Bourgeois Gender Ideology and the Angel Del Hogar
One of the salient characteristics of western print culture in the nineteenth century is what Nancy Miller terms a "collective 'obsessing' about an idea called woman." The Spanish reading public of Galdós's formative and mature writing years was deluged with an enormous quantity of material defining the so-called nature of woman and prescribing her role in society. In 1877, Sofía Tartilán wrote that it was impossible not to be aware of "las inumerables discusiones entabladas y sostenidas acerca de esta importante entidad social llamada mujer" (the innumerable ongoing discussions generated about this important social entity known as woman). The roots of this phenomenon can be traced to the new epistemology forged during the Enlightenment, for eighteenth-century writers' preoccupation with the problems of knowledge, human psychology, and the influence of the environment led to an explosion of interest in the differences between the sexes, with the result that the "position of women in western Europe was analyzed in new terms: it was to be justified by reference to what was natural to their sex, rather than divinely ordained." Around 1850, the competition between discourses of womanhood slackened as the isolated attempts that had been made in post-Enlightenment Spain to extend the revolutionary concepts of liberty, equality, and individual autonomy to women waned with the demise of romanticism. From then until the 1890s, writing about women revolved around the concept of the ángel del hogar
(angel in the house), a set of desiderata that was advertised as the essence of natural womanhood. The ideal of feminine domesticity was exhaustively discussed and prescribed in western Europe and the United States, reaching its height in Spain in the late nineteenth century. Directly or indirectly, it informed a wide variety of different discourses—ladies' journals, feminine conduct manuals, the costumbrista anthologies with their vignettes of local customs, serialized novels, poetry, medical texts, pedagogical treatises, legislation, essays, and public speeches.
A recent line of scholarship argues that the appearance of the angel in the house is no isolated phenomenon but the symptom of a wider process, that of the creation of a new bourgeois ideology of gender roles, which substantially revised earlier definitions of femininity and masculinity. Feminist scholars have argued that this process was not a marginal side effect of political history but one of the definitive projects of nineteenth-century western societies. The debates over woman's nature and function that commanded such public attention and interest in the last century had profound although now long neglected political, social, and literary consequences. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar put it, our understanding of the period has been "skewed because critics and scholars, whether consciously or not, have massively repressed the centrality of 'the woman question' in this period."
In Spain, as elsewhere in the west, the woman question was as important as the more widely studied social question and intimately linked to it. The new discourse on woman was remarkably successful in transcending national, religious, economic, and class differences, appearing at slightly different points in the century in Victorian Britain, France, the United States, and Spain. The new mythology lent itself particularly well to transposition. A discourse that claimed to have discovered the essence of the eternal feminine regardless of race, class, and geographic location, it was characterized by nebulous highflown generalizations about woman that rarely acknowledged historical or local circumstances. Two classic midcentury elaborations of the bourgeois feminine ideal appeared within a few years of each other in English and Spanish: Coventry Patmore's narrative poem The Angel in the House (1854–1856), and María del Pilar Sinués de Marco's domestic novel-conduct manual El ángel del hogar (1859). Both works were runaway best-sellers; Pat-
more's had sold a quarter of a million copies by his death in 1896, while Sinués de Marco's work had run to seven reeditions by the early 1890s. Despite the undeniable disparities between the material position of women in British and continental societies in the mid-nineteenth century, the striking fact is that what middle-class writers in Spain had to say about their notion of woman in the abstract is frequently interchangeable with the arguments of authors from England, France, or North America. In this respect at least, the Francoist slogan that Spain is different is not valid. Thus, in discussing this discourse, I follow Michel Foucault and others in using the term Victorian in a broad sense to refer to a bourgeois mode of thought that was international and not specific to England alone. Spain's discursive construction of womanhood is manifestly part of a larger cultural formation: the novelist Pilar Sinués de Marco, the intellectual Fernando de Castro, and the reactionary Father Claret are all participants in an ongoing and much publicized transatlantic discussion of woman, alongside many other notables such as Sarah Stickney Ellis and John Ruskin in Britain, and French historian and social thinker Jules Michelet. Thus it is not as extraordinary as it seems that Galdós had an English-language edition of Ellis's works in his library. The reliance on translations in nineteenth-century Spain ensured that new notions about women published in other western European countries were relayed relatively rapidly to those who could not read foreign languages.
One of the most pervasive changes in nineteenth-century cultural and psychic life occurred in western perceptions of social space, which underwent a division into two distinct, engendered, and sharply differentiated spheres, public and private; attitudes to the workplace and the home evolved to reflect this new dichotomy. Until then, in Mary Nash's summary, home for all but the wealthiest was also the workplace, a site both of reproduction and production, with extensive participation by women in the latter. The redefinition of the categories of public and private in western thought occurred in tandem with the development of bourgeois liberal democracies and led to a corresponding reinterpretation and polarization of gender identities: the ontological and functional differences between the sexes became an international theme of the century. Women were now excluded as a class, for the first time in modern western history, from such categories as "public opinion," "the Spanish," or "citizens." A
new ideology of gender was produced that canonized the woman who accepted her role in the private sphere. The notion of home was discursively constructed as an exclusively female, private, noncommercial space in opposition to an external, male, public world of work for wages. As Bridget Aldaraca points out, the very name of the new feminine ideal, the ángel del hogar , defined her first and foremost "by the space she occupies," since hogar means "hearth" and metonymically, "home." The idea of woman as angel was inseparable from the notion that women's proper place was in the domestic sphere.
This idea may not, at first glance, seem novel in the Spanish context, since Juan Luis Vives's Instrucción de la mujer cristiana of 1524 and Fray Luis de León's Counter-Reformation treatise La perfecta casada (the perfect wife) of 1583 had prescribed feminine domesticity, fidelity, and frugality in forceful terms, and indeed under the Hapsburgs and well into the eighteenth century Spanish women of means were reputed to live in quasi-Oriental seclusion in the patriarchal home. Yet, voiced by nineteenth-century middle-class writers, the prescription of feminine domesticity represented in some crucial aspects a departure, a repackaging of cultural information, because it rested on a new conception: that of fundamental sexual difference. Though women had been exhorted to stay at home and to watch their honour in the Golden Age tradition, the injunctions stemmed from a belief in their lustful nature, as morally weaker vessels. As Aldaraca shows, Fray Luis advocated women's confinement because he feared that they would contaminate men if they moved about freely in society. Women were seen as fundamentally sinful, and likely to dishonour their husbands if not kept under strict supervision. By the nineteenth century, however, men had come to be seen as fallen creatures, while women had become equated with superior morality. A woman was no longer described as a possession but as an equal if different being, while the family, "as an institution, [took] the place of the physical fortress, the house." Woman's new role as presiding spirit of the family, rather than wayward child whose fidelity could only be guaranteed by physical constraints, can be seen in Sofía Tartilán's paradigmatic pronouncement that "la mujer [está] destinada . . . a ser en la sociedad el ángel del hogar doméstico, la guardadora del sagrado fuego del amor conyugal . . . la base segura y fundamental de la fa-
milia" (woman is destined . . . to be in society the angel of the domestic hearth, the guardian of the sacred flame of conjugal love . . . the stable and deep foundation of the family).
As can be seen from the tone of such declarations, so foreign to the acerbic line taken by Fray Luis de León, the new gender ideology allotted women unprecedented spiritual authority in the private sphere. Spanish domestic ideology shared with its English Evangelist cousin a belief in the home as the primary site for religious endeavour. Woman, uncorrupted by any taint with commerce or politics, was eulogized as being closer to the divine than her more carnally inclined male counterpart. The wife's moral superiority was a favourite theme of middle-class writers. According to the politician Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, "alcanza sobre nosotros una superioridad moral inconmensurable . . . ninguno de nuestros varoniles méritos llega, si bien se mira, al de la perfecta mujer" (she achieves an immeasurable moral superiority over us men . . . none of our masculine merits compares, if one thinks about it, to that of the perfect wife). As Aldaraca notes, there is a paradox in the discursive construction of the family, since while it was normally represented as the mirror opposite of the state, the walls of the private sphere were also acknowledged to be porous, and the love selflessly generated by the angel in the home was supposed to permeate the public sphere with beneficent effect. Thus, while women as a class had been specifically excluded from the bourgeois liberal democracy, they were credited with some degree of indirect power over public opinion and the affairs of the state. Pilar Sinués de Marco (1835–1893) expressed the general view when she wrote that "nadie, cual la mujer, puede moralizar la sociedad y hacer brotar en ella semillas de virtud" (no one can improve society and make the seeds of virtue sprout in it as well as a woman). A contemporary of Sinués de Marco, Juan Criado y Domínguez, stated that woman should discreetly seek to improve the world outside her province, by endeavouring "por los múltiples medios indirectos que tiene a su alcance, que, imitando el régimen doméstico, procuren los hombres reflejar en el social a hermosa organización que, basada en el amor y la verdad, la virtud y el desinterés, ven allí de continuo practicada" (by the many indirect means she has at her disposal, to make men imitate the domestic regime and reflect in society the beautiful organization, based on love and truth, virtue and altruism, that they see continually practised there).
The appearance of the new feminine icon is normally attributed to the shift from an agrarian society to an industrialized one, a theory which must be qualified when applied to Spain, where the bulk of the country remained relatively underindustrialized for most of the century, but which nevertheless presents the same textual construction of woman and home as other more developed nations. The midcentury years of rule under the Moderado party saw the tentative beginnings of a modern industrialized society in Spain: the first banks were opened, railroads were built, the Civil Guard—a rural constabulary—was created, the streets of Madrid were lit by gas, and water was piped to the city. Yet full-scale industrialism was clearly not, in the case of Spain, a prerequisite for the spread of domestic ideology, since the nascent bourgeoisie's ideology of gender attained hegemonic status during this same period. The reasons for this apparent historical anomaly are obscure, since there are no studies that examine the minutiae of Spanish bourgeois private life and the effect of the new ideology on real women's behaviour in the Peninsula. Nancy Armstrong and Catherine Hall both argue that the construction of separate, engendered public and private spheres was one of the central factors in the constitution of the middle classes in nineteenth-century England. In Armstrong's view, the bourgeoisie, in order to facilitate and legitimate its own emergence as an entity, needed to efface noble birth as the primary criterion of social worth. This goal was achieved, she argues, by transferring social attention to gender rather than social class as the primary distinguishing feature of a person; in the process, sexual difference was obsessively raised in order to create a political unconscious.
Armstrong's thesis that the engendering of domesticity was in fact central to the creation of the bourgeoisie suggests that the process might have preceded or accompanied industrialization rather than springing from it; it is therefore helpful when we consider why Spain in the 1850s should have embraced domestic ideology so thoroughly, despite not being a full-fledged capitalist society. The country was developed enough to boast a flourishing publishing industry by the 1840s, a decade which saw the rise of ladies' journals and serialized romantic novels, followed by the female-authored domestic novels of the 1850s. These textual media helped ensure that the notion of woman as spiritualized helpmate rather than morally weaker sex became enshrined in the national imagination as synonymous with
woman's true "nature." Some contemporaries equated this notion with a return to Spanish women's traditional virtue, which they supposed had been corrupted by the type of conduct associated with the afrancesados (Francophiles) in the capital city and the scandals of Charles IV's court, and in particular with aristocratic women's lax morals and spendthrift ways. The notion of men and women as radically different was attractive to those who saw aristocratic life as tending towards a dangerous blurring of gender lines, as the fashionable court ladies became more brazen and the petimetres (eighteenth-century dandies) more effete and feminized, absorbed by dress and gossip. The discourse of separate spheres must have held great appeal to certain segments of a nation that still harked back to the traditional segregation of the sexes in upper-class homes in the Peninsula, which had only recently slackened in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Furthermore, as we shall see, the notion of woman as asexual and redemptive struck a powerful resonance with the Catholic cult of the Virgin Mary.
The new gender ideology played a crucial role in Spain's long and troubled cultural revolution, since the allegiance to a notion of true womanhood served to unite very disparate groups of people in opposition to the aristocratic values of the ancien régime. In a period of continual political instability—there were thirty-five pronunciamientos in Spain between 1814 and 1873—during which the bourgeois were often in danger of losing control of the democratic changes they were trying to initiate, writers of the middle classes were moved to embrace the new notions of what Lawrence Stone terms the "companionate marriage" and the loving, close-knit family; they portrayed home as synonymous with an enclave of peace and happiness distinct from the working world. While they strove to present their vision as descriptive, its prescriptive aspect is clear. As the authors of Victorian Women remark, the obsession with surveillance and regulation characterized not only the activities of the state but entered into private life in the proliferation of advice manuals that sought to create perfect mothers and homemakers.
All the emotional and moral values that were widely felt to be lacking in the public male sphere came to be projected onto the private circle of the wife and family. Home, sweet home was idealized as a sanctuary, a womblike enclosure in which no conflict existed. Whatever the realities may have been (historians remain "confused
as to the extent to which such advice was ever taken, ever practicable"), the angel wife-mother, in the new pan-European discourse, was the timeless and universal source of peace, order, morality, and contentment. Whereas marital relations in aristocratic circles in eighteenth-century Spain appear to have been distant and formal—and were moreover falling into disrepute as it became customary for the wives of the well-to-do in Madrid to have a cortejo (male admirer and confidant) who accompanied her everywhere—the middle-class writers of the mid-nineteenth century began to offer their readers a very different, utopic vision of a close, loving bond between wife and husband, which nothing could profane. One of the classic texts of the new gender ideology, Ruskin's essay "Of Queen's Gardens," first published in 1864, argued, furthermore, that only the wife could make home what it should be: "the place of peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt, and division . . . a sacred place, a vestal temple." A Spanish writer took up the refrain, identifying the public working world as a turbulent vortex, into which woman ventured at her peril:
La [mujer] es, por esencia, el ángel del hogar. Y ¡ay! de la Humanidad, y ¡ay! de la mujer, si un día el ángel deja abrasar sus ténues alas en el fuego destructor de la soberbia y abandona el oculto y amoroso albergue donde siempre viviera, para lanzarse locamente en el raudo torbellino de esa vida pública en medio de la cual el hombre tiene que reñir las más violentas y terribles batallas.
(Woman is by nature the angel of the home. And alas for Humanity and alas for woman, if one day the angel should allow her slender wings to be scorched in the consuming flame of pride and abandon the secret and loving refuge she has always inhabited, to hurl herself madly into the impetuous whirlwind of public life, in the midst of which man has to fight the most violent and terrible battles.)
Women's special privilege and function was to create and sustain the psychic space of the home and the emotional closeness that was now being marketed as the sign of the ideal marriage and family. Wives, according to a popular nineteenth-century Spanish marriage manual, performed a vital duty by providing daily doses of love and comfort for their mates, exposed to the pressures of incipient capitalism: "el uno vuelve siempre en medio de los suyos con la frente encorvada por las preocupaciones del día, abrumado por los azares de la vida pública; la otra desempeña el sacerdocio sublime del san-
tuario doméstico y prepara allí al hombre horas de alegría y de consuelo" (he always comes back to his loved ones weighted down with the worries of the day, exhausted by the vicissitudes of public life; she performs her sublime ministry in the domestic sanctuary, where she prepares hours of cheerfulness and consolation for her man).
Feminine domesticity was clearly an ideal which marked off the middle classes both from the aristocracy and from the working classes, although writers presented it as woman's essential nature regardless of class lines. The constant admonitions to lead a demure and secluded existence signalled a preoccupation to differentiate the model woman from the image of the aristocratic lady who, in the eighteenth century, had begun entertaining on a lavish scale in her home and behaving with less public restraint than had traditionally been demanded of her. Carmen Martín Gaite shows in Usos amorosos del dieciocho how upper-class women in the eighteenth century were replacing the traditional concept of recato (feminine modesty) with a more forward manner, known as el despejo . At the same time, wealthy women began to socialize more, giving evening entertainments, tertulias and saraos , in the home, where guests engaged in gossip, gambling, and dancing. The eighteenth-century custom of the cortejo , originally a Platonic relationship, was coming suspiciously close to adultery towards the beginning of the nineteenth century. Around this time also, women began the practice of daily visiting and attending public entertainments such as the theatre and the opera, all of which gave the bourgeoisie an impression of licentious freedom on the part of the great ladies of Spain.
The bourgeois angel was counterpoised not only to the aristocrat but to women of lower social rank, for her exclusion from all productive labour was a way of signifying her family's rise out of the working class, most of whose women were employed in agriculture, industry, or service. This strategy was analyzed by the nineteenth-century sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen, who argued in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) that a special semiotic role had recently devolved upon middle-class women. Middle-class men, who were richer than the working classes but who could not afford to stop working themselves, allotted the formerly aristocratic privilege of leisure to their women. Thus, it was thought essential that women confine their activities to the place which had become the antithesis of the public, working world: the home.
Enlightenment revisions of biology were enlisted in the reinterpretation of gender roles. As Thomas Laqueur shows, around the end of the eighteenth century the ancient one-sex model of sexual isomorphism, in which woman is figured as an imperfect homology of man, was challenged. There arose a notion of radical sexual dimorphism that gradually displaced the hierarchical concept of gender, rooted in classical learning, which had prevailed for millennia. In a further important shift, biology became the new epistemic foundation for prescriptive claims about the social order. "Natural" anatomical, physical, and mental differences between the sexes were now stressed by medical textbooks and social theorists as the basis for determining men's and women's respective roles. It was now argued that women's difference from men—their mental and muscular fragility as well as their emotional sensitivity and the primacy of their reproductive system, designed them for the private sphere, domesticity, and childbearing. Female and male were figured as in-commensurably different and complementary. Galdós's contemporaries Juan Valera and Leopoldo Alas both subscribed to the new orthodoxy that woman "radicalmente, no sólo en su forma corpórea, sino en su esencia y en su espíritu, difiere del hombre" (is fundamentally different from man, not only in bodily form but in essence and mind) and that women were therefore unfit for intellectual endeavour, which, like politics, was the province of the masculine.
The notion of separate spheres dovetailed with the separation and gendering of attributes of the human soma and psyche. The anatomical, physiological, and mental differences between the sexes, which scientists were busy cataloguing in ever more detailed ways, were adduced as proof that nature had intended separate functions and activities for men and women. "El hombre es reflexivo, analizador; la mujer, imaginativa. En el primero obra principalmente la. razón, la conciencia, en la segunda, el sentimiento, el afecto. El primero es excepcionalmente apto para la vida pública, para la vida de relación, para el comercio social; la segunda es, por esencia, el ángel del hogar" (Man is contemplative, analytical; woman, imaginative. In the former, reason and conscience are the principal agents; in the latter, feelings and affections. The former is exceptionally fitted for public life, for dealing with people, for social intercourse; the latter is, by nature, the angel of the home). Women's subjectivity, as Kirkpatrick points out, was believed to have great intensity but little range. Physically
fragile and lacking in intellectual stamina, woman was ascribed a corresponding wealth and strength of sentiment. Emotion, manifested principally as self-abnegating love of family and home, was laid down as the angel's raison d'être. One popular novelist's description of woman reduced her simply to this capacity for love: "para ella el hermoso poema de la vida se reduce a estas sencillas palabras: amar y ser amada" (for her the beautiful poem of life comes down to these few simple words: to love and be loved).
Fernando de Castro, a famous Madrid university professor, followed Rousseau's Emile in seeing reproduction as the all-consuming focus of a woman's existence: "Su destino en la vida y su vocación, es ser madre" (Her destiny and vocation in life is to be a mother). While nineteenth-century scientific discourse synecdochically reduced woman to a womb, the proponents of the cult of domesticity reduced her to an emotional being, the source of all the better feelings at large in the human heart and, ultimately, in society. Eulogies to motherhood such as the following, by Emilio Castelar, one-time academic colleague of de Castro's and president of the short-lived First Republic, now seem impossibly saccharine but were clearly deeply serious and meaningful at the time, and indeed almost de rigueur in any commentary on women's place in society:
siempre que una gran idea se eleva en la mente, siempre que resuena en el corazón algún sentimiento generoso, siempre que la compasión por el infortunio, y la caridad, y el amor verdadero nos abrasan el alma, si subimos con el pensamiento á buscar su fuente misteriosa, su origen, encontraremos la eterna luz de la fantasía, la estrella que guía nuestros primeros pasos, el ángel custodio que cubrió con sus alas nuestra cuna, el amor, sí, el amor sublime de una madre.
(whenever a great idea rises in our minds, whenever a generous sentiment resonates in our hearts, whenever compassion for the afflicted, and charity, and true love, burn in our souls, if we set our minds to seek out their mysterious source, we shall find the eternal lamp of fantasy, the star that guides our first steps, the guardian angel who covered our crib with her wings, the love, yes, the sublime love of a mother.)
The increased emphasis on women's maternal instincts did not, however, correspond to a heightened emphasis on female libido. In fact, the radical departure central to the nineteenth century was the type of thinking behind Dr. Acton's celebrated pronouncement in 1857 that "the majority of women . . . are not very much troubled by
sexual feelings of any kind." Laqueur argues that at the end of the eighteenth century, female orgasm—for millennia regarded as normal and necessary for conception—came to be regarded as irrelevant to generation. The resulting notion of essential female passionlessness overturned the ancient western tradition which saw women as at least as highly sexed as men. Whereas in Aristotle the male principle is the spirit and the female the body, reflecting a long association of men with friendship and women with fleshliness, in the discourse of domesticity this canon is reversed. Woman is seen as more spiritual, man more carnal. The analogy between women and angels rested on the belief in the sexlessness, and therefore virtue, perceived as common to both. Purity, defined as lack or control of sexual passion, was the prime quality of the angel of the house. The middle-class angel wife was supposed to love her husband with a mild, unselfish, maternal friendship unsullied by sexual passion; female sexuality was relegated to the lower classes or, if it presented itself in the bourgeoise, pathologized. In the widely read anthology Las mujeres españolas , the politician Cánovas del Castillo admonished the public that true conjugal love was not to be equated with wild passion. A contributor to the Madrid journal La Guirnalda wrote that "la mujer puede, debe amar tiernamente a su marido; pero hay límites de que no debe nunca pasar. Su título de esposa, de madre, su dignidad personal, la necesidad de hacerse respetar no deben nunca abandonarla" (woman can and should love her husband tenderly; but there are limits which she should not overstep. Her condition as wife and mother, her personal dignity, the dictates of respectability should never abandon her). Physicality was effaced from representations of the ideal woman, who was defined by her angelic transcendence of all corporeal desires.
A particular kind of language evolved to describe domesticity, a style of thought and speech characterized by exalted religious rhetoric and euphemism. Women's enclosure, in Fraser Harrison's view, "was ensured by investing it with all the majesty of a divine appointment." The image of the domestic woman was turned into a verbal and visual icon. Home in this discourse became a "temple" or "sanctuary," and woman its guardian angel, vestal virgin, or priestess. "Haz . . . de tu casa," Sinués de Marco told her readers, "un santuario donde no penetren las borrascas de la vida" (Make . . . your home a sanctuary where the storms of life cannot reach). The lady of the
house came to be invested with quasi-sacred significance, and her daily routine was defined not as a duty, as in the Counter-Reformation, but as a sacred honour, in phrases with strong religious overtones, such as "sublime mission," "cult of the family." El sacerdocio de la mujer (woman's ministry) was actually the title of a women's magazine which appeared in 1886. Its aim was the inculcation of new emotional attitudes to women's tripartite role in the family, indicated by the adjectives in its rubric: "ver a la mujer respetuosa hija, digna esposa y cariñosa madre" (to see woman be a respectful daughter, a worthy wife, and a loving mother). Woman's mission was now understood as more than the supervision of the household and bearing of children and maintenance of conjugal fidelity. The many treatises on the subject stressed the psychological and spiritual dimensions of the wife and paid remarkably little attention to practical, material instructions. Her emotional mission is to "endulzar con un cariño fiel e inextinguible la existencia de su compañero" (sweeten with a faithful and inextinguishable love the existence of her mate) and to educate her children's morals and sensibility. As the newly designated purveyors of love in the modern world, women were hyperbolically praised as the apostles of peace, love, and happiness, as can be seen in Blanca de Gassó y Ortiz's paradigmatic article in La Guirnalda in 1878, reprinted in Appendix 2.
The angel was envisaged as a paragon of altruism and abnegation and was always defined in relation to members of the family. In the cliché of the age, reminiscent of the tripartite German formula "Kinder, Kirche, Küche," the Spanish angel was figured as a feminine version of the holy trinity: "santa y dulce trilogía. Madre, esposa e hija, la mujer es siempre nuestro ángel de la guarda" (sweet and holy trilogy. Mother, wife, and daughter, woman is always our guardian angel). The very idea that a woman might wish to live by or for herself was anathema to the bourgeois ideologues. Woman's selfless investment of her desires in the family was supposed to counteract the ruling principle of bourgeois society: self-interest. As Barbara Taylor points out, women became the repositories of the moral conscience of the bourgeoisie, for, "having confined all those virtues inappropriate within the stockmarket or the boardroom to the hearts of their womenfolk, middleclass men were then left free to indulge in all those unfortunate vices necessary for bourgeois enterprise."
Sweet submission was another of the angel's important characteristics: in the Victorian Sarah Ellis's memorable phrase, it was woman's highest duty to "suffer and be still." Passivity was constantly enjoined on women in the conduct literature: "El valor del hombre es activo, el de la mujer pasivo" (Man's valence is active, woman's passive). The related concepts of passivity, patience, and suffering became identified and focused on the feminine ideal, for the angel was constructed as patient in the sense of being both endurer and sufferer: "el hombre trabaja y la mujer padece" (man works and woman suffers). Mrs. Ellis's masochistic fascination with the concept of the ideal woman as passive and suffering is echoed in the numerous works of Sinués de Marco. For this novelist, woman's destiny, whatever her station, was that of martyr: "hija, esposa o madre, su destino y su misión en la tierra es siempre sufrir y resignarse" (daughter, wife, or mother, her destiny and her mission on earth is always to suffer and resign herself).
Part of the puritanical aspect of domestic ideology, which shows its humble social origins, was the emphasis placed on work and frugality. Thrift, understated elegance, and simplicity were constantly prescribed in the conduct manuals, in opposition to the vice of el lujo , the gaudy display of luxury, a bugbear of Spanish writers throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As the home became less and less the physical fortress it had been for upper-class women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the stress on developing the necessary inner fortitude to resist the temptation to sin grew correspondingly insistent. A commonplace in the conduct manuals was the theme that virtue lay in constant activity, which was, of course, no recent invention. The angel of the nineteenth century was constantly employed in supervising household tasks, not so much because she had to set an example to the servants, as Aldaraca argues is the case for the perfect wife of the Counter-Reformation, but because she truly loved her role. She rose early, in opposition to the aristocratic habit of sleeping late. She was expected to be clean, frugal, hardworking, cheerful, and contented: "hormiguita de la casa, es limpia como la plata, cantadora como los ruiseñores, madrugadora como el gorrión" (she is a little household ant who shines with cleanliness, sings like a nightingale, and rises with the sparrow). Yet the angel's constant busyness involved management and not labour, since the middle-class household "by definition included at least one servant"; the lady of the house was officially employed in regulat-
ing the work of others—servants, nursemaids, cooks—and in sociability rather than in actual work.
The traditional accoutrements of domestic labour, the needle and the distaff, became the emblem of the ángel del hogar . These now symbolized the private, nonprofessional, domestic role that middle-class women were called upon to fulfil. Before her reader indulged in such intellectual luxuries as learning foreign languages, Sinués de Marco said, she should be able to "zurcir y tejer bien un par de medias, y bordar con gracia una flor, y que no deje de saber esto por aprender el inglés y el alemán" (darn and knit a good pair of stockings, and embroider a graceful flower, and not miss learning these things because she is taking English and German lessons). Augusto de Cueto used the spindle image to universalize woman by linking her to the Romans. In the process he disembodied her entirely:
[la mujer de su casa] no resplandece . . . en el cielo ostentoso de la literatura y del arte. Es menos visible y luminosa, pero no menos grande. . . . Es el domi mansit, lanam fecit (guarda la casa, hila la lana) de los romanos. . . . Es sencillamente una mujer, en la significación mas bella que tiene esta palabra. Pura, recogida y serena como la lámpara de su oratorio, toma la vida, humilde y resignada, tal como la Providencia se la presenta.
([the lady of the house] doesn't shine . . . in the ostentatious heavens of literature and art. She is less visible and luminous, but no less great. . . . She is the domi mansit, lanam fecit (she who keeps house and spins wool) of the Romans. . . . She is simply a woman, in the most beautiful meaning of the word. Pure, modest, and serene like the lamp in her oratory, she is humble and resigned and takes life as Providence dictates.)
As the preceding commentary shows, the power for good exercised by the angel was supposed to work in silent, oblique, invisible ways. The angel was passive, obedient, humble, silent, and submissive, never rebellious or strident. The sentimentalized rhetoric of the time frequently compared her to nonhuman essences—typically to light or scent, a sunbeam, a rainbow, or the perfume of a flower. For Leopoldo Martínez Reguera, the angel in the house was synonymous with silence, an invisible presence guiding the world. As is evident in the article by Blanca de Gassó y Ortiz reprinted in the appendix, the angel was supposed to dedicate her life silently to others; the proof of her sanctity was that she never demanded any recognition and indeed preferred to function in obscurity. This idealization of female invisibility was reflected in the custom of the middle-class
woman's adopting her husband's name preceded by the genitive of possession, a practice which became widespread during the first half of the nineteenth century.
The injunction to women to be asexual angels in the house, magically redeeming corrupt society through their purity and abnegation, coincided with the midcentury wave of Catholic evangelism and the increased power granted to the Spanish church by the papal concordat of 1851 and reinforced by the Restoration of 1875. The ideology of separate spheres also drew on and perhaps contributed to a resurgence of the Marian cult, for it enlisted the Virgin Mary in the service of the new gender ideology. As Mary Perry observes, representations of the Virgin had evolved historically to meet social constructions of ideal femininity and had been moving in the direction of purity, innocence, and nonphysicality for some time. In nineteenth-century verbal and visual representations Mary epitomized the chastity, humility, and passivity central to the angel in the house. Catholic women were constantly directed to the Virgin as the supreme example of the ángel del hogar ; Father Antonio Claret, leader of the midcentury Catholic revival and author of several conduct works for women, wrote in 1862 that Mary was the "modelo de buenas mujeres en todos estados de soltera, casada y viuda" (model of good women in all states: single, married, and widowed). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which stipulated Mary's own miraculously sinless birth, was proclaimed dogma by the pope in 1854 after a theological battle that had lasted for centuries. The belief in woman's special role as redeemer of society also enjoyed growing popularity, to the extent that, in 1895, Pope Leo XIII finally brought official dogma into line with devotional belief by announcing Mary Co-Redemptrix of humanity, Jesus' collaborator in the salvation of the human race. The reasons for this promotion were rooted in the feminine virtues peculiar to the period: Mary's obedient acquiescence to divine purpose in the use of her body to carry the male saviour, and her miraculous virginity. During the revolutionary period, a Spanish essayist enumerated the qualities which women should emulate in Mary: "prudencia, pureza, fidelidad, sabiduría, abnegación y piedad" (prudence, purity, fidelity, wisdom, abnegation, and piety).
The rapid rise to dominance of the angelic ideal stemmed in part from its adaptability to a wide range of political agendas, for women
as well as for men. It figured in the writings of radical liberal intellectuals such as Fernando de Castro in the revolutionary period, as well as conservative liberals such as Cánovas del Castillo, the political engineer of the Restoration, and the female novelists of the midcentury generation. It was also attractive to antidemocratic writers, who represented feminine purity and piety as bastions against a rising tide of immorality in the masculine public sphere. The following description, from an anthology of articles published during the revolutionary period, illustrates the way in which the angel woman could be enlisted to serve the interests of the forces of reaction:
En esta epoca de grosero descreimiento son, por desgracia, pocos los jóvenes que se libran del contagio de impiedad con que odiosas libertades han envenenado la enseñanza y las costumbres públicas; pero he aquí que la mujer murciana, piadosamente educada por su madre en los principios santos y eternos de la religión verdadera, detiene en toda esta parte de España los estragos que la enseñanza impía y los libros impíos y los periódicos impíos hacen en la inteligencia frágil de la juventud que frecuenta las universidades ó que se pasa la vida en los casinos. . . . La primera influencia que la mujer murciana ejerce sobre su marido, es la influencia religiosa.
(In this time of gross irreligiosity there are unfortunately few young people free from the infection of impiety with which certain hateful liberties have poisoned the educational system and public mores; but the woman of Murcia, piously brought up by her mother in the sacred and eternal principles of the true religion, holds back in this whole region of Spain the destruction which an atheistic education and atheistic books and an atheistic press have wrought in the fragile intelligence of the youth of today, who go to the universities or spend their lives in the casinos. . . . The primary area of influence that the Murcian woman has over her husband is religious.)
Here we see the ángel del hogar as a remedy against the threat of democratic social change, represented as a godless poisoning of the minds of Spanish youth. As the century drew on, belief in the timeless and preordained differences between individuals of different classes, races, and sexes hardened into dogma, reinforced by science, in response to the gathering restiveness among women, the working classes, and the colonies. Many writers invoked the angel as a counter to the threat of socialism and feminism. Proponents of the ideology of domesticity consciously counterpoised the image of the angel in virtuous opposition to the emancipated female. Appeals
for reform in the social and political position of women had begun to surface sporadically in Spain in the 1840s, with the appearance of small groups of Fourierists, Saint Simonians, and suffragists. These early demands disappeared in the 1850s as the vision of woman posited by domestic ideology came to dominate mainstream thought. Even though no official feminist organizations existed in nineteenth-century Spain, as they did in North America and Europe, we nevertheless find that in the 1850s male and female writers alike began to present feminism as a pressing social threat. Sinués de Marco ended her famous work El ángel del hogar with the declaration that "creo haber demostrado con ejemplos vivos y enérgicos que no es posible la emancipación de la mujer, la cual necesita para todo del amparo del hombre" (I believe I have demonstrated with vivid and forceful examples that woman's emancipation is not possible, since she needs man's protection for everything). The message recurred, with more urgency, at the end of the century in the work of another woman writer, who remonstrated that Spaniards should unite "para que el feminismo no traspase nuestras fronteras, que tales extravagancias no trastornen las cabezas de nuestras jóvenes, para que cumplan sus deberes como buenas hijas y más tarde como esposas y como madres, pues solamente en el hogar doméstico encontrarán su dicha" (so that feminism never crosses our borders, so that such outlandish ideas do not turn the heads of our young women, so that they fulfill their duties as good daughters and later as wives and mothers, since only in the domestic home will they find happiness).
The ángel del hogar , as portrayed with varying degrees of moral and social panic by such writers, was home loving, asexual, pious, selfless, and submissive. She symbolized a life-style which they believed was the only natural source of contentment for their readers. The ideologues of domesticity succeeded in displacing all the traditional Christian virtues of chastity, humility, abnegation, obedience, patience, love, and piety onto the figure of the domestic woman, who fulfilled her natural instincts and desires in the home and for the family. The new discourse represented the ideal woman as an idealized, mythical figure with transcendental powers. These qualities were presented as woman's "nature," but there was nevertheless a tacit recognition of the importance of nurture in the concurrent stress on good upbringing and the perusal of the conduct manuals.
The bourgeois feminine ideal was so successful in permeating the national psyche that it came to seem the only natural and univer-
sal mode of existence for women. As María Victoria López-Cordon Cortezo shows, when the feminist novelist and critic Emilia Pardo Bazán sought to describe the ancien régime in an article on Spanish women originally commissioned for the prestigious Fortnightly Review in 1889, she did so by means of an image of woman striking for its assumption that the female condition was a "homogeneous universal" (an assumption, Aldaraca points out, which is "a sharp departure from the practice of writers prior to the nineteenth century," who did not elide class lines in this way): "no salía más que a Misa muy temprano. . . . Ocupaba esta mujer las horas en labores manuales, reposando, calcetando, aplanchando, bordando al bastidor o haciendo dulce de conserva. . . . no conocía más libros que el de Misa, el Año Cristiano y el Catecismo, que enseñaba a sus hijos" (she would go out only in order to go to mass very early in the morning. . . . This woman spent her time in fine handiwork, resting, doing crochet, ironing, embroidering her frame, or making jams. . . . she knew no other books save the mass, the Christian Year , and the catechism, which she taught her children).
Even in an essay which departed from common nineteenth-century practice by specifically devoting different sections to the women of different social classes, Pardo Bazán's discourse was affected by the unitary premise of her own title, "La mujer española," so that she generalized and transposed onto the past an image of domestic womanhood which was nineteenth-century and bourgeois, showing the power of the ideal even over those who consciously resisted its lure. While she attacked this model of femininity as a "mujer emparedada" (walled-up woman), Pardo simultaneously evinced a certain nostalgia for what she referred to variously as the embodiment of "genuine," castiza (truly Spanish) female virtue, which, intriguingly, she portrayed as something lost, belonging to the past, which modern society would do well to recuperate.