like humanity i n general, they have t r i e d to forget the truth of t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s and have searched for happiness by conforming to the standard goals of a happy l i f e - love, marriage, and amusements, such as sports. Ignacio, a new a r r i v a l at the i n s t i t u t e , w i l l not accept his fate ( i e . his physical blindness which represents man's li m i t a t i o n s h. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , En l a ardiente oscuridad (comentario), Cadiz, Ediciones A l f i l , 1 9 5 ^ , p . 8 6 . - 2 - and lack of understanding) and struggles against i t ceaselessly. He disrupts the happy atmosphere of the i n s t i t u t e and gradually succeeds i n winning the majority of the inhabitants over to his way of thinking. He even gains the symphathy of Juana, the g i r l f r i e n d of Carlos. Carlos i s the main advocator of the happy, carefree l i f e of unquestioning conformity. He represents the majority of humanity i n his choice of accepting l i f e as i t i s and i s the more sympathetic of the two protagonists. Ignacio's personal appearance r e f l e c t s his state of mind. He appears i n the play dressed i n black and rather unkempt i n compar- ison to the others who are neat and gay. He i n s i s t s on using his s t i c k to walk with, while the others do not use one inside the i n s t i t u t e . His father i s overly protective of him. For example, he does not want him to play sports because t h i s would be too dangerous. Ignacio i s indifferent to everyone's efforts to help him. He rejects the efforts of his b l i n d companions to befriend him, saying that he wants r e a l friends, not " i l u s o s " and threatens to leave the i n s t i t u t e . After Juana persuades him to stay, he warns her that he i s burning i n the darkness and w i l l make them burn also. In his commentary on the play, Buero informs us that Ignacio's metaphysical anguish i s "tan inconcreta que, como ciego, l l e g a a confundirla para dojicamente con e l deseo de re'solver su concreta desgracia f i s i c a . " 5. I b i d . , p. 89. - 3 - He explains his use of blindness as a symbol and the role of Ignacio i n relationship to i t . "El simbolo de l a ceguera - de las t i n i e b l a s - es dobie. Su otra cara l a constituyen l a v i s i o n y l a l u z . Una luz que no es f i s i c a sino cualquier suerte de iluminacion superior, racional o i r r a c i o n a l que pueda distender o suprimir nuestras limitaciones. E l "Ignacio" de mi obra anhela l a " l u z " pero no l a tiene, n i l a tuvo. Con esto queda claro que no es un mesias aunque su actua- cion sea parcialmente mesianica, no puede serlo porque es un pobre ser humano cargado de pasiones encontradas, que busca l a luz sin ser, a veces, demasiado bueno. Y t a l vez por e l l o l a lug se l e niegue. Pero se l e ha dado e l anhelo, y no es poco." Although Ignacio i s the only character i n the play who i s s p i r i t u a l l y awake i n that he denies the "b l i n d " l i f e of conformity and w i l l not resign himself to l i v i n g without l i g h t (or enlightenment), he i s unsympathetic because he i s completely egoistic and i s unnec- e s s a r i l y unkind to the others. I t may be that he i s actually helping them by t r y i n g to awaken them to the t r u t h , but there i s something negative about his approach. On the s u p e r f i c i a l l e v e l of physical blindness, he i s t r y i n g to a l t e r what i s es s e n t i a l l y unchangeable. I t seems that i t would be better to adjust to the existing conditions as w e l l as working for improvement. The fact that his struggle cannot possibly be successful i n the world as we know i t i s recognized by Carlos, who t e l l s Ignacio that what he r e a l l y wants i s to die. Complete enlightenment or perfection i s impossible i n l i f e . Ignacio succeeds i n changing the atmosphere of the i n s t i t u t e completely. The students no longer care about t h e i r work or t h e i r personal appearence, because he t e l l s them that these things do not matter when they cannot see. 6. Ibid. , p.86 . - h - Only Carlos challenges Ignacio's views, maintaining that seeing people have other handicaps and everyone must make the best of his l o t . Ignacio counters t h i s reasoning c r u e l l y , by s i l e n t l y moving a piece of fu r n i t u r e i n order to t r i p him. Everything Carlos believed i n has been destroyed; even Juana has t r a n s f e r r e d her a f f e c t i o n to Ignacio. F i n a l l y , a f t e r being unsuccess- f u l i n pleading with Ignacio to allow the others to return to the o l d l i f e and l a t e r begging him to leave the i n s t i t u t e , Carlos becomes over- come by hate and murders Ignacio. The others seem to be r e l i e v e d by Ignacio's death, b e l i e v i n g that he committed s u i c i d e , since he was such an unhappy person. They w i l l return to the o l d l i f e . Ignacio has had his v i c t o r y , however. Carlos w i l l now never again be able to l i v e p eacefully within himself. He i s now the t o r - mented, miserable soul that Ignacio was. He now begins to see that the problem of man's destiny i s an unfathomable question. However, although he r e a l i z e s that he was wrong, he w i l l never admit i t to anyone. S i m i l a r l y , he w i l l not admit that he murdered Ignacio, but w i l l spend the rest of his l i f e l o n e l y and tormented by h i s conscience. Carlos, Buero explains, i s one of those who "dudan en su i n t e r i o r de l a solidez de su "ciega t r a n - q u i l i d a d " , pero que moririan antes de confesar que no estan tan ciegos." I f we i d e n t i f y with Carlos we are forced to wonder what we, or our society, are capable of doing to those who d i f f e r from us i n t h e i r 7. I b i d . , p.90- - 5 - way of thinking or who threaten to awaken us to the unbearable, true nature of our existence, which we t r y to forget or deny. The play presents a d i f f i c u l t problem because the philosophies of both Carlos and Ignacio are p a r t i a l l y correct, but are i n s u f f i c i e n t i n themselves. I t i s wrong to l i v e a false l i f e , b l i n d to the tru t h and i s o l a t i n g oneself from the .doubt and suffering of r e a l i t y , but i n order to l i v e , one must adjust oneself to the existing conditions to a certain extent. One must accept l i f e as an end i n i t s e l f , and being aware of i t s incomprehensible aspects and i t s imperfection, work towards greater understanding and improvements. Buero explains that the c o n f l i c t i s " l a insoluble contradiccion de dos posturas en e l fondo analogas. Porque Ignacio es un sonador de las verdades que des- conoce y por eso parece un r a d i c a l e intrasigente r e a l i s t a ; mientras Carlos y su colegio, tan r e a l i s t a s y positivos en su proyecto de vida como pocos amigos de inmateriales inquietudes, suenan e l sueflo inconsistente y vago de sus ilusiones de norma- l i d a d . . . . Una agonia humana frente. a l destino se a r t i c u l a en l a oposicion de estas dos parciales verdades. Ignacio tiene su claroscuro. La Institucion a quien combate posee e l suyo. E l antagonismo entre estas dos sombras parciales que no llegan a formar l a luz completa, pero que l o pretenden es tambien, a su manera, edificante. Las palabras en l a arena, written i n 19k8 and f i r s t performed i n 19 -̂9,̂  i s a one act play set i n B i b l i c a l times. At the scene of the attempted stoning of an adultress, the protagonist, Asaf, i s warned by Christ that he i s a murderer. He w i l l not t e l l his friends what Christ wrote i n the sand for him, because he does not want to believe i t and i s a f r a i d they w i l l think i t i s true. 8. Ibid. , p. 91, 9. Isabel Magarla Schewill, ed. , Dos dramas de Buero Vallejo (Introduc- cion), New York, Appleton - Century - Crofts, 196^, p.2. - 6 - Upon returning home he finds that his wife has been having an a f f a i r with a Roman s o l d i e r , becomes enraged, and k i l l s her. He i s then i n complete misery over what he has done. What Christ wrote for him was true. One i s tempted to interpret the play as showing that man i s predestined irrevocably to a c e r t a i n , unchangeable fate. This was not Buero's intention, however. I t should be interpreted as a warning that we are a l l capable of murder even though we may not suspect i t and we must guard against i t . Asaf was warned and should have recognized the p o s s i b i l i t y of the accusation^ being true and chosen to make i t untrue. Violence solves nothing. What does Asaf achieve by murdering his wife? By doing so he loses everything - his wife, whom he believed he loved, his happiness, and his freedom. He i s "un hombre vencido". He w i l l be punished by society and by remorse for the rest of his l i f e . On the other hand, everything would have been a l l right i f he had forgiven her as Christ had taught. Nothing would have been l o s t . I f he had r e a l l y loved her and forgiven her, they could have l i v e d happily i n the true love that his forgiveness would have proven. We are probably a l l capable of violence as a heritage from our cave ancestors, but i t i s time we changed our nature and our envi- ronment. Buero demonstrates, time and time again, that violence - 7 - solves nothing and leads only to misery and despair. Love, kindness, and forgiveness, on the other hand, are posi- t i v e feelings which give value to humanity and lead to hope and happiness. La tejedora de suenos, Buero's version of the story of Ulysses and Penelope, was written i n 1950 and f i r s t produced i n 1952. 1 0 The plot follows the external events of the legend of Penelope exactly, but she i s not pictured as the opitome of the chaste, f a i t h f u l , wife for which she has been famous. In Buero's play, she has been f a i t h f u l to Ulysses outwardly, but has inwardly enjoyed having suitors court her and has dreamt of a possible true love with one of them - Anfino - who i s different from the others because he r e a l l y loves her and sees her as a beautiful queen, whereas the others are only interested i n gaining her kingdom or amusing themselves with the palace slaves. Penelope dreams of Anfino while she i s weaving, although everyone believes that she i s waiting for Ulysses to return. She wants to choose Anfino from among the s u i t o r s , but she i s a f r a i d that i f she does, the others w i l l k i l l him. She i s a weaver of dreams, but does not dare act to f u l f i l l them. At night she unweaves them to keep the suitors waiting and continue her dreaming. F i n a l l y , she reveals her true feelings to Anfino, who offers to challenge the other suitors to combat i n order to win her. He i s sincere i n his love for her, continually protects her and her son, and does not j o i n i n the revelry and s e l f i s h pleasures of the other suitors. 10. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , La tejedora de suenos (comentario), Madrid, Ediciones A l f i l , 1952, p.77. - 8 - After the stranger (Ulysses disguised) has suggested a test for the suitors with Ulysses' bow and arrow, Penelope wants Anfino to t r y them out ahead of time, but he i s too noble and honest to take an unfair advantage. After a l l the suitors have f a i l e d the t e s t , Ulysses, who can s t i l l stretch the bow insp i t e of his age, k i l l s them a l l with i t from the balcony while they attempt to flee from him. Anfino, however, comes up to face him honourably. Penelope i s furious. She w i l l always remain f a i t h f u l to the memory of Anfino who was noble and good and loved her for herself. Ulysses was petty and cowardly. He was a coward because he returned disguised, a f r a i d of what he would f i n d and because he k i l l e d the suitors from the balcony, dishonourably. He doubted her love and faithfulness and he doubted his own worth and that she could s t i l l love him. I f he had not come i n disguise she might have transferred her dreams to him, since she had not yet revealed her true feelings for Anfino before his return. She upbraids him: "Ahora debo decirte que tu cobardia l o ha perdido todo. Porque nada, lentiendelo bienMn'ada! habia ocurrido entre Anfino y yo antes de t u llegada , salvo mis pobres suenos s o l i t a r i o s . Y s i t u me hubieses ofrecido con se n c i l l e z y valor tus canas ennoblecidas por l a guerra y los azares, i t a l vez! yo habria reaccionado a tiempo. Hubieras sido, a pesar de todo, e l hombre de corazon con quien toda mujer suefla... E l Ulises con quien yo sofie, a h i , los primeros anos. . . IY no este astuto patan, hip o e r i t a y temeroso, que se me presenta como un vi e j o r u i n para acabar de destruirme toda i l u s i o n posible!" H 11. I b i d . , p. 69. - 9 - Ulysses does not r e a l l y care whether she loves him or not, as long as t h e i r reputation i s saved. His values are seen as a r t i f i - c i a l , since he values outward appearance more than inward f e e l i n g . A song he composed exalts her faithfulness and t h i s i s how history w i l l remember her, even though, i r o n i c a l l y , she i s going to be f a i t h - f u l to Anfino and w i l l just wait for death to be reunited with him. Ulysses i s shown as a man of action, without p r i n c i p l e s . The reason for his fame i s his b r u t i s h , physical strength. He has wasted his l i f e away at foreign wars, because destruction was what his physical prowess suited him f o r . For love, generosity, and peace he was unsuited, for l i f e , i n i t s true meaning, he was a loser. He i s contrasted to Anfino who was pure and noble and was thus out of place i n a world which does not value t h i s . Buero comments on Anfino: "De todas las funestas realidades del hombre: crime- nes, guerras, infidelidades, odios, despotismos, t r a i c i o n e s , mentiras; de todas esas cosas que poseen a Ulises y que r e f l e j a n l a ausencia de amor entre los seres humanos, estaba l i b r e Anfino. Claro es que de esas cosas se forma gran parte de l a vida co- ^ l e c t i v a , y por eso Anfino era un ser :poco apto para l a vida." Penelope hopes for a day when a l l men w i l l be l i k e Anfino and war w i l l not exi s t . "Que tengan corazon para nosotras y bondad para todos , que no guerreen. n i nos abandonen Pero para eso f a l t a una pala- bra universal de amor que solo las mujeres sonamos.... a veces." 1 2 . I b i d . , p . 8 3 . 1 3 . I b i d . , p . 7 2 . - 10 - P e n e l o p e has l o s t o u t w a r d l y , h u t won i n w a r d l y . A l t h o u g h t h e e a s y , c o m p r o m i s i n g s o l u t i o n w o u l d he t o p r e t e n d t o t r a n s f e r h e r a f f e c t i o n t o h e r renowned husband who has a t l a s t r e t u r n e d f r o m b a t t l e , she chooses i n s t e a d t o r e m a i n f a i t h f u l t o h e r i d e a l l o v e f o r A n f i n o . - 11 - CHAPTER I I Plays Written i n 1952 and 1953 La senal que se espera Casi un cuento de hadas Madrugada The three plays i n t h i s chapter are generally considered to he of lesser importance than Buero's other plays. Although they have tr a g i c undercurrents and contain many of the themes that are found throughout Buero's works, the three may "be considered as experiments or dramatic exercises which Buero t r i e d once and then rejected. La serial que se espera, which i s set i n Ga l i c i a with i t s t r a d i t i o n of mysterious f o l k l o r e , ends completely happily. Casi un cuento de hadas i s a r e a l i s t i c adaptation of a f a i r y t a l e and uses two actors to portray one character. Madrugada i s l i k e a detective story and has unity of time, place and action. A large clock on stage t i c k s o f f the time of the action which i s exactly the duration of the play i t s e l f . La senal que se espera i s the least t y p i c a l of Buero's plays. The protagonists are rather conventional, wealthy characters with nothing unusual about them. Enrique does not believe that his wife, Susana, r e a l l y loves him, but has the courage to i n v i t e her old lover, Luis, to spend the summer i n the country with them i n order to f i n d out the tr u t h . Luis comes to convalesce because he i s recovering from a nervous breakdown and suffering from amnesia about the events which preceded his i l l n e s s . - 12 - The plot- revolves around an awaited miracle. Luis has had an Aeolian harp set. up i n the hope that i t w i l l play the song that he needs to remember i n order to be able to continue his l i f e as a composer. Susana, Luis and the servants a l l have f a i t h that the miracle w i l l occur. Anything i s possible i n the mysterious G a l l i c i a n countryside. Both Susana and her husband Enrique become miserable because of the others apparent lack of love for them and both contemplate commiting suicide. However, both decide to discover and face the truth instead. Susana plays the song on the harp, although she did not know that she knew i t , and r e a l i z e s that i t i s her love for her husband that enabled her to do i t . Enrique decides to ask Susana to t e l l him the truth about her love for Luis and finds that she r e a l l y loves him after a l l . A series of happy coincidences occurs-and the play ends i n contentment for a l l the characters. They r e a l i z e that happiness i s momentary and f l e e t i n g , however. As the friends are united i n a moment of peace at the end of the play, Enrique comments: "El mundo es curioso. Es como una melodia de l a que casi nunca percibimos otra cosa que los sonidos ingratos Pero, a veces, viene un minuto como este: un minuto perfecto de paz y comprension. Poralguna misteriosa l e y , se nos regala a los pobres seres humanos e l prodigio de las coincidencias... y de los momentos venturosos... La armonia de las esferas debiera hacerse audible ahora para nuestros pobres oidos En este minuto unico, que t a l vez no se r e p i t a en nuestra v i d a . " ^ Except for the themes of the importance of t r u t h and love which appear throughout Buero's works, there i s very l i t t l e i n t h i s play which i s similar to the others. l i t . Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , La serial que se esnera. Madrid, Ediciones A l f i l , 1952, p.61,. - 13 - Casi un cuento de hadas i s the charming story of an u n i n t e l l i g e n t , hut beautiful princess and an ugly, but wise prince. Rejected by everyone else, they f a l l i n love with each other and succeed i n giving to each other the attribute that was previously lacking. Riquet sees L e t i c i a as i n t e l l i g e n t and beautiful and L e t i c i a sees Riquet as a handsome, idea l prince. The play i s based on a story by Perrault, but Buero's version i s not a f a i r y t a l e . Although Riquet and L e t i c i a are brought together by a f a i r y or witch who l i v e s i n a tower, i t i s love, not witchcraft, that changes them. By means of t h i s story, Buero demonstrates that people can be what they want to be i f they want i t enough and have the inner strength and confidence to make i t so. Instead of continuing to be what others thought she was, L e t i c i a became i n t e l l i g e n t and subsequently the attitude of the others towards her changed as w e l l . What we can be and what we seem to be can be e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t . • L e t i c i a i s contrasted to her s i s t e r Laura who i s ugly and i n t e l l i g e n t , but i s also mean. This contrast emphasizes the fact that L e t i c i a and Riquet are good and kind to others inspite of t h e i r own shortcomings, which makes them symphathetic protagonists. Buero solved the problems of the change i n Riquet by means of using two actors to portray one character. The handsome - lU - Riq_uet appears when L e t i c i a has f a i t h i n her love for him. He i s also seen by Laura, L e t i c i a ' s s i s t e r , who loves him also and by Armando, the handsome prince, when the l a t t e r i s about to die. In one scene the two Riquets appear together ,when Riquet's d i s i l l u s i o n e d , miserable ugly side argues with his i d e a l , handsome side about whether to leave L e t i c i a to Armando or whether to fig h t to win her back. Physical beauty i s shown to be unimportant i n comparison to inner v i r t u e . Riquet who i s i n t e l l i g e n t , kind and ugly i s con- trasted to the handsome Armando who i s described as "brutal y frxo "guapo y vacio"."^ L e t i c i a recognizes the truth that he would make her vain and f o o l i s h again and that t h e i r marriage would be loveless l i k e that of her mother and father. Buero demonstrates again that the way we are seen by others i s unimportant i n comparison to our inner self-concept. L e t i c i a accepts Riquet's hand i n marriage although - she knows that everyone w i l l think that she i s acting f o o l i s h l y again. She knows that he r e a l l y loves her and can give her tru t h and understanding. Since Riquet has k i l l e d Armando, he can no longer be seen as a handsome, ide a l prince, even by L e t i c i a . However, he resolves to l i v e i n such a way that she may someday be able to see him as handsome again. They w i l l always remember and keep as a goal the b e a u t i f u l , i d e a l , unattainable Riquet of t h e i r f i r s t days together. 15. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , Casi un cuento de hadas, Madrid, Ediciones A l f i l , 1952, p. 71. 16. I b i d . , p. 72. - 15 - Madrugada, written i n 1953, i s a masterpiece as a suspense t h r i l l e r , and contains a meaningful theme, as w e l l . In spite of the fact that she i s overcome with g r i e f because of her husband's death, Amalia i s driven by the desire to know the truth about whether or not he r e a l l y loved her. She could e a s i l y have convinced herself that he did and l i v e d a happy l i f e of ease, since he had married her and had l e f t her well provided-for i n his w i l l . However, since she had previously been his mistress, she i s a f r a i d that t h i s might have been only payment for past services. She must f i n d the t r u t h even i f i t means complete misery for her future. His love, even though he i s dead, i s the only thing that matters to her. Therefore, immediately after his death, she puts herself through the agony of an interrogation of his r e l a t i v e s assembled i n the early morning hours for only 1 3 A hours, i n an attempt to discover the t r u t h . The r e l a t i v e s are shown to be completely s e l f i s h and uncharitable i n comparison to Amalia, who i s sincerely kind and generous, and i s proceeding with her plan only with great d i f f i c u l t y . She almost gives up several times, but forces herself to continue. Her husband had omitted two of the r e l a t i v e s from the w i l l and had been distant from her for several months. Just before 17 dying he had said, "Desde e l otro lado de l a muerte te recobrare". 17- Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , "Madrugada", Teatro espanol, 1953-5^-, ed;F.C. Sainz de Robles, Madrid, Aguilar, 1955, p. 157. - 16 - When the play ends, she real i z e s that he had blamed his brother and neph- ew because they had t r i e d to slander her. She feels reunited with him i n s p i r i t even though they have been separated by death. Again we see that i t i s one's inner feelings that are of value; one's reputation or outer appearance are not essential to one's happiness and do not r e a l l y belong to one as inner feelings do. Amalia triumphs over the others because she i s motivated by love-; and searches for the t r u t h . As one of the r e l a t i v e s marvels: "Es de esos pocos gue piensan que hay cosas mas importantes gue e l dinero." 18. I b i d . , p. 2024 - 1 7 - CHAPTER I I I Works Depicting Contemporary Social E v i l s H i s t o r i a de una escalera Hoy es f i e s t a Las cartas boca abajo Irene o e l tesoro The four plays to be discussed i n t h i s chapter depict contemporary s o c i a l e v i l s . They c r i t i c i z e conditions i n Spain, s p e c i f i c a l l y , but the characters and problems are completely universal, as w e l l . Although the protagonists are involved i n a personal dilemma, t h e i r main function i s to be an example of or a contrast to t h e i r environment. H i s t o r i a de una escalera was written e a r l i e r than the other three plays, but was d e f i n i t e l y t h e i r forerunner since i t i s a r e a l i s t i c portrayal of the plight of the poor. I t was f i r s t written i n 1 9 ^ 7 " ^ and was Buero's f i r s t play to be performed,in 1 9 ^ 9 - It was a tremendous success with the public and was the f i r s t play containing s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m after years of s u p e r f i c i a l l i g h t comedies i n Spanish theatre. I t shows the same stairway i n the same tenement building three times over a t h i r t y year period. Each generation presented leads the same l i f e and makes the same mistakes as the preceding one. There i s no s p e c i f i c protagonist i n t h i s play. Each character has his own hopes and plans for improvement, but no one i s successful i n f u l f i l l i n g them. One believes the answer i s i n the 1 9 . Isabel Magana S c h e v i l l , Dos dramas de Buero V a l l e j o , (introduction), New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1 9 6 7 , P« 2 . - 18 - labour unions, another that i t l i e s i n studying, a t h i r d turns to crime. Fernando and Carmina, the young lovers of the f i r s t act, marry other people whom they do not love for reasons of economic necessity. In the following twenty years, although the two families are neighbours, they have scarcely spoken to one another during a l l that time. In act I I I t h e i r children, Carmina and Fernando, f a l l i n love with each other i n spite of the fact that t h e i r families have forbidden them to see each other. The play ends with Fernando, the son, making to Carmina, the daughter, the same promises, to study, work, and make a better l i f e that his father had made to her mother twenty years before. His father and her mother watch t h i s scene unnoticed by t h e i r children and exchange a look of i n f i n i t e melancholy. Of course, one hopes that they w i l l i n fact succeed i n changing t h e i r l i v e s , but somehow i t i s doubtful that they w i l l . Sociological studies show that the same families are on the welfare l i s t s for generations. I t i s apparently very d i f f i c u l t to break the hold of one's environment. I f t h i s i s true i n a r i c h , young country l i k e Canada, the problem must be even more accute i n a poorer, more t r a d i t i o n a l country l i k e Spain. What can be done to help the poor stop the treadmill of repeating the same l i f e generation after generation? Society must - 1 9 - help them, because i t i s almost impossible for them to help themselves. I f any two characters might be considered to be the prota- gonists, they would be the parents, Fernando and Carmina. Perhaps, as Borel suggests, t h e i r f a t a l mistake was not being true to t h e i r love for each other which was the only good thing they had. I t i s doubtful, however, whether marrying each other would have given them enough mutual support and strength to change t h e i r environment. They would, of course, have been less miserable than they were. In any case, the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for a deep-rooted change i n the condition of the poor l i e s with society as a whole. The neighbours, representative of humanity i n general, are shown to be incapable of helping each other and are involved i n petty r i v a l r i e s and jealousies, gossiping, and the fear of what the others w i l l think, which a l l prevents them from communicating with each other and sharing t h e i r burden. Hoy es f i e s t a , written i n 1 9 5 6 , contains many of the same elements as H i s t o r i a de una escalera, but i t has a d e f i n i t e protagonist. S i l v e r i o i s an i n t e l l i g e n t , s k i l f u l , kind person who has purposely relegated himself to l i v i n g with and helping the poor as a p a r t i a l atonement for a great g u i l t that he feels - the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the death of his wife's daughter. He loves his wife, P i l a r , who i s deaf, very much, but i n his heart, he knows that he was purposely careless with her daughter. He has never had the courage to confess t h i s to his wife, although - 20 - he needs her forgiveness to rel i e v e him from the suffering that he endures. He' i s a f r a i d that she w i l l he unable to forgive him and that he w i l l lose her. Twice during the play he t r i e s unsuccessfully to t e l l P i l a r the t r u t h about the l i t t l e g i r l ' s death. The f i r s t time he t e l l s her, knowing that she w i l l not understand because she i s unable to make out what he i s saying. She only knows that he i s very upset and tormented about something. She begs him to make i t clear to her, so that she can share his g r i e f , but his courage f a i l s him. Later, he sees that the neighbours are able to forgive Dona Balbina, who has cheated them a l l by using t h e i r money for food when she was supposed to buy a l o t t e r y t i c k e t with i t , i n s p i t e of the fact that they have been hoping a l l day that they might win, discussing t h e i r humble plans for the money, and have been overjoyed when the false number she showed them won. Upon finding the truth they are enraged to the point of k i l l i n g her, but they are persuaded by S i l v e r i o to forgive her. S i l v e r i o finds great hope i n t h e i r forgiveness of Dona Balbina and thinks that perhaps P i l a r would be able to forgive him after a l l . Dona Balbina's daughter, Daniela, who t o l d the truth about the t i c k e t to the neighbours, attempts to commit suicide, but i s stopped by S i l v e r i o . By saving her, S i l v e r i o hopes that he may have somehow paid for the death of the l i t t l e g i r l k i l l e d by his carelessness. Daniela says that she thinks of him as a father, which i s what he should have been to his wife's daughter. - 21 - The cause of Daniela's deep despair i s that the true reason she t o l d on her mother i s that she hated her and she w i l l never he free from remorse because of t h i s . This i s p a r a l l e l to S i l v e r i o ' s own dilemma of fe e l i n g that the true reason for his carelessness with the l i t t l e f i r l was his hate for her. He sees that day as a day of hope and pardon, and resolves to t e l l P i l a r the t r u t h , to stop being a coward, and to remake his l i f e . He addresses his conscience or God: "iTiene algun sentido este extrano dia de f i e s t a ? iDebo entenderlo como un dia de esperanza y de perdon? i-Ha sido quiza rescatada l a vida de aquelia nina por l a de Daniela? Pero se muy bien que solo puedes contestarme a traves de unos lab i o s . Lo se y-lo acepto. Por quererme solo a mi mismo, deshice mi vida. Aunque tarde, he de rehacerla. He sido un malva- do y despues un cobarde. Ya no l o sere mas. Se bien que e l dia no ha terminado para mi, que aun me f a l t a l a prueba mas t e r r i b l e . . . . Ayudame a afrontarla. However, his wife has not been we l l for some time and she dies before he i s able to confess to her. She cannot forgive him now and he w i l l have to carry the burden of his g u i l t forever. She was everything for him; now he has nothing. But, the card reader reminds us a l l as the play ends that: "La esperanza nunca termina. La esperanza es i n f i n i t a . " ^ Perhaps, S i l v e r i o w i l l be able to continue hoping that P i l a r had always understood the truth and had had compassion for him because of her love.: for him, or even that she can forgive him after death. 20. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , "Hoy es f i e s t a " , Teatro espanol 1956-57, ed. F.C. Sainz de Robles, Madrid, Aguilar, 1958, p. 108. 21. Ibid. , p.110. - 22 - His suffering resulted from his lack of courage and the fact that he hid the t r u t h . He also lacked hope and f a i t h i n Pilar,'s love for him. Therefore, his l i f e was based on a l i e and on despair. Hope i s a positive force which can lead to action;despair does not admit that i t i s any use t r y i n g . S i l v e r i o ' s love for P i l a r was s e l f i s h ; he would rather hide the truth than r i s k l o s i n g her. Except for t h i s , he was a noble person who helped others continually and seemed to see l i f e i n perspective and with good judgment. He was an i d e a l i s t , referred to as "ese Quijote" by the others. One wonders how S i l v e r i o could have hated the l i t t l e g i r l , when he had such great capacity for good and consideration for others. But a l l men are a combination of good and e v i l and must r e a l i z e that t h i s i s so and must struggle to control t h e i r bad side, which may come to the surface when they least expect i t . S i l v e r i o explains: "Hay dias..... en que a todos nos sale afuera l o peor, las-cosas mas brutales e inconfesables. Dias en que nos conver- timos en otra persona. Una persona odiosa, que llevabamos dentro~ sin saberlo • Y esa persona somos nosotros mismos".^ S i l v e r i o had not blinded himself to the truth;he r e a l i z e d that he was capable of e v i l , that he was g u i l t y of the l i t t l e g i r l ' s death, and that he should t e l l P i l a r the t r u t h . He did not have the force of character to take immediate action, but postponed i t u n t i l i t was too l a t e . Death had taken away his opportunity. 22. I b i d . , p. 78. - 2 3 - S i m i l a r l y a l l of us should guard against waiting too long and do what we should do before i t i s too l a t e . Las cartas boca abajo written i n 1 9 5 7 5 demonstrates the great d i f f i c u l t y of bettering one'sposition i n Spanish society by depicting the l i f e of a mediocre professor and his family. There are fewer positions than men available and positions are contested by means of rigorous examinations, the outcome of which may have been determined before they have begun, because of personal recom- mendations and prejudices. F e l i x G. I l a r r a z adds that: • "It deals with some of the most negative aspects of Spanish society today. The lack of confidence between husband and wife, the lack of understanding between parents and children and the feel i n g of f a i l u r e and disappointment of the youth are some of the important features that are destructive of the t r a d i t i o n a l unity and confidence of Spanish family l i f e . " ^ 3 Of course, these problems are not only Spanish but also universal. The p r i n c i p a l character, Adela, i s one of Buero's most s t r i k i n g and well developed characters. She i s probably his best example of a person who i s s p i r i t u a l l y b l i n d and completely egoistic She i s referred to as "ciega" several times during the play. She i s not an e v i l person; nor has she ruined everyone's l i f e i n t e n t i o n a l l y She, herself, describes t h i s aspect of her l i f e : "Nunca logre ver claro en mis impulsos, en mis deseos. Todo l o hice a destiempo. De todo me d i cuenta tarde. 2 3 . F e l i x G. I l a r r a z , ed., Buero: Las cartas boca abajo, Englewood C l i f f s , New Jersey, Prentice-Hall Inc., I 9 6 7 , p. v. 2k. Ibid. , p. li+0. - 2h - She i s a passive person, not an active one. This i s exem- p l i f i e d by the untidiness of t h e i r home. She has wasted her l i f e on a stupid, i d l e dream - a dream that was negative because i t was oriented to the past and was completely s e l f i s h . She has spent her whole l i f e dreaming of Ferrer-Diaz, a man she had taken from her s i s t e r and then l o s t h e r s e l f , when they were young. Because of t h i s dream, she has not given her husband the support that he needed and has even taught his son to scorn him and to admire Ferrer-Diaz. For example, she knows that her husband would not want to be recommended for the job he i s seeking, but wants to win i t by himself. However, because, subconsciously, she wants him to be i n f e r i o r to Ferrer-Diaz, she asks her brother to ask Ferrer-Diaz to recommend her husband. She i s completely s e l f i s h i n her outlook and only thinks of other people i n terms of what they can do for her. She wants her mute s i s t e r , Anita, to t a l k , but only because t h i s w i l l ease her conscience and give her someone to t a l k to. She l i k e d to have her brother, Mauro, v i s i t as long as he t o l d her the things she wanted to hear, but had no further use for him when she found that he had l i e d to her. She does not want to l e t her son go away to make a better l i f e for himself, because she wants to keep him with her. Symbolic of her s e l f i s h attitude i s her preoccupation with 25 the birds and her egoistic desire to f l y , to become someone r i c h 25. Ibid. , p. 58. - 25 - and important. The error of these desires i s revealed when her 26 brother Mauro destroys her image of the b i r d s , saying that l i k e her they may be j o y f u l i n the morning (youth), but they are screaming with fear at dusk. Mauro, himself, i s completely d i s i l l u s i o n e d and immoral and l i v e s by s t e a l i n g , l y i n g , and begging. Adela's husband, Juan, i s b a s i c a l l y an honest, moral person, but he has not had the strength of character to face the t r u t h about t h e i r l i f e u n t i l the pressure of making a f i n a l attempt at winning a higher position for himself makes him r e a l i z e the truth.,Their whole l i f e has been based on a l i e . Adela married him and t r i e d to urge him on to success, only as revenge on Ferrer-Diaz. During the play he begs her on several occasions to be frank with him, saying that honesty and communica- t i o n between them would mean more to him than the position he i s seeking, but she keeps s i l e n t . F i n a l l y , he decides to turn the cards over and reveal the t r u t h . He admits that he too has wasted his l i f e because he has always envied Ferrer-Diaz and l o s t the posi- t i o n he was seeking because he had not read Ferrer-Diaz's books. He rea l i z e s that there i s no longer any way to remedy the sit u a t i o n except to see i t c l e a r l y . He sees that t h e i r son, Juanito, deserves a chance at l i f e away from the s t i f l i n g atmosphere of t h e i r bad example. He throws the emptiness and f u t i l i t y of Adela's l i f e before her: 26. I b i d . , p. 151. - 26 - "Pero, ique has ganado? Una vida f i c t i c i a , l l e n a de mentira; un hogar que era tambien mentira; dolor y desengafio para t u vejez.... IAh! No se como puedes perdonarte a t i misma tanta locura." ^ The f i r s t step to improving a sit u a t i o n i s to face the t r u t h . Perhaps i f Adela had admitted the truth e a r l i e r , even to her- s e l f , she could have changed her feelings once she had recognized the stupidity of them. I f t h i s were impossible, she could have at least taken action by leaving Juan or by going to a p s y c h i a t r i s t . Buero i s careful to show that there was mental i l l n e s s i n her family background and, l i k e mentally i l l people, she takes none of the blame upon herself. She feels that she has been the v i c t i m of l i f e : "todo me va aplastando.... s i n que yo pueda hacer nada, Inada! , para evitarlo."28 There i s even a scene i n which she accuses the others of p l o t t i n g against her. However, Adela cannot escape from her g u i l t y conscience over what she has done, since the results of her selfishness are ever present i n a v i s i b l e form as well as i n the falseness of her marriage. Her g u i l t y conscience can be said to be personified by her s i s t e r , Anita, who l i v e s with them and who became mute as a result of Adela's treatment of her. Adela i s becoming a nervous wreck because she i s a f r a i d of Anita. She does not know what Anita i s thinking or planning and she cannot f i n d peace. She admits her g u i l t to Anita and begs 27. I b i d . , p. ikO. 28. I b i d . , p. 58. - 27 - her to f o r g i v e her, hut Anita w i l l not speak. Her brother, Mauro, t e l l s Adela that she i s a f r a i d l i k e the birds at dusk. The marten or k i t e that she fears i s Anita or her own conscience. At the end of the play, Adela r e a l i z e s that she has l o s t her son and her husband and i s alone with An i t a . Once again she begs for her forgiveness, admitting that she had done a t e r r i b l e thing to her, but s t i l l t r y i n g to excuse h e r s e l f : "Algo t e r r i b l e t e h i c e , es c i e r t o . Y l o mas espantoso es que entonces no parecia tan grave. Si yo hubiese sabido que te podia afectar tanto..... S i hubiese sabido l o caras que pueden costar todas nuestras ligerezas."^9 She begs Anita to forgive her so that they can l i v e i n peace together, but Anita w i l l not speak. Adela i s f i l l e d with fear and horror at spending the r e s t of her l i f e l i k e t h a t , as the birds shriek outside the balcony. Las cartas boca aba.jo i s probably the most pessimistic of Buero's works, except that there i s , of course, the p o s s i b i l i t y that Juanito, the son, w i l l make a better l i f e f o r himself. Adela's example shows the misery that man can cause his fellows because of his s e l f i s h n e s s and blindness. Her case i s s i m i l a r to that of most of humanity since she does not go as f a r as murdering f o r s e l f i s h reasons, l i k e Carlos of En l a ardiente oscuridad, but just gropes her way through l i f e b l i n d l y and s e l f i s h l y without bothering to look f o r true values or to think of what the r e s u l t s of her actions might be 29- I b i d . , p. 15U. - 28 - for someone else. She i s r e a l l y a very human character i n many ways. She i s very r e a l i s t i c a l l y portrayed; her fau l t s are not too e v i l or exaggerated. She i s also the most frightening of Buero's characters since her fa u l t s are the unpardonable ones of selfishness, thoughtlessness, p a s s i v i t y , and self-deception that most of us share with her. Irene o e l tesoro appeared i n 195^, following the three plays discussed i n Chapter I I . I t can be considered a work of so c i a l c r i t i c i s m since i t depicts the wretched atmosphere of a miserly moneylender's appartment. I t demonstrates the falseness and stupidity of overemphasizing the importance of money and the suffering that t h i s causes i s magnified because i t i s seen i n an extreme si t u a t i o n . The play also includes the fantastic element and the onto- l o g i c a l question, i n the form of the e l f who helps Irene and wonders i f he ex i s t s . Irene i s a complete contrast to the environment of her father-in-law, Dimas', appartment. She i s a good, kind person who has worked for her in-laws l i k e a slave, cleaning and sewing, since the death of her husband. She does not complain about her miserable l i f e . On the contrary she feels g u i l t y because she i s not bringing any money into the house as her father-in-law would wish. She also deeply regrets the death of her baby, who died at b i r t h , and longs to have a c h i l d to hold. - 29 - I t i s obvious that she cannot survive i n the atmosphere of her father-in-law's house. She i s too sweet a person to be able to face the r e a l i t y of i t and continue to l i v e . Even her husband's death was a result of her father-in-law's miserliness. He allowed his son to die because he did not want to spend money on the necessary medicine. Buero mentions i n several works that there are two possible alternatives to facing r e a l i t y - one i s blindness; the other i s madness. I t seems that Irene has chosen the second of these two. She i s depicted as a very sensitive person, who i s prone to fantasy, arid i t i s very believable that she would go crazy i n such an un- bearable atmosphere. However, i t i s not completely clear whether or not she i s r e a l l y crazy, because although the other characters are unable to see the e l f that Irene sees, he sometimes appears when Irene i s not there. It could be that Buero wanted to show us that we are a l l capable of a l i t t l e madness, but i t seems more probable that he wanted to reveal his b e l i e f that something marvelous and wonderful exists beyond the humdrum r e a l i t y of our d a i l y l i v e s . This could be interpreted as God or as imagination or as something else. The voice, which directs the e l f , denies being God: "No pronuncies esta palabra. Es demasiado elevada para todos nosotros."30 30. Antonio Buero "Vallejo, "Irene o e l tesoro", Teatro espanol 195^-55, ed. F.C. Sainz de Robles, Madrid, Aguilar, 1959, p. 253- - 30 - But, i t seems to represent some kind of harmony or source of wisdom. The e l f worries about whether he, himself, e x i s t s . The voice advises him, "esa preocupacion se te i r a trabajando. Busca."'̂ "'" His work, of course, i s looking for the treasure, which turns out to be Irene's goodness. I t i s no use worrying about whether or not we e x i s t . We should work to f i n d the meaning of existence as we know i t . Once the e l f has found Irene he takes her away to his country by means of the b e a u t i f u l , illuminated road out the balcony. Although the other characters see her as dead on the street below, she i s also seen going down the road, singing, carrying the e l f . This could represent what Irene's own mind i s thinking, which i s r e a l i t y for her. Her hallucinations may be interpreted as h a l l u c i - nations or as r e a l i t y since the e l f appears when she i s not there. No one knows what i s r e a l for someone else and sanity i s r e l a t i v e to one's point of view. S i m i l a r l y , we must have a dream and f a i t h that a miracle can be achieved i n order to have a dream f u l f i l l e d and to see the fant a s t i c . Most people are unaware of the marvels that imagination could bring them. The voice informs the e l f : "Has venido a una casa bien t r i s t e , h i j o mio. Y hay muchas a s i . En todas e l l a s viven, como aqui, pobres seres que solo alientan para sus mezquindades, s i n sospechar siquiera que e l misterio los envuelve."^^ 31. I b i d . , p. 231. 32. I b i d . , p. 213- - 31 - Irene's goodness and generosity are contrasted to the unbelievable miserliness of Dimas, her father-in-law; the hate and jealousy of his daughter, Au r e l i a ; and the misery and despair of his wife, Justina. Dimas has denied everything to his family. He fights with them over the change from the groceries and makes them keep the l i g h t s out to save on e l e c t r i c i t y . He constantly reminds Irene that she i s a burden and that she could not even give them a grandson. Secretly he r e a l i z e s that they could never f i n d a maid who would work as hard as she does and that he would have to pay a maid, while Irene r e - ceives nothing. Aurelia resents the love of Daniel, t h e i r boarder, for Irene and hates her for i t . She i s the most d i r e c t l y responsible for Irene's death. She t e l l s Daniel that i t i s useless to t r y to help Irene when she overhears his proposal of marriage to her. Later, when Irene i s locked i n her room, af r a i d that they are going to take her to the insane asylum, Aurelia pounds on her door and screams that she can't escape. Justina, driven to despair by her husband's miserliness, plots to have him committed to the insane asylum and t r i c k s him into going there, by t e l l i n g him he has to take the paper to have Irene committed. It i s because of t h i s t r i c k on Dimas that Irene i s made to think that she i s the one who i s being committed and thus she i s w i l l i n g to escape with the e l f . - 32 - Dimas i s a sick person and i t i s not unreasonable that he should be taken away to the asylum. What makes his committal shocking i s the fact that he i s betrayed by his wife and f r i e n d , and the r e a l i z a t i o n that his type of i l l n e s s i s accepted by society as more normal than that of Irene. He i s only an extreme case of what i s s o c i a l l y acceptable. Irene i s always good and kind to a l l of them and wishes to stay with them. When the e l f has found the treasure, she offers i t to Dimas so that he w i l l l e t her stay there. Of course, the others cannot see the treasure, since i t represents her goodness, which they do not recognize as valuable. Daniel loves Irene, but although she knows that he i s good, she believes that he t r i c k e d her because he was the one who brought the doctor to see her. She cannot believe him, because she knows that he thought she was crazy, but she forgives him. She forgives them a l l . She cannot marry Daniel at the end of the play, because as the voice t e l l s the e l f , she can no longer l i v e without " l o maravilloso" Irene remained true to her ideals of goodness, kindness, and love for others, even though the only way she was able to do so was by means of imagination. She overcame the others by refusing to be d i s i l l u s i o n e d by them. Her death, can be interpreted as a reward for her, since i t was a release from the horrible environment she was i n . However, one i s tempted to believe that she was actually going 33. I b i d . , p. 253 . - 33 - to Heaven or to some happier existence, singing down the luminous road with the e l f . The one c r i t i c i s m that might he made of Irene i s that she could have faced r e a l i t y and found a job i n another home. However, considering Irene's personality i t i s not r e a l l y unrealist that she would love her in-laws anyway and choose to stay i n t h e i r house rather than r i s k hurting t h e i r feelings by leaving them. - 3h - CHAPTER IV Social C r i t i c i s m from an H i s t o r i a l Viewpoint Un sonador para un pueblo Las Meninas E l Concierto de San Ovidio The three plays discussed i n t h i s chapter c r i t i c i z e con- temporary s o c i a l e v i l s by depicting p a r a l l e l or similar h i s t o r i a l s i - tuations, which also point to the h i s t o r i c a l causes of contemporary problems. This i s the same technique that i s employed by Arthur M i l l e r i n The Crucible i n which he uses the seventeenth century Salem witch t r i a l s to show how the masses can be turned to h y s t e r i c a l violence against innocent people to p a r a l l e l the s i t u a t i o n of the McCarthy era i n the United States. Un sonador para un pueblo shows how the masses can be turned against a leader who i s actually t h e i r benefactor; Las Meninas shows the immorality and hypocrisy of the wealthy, r u l i n g c l a s s , and E l Con- cie r t o de San Ovidio depicts the lack of morality and culture of the "nouveaux riches". Un sonador para un pueblo, 1958, i s based on an actual h i s - t o r i c a l event - e l motin de Esquilache, 1766-. I t i s s u b t i t l e d by Buero "version l i b r e de un episodio h i s t o r i c o " and i s his version of what the personal side of the a f f a i r could have been. The play can be enjoyed on t h i s l e v e l as w e l l as on a symbolic l e v e l . - 35 - Esquilache, the prime minister of Carlos I I I , i s shown to be a man of high i d e a l s , good, and heroic with the best interest of the common people at heart. He works zealously to accomplish reforms and make his dreams for the people a r e a l i t y . private and public l i v e s , but i s thwarted i n t h i s attempt by his wife who accepts g i f t s and asks for favours behind his back and who i s having an a f f a i r with a man from the Dutch Embassy. She has also obtained good positions for t h e i r sons who are useless and undeserving. She advises Esquilache: Her attitude causes him great embarrassment, because he i s tr y i n g to rule Spain according to his p r i n c i p l e s , but people are able to see that his own family i s given special p r i v i l e g e s . He i s so sincere i n his efforts to improve conditions that he asks the King to give him a separation from his wife and take his sons' positions away from them. He i s also opposed by many of the n o b i l i t y who are content to keep things as they are or who are desireous of personal power and who i n c i t e the masses to revolt against him. A direct contrast to Esquilache i s the Marques of Ensenada, who was the prime minister before him. Ensenada admits having l o s t a l l his i l l u s i o n s long before; he no longer has f a i t h i n the people and 3̂ -. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , "Un sonador para un pueblo", Teatro espanol 1958-59, ed. F. C. Sainz de Robles, Madrid, Aguilar, i960, p. 221. He t r i e s to set a good example by leading exemplary - 36 - says that he believes i n "todo para e l pueblo, pero s i n e l pueblo". He i s r e a l l y most interested i n power for himself, since i t was he who instigated the revolt to remove Esquilache from power, although he knew that Esquilache t r u l y worked for and loved the people. Fernandita, the servant g i r l that Esquilache enjoys t a l k i n g t o , symbolizes the uneducated, but b a s i c a l l y good and honest populace i n which Esquilache always retained his f a i t h . Esquilache sees him- 36 s e l f as "un nifio que todavia quisiera confiar en los demas" and i s "lleno de temores". However, he never loses his f a i t h i n the people, although they revolt against him and i n the end he asks Fernandita, as a representative of the people, to judge who i s r i g h t , himself or Ensenada. Ensenada did not believe i n the goodness of the common people and had planned to plunge the country into war to oust Esquilache and regain power for himself. Esquilache, given a free choice by the King, had s a c r i f i c e d himself to save the country from war, because of his love of the people. He t e l l s En- senada that the populace condemns him. Esquilache's concern for Fernandita symbolizes his concern for the populace. His interest i s purely a l t r u i s t i c , although i t i s interpreted as otherwise by his wife and others. His extreme courage i s demonstrated when he returns to his house when i t i s held by the 35. 36. 37- I b i d . , p. 216. I b i d . , p. 22U. Loc. c i t . - 37 - rebels, i n order to rescue Fernandita and refuses to say "muera Esquilache" even when he i s threatened with violence. He w i l l not compromise himself. This foreshadows his l a t e r supreme s a c r i f i c e i n renouncing his post as prime minister i n order to save the country from war. He did not want the position for his own prestige or power, but he wanted i t desperately because there was so much that he wanted to do for the people. Although he i s alone and miserable at the end of the play, his s o l i t a r y figure harmonizes with the j o y f u l music i n the back- ground because he has triumphed over Ensenada and over selfishness and s t i l l has f a i t h i n the people to create a better future. He had admonished Fernandita that i t was her choice whether she slipped back into the clutches of Bernardo, who had raped her, or struggled to be free of him and true to her ideals. At the end of the play she l i v e s up to Esquilache's f a i t h i n her and has the strength and courage to refuse Bernardo. S i m i l a r l y , the destiny of the common people depends on us, ourselves. We are free to choose our future, i f we do not b l i n d ourselves to seeing the right choice or lack the force to work for i t . Esquilache and Fernandita were both born "plebeyos" and thus represent the common people. Although t h e i r future l i v e s might appear to be miserable outwardly, they have triumphed inwardly over selfish-^- ness and weakness, making the d i f f i c u l t , but correct choice. As indi^- viduals we can i d e n t i f y with them and follow t h e i r examples. - 38 - One feels that Esquilache would have given his l i f e i f that had "been the alternative choice to the c i v i l war. I f he had not been an h i s t o r i c a l character and thus had to continue to l i v e to keep the d e f i n i t e h i s t o r i c a l facts i n t a c t , Buero probably would have made him choose to die. On the other other hand, l i f e i n e x i l e with his unsympa- thetic family might be worse than death for him anyway. According to H. A. Myers, the appeal that the tragic hero has for us results from his a b i l i t y to do or die. We wish we could 38 be l i k e him and give everything uncompromisingly for our cause. Esquilache i s t h i s type of hero. However, although he i s stronger than humanity i n general, he s t i l l has weaknesses and speaks of having doubts or fears which makes him a r e a l i s t i c , human character with whom we can i d e n t i f y even more read i l y . At the end of Un sonador para un pueblo there i s s t i l l no answer to the problem of what to do about the ignorant, easily-mani- pulated masses. I f we have f a i t h i n the basic goodness of humanity,then the people must be educated to be f u l l y aware i n order to be able to understand the tr u t h and support the government that i s r e a l l y best for them. As for those who govern, they must be dreamers and i d e a l i s t s as well as men of action. As Esquilache t e l l s us: 38. H. A. Myers "Heroes and the Way of Compromise" i n Robert W. Corrigan Tragedy: Vision and Form, Chandler Publishing Co., San Francisco, I965, p. 135. - 3 9 - "Ahora se una cosa: que ningun gobernante puede dejar de corromperse s i no suena ese sueno."39 Faith i n humanity and the recognition of the value of the human "being above a l l else are the most important things. War, as the supreme destroyer of humanity and cause of human suffering must be avoided at a l l costs. Buero's next play, Las Meninas, i 9 6 0 , i s set i n seventeenth century Spain at the court of Felipe IV. Subtitled by Buero "fanta- s i a velazquena", i t depicts court l i f e very r e a l i s t i c a l l y and, while keeping the h i s t o r i c a l facts i n t a c t , gives a very interesting portrayal of what Velazquez' character may possibly have been. According to Rodriguez-Cast e l l a n o ^ Velazquez' preoccupations and anxieties are those of a man of talent anywhere and anytime, and so i t i s not u n l i k e l y that Velazquez would have thought c r i t i c a l l y about the problems of society as Buero has him do. Buero's Velazquez i s a restless person, aware of the e v i l s of society, but unable to do anything about them since his l i f e i s devoted to his painting and he i s dependent on the King for patronage. At the same time, he i s not a f r a i d to confront the King with the t r u t h , to defend himself, and to shelter Pedro i n his home. He i s a lonely character because he i s superior to everyone else. Even the King has a nightmare i n which he i s a dwarf and Velazquez i s a giant. He i s 3 9 - Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , Un sonador para un pueblo , p. 2 8 0 . Uo. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , Las Meninas, ed. Juan Rodriguez Castellano, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1 9 6 3 , p. 6 . - ho - not understood by anyone except Pedro and the Princess Maria Teresa. She says that everyone else at court i s a c h i l d compared to him. Everyone else, including his wife, i s involved i n petty jealousies and selfishness. When his wife accuses him of thinking of another woman, he says that he does need someone who can understand him: "A alguien que me ayude a soportar e l tormento de ver claro en este pais de ciegos y de locos."^1 The person who does understand his suffering and his painting i s the b l i n d beggar, Pedro. Rodriguez-Castellano suggests that Pedro and \2 Martin represent the poor people i n Spanish society. However, Pedro might also be considered to have a special ro l e as the other ha l f of Velazquez' own personality. Pedro wanted to paint, but has spent his l i f e working a c t i v e l y for reform instead. Velazquez i s tormented by s o c i a l e v i l s , but has devoted himself to painting. Each complements the l i f e of the other. Pedro has returned because he needed Velazquez who i s aware of r e a l i t y as he i s . "Ya solo se que soy un poco de carne enferma, l l e n a de miedo y en espera de l a muerte. Un hombre fatigado en busca de ^ cordura que l e haga descansar de l a locura ajena antes de morir." Velazquez finds pleasure and joy i n his painting, but then feels g u i l t y when he remembers the misery of the world: hi. I b i d . , p. hh. k2. I b i d . , p. 7- h3. I b i d . , p. 80. - hi - "No se como he podido gozar de tanta belleza en medio de tanto dolor. "̂ "4 Pedro believes that: "Solo quien ve l a belleza en e l mundo puede comprender l o intolerable de su dolor. 5 Like Esquilache, Velazquez i s not a f r a i d to t e l l the truth and w i l l not be intimidated even by the King. He i s calm and l o g i c a l and sees things i n proper perspective. He defends himself superbly with his clear logic when he i s t r i e d before the King and a pri e s t for having painted a nude (La Venus del espe.jo). As Velazquez defends himself, the hypocrisy and narrowness of society and the a r t i f i c i a l i t y of i t s values are revealed and c r i t i c i z e d and the accusations against him appear to be ridiculous and to have been brought against him by those who are jealous of him or who want to better t h e i r own position. However, when he learns that Pedro has been k i l l e d , he loses a l l his composure and cri e s openly, unable to continue his defence. The only person whom he loved and who understood him i s dead. Since Pedro has been k i l l e d as a result of his acting against the state, Velazquez feels that Pedro has died for him, since he has been painting instead of working to combat the e v i l s of society. Pedro wanted to paint, but has worked against the e v i l s of society and has paid the price of his l i f e for doing so. Velazquez feels that his painting i s worthless i n comparison to t h i s . kk. I b i d : , p. 80. 1+5. I b i d . , p. 102. - k2 - The King, however, r e a l i z e s Velazquez's greatness and t e l l s him that he w i l l pardon him so that he can continue to paint, i f he swears his love for and and l o y a l t y to the King. Although Pedro had advised him to l i e i f necessary to save his painting, Velazquez refuses to do so. He remains true to his p r i n c i p l e s and also asks for punish- ment so that he can share Pedro's s a c r i f i c e . The King pardons Velazquez i n spite of the fact that he resents Velazquez' virtue and feels weak and miserable about absolving him. The King i s also annoyed by the princess' love for Velazquez, but Maria Teresa assures him that i t i s not love: "En esta Corte de galanteos y de pasiones desenfre- nadas es un sentimiento s i n nombre."^"" It i s the same sentiment of which Penelope speaks and which Esquilache feels for Fernandita. Velazquez, also, refers to a kind of love or harmony found i n c e r t a i n , simple moments of tru t h . Describing his painting, Las Meninas, he says: "Yo creo que l a verdad esta en esos momentos i „ sencillos mas que en l a etiqueta. Entonces, todo puede amarse." As the play ends Velazquez has continued to paint and i s f i n i s h i n g Las Meninas. I t i s described by Martin as "una pintura que encerrara toda l a t r i s t e z a de Espafla" As he works, Velazquez i s murmuring, "Pedro, Pedro". He i s miserable because Pedro, the one person who understood him has been k i l l e d by the State, because of h6. I b i d . , p. 165. hi. I b i d . , p. 95. k&. I b i d . , p. 168. - ^3 - doing what he himself believes he should have done - working a c t i v e l y against s o c i a l abuses. Although he had not been af r a i d to reveal his true feelings to the King and accept his punishment, he knows that generally he has compromised by choosing to keep s i l e n t about the e v i l around him i n order to be able to paint. "Estamos viviendo de mentiras o de s i l e n c i o s . Yo he he vivido de s i l e n c i o s , pero me niego a mentir."^9 Pedro had chosen the other road and had died for him. In order to paint Velazquez must continue to keep s i l e n t about the trut h i n a world of "ciegos" and "locos". He has won outwardly i n his confrontation with the King and against his petty r i v a l s , but inwardly he feels that he has compromised himself. E l concierto de San Ovidio, Buero's other play i n which the majority of the characters are b l i n d , was written i n 1962, sixteen years l a t e r than En l a ardiente oscuridad . Buero's i n s p i r a t i o n was an eighteenth century picture of b l i n d musiciians i n ridiculous costumes. The.theme of t h i s play i s not s p i r i t u a l blindness or e x i s t e n t i a l anguish, but the timeless s o c i a l problem of man's inhuman- i t y to his fellow man. I t i s su b t i t l e d "parabola en tres actos" E l concierto de San Ovidio i s set i n Paris i n 1771. The protagonist, David, i s presented as an i n t e l l i g e n t , sincere, kind, generous person who i s convinced that, by means of hard work, the b l i n d can be capable of doing what other men can do. Thus, although he i s keenly aware of r e a l i t y , he has f a i t h that a better future i s possible. 1+9. Ibid. , p. l6k. - kk - When, at the beginning of the play, the prioress at the hostel for the b l i n d asks s i x of the residents i f they want to go to work for Valindin, who plans to have a b l i n d beggars band at his restaurant at the f a i r of San Ovidio, David's reason for accepting the proposal i s that i t should be a means of proving themselves. He urges his companions: "Hermanos, hay que poner en esto todo nuestro empefio. iHay que convencer a los que ven de que somos hombres como e l l o s , no animales enf ermos.'" 50 I f they a l l r e a l l y t r y , they can learn to play well together. "Hermanos, empenemonos todos en que nuestros v i o l i n e s canten juntos y l o lograremos! iTodo es querer! Y s i no lo quereis, resignaos como mujerzuelas a esta muerte en vida que nos aplasta."51 Later, at Valindin's house he wants to leave and not take the job when he finds that they w i l l not be allowed to t r y to take separate parts l i k e an ordinary orchestra. But, he gives i n when he Dearns that they have only eleven days i n which to practise. He almost leaves one other time, but returns because he sees hope when the others w i l l not practise without him. We learn about David's childhood from Donato, a youth whom David has treated l i k e a son at the hostel. He was blinded by fireworks as a young c h i l d but, by his own efforts learned to be a good musician and to be extremely s k i l f u l with his walking s t i c k . He has also been very successful with women. 50. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , E l concierto de San Ovidio, Barcelona, Ayma, S.A. Editora, I963, p. 36. 51. I b i d . , p. 38 • - 1+5 - The day the f a i r opens the "blind musicians f i n d that they are going to he dressed as clowns with dunce caps, donkey ears, and "big cardboard glasses. The music they are supposedly reading w i l l be backwards. They are to be laughed at and r i d i c u l e d as oddities by the stupid public. David t e l l s the others that they are leaving, but Valindin reminds them that they have a contract and that i t i s better to do t h i s and eat than have pride and hunger. He uses physical force to make Donato stay, and David gives i n again and stays as w e l l . The climax comes i n the complete darkness of the barraca l a t e at night when David murders Valindin because he has caused t h e i r disgrace and misery and also that of Adriana, his mistress, i n order to f u l f i l l his own s e l f i s h desires. The immediate cause of the murder i s a scene i n which Valindin beats Adriana and Donato for being u n f a i t h f u l to him. Valindin i s r e a l l y not pictured as a complete v i l l a i n . He'is a rather t y p i c a l businessman, out to make a p r o f i t by any means, without any consideration of others' rights or feelings. He has con- vinced himself that he i s helping people at the same time that he i s getting r i c h . For example, he believes that the b l i n d are better o f f with him than they were while begging on the street corners. He also believed that he r e a l l y loved Adriana even though he did not ever pay any attention to her wishes and thought only of himself. - k6 - Similarly,the average businessman today probably convinces himself that the public i s much better o f f with his product than without i t or that he i s helping the economy of the country. David and Adriana love each other, but must face a tragic separation at the end when he i s dragged away from her to be hanged. He was betrayed by his "son", Donato, who t o l d the police about him because he was jealous of Adriana's love for him. David's l a s t 52 words to Adriana are "Dile a l pequeno que l e perdono" which t y p i f i e s the way i n which he was always thoughtful of others' . feelings. Things could have been different i f David had had the forcefulness to leave the group one of the times that he t r i e d to. He compromised himself and drove himself to desperation by doing something that was against his p r i n c i p l e s . Although Valindin would have been able to replace him, perhaps i f he had actually l e f t the others would have understood and followed his example. At least Donato would probably have done so. The play ends on an optimistic note, however. Valentin Hatty,, a spectator who was disgusted by Valindin's show, resolved the day he saw i t , t h i r t y years before, that he would do something to help the b l i n d . 'Through his e f f o r t s , one of David's most cherished dreams has been rea l i z e d and the b l i n d are now learning to read and write ( b r a i l ) . This proves, Hauy concludes, that: 52. I b i d . , p. 130 - U T - "El hombre mas oscuro puede mover montanas s i l o quiere" 53 Donato i s seen as an old b l i n d beggar on the street corner. He i s playing David's favorite song and obviously l i v e s tormented by remorse because of his betrayal of David. Although En l a ardiente oscuridad i s e x i s t e n t i a l i n theme and E l concierto de San Ovidio i s a play of s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m , there are certain s i m i l a r i t i e s between them besides the fact that t h e i r characters are b l i n d . Both Carlos (En l a ardiente oscuridad) and David are kind,well meaning people who end up murderers. This shows again that there i s good and e v i l i n a l l of us and that we have to guard against losing control of our baser passions. We should not l e t things go u n t i l we are desperate and turn to violence for immediate r e l i e f from the s i t u a t i o n . Both Ignacio and David are r e b e l l i n g against t h e i r condi- t i o n , but as Borel suggests, Ignacio i s struggling for the impossible, whereas David wants an improvement that i s possible, although very d i f f i c u l t , within the existing unalterable conditions ( i e . learning . . . ,5k to read, write, and play music well m spite of blindness) . Ignacio i s a spoiled c h i l d , scorning others' help, and behaving completely s e l f i s h l y ; David i s a noble character, a self-made man, with a deep awareness of r e a l i t y and with consideration for others. 53.. Ibid. , p. 131. 5^. J.P. Borel., "Prologo: Buero Vallejo iVidente o ciego?", Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , E l concierto de San Ovidio, Barcelona, Ayma S.A. Editora, 1°63, V- 16. - U8 - I t i s sad that David has to die just when he would he able to begin a new l i f e with Adriana and before seeing his dreams of reading and writing f u l f i l l e d . On the other hand, i t i s almost a r e l i e f to have that poor d e v i l , Ignacio, released from his misery. However, both Ignacio and David represent humanity, struggling against the d i f f i c u l t i e s of t h e i r environment and t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s , physical and mental. Each i s alone i n his struggle, misunderstood by those around him. Both die without having achieved what they wanted. - U9 - CHAPTER V Recent Plays Aventura en l o gris E l tragaluz The l a s t two plays available for t h i s study are Aventura en l o g r i s , 19^3, and E l tragaluz, 196?. They are similar i n that they both contain p o l i t i c a l c r i t i c i s m and tend to be abstract rather than being e s s e n t i a l l y r e a l i s t i c l i k e Buero's previous works. Both also combine thoughts and actions to give an added dimension to r e a l i t y . Aventura en l o gris includes a dream which the characters have*, E l tragaluz i s "una experiencia de realidad t o t a l : sucesos y pensamientos en mezcla inseparable"^^ In E l tragaluz the scene consists of several locations which are seen at the same time and a character's thoughts may be seen simultaneously with the main action of the p l o t . Of a l l Buero's theatre, the play that i s perhaps most e x p l i c i t i n i t s c r i t i c i s m of existing society as a whole i s Aventura en l o g r i s . I t was f i r s t written i n 19^9, but was not accepted by any theatre companies at that time. However, Buero, himself, states that he believed i t too important a theme to be forgotten and thus he rewrote i t i n 1963 and i t was produced i n the same year. 5^ Aventura en l o gris takes place i n a miserable grey inn i n S u r e l i a , a broken, war torn country. The characters represent the various components of society - the d i c t a t o r , the r i c h , the s o l d i e r , 55. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , " El tragaluz", Teatro Espanol I967-68, ed., F.C. Sainz de Robles, Madrid, Aguilar, . I968, p. l 8 l . 56. Isabel Magana S c h e v i l l , ed., Dos dramas de Buero Vallejo (Aventura en l o g r i s , Las palabras en l a arena), New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967, p. 2. - 50 - the i n t e l l e c t u a l , the peasant, the youth, the career woman, the poor, and the future generation. However, t h i s i s a study of the prota- gonists and w i l l have to he l i m i t e d mainly to an examination of Silvano (the i n t e l l e c t u a l ) , an ex-history professor who has l o s t his p o sition as a result of c r i t i c i z i n g the government for s t a r t i n g an unnecessary war. Silvano i s the most heroic of Buero's protagonists since he remains true to his pri n c i p l e s at a l l costs - even to the point of starvation and death. For most of Buero's protagonists the pressure (of society and of t h e i r own weak human nature) i s too great and they f a i l to achieve heroism. Silvano i s completely u n s e l f i s h , constantly helps and thinks of others (although he i s weak with starvation), giving up everything for them, and f i n a l l y s a c r i f i c e s his l i f e i n an attempt to save the future generations. His complete generosity and candor i s contrasted to the greed and hypocrisy of the other characters, but p a r t i c u l a r l y to that of Goldmann, the dictator of the country. The one who i s i n power and i s entrusted with the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of caring for the others i s the greatest egotist of them a l l . The c o n f l i c t between Silvano and Goldmann represents the c o n f l i c t between the i n t e l l e c t u a l i d e a l i s t and the am- b i t i o u s , unscrupulous p o l i t i c i a n , who i s the one who has the power. The characters a l l spend the night at the abandonned inn on t h e i r way to make a desperate attempt to leave the country. There i s no - 51 - food and the t r a i n s are no longer running. Typical of society i n general, everyone thinks only of himself, instead of uniting for the common good. The one who does a l l the work for the others - bringing firewood, making sugar water for the baby - i s Silvano, although he i s the weakest physically because of hunger. Goldmann, on the other hand, has food, but hides i t for himself and Ana, saying to her that he i s the most important person for the country. Unknown to him, Ana gives a l i t t l e food to Isabel, the poor g i r l , because she has to feed her baby, and a l i t t l e to Silvano, because he i s so weak. However, even though he i s dying of starvation, Silvano gives his piece to Isabel as w e l l . Silvano t r i e s to explain to Carlos, a young supporter of Goldmann, that the war was unnecessary and only started for economic reasons. Carlos supports the war because i t i s easier to be a follower and fig h t when t o l d t o , than to think c r i t i c a l l y for himself. When they discuss dreams, they f i n d that Goldmann never dreams. He scoffs: "Los suenos deforman l a vida. Y l a vida hay que mirarla cara a cara. Sonar es faena de mujeres o de contemplativos." 57 Silvano i s a dreamer. He believes that i f people learned how to dream, they would learn how to l i v e . Without learning: "Todos sofiamos con nuestros inconfesables apetitos y soltamos durante l a noche a l a f i e r a que nos posee."5o 57. I b i d . , p. 6U . 58. I b i d . , p. 65 • - 52 - He muses: "Sonamos mai porque nos portamos mai durante e l dia o procedemos mai en l a vida porque no sabemos sonar bien. "59 He wonders i f people could begin to have ftte same dream. The t r u t h would become apparent and they could no longer pretend when they were awake. Later, when accusing Goldmann of the murder of Isabel, he concludes that i t i s the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the i n t e l l e c t u a l to act as well as dream; "No se puede sonar, no se debe soflar dejando las manos l i b r e s a quienes no l o hacen. Aunque, a l f i n a l , sea e l sofiador quien desenmascare a l hombre de accion ."6o Silvano admits that he i s "un hombre de dudas, no de seguri- dades"^"'" when he wonders whether he did the right thing i n denouncing the government : "iHice mai? iHice bien? Eso l o aclararan acaso los historiadores: mis companeros del futuro. Ahora nadie podria d e c i r l o : n i Goldmann que me echo a las f i e r a s , pero que t a l vez mafiana sea juzgado mas duramente que yo. "62 He sees the war i n the perspective of history. In the pre- vious century, they had attacked the country that i s now attacking them. Silvano i s not a f r a i d of death. He t e l l s Carlos to go ahead and shoot him for being a defeatist. Later, he t e l l s Goldmann that he has recognized him from the beginning and he i s not a f r a i d that he 59-' Loc. c i t . 60. I b i d . , p. 121. 61. I b i d . , p. kg. 62. I b i d . , p. 50. - 5 3 - w i l l k i l l him. He feels that now they are on equal terms, no longer a dictator and a professor. Which of them i n r e a l i t y has come closer to f u l f i l l i n g the oath of abnegation of Goldmann's party, which S i l - vano has not even sworn to? He wants to stop doubting and prove to himself that he i s worth more than Goldmann. When Ana advises him to leave i f Goldmann knows that he knows t h e i r i d e n t i t y , he t e l l s her: "Hay una partida emprendida entre e l y yo desde hace meses y quiero ganarla . " ^ 3 The second part of the play i s a dream i n which the true feelings and thoughts of the characters are revealed. A l l the characters, except Goldmann, since he never dreams, appear i n the dream and i t i s implied that a l l the characters are having the same dream. Silvano appears on a mound, s i t t i n g above the others, which shows that he i s above them morally i n his'selflessness, and he w i l l not come down to t h e i r l e v e l . He and Ana are t r y i n g to reach each other (she i s the only other person who has shared her food and thought of others), but they cannot quite reach (she has not attained his l e v e l of s e l f - d e n i a l ) . No matter what the others do, Silvano does not come down (he does not compromise himself). Silvano asks enemy soldiers who appear i n the windows to y e l l at the others that they w i l l lose because they quarrel over bread (they are greedy and disunited). F i n a l l y he reaches Ana, and with the death of Isabel he comes down. Isabel i s a v i c t i m of war and of man's appetites. Silvano asks himself, 6 3 . Ibid. , p. 7 9 - 5^ - "iSoy yo quien te ha matado? A l l men should make i t t h e i r respon- s i b i l i t y to control animal passions and to end murder and war. In the l a s t act, after Isabel i s found dead, everyone i s sorry about it,but wants to forget i t , saying that i t i s useless to do anything about i t now and they must save themselves. Goldmann i s most insistent that i t should be forgotten so that i t w i l l not increase t h e i r d i f f i c u l t y at the border crossing. Silvano says that they are a l l responsible because of t h e i r egoism and stupidity. After Ana remarks that Carlos might have done i t , Silvano suggests an analysis of the possible motives of a l l of them and f i n a l l y accuses Goldmann: "Un hombre s i n escrupulos, acostumbrado a coger a su paso e l dinero, e l l u j o y las mujeres - un hombre de accion g que nunca suefla y que obra durante e l sueno de los demas." He convinces the others that Goldmann i s the murderer. He wants to stop Carlos from k i l l i n g Goldmann, but he does not blame him when he does and suggests that he f i n d a new l i f e f i g h t i n g for the country with the g u e r r i l l a s . Knowing^that he, himself, i s too weak to carry the baby, he asks each of the others to take the baby with them: "es un ser inocente de nuestras furias Salvemos e l manana."6>6 They a l l refuse. Silvano decides to s a c r i f i c e his l i f e by staying and t r y i n g to persuade the enemies to save the baby's l i f e . Ana decides to stay 6k. I b i d . , p. 98. 65. Ibid. p. 119. 66. I b i d . , p. 126. - 55 - with him. He begs her to go, but she cannot leave him. She d i d not know that such men existed and now that she has found him she w i l l not leave him. When Ana makes one l a s t suggestion - that they t r y to save t h e i r l i v e s by saying that i t was they who k i l l e d Goldmann - we see that Silvano w i l l not l i e . He t e l l s her: "Mi pobre Ana, has empezado muy tarde a aprender. Aun no sabes l o que es veneer, n i l o que es vencerse...."^7 Moments l a t e r they face the enemy s o l d i e r s u n a f r a i d , and succeed i n persuading them to save the baby's l i f e . They then face death unafraid, because they have overcome selfishness and achieved something for humanity, i n s a c r i f i c i n g themselves to save the baby (the symbol of future peace and u n i t y , since he i s a product of both sides i n the war). Hands clasped, they await death: "Ana: . . . . l E s a s i ? £Es esto veneer? Silvano: i S i ! iEsto es veneer.'"^ Silvano won i n the c o n f l i c t between himself and Goldmann and also overcame a l l s e l f i s h n e s s within himself. He became a man of a c t i o n , refusing to compromise himself and putting h i s i d e a l s into p r a c t i c e . He began as a man of doubt and a dreamer, but conquered doubt and put h i s dreams in t o a c t i o n . Ana strengthens Silvano's v i c t o r y over Goldmann, because 67- I b i d . , p. 13h. 68. I b i d . , p. 13h. - 56 - she i s won over to his way of thinking. She changes from being Goldmann's mistress to loving Silvano on a purely s p i r i t u a l l e v e l . In order to give meaning to one's l i f e , one should face the task of doing a l l that i s possible to make the world a better place for others and for the future generations, even i f t h i s entails the s a c r i f i c e of one's own s e l f i s h pleasures. Otherwise, there i s no purpose to l i f e - we are merely existing and propagating the species on an animal l e v e l . Although t h i s may seem an impossible task, Buero shows us again that the place to begin to improve the world i s to improve humanity. Each individual can improve humanity by improving himself. No matter what his external circumstances may be, the indiv i d u a l i s free to do what he wants within himself, i f he can conquer the selfishness of his own nature. E l tragaluz, written i n 1967, i s the l a s t play to be written by Buero at the time of t h i s study. I t s themes include a l l those found i n the e a r l i e r works - s o c i a l , moral, and e x i s t e n t i a l . In t h i s play the present i s seen as the past since the events of the plot are viewed by two beings from a future century, who see t h e i r true significance and comment on them, from time to time. These beings appear to have achieved a better world and to control t h e i r own history. The protagonists are two brothers, Mario and Vicente. Vicente i s a t y p i c a l modern businessman, whose prime purpose i s to make a p r o f i t . As a boy, he climbed onto a t r a i n and deserted the family i n - 57 - t h e i r time of worst need, immediately after the c i v i l war. He took t h e i r only provisions with him and thus caused the death of his baby s i s t e r . He has continued to l i v e t h i s way ever since, taking advantage of others to gain what he can for himself. During the play Mario i s seen as a complete contrast to Vicente. He i s determined not to hurt anyone and has thus chosen to l i v e i n proverty with t h e i r parents. He t r i e s to l i v e by his p r i n - ciples and i s almost completely unselfish. The two brothers confront each other several times during the play and each t r i e s to convince the other to change his way of l i f e . They are thus contrasted very d i s t i n c t l y . Vicente's b e l i e f s must be shared by the majority of the people i n Western society, since our way of l i f e i s based on his economic p r i n c i p l e s . However, Mario, without being self-righteous or unsympathetic, soon demonstrates the error of his brother's ways. Vicente always puts business before sentiment. After his new deal has come through, he i s happy; he does not care that i t has meant ruining the career of Beltran, a writer whose works his company, was publishing. He offers Mario a job at which he would earn three times what he then earns, but because he does not agree with his brother's practises, Mario refuses i t . On another occasion, Vicente t r i e s to convince Mario to change his mind. Mario explains his reasoning: - 58 - "Me repugna rmestro mundo. CTodos piensan quel en e l no cabe sino comerte a los demas o ser comido. Y encima, todos te dicen: "IDevora antes que te devoren! Te daremos bellas teo- r i a s para t u tranquilidad. La lucha por l a vida E l mal inevitable para l l e g a r a l bien necesario.... La caridad bien entendida " Pero yo en mi rincon, intento comprobar s i puedo salvarme de ser devorado...., aunque no devore. "Me l i m i t o a defenderme. Y hasta me dejo pisotear un poco, por no d i s c u t i r . . . . Pero, por ejemplo, no me enriquezco"70 Vicente asks Mario i f he i s accusing him and argues that he has to mix with other men to understand: "Mario, toda accion es impura. Pero no todas son egoistas, como crees. INo haras nada u t i l s i no acttias I Y no conoceras a los hombres s i n t r a t a r l o s , n i a t l mismo s i no te mezclas con ellos'.' 7 1 The two brothers demonstrate the f a m i l i a r contrast between the- dreamer and the man of action. After Mario shows Vicente how he opens the skylight to see the essential r e a l i t y of humanity i n the legs of the passersby, Vicente says scornfully, TEstas sonan- do! IDespierta!" Mario r e p l i e s : "iQuien debe despertar? IVeo a mi alrededor muchos activos, pero estan dormidos.' iLlegan a creerse tanto mas i r r e - prochables cuanto mas se encanallan!"72 At the time of a l a t e r v i s i t of Vicente, the same question arises. Vicente asks Mario to come to work for him and l i v e with him, before he goes crazy l i v i n g with t h e i r father. He t e l l s Mario that he can continue to think his own way, but use the money from the company. Mario answers that he cannot become a part of the hypocrisy and deceit of the business world. 6 9 . Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , E l Tragaluz, p. 1 9 6 . 7 0 . Loc. c i t . 7 1 . I b i d . , p. 1 9 7 . 7 2 . l o c . c i t . - 5 9 - "iClaro que entiendo e l juego! Se es un poco revo- l u c i o n a r i o , luego algo conservador.... No hay inconvenientes, pues para eso se siguen ostentando ideas avanzadas.... E l nuevo grupo nos u t i l i z a . . . . Nos dejamos u t i l i z a r , puesto que los utilizamos.... IY a medrar todos! Porque iquien sabe ya hoy a l o que esta jugando cada cual? Solo los pobres saben que son pobres. As an example of d i r t y business practises, Mario accuses Vicente of ruining Beltran's career because his new associates wanted i t so and are paying him for i t . Beltran i s an exemplary person, who sees r e a l i t y and i s indifferent to material comforts and money. Vicente l i e s to t r y to hide the t r u t h , as i s customary i n business, saying that he accidentally l o s t the l e t t e r that Encarna found i n the waste- basket . Even Mario re a l i z e s that i t would be impossible to l i v e i f one were completely unselfish. He t e l l s Encarna, "Esa es nuestra mi- lk s e r i a : que hay que v i v i r ' , but he chooses to l i v e i n poverty and pursue truth and honesty. The difference between the two brothers i s also exemplified by t h e i r attitude toward and treatment of Encarna, who represents the problem of a country g i r l i n the c i t y . She i s Vicente's secretary and sleeps with him because she i s a f r a i d to lose her job. The future beings describe t h e i r a f f a i r as 75 "practicando rutinariamente e l amor f i s i c o . 7 3 . I b i d . , p. 2 1 3 - Jk. I b i d . , p. 1 8 3 . 7 5 - I b i d . , p. 2 0 6 . - 60 - Mario, on the other hand, meets Encarna to t a l k to her and r e a l l y know her. Later he asks her to marry him and takes her home to meet his parents. Encarna w i l l not go home with Vicente on Thursdays - the day she meets a g i r l f r i e n d from her hometown (Mario), but she i s af r a i d to break of f her a f f a i r with him or to confront him with the Beltran business as she had promised Mario. Later, however, she has the courage to t e l l Mario the t r u t h about herself and Vicente, because she r e a l l y loves and respects him and cannot deceive him. However, both Mario and Vicente are s e l f i s h i n t h e i r a t t i - tude toward her. When she does t e l l the t r u t h about herself and Vicente, the l a t t e r f i r e s her and Mario does not want to see her any more. Neither i s thinking of her fee l i n g s , only of himself his pride, and the fact that his plans are ruined. Mario realizes t h i s l a t e r and asks Encarna: "IY que hemos hecho los dos contigo?... £No te hemos usado los dos para herirnos con mas vi o l e n c i a Mario f i n a l l y decides that he does want to marry Encarna, not out of p i t y , but because they can f i n d mutual support together i n a simple way of l i f e , t r y i n g not to hurt anyone, and they can raise Vicen- te's c h i l d as t h e i r own. The attitude of the two brothers toward t h e i r father also reveals essential differences between them. Mario sees the truth;Vicent t r i e s not to see i t . 76. I b i d . , p. 235. - 6 1 - Their father, ( s i m i l a r l y t o Irene of Irene o e l tesoro) has gone mad rather than face the r e a l i t y of the world and what Vicente has done. Mario views his madness as meaningful, with a d e f i n i t e cause and purpose to his actions; Vicente keeps i n s i s t i n g that he i s senile. For example, after t h e i r father has wrecked the t e l e v i s i o n set when a commercial interrupted a program, Mario believes that he was showing his disgust with advertising which makes people think that unnecessary material comforts are important. Vicente maintains that tiieir father did not know what he was doing. In another scene t h e i r father t r i e s to cut his finger o f f . Vicente wants to grab him and stop him by force; Mario i s patient and watchful, r e a l i z i n g that i t i s better not to use force i f possible. Their father denies that he ever knew or had a son named Vicente; he has repressed t h i s memory completely. He remembers having a son Mario, but says that he has not seen him for a long time. Their mother s t i l l treats Vicente l i k e a spoiled c h i l d . For example, she runs out to buy his favourite goodies when he arrives. I t i s Mario whom she advises to marry Encarna, when she learns that Encarna has been Vicente's mistress. However, there is a scene i n which her true respect for Mario i s shown. Encarna i s outside t h e i r house and Vicente says to l e t her i n , but Mario does not want her to come i n . The mother obeys Mario's wishes. Vicente ( l i k e Valindin of E l concierto de San Ovidio) seems to have convinced himself, i n order to ease his conscience a l i t t l e > that he i s helping people. He brings an envelope of money to the - 62 - family each month, which they use to make payments on a washing machine. In spite of the way i n which he has treated Encarna, he believes that he i s helping her: "no tiene otra perspectiva que l a miseria...., salvo a mi lado. Y a mi lado seguira, s i quiere, porque...., a pesar de todo, l a aprecio. E l l a l o sabe.... y megusta ayudar a l a gente, s i puedo hacerlo. (Eso tambien l o sabes t u . ) " When he finds that she i s pregnant, he thinks only of arranging things to suit his convenience. "Estudiaremos l a me jor solucion, Encarna. Lo reco- nocere Te ayudare. " f 8 The true, inner feelings of the two brothers are revealed i n t h e i r reactions to the "tragaluz". In the legs and conversations of the passersby, Mario sees t r u t h and beauty and has f a i t h i n the basic underlying goodness which i s common to a l l humanity. Vicente i s scornful of the whole idea at f i r s t , but when he sees his r e a l i t y , he i s f i l l e d with fear because he has no conception of Mario's view of l i f e and can see only i n terms of his own experience. In spite of his apparent callousness and complete egoism, Vicente i s tortured by his g u i l t y conscience and by the way i n which he knows Mario has judged him. He begins to v i s i t his family more and more frequently. F i n a l l y he says that he i s going to clear things up and convince Mario that he i s wrong. As i s his usual way, he t r i e s to make excuses for himself and to rationalize his way out of g u i l t , by means of half truths. 77- Ibid. , p. 216. . . 78. Ibid. , p. 227 • - 63 - Mario t e l l s the true story of what happened years before. He does not blame Vicente completely for deserting them, because he was only a boy, but he does blame him for continuing to l i v e that way now. He i s s t i l l an unprincipled opportunist; he has never gotten off the t r a i n . I t i s no use saying that there are other bigger worse people, as we sometimes do to make our own misdemeanors appear i n s i g - n i f i c a n t : "iPero ahora, hombre, ya s i eres culpable' Has hecho pocas victimas, desde luego; hay innumerables canallas que l a s han hecho por miles, por millones. iPero t u eres como e l l o s ! Dale tiempo a l tiempo y veras crecer e l numero de l a s tuyas.... Y t u b o t i n . " T 9 Vicente wants to be judged, punished, and pardoned. He asks to be alone with t h e i r father and confesses to him, although he i s sure that his father does not understand. Vicente reveals his com- plete lack of f a i t h i n anything, his disillusionment with l i f e , and the fact that he sees no point i n struggling to improve conditions or even himself. He admits that he did not care when he found that he had caused his s i s t e r ' s death. Many children had died i n the war. What did one more matter? He reveals his desire for f a i t h i n something, but he i s too weak to combat his disillusionment and egoism. "Quisiera que me entendiese, aunque se que no me en- tiende. Le hablo como quien habla a Dios s i n creer en Dios, porque quisiera que E l estuviera ahi. Pero no esta, y nadie es castigado, y l a vida sigue. Mireme: estoy llorando. Dentro r de un momento. me i r e , con l a pequena i l u s i o n que me ha escuchado, a seguir haciendo victimas De cuando en cuando pensare que 79. I b i d . , p. 231. - 6k - hice cuanto pude confesandome a usted y que ya no habia remedio, t puesto que usted no entiende.... E l otro loco, ini hermano, me d i r i a : "Hay remedioY Pero iquien puede terminar con las canalla- das en un mundo canalla.?- Le aseguro que estoy cansado de ser hombre. Esta vida de temores y de mala f tfe f a t i g a mortalmente. Pero no se puede volVer a l a nifiez." He wants to be punished; he wants to see order i n the world. One could almost say that he wants to die and his father k i l l s him for what he represents. Mario, who has always t r i e d to l i v e according to his p r i n - c i p l e s , believes himself responsible for his brother's death. Early i n the play le had had a dream i n which he attracted a man so close to a c l i f f edge that the man had f a l l e n over. He now sees that t h i s foreshadowed what he has done to his brother. He r e a l i z e s that there i s no clear answer to l i f e ; there i s a two-sided nature to everything (good and e v i l ) ; "Yo no soy bueno; mi hermano no era malo." "El queria engaflarle. . . . y ver c l a r o ; yo queria salvarle... y matarle. iQue queriamos en realidad? iQue queria yo? iComo soy? iQuien soy? iQuien ha sido victima de quien? Ya nunca lo sabre Nunca. ""I Like S i l v e r i o of Hoy es f i e s t a , Mario questions what his true motivation was and w i l l be tortured by g u i l t for the rest of his l i f e . 80. Ibid. , p. 232 . 81. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , E l tragaluz, p. 235. - 65 - However, neither Mario nor Vicente i s completely wrong or right i n his way of l i f e . The negative aspects of Mario are that his l i f e i s too inactive and that he hates his brother so deeply. Buero suggests that: "E l t i p o ideal para una conducta equilibrada hubiera sido un hombre intermedio entre los dos hermanos, unasimbiosis de ambos, un setenta por ciento del menor y un t r e i n t a del mayor. De este ultimo, en resumen, no me gusta su forma de tomar y v i a j a r en e l tr e n , en ese tren que hay que tomar. Del hermano menor no me gusta su resentimiento f r a t e r n a l . ^ The play ends i n an appeal to the audience to r e a l i z e the truth and have the f a i t h to do something to improve themselves and t h e i r way of l i f e , no matter how d i f f i c u l t i t might seem. Mario and Encarna hold hands, face the audience, and Mario says: "Quiza e l l o s algun d i a , Encarna E l l o s s i , algun dia E l l o s " 8 3 Then everything i s darkness except the "tragaluz". With E l tragaluz, Buero again demonstrates man's inhumanity to his fellow man. Humanity i s a family, just as Vicente and Mario's family was. We are united i n a common struggle and yet we do not help each other, but torment each other instead, each thinking only of himself. Again Buero shows that greed and egoism are the prime cause of the e v i l and i n j u s t i c e i n the world. The play can also be considered an attack on capitalism which fosters cut-throat competition, over values material gain, and results i n an extremely uneven d i s t r i b u t i o n of the world's goods. 82. Angel Fernandez-Santos, "Una entrevista con Buero V a l l e j o " , E l primer acto, Wo. 90, November 1967, p. 12. 83. I b i d . , p. 236. - 66 - This theme i s not new to Buero's work. The f i r s t play of Buero's to he performed, H i s t o r i a de una escalera, was an attack on the poverty that exists i n our world and t h i s theme appeared i n many.of his l a t e r works. E l concierto de San Ovidio, 1 9 6 2 , revealed the tyranny and inhumanity of the modern businessman, hut was ca- mouflaged somewhat by i t s eighteenth century setting. After writing E l concierto de San Ovidio and before writing E l tragaluz, I 9 6 T , Buero translated Mother Courage and her Sons by Bertolt Brecht, a German Marxist. However, i n spite of his interest i n Brecht, and his d i s - content with Western society, Buero gives too much importance to the indi v i d u a l and freedom to be considered to have Communist leanings. For example, i n E l tragaluz the father searches after the id e n t i t y of each individual i n pictures and postcards; and the future beings are intent upon viewing the people of past centuries ("arbol por arbol"), person by person. Everyone i s important; everyone i s di f f e r e n t . Each human l i f e must be valued above a l l else. Each human should be able to l i v e with dignity and freedom. E l tragaluz again shows us that we must struggle to overcome our own selfishness, to love each other, and to have the welfare of others at heart. Greed and egoism are probably inherent characteristics of a l l mankind, a legacy from primitive man's animal-like existence, against which we a l l must fight within ourselves, no matter what our outer p o l i t i c a l or personal b e l i e f s may be. - 67 - CHAPTER VI Conclusion Buero's protagonists represent the tragedy of contemporary man, who finds himself i n a world of such a vast amount of incom- prehensible confusion and immorality that he i s devastated by the im p o s s i b i l i t y of combatting i t and by his own insignificance. Buero's best characters are the tragic ones of his l a t e r plays: S i l v e r i o , Juan, Esquilache, Velazquez, David, Silvano, and Mario. Although the setting i s d i f f e r e n t , the sit u a t i o n i n which they are found i s e s s e n t i a l l y the same. They are a l l men of great moral conviction who f i n d themselves i n an unbearably immoral en- vironment. They are i n c o n f l i c t within themselves and with othersi be- cause of the pressure of society upon them to make them conform and forget t h e i r p r i n c i p l e s . I t i s impossible for them to f i n d peace and happiness because they cannot accept the immorality and i n - ju s t i c e that surrounds them and i t i s almost equally impossible for them to uphold t h e i r own moral convictions. Often the characters who work ac t i v e l y to improve conditions are k i l l e d or outcasted by society. For example, Pedro i n Las Meninas i s hunted and k i l l e d because he has rebelled against i n j u s t i c e . After Pedro's death, Velazquez asks the king: '.'Es que e l poder solo sabe a c a l l a r con sangre l o que e l mismo incuoa? Pues, s i a s i l o hace con sangre cubre sus propios errores."8^ Qk. Antonio Buero V a l l e j o , Las Meninas, ed. Juan Rodriguez Castellano, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1°63. p. l6h. - 68 - The protagonists' own human nature also makes i t d i f f i c u l t for them to be the moral persons that they wish to be. They are shown to be two-sided beings, capable of thought for and kindness to others and also capable of violence and murder. As well as having weaknesses i n character, Buero's creations also remind us that we are also p h y s i c a l l y weak and vulnerable. Some are b l i n d , one i s mute, another i s deaf. These f r a i l t i e s are also symbolic of mental conditions. The b l i n d are also s p i r i t u a l l y b l i n d , P i l a r does not want to hear S i l v e r i o ' s confession, and Anita w i l l never forgive Adela. Their physical handicaps also i l l u s t r a t e the r e l a t i v i t y of knowledge and the different view of r e a l i t y that each i n d i v i c u a l has according to his own l i m i t a t i o n s . On the s o c i a l l e v e l , they represent the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of complete communication between men. Buero's protagonists are tragic characters because they end i n sadness and f a i l u r e . They are generally unable to l i v e up to the standard that they have set for themselves and are guilt-ridden because they have compromised themselves. Velazquez might be taken as an example of the synthesis of Buero's protagonist. He suffers because he i s aware of the great i n - j u s t i c e i n Spanish society, but i s unable to do anything to combat i t . He i s tortured by g u i l t because of his silence about the wrongs that he sees. He also feels g u i l t y because he, himself, i s able to f i n d pleasure i n painting. - 6 9 - He i s heroic because he i s not af r a i d to confront the king and his accusors with the t r u t h i n order to defend himself and save his painting and he refuses to l i e and say that he loves the king, even to save himself and his painting. He l i v e s a completely virtous and moral private l i f e , which increases the others' resentment of his success. The purity of Velazquez i s contrasted to the immorality and hypocrisy of court l i f e and to the deceit and pettiness of his brother- in-law, Nieto, who brings him before the I n q u i s i t i o n i n order to further his own position as an informer. Buero's protagonists are almost always contrasted to a character who lacks moral prin c i p l e s and i s extremely e g o i s t i c . For example: Anfino i s contrasted to Ulysses, Irene to Mmas, Esquila- che to Ensenada, David to Valin d i n , Silvano to Goldmann, and Mario to Vicente. The protagonist has dreams and i l l u s i o n s , has sympathy and kindness for others, and searches for t r u t h , within himself and around him. He suffers because of his conscience and because of his doubt.~ The character to whom he i s contrasted, on the other hand, has no dreams or i l l u s i o n s , but i s active and powerful and controls others. He i s an unthinking person who deludes himself that his actions are helping others when i n fact he i s acting only to benefit himself. - TO - However, there i s no completely clear d i v i s i o n between the heroes and v i l l a i n s . Both are shown to be human, mixtures of good and e v i l . The l a t e r ones such as Valindin and Vicente who depict the ethic of the modern businessman represent a way of l i f e that i s shared by the majority of Western society today, i n which material gain i s given utmost importance. Dimas of Irene o e l tesoro represented the same idea, but was one-sided and therefore less r e a l i s t i c than Valindin and Vicente. No character i s portrayed as being wholly r i g h t , since perfection i s impossible i n the world as we know i t . However, the l i f e of protagonist i s shown to be f a r preferable to that of his less moral counterpart. Velazquez i s t y p i c a l of Buero's protagonists also because of his loneliness and the great lack of communication and understanding, that he endures. Love i s also generally lacking i n the l i v e s of Buero's pro- tagonists, p a r t i c u l a r l y within marriage and the family. Marriage i s usually pictured as having been entered into for reasons other than love. Velazquez's family i s a hindrance and a burden rather than a support for him. His wife has no understanding of him, whatsoever. Although one might expect the death of the protagonist i n a tragedy, few of Buero's heroes die. They are l e f t to continue t h e i r l i v e s tormented by t h e i r conscience. This can be considered a worse fate than death, since death i s a release from worldly cares. - 71 - Several of Buero's protagonists k i l l someone, but Velaz- quez does not commit murder, nor i s he d i r e c t l y responsible for any- one's death. He does, however, consider himself p a r t i a l l y to blame for the death of Pedro, who i s the only person who understood him and without whom he feels completely alone. In Buero's theatre the existence of a male counterpart to the protagonist who i s i n complete harmony with him occurs only i n Las Meninas. In many of his other plays there i s a woman who i s between two men of c o n f l i c t i n g ideologies. She reinforces the " v i c - tory" of the protagonist because she invariably chooses the one of greater morality and less egoism. For example, Ana rejects Goldmann for Silvano, Adriana - loves David rather than Vali n d i n , and Encarna chooses Mario over Vicente. Frequently the c o n f l i c t between the protagonist and the character who i s opposed to him i s heightened and f i l l e d with suspence because of secrecy about an object and danger to a t h i r d person. In Las Meninas the object i s the nude painting and the person i s Pedro. Although the plays i n t h i s study were written during a period of over twenty years, t h e i r themes possess remarkable unity. There are three main areas of theme: e x i s t e n t i a l , moral, and s o c i a l . There are, of course, elements of a l l of these throughout the plays and subjects such as poverty, war, i n j u s t i c e , lack of love and communication, s p i r i t u a l blindness, the need for freedom, tr u t h and honesty, and the destructiveness of egoism reappear continually. - 72 - In spite of t h i s u nity, however, a certain degree of chronological evolution can he seen i n Buero's theatre. As seen i n the previous chapters, the f i r s t works are e s s e n t i a l l y e x i s t e n t i a l i n theme although there are traces of s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m i n them. The second group are i n a more imaginative vein, hut s t i l l include many of the same ideas as the others. Irene o e l tesoro i s a t r a n s i t i o n between the previous less r e a l i s t i c plays and those of r e a l i s t i c s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m which were to follow. Of course, Buero had already employed the technique of r e a l i s t i c s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m i n H i s t o r i a de una escalera i n 19^9• The rather more pessimistic r e a l i s t i c s o c i a l works, (Hoy es f i e s t a and Las cartas boca aba.jo) were followed by three plays which were set i n the h i s t o r i c a l past, but which were analogous to present s o c i a l abuses, (Un sonador para un pueblo, Las Meninas, E l concierto de San Ovidio). Aventura en l o gris i s a more abstract work which symbolizes contemporary society and has p o l i t i c a l implications. E l tragaluz can be viewed as Buero's culminating work since i t incor- porates almost a l l the preceding ideas and techniques. The present i s viewed as the past. The characters symbolize c o n f l i c t i n g ideologies and moral positions, but the environment i s es s e n t i a l l y r e a l i s t i c . The evolution from ex i s t e n c i a l to s o c i a l to p o l i t i c a l i s a l o - g i c a l one. There i s no answer to the ontological question, which remains constant throughout Buero's works, except to give value to humanity and recognize each indi v i d u a l as unique and important. The most obvious action - 73 - man can take " to help and 'to Improve ,; humanity i s to direct his ef f o r t s to combatting s o c i a l e v i l s which deprive man of his dignity. The most direct way to improve conditions i s through p o l i t i c a l channels. The staging of the plays r e f l e c t s a pattern of evolution, which i s si m i l a r to that of the technique and themes. The early plays take place i n one simple setting. In the h i s t o r i c a l plays the staging becomes elaborate and consists of several locations. In E l tragaluz different scenes are illuminated at different times and events can be happening simultaneously i n more than one place. Chronological development can be seen i n the protagonists, as w e l l . Those of the early.plays, although they are r e a l i s t i c and moving, are stark sketches i n comparison to those of the l a t e r ones. In H i s t o r i a de una escalera the characters are merely outlined. They are t r u e - t o - l i f e types but, they are not outstanding characters. Las palabras en l a arena i s too short to allow for much character develop- ment; the characters are seen i n only one s i t u a t i o n . Ignacio of En l a ardiente oscuridad i s the greatest character of Buero's early works, i n spite of the fact that he i s unsympathetic. In these early plays the themes of e x i s t e n t i a l anguish, poverty, revenge, and s p i r i t u a l b l i n d - ness take precedence over the inner struggle of the protagonists, which i s suggested, but not f u l l y revealed. The next group of plays written i n the early 1950's, a l l have woman protagonists. They are more completely developed than the - Ik - early protagonists, but are s t i l l subservient to the plot or the ideas. In the next two plays, Hoy es f i e s t a and Las cartas boca abajo, the protagonists are on stage throughout almost the entire play and t h e i r personality constitutes a major part of the work. S i l v e r i o ' s story, however, i s only part of the scene on the tenement roof-top; whereas Las cartas boca abajo i s mainly a psychological study of Adela. The inner feelings of both of them are revealed and they are f u l l y developed characters. The heroes of the l a t e r plays are very sympathetic , w e l l - rounded characters. They are not at a l l petty, but have deep under- standing and seem to see things i n perspective. They are great men, but they have humility, as w e l l . They recognize t h e i r own shortcomings and struggle against them. They see the tr u t h and act accordingly, even i f the end result means a great s a c r i f i c e for them. Esquilache , Velazquez, Silvano, David and Mario are r e a l people whose anguish and morality make them admirable human beings. However, i n spite of the fact that i t i s possible to trace t h e i r evolution, the tremendous unity of Buero's protagonists i s r e a l l y more s t r i k i n g . They a l l portray what Buero has observed as success or f a i l u r e i n l i f e and what determines t h i s . Almost a l l the plays contain the words "veneer" or " t r i u n f a r " i n the l a s t few pages and i t i s up to us to decide who has won and what was to be conquered. - 75 - Egoism i s the major cause of man's inhumanity to his fellow- man. Instead of being motivated by greed and selfishness, one should be governed by sympathy and love for others. One should search his heart to determine what the true motivation for his action i s . We a l l face the same problems of death and of giving meaning to our l i v e s and should unite i n a common struggle to improve the l o t of mankind i n general. The innocent victims of the e x i s t i n g chaos are the future generations. They are our victims i f we cannot improve conditions and end our carelessness and blindness. The theme of the p l i g h t of babies born as a result of violence or war appears i n three of Buero's plays: Aventura en l o g r i s , Hoy es f i e s t a , and Un sofiador para un pueblo. In E l tragaluz, a baby i s expected as a res u l t of man's s e l f i s h - ness. Juanito of Las cartas boca abajo and Carmina and Fernando, h i j o of H i s t o r i a de una escalera represent the younger generation which appears to be incapable of making a better l i f e for themselves without our help, although they s t i l l have hope, which t h e i r parents have l o s t . E l tragaluz shows us how the future generations w i l l judge us. Hope for and f a i t h i n humanity are a major part of the solu- t i o n to the problem. Where there i s hope and f a i t h , there i s the p o s s i b i l i t y that improvement can be made. It must not be a passive hope, but must involve immediate action towards improvement before i t i s too l a t e . Our l i f e on Earth i s very short. One has not l i v e d i n vain i f - 76 - he can die knowing that the world has "been a better place for others because of him and that he has done a l l he could to seek the truth within himself and fight against his l i m i t a t i o n s . One should not be "ciego" or "loco", but should be a dreamer and a man of action. Man's only r e a l happiness and worthwhile action l i e s i n the impossible struggle to make a better world. He should begin within himself, although the process may be a tortuous one and end i n doubt and sadness as i t does for many of Buero's protagonists. We must not be weak and d r i f t aimlessly or be eas i l y l e d , but must decide for ourselves what i s right and do i t . I f everyone conquered i n l i f e by making his good side triumph "cette amelioration profonde et r e e l l e de l'humanite dont tous les hommes conscients ont 'reve' depuis que l e monde est monde. -85 would have been achieved and so would a better world? *Two plays which Buero Val l e j o wrote after the time at which t h i s study was begun and which are, therefore, not discussed i n i t are: Mito (a l i b r e t o for an opera) and E l sueno de l a razon, which has. as i t s protagonist, Goya, and which would have been included under the heading of h i s t o r i c a l works. Mito: Coleccion teatro, Ediciones A l f i l . E l sueno de l a razon: Revista Primer Acto. 85. Jean Paul Borel, "Buero Val l e j o ou 1'impossible concret et historique", Theatre de 1'Impossible, Neuchatel, Editions de l a Baconniere, 1963, p. 183. - 77 - BIBLIOGRAPHY Borel, J . P. Le Theatre de 1'.impossible. Neuchatel, Editions de l a Baconniere, I963• Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. "Antonio Buero Val l e j o Answers Seven Questions". The Theatre Annual, Vol. XIX, 1962, pp. 1-6. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. Casi un cuento de hadas. Madrid, E d i c i o - nes A l f i l , 1952.(comentario, pp. 73-79)- Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. • E l concierto de San Ovidio (Prologo, J.P. Borel). Barcelona, Ayma- S.A. Editora, 1963. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. " E l teatro de Buero V a l l e j o v i s t o por Buero V a l l e j o " . E l primer acto, Wo. 1 ( A b r i l , 1957) . Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. En l a ardiente oscuridad.. Madrid, Edicio- nes A l f i l , 195^. (comentario pp. 85-9*0. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. H i s t o r i a de una escalera. Madrid, Edicio- nes A l f i l , 1952.(comentario, pp. 85-87). Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. La senal que se espera. Madrid, Ediciones A l f i l , 1952.(comentario, pp. 65-71)- Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. La tejedora de suenos. Madrid, Ediciones A l f i l i 1952. (comentario, pp. 75-&7). Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. Las Meninas. I d i t o r Juan Rodriguez Castellano. New York, Charles Scriber's Sons, 1963. Corrigan Robert ¥. Tragedy: Vision and Form. Chandler Publishing Co., San Francisco, 1965. Diaz-Plaja, G. La voz iluminada. Barcelona, Instituto del Teatro, 1952. Fernandez-Santos, Angel. " E l enigma de "E l tragaluz"". E l primer acto, Wo. 90, November, I967, pp. Fernandez-Santos, Angel. "Una entrevista con Buero V a l l e j o " . E l primer acto, No. 90, November, 1967, pp. 7-15- - 78 - I l a r a z , F e l i x . G., ed. Buero: Las cartas "boca abajo. Englewood C l i f f s , New Jersey, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1967. [copyright 1958U Magana S c h e v i l l , Isabel, ed. Dos dramas de Buero V a l l e j o : Las palabras en l a arena; Aventura en l o g r i s . New York, Appleton-Century- Crofts, 1967. Mandel, Oscar. A D e f i n i t i o n of Tragedy. New York, University Press, 1961. Marquerie, Alfredo. Veinte afios de teatro en Espana. Madrid,^Editora Nacio- n a l , 1959. Michel, Laurence and Richard B. Sewall. Tragedy: Modern'Essays i n C r i t i c i s m . Englewood C l i f f s , New Jersey,.Prentice-Hall, I96U. Monleon, Jose, ed. E l mirlo bianco 10: Antonio Buero V a l l e j o . Madrid, Taurus Ediciones, I968. Perez Minik, Domingo. Teatro EuropeO cOritemporarieo. Madrid, E d i c i o - nes Guadarrama, 1961. Rodriguez, Miguel Luis. "Dialogo con Antonio Buero V a l l e j o . " Indiee, 116-117, Aug-Sept. 1968, pp. 21-22. Teatro espanol 19^9-50. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. "Historia de una escalera". Madrid, Aguilar, 1955, ( c r i t i c a s pp. 93-98). Teatro espanol 1950-51. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. "En l a ardiente oscuridad". Madrid, Aguilar, 1952, ( c r i t i c a s pp. 95-101). Teatro espanol 1951-52. Buero V a l l e j o , Antonio. "La tejedora de suenos". Madrid, Aguilar, 1953, ( c r i t i c a s pp. 28U-289). 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" El tragaluz". Madrid, Aguilar, 1969, ( c r i t i c a s pp. 153-l6o). Torrente B a l l e s t e r , Gonzalo. Panorama de l a l i t e r a t u r a espanola I. Madrid, Ediciones Guadarrama, 1961. Torrente B a l l e s t e r , Gonzalo. Teatro espanol contemporaneo. Madrid, Ediciones Guadarrama, 1957. Trakas, Pedro IT., ed. E l concierto de San Ovidio, Antonio Buero V a l l e j o . New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965. Valbuena Prat, Angel. H i s t o r i a del teatro espanol. Barcelona, Editora Noguer, S.A., 1956.

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