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Anticlericalism is a movement in history that opposed the excessive power and influence of the religious institutions on the public and political life, in its most extreme manifestation, this movement led to violent attacks against the clergy, seizure of the Church's property as well as vandalism of religious sites. Anticlericalism is often directed against the Catholic Church and its clergy and goes beyond advocating the mere absence of religious interference in matters government. The goal of the movement is to restrict religion to a strictly private activity. The movement has existed in one form or another in the history of the Christian Church. However, it was most prominent during the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. During the "Enlightenment" era, philosophers such as Voltaire leveled bitter attacks against the Catholic Church's moral corruption. This was a factor that contributed largely to the wholesome attacks that threatened the Church's very existence during the French Revolution. In Spain, anti-clericalism played an important role in the country's politics despite it being predominantly a Catholic state. In particular, Spain experienced this movement during the country's first Civil War from 1820 to 1823.
In the Catalunya riots, a total of 20 clergymen were killed by the liberal movement members in retaliation to the church siding with the absolutist supporters of the then ruler, Ferdinand vii. Following the First Carlist War in 1836, the new regime abolished some of the country's covenants and monasteries. Spain experienced most of the severe cases of anticlericalism during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. This period is termed as Spain's Red Terror with numerous assaults leveled against the Catholic supporters, its clergy and as an institution. It also resulted in numerous deaths and martyring of victims linked to the church. Spanish literatures during nineteenth and early twentieth century have been anticlerical to say the least. The authors were however seen as practicing a more level headed approach to fight the church's position despite their very right at passionate attacks This excerpt aims at analysis the anticlerical imagery that is to found in three of these which have been translated into English: Dona Perfecta, La Regenta, and Requiem por un Campesino
Summary of Dona Perfecta
Dona Perfecta by Galdos is a presentation of the problem of anticlericalism as it takes place in a small cathedral town. In the novel, Dona Perfecta is a symbol of tradition and faith. According to her, learning and science threatens to destroy the spirit's life. However, her betrayal and condemnations against her own daughter represents the ills that were being practiced by the church. On the other hand, Pepe Rey is a young engineer of liberal ideas. He comes to the town of Orbasajo with the anxious intention of marrying his cousin who is the daughter of Dona Perfecta. He as such, represents science as the form of enlightenment as well as a mature manner of dealing with ones enemies. These two points of view meet inevitably with deadly conflict. The town priest is a man of ironic humility and as expected sides with Dona Perfecta. The names of these two are also an ironic attribute by the author as they end up being the exact opposite of innocent and perfect. The entire town is personification of intolerance as perpetrated by the Catholic Church and views Pepe as a heretic for the views he holds. The church has lost its forgiving aspect and instead preaches revenge and judgment. Towards the end, the young man makes an attempt at eloping with his sweetheart. He ends up being murdered by a Carlist partisan. The girl he aimed at marrying is committed to an asylum as she is deemed as showing signs of instability. In the end the atmosphere of the town returns to its form cold and rift less gray a reflection of the picture of the church that is painted by the liberal minds such as Pepe.
Dona perfecta connects an authoritarian sexuality to the cult of Mary, the engulfing styles of motherhood that are found in Iberia, as well as the many difficulties that many priests experience with their code identity of gender. The book shows anticlerical counter discourse that is covered in a struggle to break identify not only from the mother but also from the religious beliefs of the mother. A clear pattern can be seen out of the autobiographies and the biographies of the anticlerical writers found in Spain in the nineteenth and twentieth century. We see the male child typically beginning his life under the wing and influence of the mother aunts, grandmother, female caretakers and the female folk in general. As such, the child absorbs their sentimental, fussy and almost superstitious beliefs that characterized the church in this period. Many of the boys in this culture were allowed and at times encouraged to play priest, which is, dressing up like the priests and even pretending to say mass. However, with the onset of puberty and the peer-bonding that occur with their male counterparts, friends and cousins, the previously little angle would come to learn to mock the feminine piety as well as to reject all activity that would be viewed as "sissy". Only when old age caught up with the man and the proximity of death was apparent would a man's man then consider returning to regularly participating in religious activities (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).
At times, the peer pressure to cement ones gender identity triggered an out-and-out rebellion against the boys' parents, teachers and any other authority figure in general. Many of the men that belonged to the Spanish bourgeoisie and born around 1840 to 1860 turned out to be anticlerical. They were rapidly anticlerical and unlike what we may think they were simultaneously extraordinarily talented and had a great deal of ability. It is significant also to note that many of the anticlerical had all gone to religious schools of great repute only to not relate to the education and the educators their. It is probable that in some cases the rage was rooted in some shame-inducing episode of physical molestation or punishment that had been hushed-up as the boys were growing up. It would seem at the very least that the vehemence portrayed by many of the anticlerical was an indirect measure of the staying power and strength of the negative religious messages and the regimes, familial, ecclesiastical and national, that were not only repressive but also allowed these messages to proliferate (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).
Female Spanish writers in the nineteenth century were generally disciplined if they as much made such attacks. This is not to be mistaken to mean that they were incapable of spotting religious dysfunction symptoms. On the other hand, Benito Perez Galdos (1843-1920) was the model male anticlerical writer of the nineteenth century and early the next century even though he was still catholic. He may have adopted certain elements of realist style but he belonged to both a political persuasion and gender identity formation whose main aim was to deconstruct the Spanish ultra-Catholism. At the same time it was being reconstructed by mystics such as Monsignor Claret amongst other. Dona Perfecta written in 1876 became the writer's classic work of liberal anticlericalism. The novel presents a major expose of the rigid motherly and priestly personalities that were responsible for sustaining religious abuse in Spain (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).
Like in most anticlerical plays or novels, the plot of Dona Perfecta is that of a dysfunctional family drama. The writer intended for the reader to identify with Pepe (Jose' Rey), thirty four years of age, who is the ideal liberal martyr. He is well educated, is patriotic and a man of scientific orientation. His tragic "flaw" is his inability to be a liar and to refrain from criticizing what needs criticism regarding Orbajosa, an archetypal provincial town in Spain. This is presented in sharp contrast to the church in particular which is shrouded in secrets and plots to take out opposing views. Pepe commits his first big mistake under Don Inocencio's, the crafty priest's relentless goading which results in him launching into a devastating critique. This is particularly directed at the bad taste that is purportedly displayed at the local cathedral. In particular he concentrated on the garish baroque clothing that adorns the Christian icons such as the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus. The priest all along has been waiting for this faux pas (Mitchell and Mitchell 43).
The canon takes great pleasure in tearing apart Pepe's criticism. An element used by the author to show the church's intolerance. He first indicates that the image Pepe sees as being ridiculous according to his pantheistic philosophy is the town's "Our Lady of Succor, intercessor and patroness". He indicates that the inhabitants of Orbajosa would not hesitate to drag anyone who speaks ill of her down the streets. He further indicates that Dona Perfecta, Pepe's aunt, is the lady-in waiting to the Virgin Mary, the Holiest Virgin of Succor. In addition the purportedly grotesque dress won by the icon was in fact made in that very house with the trousers of the Child Jesus being sawn by the needle and the piety of his cousin Rosalito (Mitchell and Mitchell 44).
This is scene as Galdo's one economical scene where he manages to communicate the intimate connection that exist between the women who are earthly and supernatural, the young engineer's desire to distance himself from the maternal superstitions that are so sentimental and the readiness of the people of Orbajosa to protect their Protector even using violence when deemed necessary (Mitchell and Mitchell 45).
The novel's principal theme is the harm of good women when they internalize an omnipotent sense of the rights and duties of a mother. Galdos is quick to state that the maternal instinct is usually a good thing that gives allowance to a certain degree of exaggeration. However, a more striking phenomenon does take place in ones life. This is when the maternal affection exaltation does not coincide with the heart's absolute purity and the perfect honesty. In the process, it becomes possible for it to go astray and as such result in a lamentable frenzy that in turn contributes to great errors and catastrophes just as other unbridled passion does. The women characters in the story, the widow Dona Perfecta, Maria Remedios, former maid and Dona's friend, the priest's live-in housekeeper and niece, are used to further the picture of perverse of unwholesome consequences of the mothering styles adopted. The first victim of these women is Rosarito, Dona's daughter who is enamored to Pepe. In the concluding parts of the novel, Dona is quoted confiding to Remedios that she would rather any other evil befall her daughter even death than see her married to Pepe, her nephew. Remedios is seen to have in mind a less drastic solution but no less evil. Once the priest makes the presumption that Rosarito has already taken to the libidinous urges of Pepe, her cousin, Remedios is quick to suggest that the girl was still as "pure as an angle". She went further to state that the girl's infatuation with Pepe could easily be cured. She suggest that all it takes to bring Rosarito back in line is just a couple of swipes on the chops or she be given six good whacks (Mitchell and Mitchell 45).
The link that exists between rule-bound religiosity and personality distortion is abundant in the text. Galdos omniscient narrator in the story places Perfecta at the centre of it. He describes Perfecta as aged prematurely as a result of her bilious constitution which was combined with dealings that were in excess with devout persons as well as thing that were meant to exalt her imagination in a manner that was sterile. She as such did not look though she was. The text clams that she had managed to fashion an outer crust, a callous, a stony cover and likened her to a snail in its portable house, through her habits and way of life. This makes it almost impossible to think of what a loving Perfecta would be like. When she abhorred, it was likened to the vehemence of a guardian angle sent to counter discord among men. This is the effect that such a rigid character produces. In addition it lacked natural kindness by exaltation under religion where it is based in narrow formulas answerable only to ecclesiastical interest instead of being guided by the conscience and the truth that is revealed by simple principals such as beauty (Galdos 23).
Perfectionist rigidity has been identified by a liberal Spanish priest in present days as one of the way in which men and women can practice celibacy. David Shiparo points out based on his profession, psychiatry, that a defensive and rigid personality will most likely only resort to one thing in situations of crisis: stiffen further. As such Galdos displays his psychological astuteness when he portrays Perfecta with increased rigidity as well as messianic paranoia in the few last chapters of the book (Mitchell and Mitchell 56).
Dona perfecta offer a lot for people to learn in regard to the masochistic personality type that is associated with the ultra-Catholism of Spain. This is similar to the diagnosis made by Shapiro on his patients. He finds not acquiescence or resignation but a dignified refusal focused on forgetting humiliations in the past and in indeed to nurse or even exaggerate them so as to ultimately achieve at the very least a victory of morality. This same determination to neither forgive nor forget ever is exactly like the one that the clergymen who counsel Dona Perfecta possess and which most notably is against the bible's teachings (Galdos 25).
The Liberal Spanish state had succeeded in dis-entailing the Church's immense property as well as implementing limitations on the religious community numbers by 1876. The final outbreaks of the violence on the Carlist hinterlands, Catalunya and Aragon, which were inspired by the clergy, had been experienced in the early 1870s. As such, many of the priests were now sincerely feeling that they were now being victimized as well as humiliated by the liberal state of Spain. This was the case even in the façade of the conservative pseudo-parliament as it froze into after the First Republic failed, 1873. Accordingly, in Dona Perfecta, we are presented with the portrait of Orbajosa's cathedral dean, an old man who is suffering from an eating disorder whose world was turned upside down by Mendizabal's liberal reform years earlier. The dean only discussed only matters that revolved around religion and from the onset manifested a disdain for Pepe Rey that was most thorough. Don Inocencio is however the priest with a chip on his shoulder. He is a secular clergy member, presbyter and confessor of the high school and in addition is the local high school rhetoric and Latin teacher. He constantly takes offence with the newcomer who come from Madrid and find fault with the socioeconomic backwardness Orbajosa. He has a defensive pride which is matched by his sense of inferiority to Pepe's modern scientific learning. This is more so displayed when the young engineer embarks on an eloquent rehash of the critiques of superstition by the eighteenth-century rationalists. In response, the priest shows exaggerated self-depreciation, acknowledging in an unflinching manner his vulnerability to humiliation by praising the young university graduate on his intellectual gifts (Galdos 27).
It comes out clearly that this reaction is a simple maneuvering to outflank the young engines the same kind as is described by Shapiro. In specific terms, this is a picture of an individual who instead of surrendering concedes territory on his own terms in essence so as not to have to surrender. Trauma-induced shame is regarded as a major factor in the psychogenesis of deployed persons according to Rena Moses-Hrushovski, an Israeli psychiatrist. The "deployed persons" constantly demonstrate on how they have been wrong and further protest against it after years of being victims of suffering and humiliation. The Church men of Spain displayed prevalently such personality traits (Mitchell and Mitchell 46).
According to Callagan, by the 1870s the energy of the ecclesiastic were no longer directed towards reforming the Church from the within but were now more focused on blaming a variety of external forces for their attempt to de-catholicize Spain. The main concerns at the time included the liberal state's sale of property belonging to the Church, the politicians did not care for the Church's theocratic admonitions and the country's intellectuals were advocating cultural innovation, the picture that Galdos paints of this period is both historically and psychologically accurate. The central government for the most part victimized priests and monks who in turn took refuge in regionalism. This was both as a defensive and a bulwark position. The local pride in the country is very different from the boosting that is displayed by the Americans. Rather in Spanish nineteenth century this pride was inseparable from religious dysfunction, Carlism, clerical paranoia, agrarian backwardness as well as civil insurrection. Pepe belittles the town of Orbajosa by describing it to his aunt as having no more than garlic fields and a bunch of bandits. He claimed that those who rose up to seek adventure after every five or four year in the name of some political or religious idea could go by no other name other than bandits (Galdos 31).
A landholding plutocracy arose as a result of the disentailment; it soon realized however that to maintain power in the capital Madrid, then it had to control the small villages and towns that were scattered around the countryside. This is where most of the land was located. The Guardia Civil, 1844, and became much feared was created so as to protect the property rights of the new owners as well as to repress malcontents. The opening of Dona Perfecta shows a scene of renegade peasants as they are executed by the Civil Guards. Later on in the text, the central government sends a group of troops to the town of Orbajosa so as to squelch a Carlist-type uprising. The troops are under the command of Pepe's friends. In response to this, Perfecta stiffens and constructs a view of the situation that is perfectly millenarian and Manichaean. A strong chord of recognition is struck by the way Don Inocencio is portrayed in his incitation of the brutish local lads to rebel against the troops while in public he pays lip service to peace. This has the effect of creating repulsion in a liberal reader (Galdos 32).
Perfecta used an Inquisition-style confinement by locking her daughter in her room after forbidding her from marrying Pepe following his insult of the sacred mother figure of the town. When Pepe manages to communicate with her, he is able to convince her that the nervous illness she is experiencing is as a result of the horrible violence she is experiencing from he pro-clerical mother. Rosarito is finally convinced that she is not ill rather is only intimated and to an extent fascinated. In Pepe's eyes, Rosarito symbolizes an angle of God who is under the hypnosis and control of her mother. In essence, this injustice, the unheard violence directed to her is what turns him rectitude into barbarism, his reasoning into force, his honesty into violence that can be compared to that of thieves and murderers. The text tells us that the Pepe experiences the mood in which even the most prudent man feels violent flames, blind and brutal forces within him that inclines him to strike, strangle, break skulls as well as crush bones. However, Pepe does not succumb to his righteous rage by adopting the dirty tactics of the mothers or the priest. In the end he ends up a victim of their machinations (Galdos 34).
Anticlericalism in Requiem por un Campesino Espanol
Requiem por un Campesino Espanol which translates into Requiem for a Spanish Peasant is a short novel by Ramon J. Sender in the category of twentieth-century literature from Spain which very famous. The text is basically the thoughts and memories of a Catholic parish priest, Mosen Millan. This takes place as he is sitting in a Church's vest in the unmade village in Aragonese. He is making preparations to conduct a requiem mass that is aimed at celebrating the life of Paco, a young peasant who had been murdered by the Nationalist army an year before this date. This had been in the Spanish Civil War outbreak. The priest's thoughts are occasionally interrupted by an altar boy who comes and goes about his business in the vestry. The boy is humming an anonymous balled to himself. Initially, the novel had been given the title of Mosen Millan but the title was changed by the author so as to shift the focus to the peasant protagonist and away from the priest (Sender and McDermott 24).
In the ballad the priest is, "the named one" with the clerical style and personal name indicating that he symbolizes a public mask of the institutional office private mask of egotistical individualism. The Christian name is derived from the medieval Castile patron saint whose intervention in a supernatural manner alongside Santiago which enabled the victory of the Christian military-aristocratic caste in Re-conquest. It however brings to mind the surname of General Millan Astray, a most sinister Franco's new Crusader. His war cry is said to epitomize the ethos of Fascist Spain. The ritual of "Mata judios" during the Holy Saturday ceremonies reminds one of the poignant memories to the exiled Diaspora about the church's part and collaboration in the dissent eradication and the creation of the vengeful sectarian violence climate in the country (Sender and McDermott 24).
The name Millan sums up the Catholic Church's historical continuity of its Imperial order and its alliance with the military and the aristocracy in order to establish and restore that order. This is symbolized by the greasy patch that is formed by the priests head on the sacristy wall over the period of a half a century as the priest seated in his chair mechanically reciting his daily office of the liturgical language, Latin, a dead language from a dead empire. To Sendor, the priest represents 'la inercua de la historia y el peso de aquella inercia' (Sender and McDermott 24).
The author perceives the priest as being symbolic of how the church reacts to tough and problematic historical goings the priest retreat back into private payer in his private house refuge. His house is termed 'abadia' bringing into mind the former dependence on the foundation of the medieval monastery whose active mission aimed at assisting the poor is in decline. The priest is as such trapped seemingly like a grasshopper; his silent agony is witnessed through his window. This is seen through the persona of the church, a historical institution that had sought earthly power by preferring the hypocrite, and the rich who were the mask of caring for the eternal soul of parishioners while taking care of his temporal body. He is portrayed as lacking in action. He puts the sacrament on permanent exposition in the Holy Church while on the other hand the Falangists litter unburied bodies in the countryside. He would then protest hat the dead are denied the opportunity of having a last confession. The priest is only concerned with saving his own skin which results in him betraying and losing the real presence of Christ's body that he is unable to see in the people like Paco (Sender and McDermott 24).
The author is keen to portray the priest's conscious concern for eternal salvation in another-worldly manner proclaims the gospel according to St John which states that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. He however limits the great commandment of charity to God's love. This portrays a lack of understanding the message of St. Matthew. This is introduced to the writer as an ironic inter-text where the priest self-references as belonging to the biblical age when the salt is said to lose its flavor. The beginning of the Kingdom of God in the world is in living your neighbor as yourself and ministering the hard work of mercy to brethrens who are of the least importance. The priest fails in his crucial test in the cave episode as he makes perfunctory performance of the victims' lasts rite and is in haste to leave. He is evasive in his replies to the questions of Paco's, only a child, regarding responsibility and poverty. In the process he propagates a fatalistic resignation to the way of God's work and the acceptance of suffering and poverty. He refuses Paco to seek aid in his name which is the practical thing to do (Sender and McDermott 25).
Millan does not recognize the error of his judgment in his conduct to introduce Paco to the caves even as he recognizes the significance of the boy's action experiences. He accuses Paco of deceiving himself by having visions of a village that is not under Civil Guard as well as without poor people who live in caves when he confronts him on behalf of the Civil Guard regarding the rifles Paco has removed. On confronting Paco this time on behalf of the Duke's estate-manage on matters regarding the rent-strike, he urges that Paco uses restraint and caution instead of hot-blooded action. However when it comes to the non-payment of Mass fee by the municipal he puts up a spirited argument throwing his lot definitively along with the oligarchy as this threatens his livelihood. The priest remains rooted in his post even as the oligarchy depart in a spirit Christian martyrdom. However, his fortitude is not put under the test even as the village comes under a new order. Paco laughs at this claiming it unjustified fear. Under the former old order, the priest desires to restore his integrity and loyalty as a man. He attempts to seek out Paco's secret hideout and court an interrogation. However, he fails miserably when he backs down on the first threat from a Falangist pistol. He is well aware that the life of a human being lies on whether he replies or not. He however bows his head on submission rationalizing his action as being a divine dimension of some form of eternal salvation and that because of his love for God, he cannot lie (Sender and McDermott 25).
The human nature of the clergy is portrayed as having an animal sense of submission stemming from an animal instinct of self-preservation and fear. The proests body is material with his memory dwelling on the feast during Paco's wedding and baptism. The text portrayed the priest hood as a meal ticket that gives the priest a way out of the trap of poverty. After the christening of Pacom and incident occurs that divides the priest and the midwife, an opposition between the earth mother and the Heavenly Father, between the collective matriarchal pagan unconsciousness in the private and the collective patriarchal Christian consciousness in public life. This also highlights the opposition between the ecclesiastical culture related to death and the folk culture related to life. The ministry is portrayed as the minister of death and Jeronima as the fairy godmother of life (Sender and McDermott 25).
At the wedding, the priest portrays the church as a fount of eternal and temporal life. But in reality, the church is seen as a patriarchal institution that is presided over by the solitary man dressed in all black. The text also is portrays the village church as having shadows an unnatural sounds particularly during the Holy week when it is Christ's monumental tomb. It states that this is counterbalanced by the collective feminine voices and the natural light in the public communal space of old wives (Sender and McDermott 26).
Paco is used to represent the people of Spain as they were peasants. He is a literary counter myth of the Falangist leader, Antonio. He is indicative of affection and familiarity in the small world that exists in this closed world. Paco as the leader of community wishes to create a new era that is guided by enlightenment that is both rational and economic and is in harmony with nature. He refuses the priest advice as a child by wanting to follow his father's footsteps to become a farmer instead of a soldier or a priest (Sender and McDermott 27).
He portrays considerable moral education even as a child as witnessed in his questioning of the priest with regard to poverty in their rounds to the caves. The child and not the priest is able to make a mental equation between Christ suffering on the cross and the feet of the men dying in the caves. He then sets out to mobilize charitable actions so as to help the poor using the priest's name. The priest refuses him and thus Paco resorts to seek social reforms outside of the church. The text portrays him as transforming to serve man from Goa in the caves which leads him to a life of revolutionary humanistic ethic (Sender and McDermott 32).
Anticlericalism in La regenta
In Dona Perfecta, the society portrayed is still up for grabs compared to Rosarito, it is still liable to fall of the edge into madness in this case civil war the Alphonsine Restoration had however managed to prove itself by the next decade. This is was able to do by being a loyal subordinate to capitalism. The mining and railroad interests were now under the control of foreigners. The Andalusia agrarian bourgeoisie, which is supported by the financial and mercantile communities is also tolerated by the military and is administered by a legion of loyal bureaucrats in Madrid. The Church hierarchy under the persuasion of the conservative liberals has abandoned the pipedreams of the Carlists. In addition, the country has stabilized into a mostly cooperative and peaceful buy mostly corrupt relations socially. The Spanish conservative liberals now realized that he Church the best protection against the restless unionists, university professors and journalists which was on the increase. The bourgeoisie which include many families whose ancestor had been at the forefront of buying the disentailed Church's proper at merge prices were now at the forefront, eagerly participating in the resurgence of new-Catholic in all spheres of life (Mitchell and Mitchell 47).
This movement had a strong presence on provincial Spain. This is the world that is portrayed in a very accurate manner by Leopoldo also known as Clarin (1852-1901). This writer is regarded as the most penetrating observer of the behavior and misbehavior of the clergy in his time. The two volumes of La Reganta are regarded as his master piece. They are set in the fictional name of Oviedo, the capital of Asturias province in northern Spain, "Vestusta". Compared to Galdos, Clarin is not as tendentious with perceived critics hailing La Regenta for its Cervantes-like sociological acumen and ideological neutrality. Clarin's perspective is more distanced which enables the author to engage in an examination of the role that religious dysfunctions played in the lives of the Spaniards that is more thorough. In the process, he is able to give the reader a psychological peak into celibate sexuality for the first time (Mitchell and Mitchell 47).
La Reganta's first characters are the altar-boys who are also victims of abuse. One of them Bismarck, a substitute bell-ringer, is described as having become accustomed to being kicked and slappers for no apparent reason. As such, he develops a concept of authority, of someone who is important in the world, as being nothing else than having the power to kick and slap at will. More disturbing is his companions' fledgling deviant personality. The text describes Celeonio, a twelve/thirteen year old, as having already developed the ability to adjust his facial muscle according to liturgical requirements. His eyes were large and dirty- brown and he would them in an affectation manner when performing ecclesiastical functions imitating the beatas and the priest he knew and associated with. He was not aware that he gave the people of cloth a cynical and lubricious look easily comparable to the way a prostitute does to announce her commerce with the look of her eyes. It is easy to make a prediction that in future, these kids would display perversion of the natural instincts that have already been provoker by the distorted education's aberrations. Clarin portrays what is similar to the poisonous pedagogy of Alice Miller (Wayne 12).
Don Fermin de Pas embodies the higher clergy's formidable power. He holds many titles, theologian, an eloquent preacher, a holder the cathedral's hierarchy most coveted offices and is the bishop's right-hand man. He is often referred to as "el senor Provisor" and "El Magistral" in the novel. Don Fermin has realized that knowledge is power well ahead of Fourcault. This knowledge he obtains from the confession. He had the knowledge of the city's consciences, a part the general public was not aware of. He had information on all the town's important houses and the souls of everyone he deemed important to him. The priest had over time all the chief believers in the pious city attending his confessionals from the most astute town member, the secular to the religious. By connecting the dots in the confessions, he was able to draw a spiritual of the town's noble. The Magistral is likened to meteorologist in that he could have been able to predict stormy events in the town, scandals, family dramas and even love affairs. To other people they only saw neutrality and perhaps a lack of understanding in the priest. This is a remarkable foreshadowing of the modern expert on our family-systems. On his part however, Don Fermin has no intention whatsoever to share his insights with the involved parties nor has he any intention of freeing them from religious ties (Mitchell and Mitchell 50).
The high clergy during this time just like in the Golden age is charged with disciplining the clergy in the lower levels. The Magistral is in charge of disciplining the priests who use the confessionals for the purpose of soliciting for sex. The author's sociological acumen is prominent in the scene where Don Fermin directs his erudition ar the parish priest who is accused of using the confessional to take advantage of the local virgins of an isolated mountain village. Fermin, who is Jesuit-educated quotes ecclesiastical precedents to the priest, soon tires of them and throw the clergyman out. In the whole process he was only paying lip-service to severe punishment fro the sex-offender as he knew he would find a way in which to mitigate the canon-law mandated punishment (Gold 36).
Just like Dona Perfecta, Dona Paula has a bold on her off-springs that is likened to a return on suffering and hard labor stretching a life time. She had managed to confirm that the celibacy vow was imperfect long be the birth of her son s a young priest though considered saintly and chaste had tried to rape her. She was able to resist him, but now had a hold on the man by blackmailing him. Later she is able to get work as a head housekeeper of the parish priest who later becomes the bishop of the town. He also becomes Dona's son patron. The lesson that comes out clearly is the power that the mothers, both terrestrial and supernatural, have over every great Spanish clergy. Women are portrayed as having the power to transform even the most mild-mannered clergymen into satyrs. Dona Paula arranges for her son's household comely rural maids as a precaution. One of them is Teresina who is obligated at discretely relieving the libido of the priest with acts that are unspecified. This is especially true when the priest is tempted by Ana Ozores, his penitent, who is already marries and a sincere and innocent Catholic (Mitchell and Mitchell 51).
The ecclesiastical career of Don Fermin was characterized by an archetypal pattern. His father had been absent and his mother although distant had been hyper protective, sacrificing all for the son while demanding nothing less in return. He underwent seminary training under the Jesuits. In addition he had also embraced the ambitious functions of a clergyman instead of the true self. He had taken on the papal infallibility as well as other authoritarian dogmas. This is a punitive and demanding superego. All this describes the man before he befriended the woman. The affair makes him let go of his former mala-papal defenses, the legacy of hermit saints who were tortured and their underlying paranoid/schizoid position. However, it also liberates new mental territory in him for ego growth. Fermin inhibits some of the associations of thought (providence/theology) deliberately as well as confronts some of the shameful aspect of his education. This is intentional so as to transcend any shame he might harbor. He moves beyond denying the negative consequences that the sexual/celibate system has as well as the addictive process that are ridden with guilt that it encourages. In this case he has in the past been engaged in degraded as well as degrading forms of sex that are performed in disavowal. The relationship with Ana started out in a natural manner as he was her spiritual director, confessor as well as friend. This is termed natural as it is how men who choose to join the priesthood end up meeting women. The woman, Ana had no chance of knowing that beneath the priest's elegant manners as well as imposing intellect there lay an inhibited adolescent. That he was still chained to the imago of the mother with her presence in the priest's life triggering a belated developmental process much needed (Wayne 17).
Current psychotherapeutic practice paint an emotional evolution of priests in the exact manner as Clarin does in the text. This is a typical priest as he falls in love. New personalities emerge in the priest which no longer demands the priesthood status to justify why he is alive. He is able to live as a person and not as he formally did, as a function o fulfill God's work. According to common psychology, when this occurs then it results in either the complete abandonment of priesthood or it more commonly does, it results in the living of a double life, a combination of priesthood and sexual escapades that are kept a secret (Wayne 26).
Fermin is especially fond of directing the girls' catechism classes that are frequently held at a local Church. One day he is utterly delighted to see an attractive fifteen year old reciting a verse in the sauciest manner, taking pride in his catechumen cal labors. The girl symbolizes the blind obedience of women, their sentimental fanaticism and an initiation into eternal idolatry. Psychologists say that priest who started orders like Daughter of Mary knew that they could always count on the piety and enthusiasm of adolescent girls. The liberals in Vestuta are angered by the ability of Frernin to fascinate the town's young women. Ana does everything her master bids even marching barefoot in the procession during Holy Week. In fact, the Magistral manages to put himself in a position and the one true master over several ultra-catholic families in the town who are also very wealthy and is able to control both their charity and their daughters' lives. The Carraspique family embodies this, they hand over to the pries their finances, trivial and big decisions as well their relationships as a result of their religious addiction. In addition to contributing to any philanthropic cause that is suggested by the priest, their daughters have decided to become nuns, supposedly out of their own will. This is contrary to reality as they have not been exposed to another life since they were kids and the only contact they have are with the family and the priest with would be boyfriends turned away from their home. One of the daughters, Rosarito joins the Salesian covenant and the unfortunately dies because of the unhygienic conditions of the accommodation. The priest was aware of the conditions in the covenant but had delayed to order its closure so as to avoid the Church getting bad publicity (Mitchell and Mitchell 53).
On the Carrasspique daughter's death, the towns liberal are outraged publishing a scathing piece on the local Newspaper's obituary. They then compared the pries to a rodent that had been allowed to penetrate the town's homes bosoms to undermine the tranquility of people's minds and the piece of the families through his influence. The text portrays the public opinion of the priest negatively stating that they would often label him a vampire who was sucking their daughters' blood with the blood being the tribute they paid for their fanaticism. The text managed to lay out in the open a major fantasy that underlies the connection between religious abuses of a specific kind and the anticlerical journalists' righteous rage. Perversion equals viscosity is the metaphor used to describe the sex abuse by the clergy. The reader gets to feels the last repugnant sensations as well as the spiritual devastation through the portrayed Ana character. The woman who is innocent and hysteric only realizes the clergy's love for her when the book has progressed almost to the end. Ana was devastated when she realized the passions, love, anger and jealousy that the clergyman has for her as opposed to the ideal and brotherly love of the soul she had imagined earlier. This makes her remember her father's and his liberal friend s statement regarding the clergy. They claimed that the clergies'' conscience was corrupt like everyone else and that their ecclesiastical celibacy was nothing but a sham. The events made their statements clear in her mind (Mitchell and Mitchell 54).
The clerical lore has over time lied dormant in Spain until it is elicited by a cleric. Ana displays' a reaction similar to that witnessed by the American Catholic s who are victimized by their Churches pastors. In response she experiences an absolute halt in her spiritual development. In a later chapter she is seduced and abandoned by the killer of her husband in a duel of honor, Alvaro. She makes an attempt to return to Fermin's confessional but is uncharitably rejected by the clergyman who is spurned. The priest is angry that he approaches her in a manner to suggest violence resulting in her fainting from fear. Fermin flees from the scene. At this point, the Young Celedonio, sexually ambiguous, finds her on her own in the dark cathedral. The young altar boy is overcome with desire; this is stated as a pervasion of his perverted lust. He ends up kissing the Regeant on her lips perhaps to enjoy a new and strange pleasure or at least to have a taste and see if he would like it. This picture is highly anticlerical as she is pictures as an innocent damsel who is all alone, inert and helpless on the cold marble floor of a holy place, the cathedral and ends up being degraded by those who are supposed to be the representatives of the religion that claims to be the true one. On awakening the Regenta perceives as if a toad had been sitting on her face (Wynne 54).
In the end, the maturational process that Fermin was experienced was sabotage from without and from within. I in the final chapters he is seen to regress to his former habitual defensive style. This is what is observable in most flesh and blood priests who have experienced unconscious conflicts that eventually solidify into rigid schematics that resist new models of working or level of consciousness that are greater. The writer then denies the reader insight into Fermin's thoughts; Clarin conveys the priest's brittle shell of his function, el Magistral, his isolation, self-awareness and ego-depleting retreat. The text as such ends in as much tragic for both Ana and Fermin. However, the priest continues to enjoy the complicity and protection of the Church. Ana on her part is left although late with the knowledge that a confessor and spiritual director does not have the ability to guide one beyond their own level of development psychologically. The book was met with assailants from certain sections of the Spanish society. This was to a large extent because of the denial of this society to the mind control perpetrated by the ecclesiastical and also the pitfalls that come with practicing celibate sexuality. In the end Clarin was greatly upset by the hostility leveled to his work that he resulted to avoiding the intransigents that antagonized the Church for the remainder of his career (Wynne 55).