From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
4.1 (1984): 35-51.
Copyright © 1984, The Cervantes Society of America
ERVANTES' NOVELLA El celoso extremeño might be described as a tale of sexual hostility and remorse in which no sexual act is accomplished. It also could be described as the story of an obsessive personality, of his perplexing motivation and overwhelming sense of guilt. However, this work which is so much about unconscious motivation has yet to be the subject of an extended psychoanalytic study. Perhaps the approach seems too obvious, and critics have feared the ridicule of putting the all-too-neurotic Carrizales on the couch. But it is a misperception that a psychoanalytic approach must be directed toward translating characterization into symptoms, or toward detecting the neurotic author behind his literary fantasies. I am not proposing that we treat Carrizales as an uncannily modern case history, or use the story to construct a psychological portrait of Cervantes, but rather that the insights of psychoanalysis be used to explore Cervantes' perception of the way guilt is generated in fantasy, evaded, and finally atoned for from within. I have not, in fact, used the word jealousy in my title, because I do not believe that the story is primarily about Carrizales' characteristic neurosis, but rather about the costs of his defenses and the difficulty of his struggle to achieve a degree of freedom from them.1
F. Lambert gives an excellent review of the ideological polemic which has
characterized criticism on El celoso extremeño over the years
(The Two Versions of Cervantes' El celoso
extremeño, BHS, 57 , 219-31).
[p. 36] Lambert eloquently argues that moral
intentionalism cannot take into consideration the variety of tones and the
complexity of Cervantes' approach to conflicting moral codes: Cervantes
is letting go of the reader's hand to push him into a world where unproblematic
readings do not work and ready-made moral schemes are not entirely
adequate (p. 230). I would add that a concern with the author's
placement of blame, which preoccupies so much of the criticism, is inappropriate
because Cervantes is concerned not with assigning blame, but with exploring
Although there is no extensive psychoanalytic criticism on the story, two studies should be mentioned forthwith. Ruth El Saffar's chapter in Novel to Romance: A Study of Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1974) is indispensable, and I am in agreement with her description of Carrizales' solipsism and his eventual escape from it. Louis Combet's comments, dispersed throughout his book-length structural psychocriticism of Cervantes, lack contextual coherence and, I feel, are distorted because they are subordinated to Combet's larger thesis of Cervantes' overwhelming masochism (Cervantès ou les incertitudes du désir [Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1980]). I hope to show that the story represents an ego achievement of sorts a movement away from the defenses against guilt. For the new directions in contemporary psychoanalytic criticism, see Murray Schwartz, Shakespeare through Contemporary Psychoanalysis, in Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays, ed. Murray Schwartz and Coppelia Kahn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ, Press, 1980), pp. 21-32.
Like many of Cervantes' works, El celoso extremeño is hybrid in genre. It elaborates comic motifs of a diverse popular origin which coalesced in the Italianate cuckold's tale of adultery in a May-December marriage.2 But unlike the cuckold's tale, this one does not end with the triumphant celebration of the natural sexual love between the young lover and the young woman. The serious and pathetic ending grafted onto the comic tale is a bold experiment which not only alters expectations in regard to plot and character, but also allows for the exploration of psychic conflict along unfamiliar lines. Thus the novelty or originality of this novela ejemplar lies largely in the incongruity between a comic genre and its coded psychic assumptions.3
the sources, see Agustín Amezúa y Mayo, Cervantes, creador
de la novela corta española (Madrid: CSIC, 1958), II, 234-42;
Georges Cirot, Gloses sur les maris jalous de Cervantès,
El celoso extremeño et L'Histoire de Floire
et de Blanceflor and Encore les maris jaloux de
Cervantès, BH, 31(1929), 1-74, 138-43, 339-46; Dominic
Rotunda, More Light on an Old Motif in the Works of Cervantes,
MP, 48 (1950), 86-89; and Stanislav Zimic, Bandello y El
viejo celoso, Hispano No. 31 (1967), 29-41.
3 See Frederick Crews' observations on the significance of a fixed genre as a coded assurance that psychic activity will be patterned and resolved along familiar lines; the genre itself is a ready-made countercathected [p. 37] system. For this very reason, however, art that strives for originality is always restless within its formal borders and frequently generates new forms . . . (Anaesthetic Criticism, in Psychoanalysis and Literary Process, ed. Frederick Crews [Cambridge: Winthrop, 1970], pp. 20-21).
This is not the first cuckold's tale which ends with the death of the husband. In the Decameron II, 10 and in Streparola's Le Piacevoli Notti IV, 4, the dejected husbands die of grief. But it is clear that the tone of both stories is comic rather than pathetic. I would stress that Cervantes' originality lies not in a twist of plot, but in a shift in affect. As A. F. Lambert has observed, the poignancy of the ending of the story is brought about by The readers transformed perception of Carrizales, as much as by the transformation in Carrizales himself (p. 228, my emphasis).
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Theories on the psychological patterns of the
comic genre, such as those put forward by Ludwig Jekels and later developed
by Charles Mauron, have emphasized the fantasy of triumph in the Oedipal
situation. In the cuckold's tale, as in the Latin New Comedy and its modern
descendants, we find the repeated formula of the fair-haired boy who
fools the greybeard. According to Jekels and Mauron, the boy
represents a son who succeeds in stealing his mother away from the older
father-figure. But the real triumph lies in the way in which comedy defends
against guilt. Although both tragedy and comedy involve the Oedipal situation,
with its unconscious wishes of incest and parricide, in comedy the son's
own guilty wish to disturb the love of the parents is projected onto the
father, who is in turn infantilized and degraded. Thus the enjoyment of comedy,
and its freedom from the anguish of the tragic situation, depend upon maintaining
an affective distance from the degraded father-figure, who through manic
reversal, becomes weak and morally defective, rather than omnipotent and
just. The father becomes the ridiculous miser, hypochondriac, lecher, and
petty tyrant who deserves his humiliation at the hands of the more clever
or virtuous young man.4
In El celoso extremeño, however, the comic mania evaporates as the story draws to a climax. It is more than a backing away from the comic fantasy or a hasty re-erection of the incest barrier. It is rather a re-centering and intensification of affective focus on Carrizales, the ridiculous father-figure. The story becomes tragic not simply because of Carrizales' death, but also because our response to him is determined more and more by identification rather than projection.5
On the Psychology of Comedy, in Selected Papers of Ludwig
Jekels (New York: International Universities Press, 1952), pp. 97-104.
Mauron, Psychocritique du genre comique (Paris: Jose Corti, 1964).
5 The shift in affective focus is a topic which merits further study, for it constitutes a repeated experiment in Cervantes' fiction. The responses to [p. 38] a number of his characters cannot be circumscribed by the affective boundaries initially traced for them Don Quijote serves as a prime example. In El curioso impertinente the affective shift, which involves all three main characters, coincides with a clear-cut structural break. The reading of the story within the novel Don Quijote is interrupted midway, at the point where a comic cuckold's tale would have ended that is, with the successful deception of the foolish husband. The story is resumed later to reveal a tragic denouement.
Expressed in a different way, comedy attempts
to put the world right through defense mechanisms which keep
guilt at a distance. The reality and permanence of the injury are denied;
the strength of the opponent is minimized whereas the power of the hero is
exaggerated; the desires and deeds we do not wish to acknowledge as our own
are seen to belong to distorted others the hero's opponents.
Tragedy, like comedy, attempts to put the world right, but tragic
reparation involves the surrender of these defenses of denial, reversal,
and projection, and a receptivity to the experiences of loss and
What needs to be put right in the world of El celoso extremeño has to do with the incompatible marriage between the old man, Carrizales, and his young wife, Leonora. The comic solution, or manic reparation, requires an exaggerated portrayal of the power of the young would-be hero Loaysa (who is captivating and clever), and of the weakness of Carrizales (who is old, impotent and unbalanced); a projection of blame onto Carrizales as the obstacle to natural love; and a denial of the psychic pain and moral implications of adultery. Such a description is appropriate for El celoso extremeño until the point at which Carrizales discovers his wife sleeping in Loaysa's arms. At this point, with the shift from the affective distance of comedy to the pathetic involvement of tragedy, the pain of betrayal is vividly
formulation of comic and tragic reparation has been influenced by the theories
of Melanie Klein, who described the early stages of psychological development.
According to Klein, the desire to make reparation constitutes an important
phase of ego growth, which comes about with the first experiences of guilt.
Guilt arises when the young child recognizes the hostile element in his
ambivalent feelings toward his loved ones. When the feelings of guilt are
too painful to bear, an attempt is made to repair the harmed person without
acknowledgement of guilt this is manic reparation. See Klein's Love,
Guilt and Reparation and Other Works 1921-1945, International
Psycho-Analytical Library, No. 103 (London: Hogarth, 1975) and Hanna Segal's
Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein, enlarged ed., International
Psycho-Analytical Library, No. 91 (London: Hogarth, 1973), especially pp.
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portrayed. Carrizales comes to understand how his own ambivalent feelings
towards his wife have led to his betrayal, and initiates the process of
reparation in an attempt to recreate the destroyed love relationship. In
Cervantes' adaptation of the cuckold's tale, the greybeard Carrizales has
become the hero of failure7
that is the subject of identification rather than the object of
The affective shift is anticipated by the suggestiveness of Carrizales' past. The theme of his youth and early adulthood the conflict between keeping and giving, getting and spending provides clues for understanding his crisis of maturity. The young Carrizales is compared to the Prodigal Son a promiscuous, profligate wanderer. Having depleted his patrimony in his wanderings through Spain, Italy and Flanders, he seeks a second fortune in the New World. But this new wealth carries a tainted aura, for the Indies are the refuge of Spain's pariahs: . . . las Indias, refugio y amparo de los desesperados de España, iglesia de los alzados, salvoconducto de los homicidas, pala y cubierta de los jugadores a quien llaman ciertos los peritos en el arte, añagaza general de mujeres libres, engaño común de muchos y remedio particular de pocos (p. 99).8 From this particularly vehement description of the New World company Carrizales will be forced to keep, we can understand something of his uneasy association with money. lf his early behavior is a reflection of his need to distance himself from his family and other affectionate ties, the desire to acquire money is perceived to be illegitimate and fraught with danger. As Peter Dunn has observed, Carrizales' self-transformation from hidalgo to indiano, or New World entrepreneur, constitutes a class betrayal of his family.9 But his exploitation of American wealth can also be read as an assault on a treacherous
Ayala writes, A su protagonista [Carrizales] se lo ha calificado de
anti-héroe, no sé si con entera razón; yo diría
más bien que es un héroe moderno, héroe del fracaso
. . . (Cervantes y Quevedo [Barcelona: Seix Barral,
1974], p. 133). I believe Ayala is saying that Carrizales is a character
with whom we are led to identify, in spite of his failures and defects.
8 All references to El celoso extremeño are from the edition of Harry Sieber, Novelas ejemplares (Madrid: Cátedra, 1980), vol. II.
9 Peter Dunn comments on the sociological aspect of Carrizales' rejection of his parents: El hidalgo nacido de padres nobles se despoja de todas las señales concretas de su noble herencia, y se rehace en la imagen de un indiano, vale decir, de un empresario burgués (Las Novelas ejemplares, in Suma cervantina, ed. J. B. Avalle-Arce and E. C. Riley [London: Támesis, 1973], p. 99). Dunn goes on to remark that unlike the original Prodigal Son, [p. 40] Carrizales returns home only when his own family is dead (p. 99). Américo Castro observes that the 1606 Porras de la Cámara manuscript version reads, Viéndose, pues libre de padres, y falto de dinero . . . whereas the printed version of 1613 omits 1ibre de padres. Castro surmises, ¿Cómo iba a decirse en una obra ejemplar que el morirse los padres significaba una liberación? (El celoso extremeño de Cervantes, in Hacia Cervantes, 3rd ed. [Madrid: Taurus, 1967], p. 425). The point is that Carrizales' sojourn in the New World arises from psychological as well as economic necessity.
New Mother. The New World offers refuge and
asylum only for those who can exploit her and escape.
The nature of Carrizales' unconscious guilt is thus revealed through his persistent and conflicting needs to dissociate himself from family ties and family wealth, and to replenish his depleted sense of self with tainted or robbed wealth. We can also see why there is no return of the Prodigal no scene of reconciliation. In fact, Carrizales' reformation his resolution to take better care of his wealth, and to proceed with greater caution than heretofore in his dealings with women appears to be associated with his continued fear of intimacy. Ironically, the death of his family allows him to substitute hoarding for his equally compulsive profligacy: . . . sacó sus partidas sin zozobras; buscó amigos; hallólos todos muertos; quiso partirse a su tierra, aunque ya había tenido nuevas que ningún pariente le había dejado la muerte (p. 101).
It is not surprising that although he has replenished his financial resources in the New World, Carrizales nevertheless feels spent and vulnerable to importunities and theft:
. . . quisiera pasarla [vida] en su tierra y dar en ella su hacienda a tributo, pasando en ella los años de su vejez en quietud y sosiego, dando a Dios lo que podía, pues había dado al mundo más de lo que debía. Por otra parte, consideraba que la estrecheza de su patria era mucha y la gente muy pobre, y que el irse a vivir a ella era ponerse por blanco de todas las importunidades que los pobres suelen dar al rico que tienen por vecino, y más cuando no hay otro en el lugar a quien acudir con sus miserias (p. 102).10
Unable to make restoration to his deceased parents, and unwilling to share with the poor of his native region, he finds no escape from his retentive anxiety. He is like someone who cannot digest what he has
expression dando a Dios lo que podía conveys Carrizales'
lukewarm response to his eleemosynary obligations. Also, the fact that he
is expressly reluctant to return to his native region suggests that its poor
are parental surrogates. There is a triple rejection padres,
patrimonio, and patria.
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eaten the gold bars kept uninvested are unfruitful (cosa infructuosa) and bait for thieves (from cebar to fatten). Marriage promises the hope of processing this wealth; by producing an heir, he can leave behind (dejar) without giving up (dar). But the failure of this solution is foreshadowed by the word which describes both wealth and marriage carga means not only responsibility and obligation, but also burden, weight, and anxiety. This is Carrizales' dilemma he needs possessions in order to vouchsafe his identity (to replenish his depleted sense of vitality), but the greater the burden of possessions, the greater his fear of disintegration:
Quisiera tener a quien dejar sus bienes después de sus días, y con este deseo tomaba el pulso a su fortaleza, y parecíale que aún podía llevar la carga del matrimonio; y en viniéndole este pensamiento, le sobresaltaba un tan gran miedo, que así se le desbarataba y deshacía como hace a la niebla el viento; porque de su natural condición era el más celoso hombre del mundo, aun sin estar casado, pues con sólo la imaginación de serlo le comenzaban a ofender los celos, a fatigar las sospechas y a sobresaltar las imaginaciones, y esto con tanta eficacia y vehemencia, que de todo en todo propuso de no casarse (p. 102).
The specter of an envious rival is simultaneous in Carrizales' mind with the very idea of marriage. Cervantes here gives us a portrait of what Freud was later to call delusional jealousy, which he considered to be among the classic forms of paranoia. Although Freud and Jones originally saw this paranoid jealousy as arising from Oedipal conflicts, later psychoanalysts have interpreted jealousy itself as a mechanism of defense against much more primitive sources of anxiety and aggression. As Otto Fenichel wrote, The fear of loss of love is strongest precisely in those people to whom loss of love is the worst that can befall them to whom it means not only a sexual frustration, but also a severe impairment of their self-regard and under certain circumstances a dissolution of the ego.11 Joan Riviere interpreted her patients' delusional jealousy in terms of the fear of
Contribution to the Psychology of Jealousy, in Collected Papers
of Otto Fenichel (New York: Norton, 1953), I, 350. For Freud's and Jones's
formulations, see Some Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia and
Homosexuality (1922), in The Standard Edition of the Complete
Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. and trans. James Strachey et
al. (London: Hogarth, 1955), XVIII, 221-32, and Ernest Jones,
Jealousy, in Papers on Psycho-Analysis, 5th ed. (1948;
rpt. Boston: Beacon, 1967), pp. 325-40.
retribution for their own aggressive impulses to rob and despoil the person
who represented their most important emotional investment. Melanie Klein
also perceived the close connection between what is manifested as jealousy
and envy and greed. Envy and greed are characteristic of the ego configuration
in which experience and relations are split into extremes of good and bad.
Envy arises when the good aspects of relations are felt to be withheld, thus
provoking in the subject the desire to deplete, rob or destroy the unattainable.
Envy fused with greed leaves the subject feeling depleted and vulnerable
to attack; consequently, a characteristic defense is the projection
of these destructive desires onto
another.12 The intense association of Carrizales'
jealousy with his anxiety over sharing his possessions with a wife or heir,
as well as his perception of his wife as a possession (carga), suggest
to me that his paranoia arises from the projection of his envy and greed
onto a non-existent rival. In other words, his jealousy is not
primarily a triangular situation involving rivalry with
a man over a woman, but rather a dual situation an expression
of a much more fundamental conflict that arises out of coincident loving
and hating in a sphere of which Carrizales is unaware.
Once Carrizales does decide on marriage, his choice of wife and his actions toward her and her family show that he is, in Eric Erickson's words, unable to master the problem of how to give without taking (Childhood and Society, 2nd ed. [New York, Norton, 1963], p. 52). Carrizales takes Leonora not only because her extreme youth assures him of her virginity, but also because her poverty allows him to usurp her parents' role and make the entire family into economic dependents. A compulsive generosity (a repetition of the prodigality of his youth and the liberality of his military career) masks his greedy acquisition of the family. When Carrizales forbids a tailor to take his fiancee's measurements, the number and costliness of the dresses he orders divert attention from his bizarre behavior to his role as the family's economic savior:
Y la primera muestra que dio de su condición celosa fue no querer que sastre alguno tomase la medida a su esposa de los muchos
Riviere's seminal article, see Jealousy as a Mechanism of Defence,
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 13 (1932), 414-24. For Klein's
theories on jealousy and envy see Envy and Gratitude (1957) in
Envy and Gratitude and Other Works 1946-63, International
Psycho-Analytical Library No. 104 (London: Hogarth, 1975), pp. 176-235.
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vestidos que pensaba hacerle, y así, anduvo mirando cuál otra mujer tendría, poco más o menos, el talle y cuerpo de Leonora, y halló una pobre, a cuya medida hizo hacer una ropa, y probándosela su esposa halló que le venía bien, y por aquella medida hizo los demás vestidos, que fueron tantos y tan ricos, que los padres de la desposada tuvieron por más dichosos en haber acertado con tan buen yerno, para remedio suyo y de su hija (p. 103).
Carrizales thus projects his desire to incorporate Leonora (to measure, clothe and surround her) onto the tailor, then reactively overwhelms her with presents. Carrizales' need to appease the parents for what is taken from them is insisted upon. Indeed, there is reason for the appeasement, for they give every sign of being aware of Carrizales' pathological condition: . . . que se la entregaron no con pocas lágrimas, porque les pareció que la llevaban a la sepultura (p. 104). He continues, after the marriage, to placate them and to fear that they will take back what he has taken from them:
Los días que iba a misa, que, como está dicho, era entre dos luces, venían sus padres, y en la iglesia hablaban a su hija, delante de su marido, el cual les daba tantas dádivas que, aunque tenían lástima a su hija por la estrecheza en que vivía, la templaban con las muchas dádivas que Carrizales, su liberal yerno, les daba (p. 105).
In his relationship with these surrogate parents, we can see Carrizales
attempting to adjudicate his conflictive needs of possession and restoration.
Indeed, his activities reflect the essential features of manic reparation
the attempt to atone for hostile acts, while defending against the
pain and guilt they cause. Carrizales defends against his unadmitted hostility
toward Leonora by making reparation to figures of secondary importance her
parents. By alleviating their poverty, for which he is not responsible, he
can ignore the implications of his treatment of their
In his relationship with his wife, Carrizales develops a different but equally manic reparative strategy he re-creates in himself an omnipotent all-nurturing parent. His house, a stomach-womb populated with the offspring of his self-impregnation, is an oral paradise.
described by Hanna Segal: . . . manic reparation is never
done in relation to primary objects or internal objects, but always, in relation
to more remote objects; secondly, the object in relation to which reparation
is done must never be experienced as having been damaged by oneself; thirdly,
the object must be felt as inferior, dependent and, at depth, contemptible
(pp. 95- 96).
His wife and her maids are encouraged to become golosas, while he enjoys como pudo los frutos del matrimonio. It is clear that for Carrizales, the fruits of marriage are not sexual intercourse but the vicarious oral pleasures evoked in the passage:
Hecha esta prevención y recogido el buen extremeño en su casa, comenzó a gozar como pudo los frutos del matrimonio, los cuales a Leonora, como no tenía experiencia de otros, ni eran gustosos ni desabridos; y así, pasaba el tiempo con su dueña, doncellas y esclavas, y ellas, por pasarle mejor, dieron en ser golosas, y pocos días se pasaban sin hacer mil cosas a quien la miel y el azúcar hacen sabrosas. Sobrábales para esto en grande abundancia lo que había menester, y no menos sobraba en su amo la voluntad de dárselo, pareciéndole que con ello las tenía entretenidas y ocupadas, sin tener lugar donde ponerse a pensar en su encerramiento (p. 105).
By encouraging the infantile, oral behavior of his wife and her numerous
servants, Carrizales treats them as the good possessions he needs in order
to feel safe and full. His specially adapted house, with its boarded up windows,
its enclosed stable, and its self-sufficient supplies of water and food becomes
an undifferentiated body cavity which denies the need for elimination. In
short, this aspect of Carrizales' manic reparative strategy consists of
becoming the depleted parent, then replenishing himself.
We have seen that the idea of a rival is simultaneous in Carrizales' imagination with the idea of marriage. Loaysa comes into being as the necessary third partner in a triangular relationship. René Girard, Cesáreo Bandera and Louis Combet have previously discussed the significance of triangular relationships in Cervantes' works in terms of mimetic desire: the subject requires that his desire be stimulated not by the intrinsic qualities of the object, but by the presence of an Other, a rival who, in effect, chooses the object by designating it as desirable.14 In this respect, Carrizales is not dissimilar to the insufficiently jealous husband of El curioso impertinente. For both husbands, the wife's desirability is increased to the extent that she exists as a temptation to the Other. Loaysa's desire is also mimetic. It is not simply the reports of Leonora's beauty, but the fact that she is so closely guarded which arouses his desire: . . . le encendió el deseo de ver si sería posible expuñar, por fuerza o por industria, fortaleza
Mensonge romantique et verité romanesque (Paris: Grasset, 1961);
Bandera, Mimesis conflictiva y violencia en Cervantes y Calderón
(Madrid: Gredos, 1975); and Combet, Cervantès.
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tan guardada (p. 107). In short, both Loaysa and Carrizales exist as
mutually necessary rivals in an overlapping triangular relationship.
This is only one of several parallels between the two characters. As J. B. Avalle Arce has observed, in the open spiral structure of the story, both men occupy different temporal points on the same trajectory. Loaysa incarnates Carrizales' past as seducer and will repeat his exile in the New World.15 Their modes of relating to women follow a similar pattern in other respects as well. We have remarked that Carrizales' retentive anxiety pre-dates his encounter with Leonora. So too, before Loaysa has ever seen Leonora, he wants to storm the fortress of Carrizales' house. In the absence of a real object of desire, the house fills its metaphorical space, signifying, for Carrizales, a precarious maternal symbiosis, and for Loaysa a female image which withholds and frustrates. Leonora, enclosed in the erotic space of Carrizales' house, is merely a part-object, accessory to the phantom Other.
Both characters undergo a similar transformation from an active to a passive role in their relationships with women. Loaysa, though aggressive in his initial assault on the house, is no longer the seducer but the object of seduction once he gains admittance. The dueña, Marialonso, and the servant girls admire him, not as phallus, but as a dismembered assortment of feminized body parts:
Y tomando la buena Marialonso una vela, comenzó a mirar de arriba abajo al bueno del músico, y una decía: ¡Ay, qué copete que tiene tan lindo y tan rizado! Otra: ¡Ay, qué blancura de dientes! ¡Mal año para piñones mondados que más blancos ni más lindos sean! Otra: ¡Ay, qué ojos tan grandes y tan rasgados! ¡Y por el siglo de mi madre que son verdes, que no parecen sino que son de esmeraldas! Esta alababa la boca, aquélla los pies, y todas juntas hicieron del una menuda anatomía y pepitoria (p. 125).
Avalle-Arce writes, . . . esta construcción cíclica
sirve en El celoso extremeño para subrayar la estupenda
ironía de que seductor y marido cornudo son los mismos en su
proyección temporal: víctima y victimario se enlazan así
en la misma voluta del tiempo, y demuestran, con claridad inalcanzada hasta
entonces, como las posibilidades artísticas pueden pujar con las
posibilidades vitales (Nuevos deslindes cervantinos [Barcelona:
Ariel, 1975], p. 69). Castro also comments on a change in the printed version
which emphasizes its circular structure: En la versión impresa
el autor no mata a Loysa, se satisface con enviarlo a las Indias,
de donde había venido Carrizales, y queda así cerrado el
círculo: el joven impotente va a parar al lugar de donde había
salido el hecho impotente por su mucha edad (Cervantes se nos
desliza en El celoso extremeño, PSA, 48,
No. 143-4 , 214).
Marialonso turns out to be one of Cervantes'
grotesque libidinous older women, who demands Loaysa's sexual favors in return
for the surrender of her mistress. Alone with Leonora, as Marialonso waits
her turn outside the bedroom door, Loaysa is unable to make love to the young
girl. It is well-known that in the Porras de la Cámara manuscript
of the story, the sexual relationship was successful, but the printed version
reads: Pero, con todo esto, el valor de Leonora fue tal, que en el
tiempo que más le convenía, le mostró contra las fuerzas
villanas de su astuto engañador, pues no fueron bastantes a vencerla,
y él se cansó en balde, y ella quedó vencedora, y entrambos
dormidos (p. 130). In the face of Leonora's resistance, Loaysa tired
himself in vain. If we accept Castro's thesis that these words are
a sly reference to Loaysa's impotence (C. se nos desliza), we
can see a pattern which moves from aggression to impotence in the shadow
of a grotesque female figure. The change in the printed version underlines
Loaysa's psychological kinship with Carrizales.
Carrizales' impotence is logically accounted for by his advanced age and ill-health. As the traditional senex figure, he has married a young woman who remains a virgin a year after their marriage. Nevertheless, the pattern, though extended temporally, is the same as Loaysa's. Furthermore, as we shall see, Carrizales will be rendered impotent in a total physical and psychological sense by an aggressive, invasive female his own Leonora. For it is Leonora who makes the final assault on the inner sanctum of Carrizales' bedroom. It is she who steals the master key from beneath his mattress and incapacitates him with a narcotic ointment:
Temblando y pasito, y casi sin osar despedir el aliento de la boca, llegó Leonora a untar los pulsos del celoso marido, y asimismo le untó las ventanas de las narices, y cuando a ellas le llegó le parecía que se estremecía y ella quedó mortal, pareciéndole que la había cogido en el hurto. En efeto, como mejor pudo le acabó de untar todos los lugares que le dijeron ser necesarios, que fue lo mismo que haberle embalsamado para la sepultura . . . y aún mal segura de lo que veía, se llegó a él y le estremeció un poco, y luego más, y luego otro poquito más, por ver si despertaba; y a tanto se atrevió, que le volvió de una parte a otra, sin que despertase. Como vio esto, se fue a la gatera de la puerta y . . . llamó a la dueña . . . : Dadme albricias, hermana, que Carrizales duerme más que un muerto (p. 121).
This narcoleptic embalming, this mucous intimacy, is the real violation of the story; it is the inversion of and retaliation for what
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Carrizales has done to Leonora.16
The theme of impotence ironically can allow the work of reparation to begin. The objects of attack manage to survive the hostilities directed against them both Leonora and Carrizales awaken from a profound sleep physically unscathed, The waking survival signals a break with fantasy and a strengthening of reality sense. In other words, reparation is worth while once the hold of fantasy with its belief in total omnipotence and total vulnerability has been broken.17 Carrizales forswears revenge on the supposedly adulterous couple, and calls Leonora's parents to his house as witnesses and recipients of his reparative acts. The process is still not free of manic elements Carrizales' long speech contains a series of self-justifications, pointing back to his previous liberality, and projecting his guilt onto Marialonso and Loaysa, He still quantifies his affection Leonora's dowry is doubled . . . por que todo el mundo vea el valor de los quilates de la voluntad y fe con que te quise . . . (pp. 133-34).18 But he is also able to hold his guilt and to recognize himself as the source of his unhappiness: Yo fui el que, como el gusano de seda, me fabriqué la casa donde muriese, y a ti no te culpo ¡oh niña mal aconsejada! (p. 133). The formulaic reference to the punishment of the Divine Will paradoxically leads into the affirmation of his own responsibility: Mas como no se puede prevenir con diligencia humana el castigo que la voluntad divina quiere dar a los que en ella
read the anointing as an incorporative act both soiling
and merger. Harry Sieber has also read Leonora's treatment of Carrizales
as a kind of violation: El yerro de Leonora es la violación
de este mundo interior, del mundo de la imaginación de su marido.
O mejor dicho, la única violación que cuenta para Carrizales
es la violación imaginada de su mundo imaginario
(Introducción, II, 20).
17 The British psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott has discussed the importance of destruction in fantasy and survival of the object in the establishment of a world of object reality. See The Development of the Capacity for Concern, in The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment, International Psycho-Analytical Library No. 64 (London: Hogarth, 1965), pp. 73-82 and Playing and Reality (New York: Basic Books, 1971), pp. 90-94.
18 Lambert offers another interpretation of the passage, The obsession with measuring and quantifying remains, but now it signals depth of feeling rather than absence of feeling (p. 228). It is possible that Carrizales' quantifying corresponds to the naming which Segal notes as an important element in reparation: The naming . . . represents the acceptance of reality, the fundamental element of real reparation, which is lacking in manic reparation (pp. 101-102).
no ponen del todo en todo sus deseos y esperanzas, no es mucho que yo quede
defraudado en las mías y que yo mismo haya sido el fabricador del
veneno que me va quitando la vida (p. 133). Carrizales' inability to
feel what Erik Erickson has called basic trust (pp. 247-50) has resulted
in a self-defrauding and a self-poisoning.
Although he does not blame his wife, he never comes to realize her actual innocence. Leonora is inexplicably silent on the events of the previous night, but for offering that she offended her husband only in thought. In spite of the mutual verbal incomprehension, the couple do achieve a degree of physical intimacy in their shared distress: . . . le sobrevino un terrible desmayo, y se dejó caer tan junto de Leonora, que se juntaron los rostros: ¡extraño y triste espectáculo para los padres, que a su querida hija y a su amado yerno miraban! (p. 134). This contact, witnessed by Leonora's parents, is the only legitimate and guilt-free consummation of their marriage, the antithesis of their respective violations.19
But why is this tentative intimacy achieved only in the face of Leonora's apparent infidelity? I believe that the change from the manuscript to the printed version underscores Carrizales' failure to experience trust. It is the fantasy rather than the reality of feminine betrayal that motivates the story. The tragic irony of Carrizales' trauma is that although he comes to an awareness of his incapacity to feel trust, he cannot translate his awareness into experience.20 This irremediable failure in communication is best illustrated in the following passage: [Los padres de Leonora] Fueron al aposento de su yerno, y halláronle, como se ha dicho, siempre clavados los ojos en su
importance of the presence of Leonora's parents can be explained best, I
believe, in Kleinian terms; only if the individual has grown up in
the real sense of the word can his infantile phantasies be fulfilled in the
adult state. What is more, guilt due to these infantile wishes then becomes
relieved, just because a situation phantasied in childhood has now become
real in a permissible way, and in a way which proves that the injuries of
various kinds, which in phantasy were connected with this situation, have
not actually been inflicted (Love, Guilt, p. 317). In other
words, intimacy with a woman is permissible and non-destructive.
20 Gwynne Edwards notes that the revised ending, underscoring Carrizales' erroneous interpretation of the events, is more ironic, but I cannot agree with him that Carrizales therefore becomes a parody of a tragic figure. See Los dos desenlaces de El celoso extremeño de Cervantes, BBMP, 49 (1973), 281-91. I find much more convincing Lambert's analysis of the two texts, showing a movement toward heightened pathos and dignity in the published version (p. 229).
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esposa, a la cual tenía asida de las manos, derramando los dos muchas
lágrimas; ella, con no más ocasión de verlas derramar
a su esposo; él, por ver cuán fingidamente ella las
derramaba (p. 132). His persistent failure to respond appropriately
to Leonora's mirroring emotions means that he has overcome his fear of feminine
retribution without achieving a positive formulation of trusting intimacy.
Carrizales' triumph is that he is able to accept a sexualized Leonora as
a separate person; his failure is that a mutual adult sexual relationship
will remain beyond his reach.21
Carrizales is sixty-eight at the time he marries the pre-adolescent Leonora, and sixty-nine at the end of the story. The exaggerated disparity in ages between husband and wife supports the idea that the marriage would have been inappropriate, in the eyes of Cervantes, no matter what Carrizales' character had been.22 But Carrizales' choice of a young wife and his treatment of her are grounded in his personality, and therefore his failure as a husband is emotional as well as chronological. We are reminded again of Anselmo of El curioso impertinente who also found it necessary to distance himself
acts here in accordance with Winnicott's mirror-role of the mother
who reflects the child's emotions thus initiating the child into a world
of perception as a two-way process (Playing, pp. 112-118).
But Carrizales is unable to trust his mirror.
The acceptance of Leonora's sexuality, however, allows Carrizales to break out of his incorporative fusion with her. Ruth El Saffar has illuminated this emergence from solipsism: Essential to Carrizales's subsequent self-transcendence is the sight of the sleeping Leonora and Loaysa. For that sight releases Carrizales from the internal struggle which was expressed externally in his nearly maniacal effort to keep them apart. When he sees them outside himself, he discovers his own reality as distinct from and above either of the two with whom he had formerly identified himself (Novel, p. 48). Carrizales' feat of recognizing Leonora as a whole object corresponds to the achievements of the phase of development which Klein called the depressive position and Winnicott the stage of concern. But as Hanna Segal writes, The depressive position is never fully worked through . . . . Good external objects in adult life always symbolize and contain aspects of the primary good object, internal and external, so that any loss in later life reawakens the anxiety of losing the good internal object . . . . If the infant has been able to establish a good internal object relatively securely in the depressive position, situations of depressive anxiety will not lead to illness but to a fruitful working through . . . (p. 80). In other words, Carrizales' belated achievements in the depressive position cannot entirely compensate for his early failure to secure a good internal object.
22 For a discussion of Cervantes' treatment of the theme of el viejo y la niña as an aspect of his attitudes toward incompatible marriages, see [p. 50] Castro's El pensamiento de Cervantes, ed. Julio Rodríguez-Puértolas (Barcelona: Noguer, 1972), pp. 133-136.
from his wife's sexuality. Both husbands, the young and the old, commit
intellectual and moral errors in depriving their wives of their free-will,
but these errors are inextricable from their defenses against intimacy. Though
Cervantes considered Carrizales' marriage unwise, or even unnatural, the
problem of failed intimacy transcends his specific
Carrizales' struggle to overcome the fears which control his behavior is neither comic nor grotesque but essentially tragic. It is tragic in the sense that there has been partial triumph and irrevocable loss, and that understanding has come too late. Though Carrizales does move beyond fear and manipulation to forgiveness and compassion, the damage to all is not completely reparable. The comic denouement wished by Carrizales, the marriage between the two young people, will never take place, and sexuality will not be integrated into the social order.
Ruth El Saffar has written convincingly of Leonora's self-discovery and growth toward autonomy after her encounter with Loaysa: both in her rejection of Loaysa's adulterous advances and in her refusal of marriage to him, Leonora makes fundamental non-determined choices of her own (Novel, pp. 46-47). Her rejection of marriage is also her own act of reparation toward Carrizales, an atonement for her adultery in thought. But because her motivation remains unexpressed, the tragic loss is redoubled. She accepts her inheritance from Carrizales a devitalized and desexualized existence which he repented having imposed upon her.
We are told that Carrizales dies of sorrow on the seventh day following his ordeal. Does this mean, therefore, that his death is an act of masochism, in Combet's words l'acte fascinant (tenter de s'attacher une femme) qui lui donnera accès à la souffrance et à la mort (p. 230)? Although, as we have seen, the desire for and fear of a totally possessive relationship has characterized Carrizales' life, the story moves toward an acceptance of the autonomy of the loved one
other words, both characters can be compared in terms of the psychopathology
of their guilt-sense, manifested in their two inter-related illnesses
obsessional neurosis and melancholia. As Winnicott has observed, these
illnesses are maintained in order to hide the fear that in some specific
setting of which the patient is unaware, hate is more powerful than love
(The Sense of Guilt in Maturational Process, p. 20).
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and the self. His death points not to destructive merger, but to the isolation which results when trust and autonomy cannot be reconciled.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
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