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Entre Visillos

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Entre Visillos is part of the Spanish Post war Narrative movement. Published in 1957, this novel is one of the major pieces of literature under Franco’s regime; it was awarded the Premio Nadal in 1957. This novel is part of the antirealist movement that developed under Franco’s regime, depicting the non reality under Franco. Through the use of imaginary discourse, metonymy and metaphor the author has managed to make a brilliant and extreme critique of the society as she experienced it during the dictatorship whilst still escaping censorship.

This novel develops the concept of private reading, the implicit that comes out through the way things are said and not what is said. The passage studied in this Critical Analysis is taken from the sixteenth chapter. This chapter is one of Natalia’s. She becomes the narrator of her own story, we read this passage through her own words and see what is happening through her eyes of a person more than a character of the novel. We see the developing of the introspective process that Natalia experiences by the writing of her diary.

Through the way she writes in this passage, one can observe a defining moment for her, where through the comparison of what she knows and who she knows, Natalia makes a decision that will influence the rest of her life and define her as a person, she decides to study and to make education a major issue in her existence. The theme of identity is major in this passage indeed Natalia is making a very conscious decision about herself and whom she wants to become, the fact that this decision is conscious makes it all the more important for her, it defines her as a character and as a person.

By first analyzing the characters of the passage, we’ll see how Natalia is in relationship to her entourage, rapport that she writes in her diary. This leads us to studying the way in which the passage has been written and then to observe the authors underlying ideas. This passage specifically refers to the relationship between Natalia and her friend Alicia. This is shown in the text through the dialogues with Alicia that she reports (lines 8-17, 64-66, 76-89). Natalia also goes into great detail describing her friend; a whole paragraph is taken to go into describing Alicia’s family background.

We can observe a developed lexical field of poverty with the words: ‘pobre’, ‘mal vestida’, ‘poco frio’, ‘traje sastre’, ‘pueblo’, ‘mas frio’, ‘nunca gastaba abrigo’ and ‘trilla’. This paragraph also lets us into Alicia’s life and what kind of family she has. We are told about her ‘tio’ (uncle), and her ‘abuela’ (grandmother). On a less material level Natalia describes what her friend is like, of which we get different accounts. First we discover what Natalia’s family thinks about her, we understand that they think she is not educated.

Natalia’s aunt even goes to say ‘esa chica’ instead of saying Alicia which is very a pejorative term. Then we go to discovering Natalia’s opinion of her friend: ‘ella tiene una manera de ser que algunas cosas no las entiende’ (line 74) she then goes to say ‘mas prosaica y con menos preoccupation de analizarse, pudorosa’ (line 95), however in the passage she describes her as being a very close friend ‘mi amiga’ (line 13), ‘tan amigas’ (line 70), ‘lo mas amigas’ (line 87). We can thus observe a contradiction in what Natalia thinks about Alicia.

In this passage Natalia briefly brings up her family, we don’t specifically know who but obviously the figures of authority in the household. She uses the third person of the plural to talk about them: ‘han vuelto a hablar’ (line 22), ‘dicen’ (line 21). This use of the third person shows her contempt for them. She doesn’t take the time to be precise about whom she is talking. She puts them into the same mass. Finally, the last character taking part in this passage is herself.

This is very clear through the use of the first person singular through out the passage: ‘yo’, ‘me’, ‘mi’ and so on. More than being a simple character of the passage Natalia is the narrator and the diary writer. This is a very curious process that the author uses, two different narrative voices through the same protagonist. Indeed, at the being of the text the narrator is the omniscient narrator that sees things through the eyes of Natalia and speaks through her voice, then however that voice disappears to leave the floor to Natalia’ diary.

This separation is clear through the different tenses that are used when the different voices take the floor. In the first paragraph we can observe past tenses, such as ‘el preterito’ and ‘el imperfecto’ which show a traditional narrative voice that is usually used in a novel. However in the rest of the text we observe present tenses, tenses used in speech, letters or diaries. This is how the reader realizes that he is reaching even further into Natalia’s thoughts. The reader can follow her development so much closer than through a traditional narrative voice.

The fact that we are reading a passage of a diary is much clearer when observing the lexical field of feelings with words such as: ‘no quiero saltar’, ‘esperando’, ‘arrepentido’, ‘estoy un poco sola’, ‘avergonzarme’, ‘enfadara’, ‘enamorado’ and ‘enfadi?? ‘. This diary is a means of liberation for Natalia that expresses what she feels, theses feeling are all very different and we can observe how she struggles with them. However the feeling of annoyance comes up regularly with the word ‘enfadar’, her diary is the way in which she liberates her frustrations, the ones of an adolescent.

More than frustration this diary means that she can express her thoughts as a character: indeed the passage for lines 34 to 43 is a very interesting one. She openly puts down one of her thoughts starting with ‘me he dado cuenta de una cosa’, ‘I have realized something’. This voice of the diary that Natalia is writing is a means by which the author can furtively make our own voice heard; she can make her critique and put her ideas forward. Firstly Carmen Marti?? n Gaite advances the idea of how based on appearance the society is.

Natalia points out that the easiest way to go unnoticed, to not be hassled, is by being what every one expects of her (lines 34 to 43). She must put on a happy face in the corridor, say that the weather is nice and ask for new shoes, show that she is shallow. This brings us to the second point developed by the author, the place of women in this society.

Tambien he dicho que quiero unos zapatos nuevos. ‘ In other words women are supposed to be shallow, thinking is not their domain. In the way that Natalia writes this paragraph, we can see that she is herself in disagreement with this through the repeated use of ‘y’. This heavy style shows how she considers what is being said. Through the character of Alicia, the author makes her major critique. Indeed Alicia is depicted by Natalia as being not very ambitious; all she wants to do is live in a little village being a school teacher and getting married.

She is also made out as having not much depth to her and is not interested in the slightest introspection, when she blatantly refuses the start any diary on the excuse that diaries are for the bored and inactive people of this world. In comparison we observe a very determined Natalia, who by the simple means of writing a diary is consistently putting into question the things around her. The author critiques the acceptance of people who aren’t ready to put things into question, because in the end it is an effort to make, the person who fits in is far more comfortable. Martin Gaite is criticizing an acceptant and inactive society.

This kind of text could have been taken in different ways during the 1950’s. When reading on the surface not looking for any depth, people must have seen it as a nice relating of the friendship of two girls. Indeed it goes through what girl relationships are, they talk about boys, each other, what they hope and see for the future. Moreover nothing political is brought up; all one can observe is a somewhat confused girl who is getting confused in childish things. At the most people would have had a kind smile, thinking the poor girl what she really needs is to get married and have a family that’ll make her content.

However those wanting to see it as politically inclined could. But this entered the concept of private reading; no one could say it was political because nothing political was said. I found it extremely political and cleverly written. Indeed it is hard to explain what is political about it, but there is an underlying feeling that Natalia is in total rebellion of what is around her, and that this rebellion is not personal to the character of Natalia, but reaches out to the message the author is getting through.

We must also consider that we are viewing this text with our actual eye of democracy, woman emancipation, and so on. Maybe it is easier for us to see the absurd of the situation and what the author is saying. In any case this passage beautifully depicts the struggles of the young Natalia, who decides and takes action in her life in total contradiction with what surrounds her, which enables the author to deliver her political message.

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