A Mirror of Society: Feminist Advocacy in Emilia Pardo Bazán's Short Stories
This thesis is concerned with the manner in which the fin de siècle Spanish writer Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851–1921) disseminated her feminist views through her short stories published in popular newspapers and journals. As a female writer, she incurred the ire of many of her male contemporaries, challenging them both personally with her feminist views, and professionally, with her erudition and immense literary output. In this thesis I offer firstly an overview of Spanish society during Pardo Bazán’s lifetime with particular reference to the situation of women and go on to outline her life and most significant achievements, literary and otherwise, with a view to contextualising the narrative analysis which follows. Twelve of Pardo Bazán’s selected short stories are analysed in the light of the feminist topics which she addressed in several of her essays and, where possible, I correlate these stories with the relevant essays. In particular, I examine issues of female literacy, legal rights and prostitution, as well as the gendered double standards of the time in the area of religious observance and, in particular, the double moral standard. I also examine stories where women did exercise a degree of agency and act in ways that went against patriarchal standards of behaviour, making life-changing decisions. I argue that in these twelve stories, it is evident that not only is each one able to be read as seemingly conforming with the mores of the patriarchal society, but that each one also has a veiled subtext where the injustices suffered by the female protagonists are made evident. Thus, I show that these stories align with Pardo Bazán’s essays and promote her broader feminist views to the reader willing to consider them.