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This failure to define the middle classes as a class in their own right accounts for the frequently loose classdistinctions Galdós makes in his novels: in La desheredada, Tomás Rufete as a civil servant and La Sanguijuelera as a shopkeeper -strictly speaking petty-bourgeois- are called «pueblo»; while the so-called «obrero» Juan Bou is in fact a smallscale boss. Galdós does not distinguish between the working classes as wage-earning manual workers and the middle classes as self-employed or white-collar workers: he distinguishes only between rich and poor, aristocracy and pueblo.



Printed in Benito Pérez Galdós: Ensayos de crítica literaria, ed. L. Bonet, Barcelona, 1972, p. 178.



In fact, at the end of the novel Isidora, finding the aristocratic path blocked, ends up adopting Mariano's «revolutionary» position: she becomes a prostitute by choice as a way of destroying respectable society: «En fin, los hombres sois todos unos. Hay que vengarse, perdiéndose a todos y arrastrándoos a la ignominia. Nosotras nos vengamos con nosotras mismas» (p. 1156).



It is her pride in her supposed nobility that makes her on moral grounds postpone -though no more than that- her illicit liaisons with Joaquín Pez, Melchor Relimpio and Juan Bou; significantly, she takes the first step to perdition (by becoming Joaquín Pez's mistress) precisely after being rejected by the Aransis family -i. e. as the result of the first blow to her illusions- and, ironically, throughout her relationship with Joaquín she plays the role of ever-faithful, forgiving and self-sacrificing wife. Her eventual, quite shameless plunge into prostitution is the direct psychological consequence of her final disillusionment: «[...] cuando perdí la idea que me hacía ser señora, me dio tal rabia que dije: 'Ya no necesito para nada la dignidad ni la vergüenza'» (p. 1155). This moral ambiguity of Isidora's illusions and of her final symbolic «death» on awakening to reality is, of course, another quixotic touch.



Henri Beyle, Le Rouge et le Noir (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959), p. 88.



Gustavo Correa, Realidad, ficción y símbolo en las novelas de Pérez Galdós (Bogotá: Publicaciones del Instituto Caro y Cuervo, XXIII, 1967), P. 281.



Benito Pérez Galdós, Lo prohibido (Madrid: Clásicos Castalia, 1971), p. 116. All further references to the text will be cited parenthetically.



The significance of colors is explained by Vernon A. Chamberlain in «Galdós' Chromatic Symbolism Key in Lo prohibido», Hispanic Review, vol. 23, núm. 1 (January, 1974), pp. 109-117.



José F. Montesinos, Galdós, estudios sobre la novela española del siglo XIX (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1969), viii, 191.



While this paper is limited to Lo prohibido, it is worth noting that one finds many similar situations involving mirrors in Fortunata y Jacinta. As he leaves Fortunata's grave, Maxi exclaims: «[...] adoro en ella lo ideal, lo eterno y la veo, no como era, sino tal y como yo la soñaba y la veía en mi alma; la veo adornada de los atributos más hermosos de la divinidad, reflejándose en ella como en un espejo»; (Benito Pérez Galdós, Fortunata y Jacinta [Buenos Aires: Colección Austral, 1951], p. 762). Like José María, Maxi mistakes physical beauty for moral perfection and this error eventually costs him his sanity.