This article explores the symbolic connection between marriage and space in Emilia Pardo Bazán’s Los pazos de Ulloa (1886). Although marriage was an effective strategy of social and subjective control in nineteenth-century Spain, it is my contention that this institution also provided the grounds for subversive intervention—for undermining the basic tenets of patriarchal society and the modern nation-state. In particular, this article asserts that the intersection between marriage and social space can be unmoored from the interlocking regulations of domestic and political legislation and recast as a destabilizing force within the society it is supposed to uphold. I interpret marriage as a liminal construct whose meaning fluctuates as it alternates between the “civilized” locus of the city and the “barbaric” countryside. The multilayered nature of marriage in the novel provides the grounds to detach these spaces from their univocal meanings as established by the self-appointed artisans of the modern nation in Spain. The reader is confronted throughout Los pazos de Ulloa with symbolic spaces that underscore the gaps of such regulations, pointing towards the possibility of creating social meaning and individual identities beyond the bounds imposed by male-dominated values and the related constraints associated with liberal political theory.


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pp. 29-41
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