Doña Perfecta

el traje de la autoridad y de la maternidad, la moda y el género en la novela naturalista española


  • Sally Filippini Bologna


In the wake of the development of capitalism during the nineteenth century in Europe a very different way of dressing was established for men and women, whose main trends came from France and England. Spain, which was economically and culturally backward compared to the modernity of other European countries, still had a late influence on the wardrobe, especially around the end of the century. This period coincides with the maximum expression of Spanish literary realism and naturalism, in which it is possible to look for interesting elements of the characters' costumes to understand the society of that time. In particular, this article aims to analyse the work of Benito PérezGaldóspublished in 1876, Doña Perfecta, in which a woman manages to become a chief of a country in the province of Spain. Her authority is demonstrated not only through her attitude, but also by her wardrobe: the use of sober and dark colours is reminiscent of men's suits, thus male over female authority. However, Perfecta is also a mother, and that adds value to her government and her decisions, which are also an allegory of the figure of the Virgin. The conclusion of the analysis of this novel finds us in the reflection in which fashion is not simply something superficial that changes according to the frivolous taste of women, but a mirror of the model of women that is imposed by men on women. This social sign is essential to understand how patriarchal society tried to obtain absolute power at the end of the 19th century and the way women react to this imposition.