History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Spanish Realist
An important part of late 19th century Spanish drama must include José Echegaray (1832–1916), with "El gran Galeoto" (The great Galeoto, 1881) and "Mariana" (1891). Despite some borrowings from Ibsen's "Ghosts", especially at the end, "El hijo de Don Juan" (Don Juan's son, 1892) is another worthy effort of his. A pastoral drama, "Terra Baixa" (1896) (Lowlands, also known as Martha of the Lowlands) is a Catalan-language play written by Àngel Guimerà.
"The great Galeoto"
"The great Galeoto". Time: 1880s. Place: Madrid, Spain.
"The great Galeoto" text at http://www.archive.org/details/greatgaleotofol00echegoog
Julian, a banker, owes much in the business way to Ernesto's father, confessing: "Don Juan of Acedo risked for my family name and wealth, almost his life." In return, for the past year, Ernesto has been housed and fed at Julian's expense, but Ernesto feels guilty about such generosity, so that Julian offers him a post as his secretary. Severo, Julian's brother, and his wife, Mercedes, suspect Ernesto of being Teodora's lover. Alone with her, Mercedes says their arrangement is viewed suspiciously by the common talk of society. Teodora is offended and sobs, while Julian walks away from his brother to comfort her. Ernesto guesses the interfering couple has maligned him and so changes his mind about the position, preferring to travel, but Julian refuses to consider it: "I have not the habit of changing my mind or the plans I have matured because of a boy's caprice or a madman's folly, and I have still less intention of weakly subjecting my actions to the town's idle gossip." Yet Ernesto goes away to live in a shabby apartment, where Julian and Severo learn from Pepito, the latter's son, that because of Viscount Nebreda's innuendos Ernesto struck him to provoke a duel, at which Julian cries out: "I mean to do what I ought and can to avenge myself and save Don Juan of Acedo's son." Moreover, he propounds: "Observe, until today calumny was impalpable. There was no seizing its shape. I have now discovered it, and it has taken a human form. There it is at hand, in the person of a viscount." Alone with Ernesto, Pepito asks him who is Galeoto, mentioned in Dante's "Divine Comedy" about an adulterous pair, whose name is the title of Ernesto's play, who answers: "Galeoto was the go-between for the queen and Launcelot and in all loves the third may be truthfully nicknamed Galeoto, above all when we wish to suggest an ugly word without shocking an audience." Ernesto receives the visit of Teodora, who hearing of his duel and his imminent intention to depart to America, wishes him to avoid the duel, for it is her husband's duty to defend her reputation. He disagrees: "Every honorable man has the right to defend a lady." They hear a noise, Teodora hides in his bedroom, and Julian is carried inside by Severo and Pepito, wounded by the viscount's sword. Both wish to place him on Ernesto's bed, which he attempts to obstruct, but Severo pushes past him, so that Teodora is revealed to Julian as he faints. Seeking revenge, Ernesto clashes with the viscount and kills him. Mercedes informs Teodora of the viscount's death, probes into her conscience again about Ernesto, declaring she is sure he loves her. With Ernesto alone, Teodora angrily turns him away, at which he pleads with her on his knees not to leave this way, at which moment Severo enters, crying out: "I can find no word or epithet adequate to the passion of contempt I would express, so I must be content to call you a blackguard. Leave this house at once." But seeing him insult Teodora, Ernesto refuses and forces him to kneel to her as Julian, dying, enters, forcing him to his knees and, crying out: "Bad friend, bad son!" strikes him on the face. He totters out to his death, at which time Severo orders Teodora out of the house and Ernesto claims her as his: "She is mine. The world has so desired it, and its decision I accept; it has driven her to my arms." The great Galeoto has won.
"Mariana". Time: 1890s. Place: Spain.
"Mariana" text at http://www.archive.org/details/marianaanorigin00grahgoog
The rich widow Mariana has two suitors, Pablo, a general, and Daniel, son to a rich man. To Daniel she offers a flower from her bosom, but since he cannot stick it on, she helps him. Turning to Pablo, she forgets she gave it to Daniel, so she picks out another and gives it to him, who also has difficulty in putting it on but in the end succeeds. Mariana invites Daniel to escort het to a ball, but he cannot, as his father may be dying, so that he asks her not to invite Pablo in his place. She refuses. "Lead us to victory, my dear general." She commands. "And where is the victory?" asks Pablo. "And does a general ask that?" answers Mariana, "Where someone may be conquered." At her mansion, Joaquin, Daniel's friend, speaks on his behalf, asking her to declare herself one way or another. "Why?" she asks. "If he is happy at my side, if he is happy in his suffering, and I am happy in making him suffer, why should we be separated?" To Daniel, unwilling to leave her despite her ambivalence, she admits, mainly because fo an unhappy childhood as a result of her mother running away from her father for the sake of oher lover, Alvarado: "I feel no love, I feel no tenderness, and I don't want to feel them." He accepts to continue so, but let her not love another; otherwise, he promises to kill both her and him. Later, Mariana discovers that Daniel is Alvarado's son, and promptly decides to marry Pablo. On the evening of their marriage night, Mariana pretends to suffer from a headache. Alone, Daniel surprises her by entering, proposing to take her away. She refuses. Pablo then enters with a pistol. He shoots to death Mariana and invites Daniel outside for a duel, the latter concluding: " There was only one life that was worth combating for and that lies there. What does it matter for such lives as ours? Adieu. No! I shall be with you soon, Mariana, I shall be with you soon."
"Don Juan's son"
"Don Juan's son". Time: 1890s. Place: Spain.
"Don Juan's son" text at http://www.archive.org/details/sondonjuan00echegoog
Don Juan had led a riotous life, full of drinkings and adulteries, but he is confident his son, Lazarus, a writer, will make up for his lost life with a brilliant career. Juan's cronies are set to go off again, including Timoteo, father of Carmen, Lazarus' intended, who cries out to Juan: "You gay young dog, lead us on to glory and to pleasure." Meanwhile, Dolores, wife to Juan, and Carmen worry about Lazarus' health. Larazus is nervous and unable to concentrate. His father is tender towards him, while struggling and sweating over a book by Kant. Lazarus vainly attempts to work, to whom Dr Bermudez addresses himself, consulted by Dolores in regard to her son. The doctor, thinking the case involves his cousin, blunders by blurting out his diagnosis of Lazarus' condition: the first stages of syphilitic dementia, transmitted to him by his father's orgies. After finding out the truth of the matter, the doctor clumsily denies the certainty of his diagnosis, but Lazarus feels it to be true. He asks him when the disease will strike, but the doctor only answers him in a vague manner. When Timoteo arrives to give away his daughter's hand, Lazarus refuses, crying out to his father: "You gave me life, but that 's not enough: give me more life, to live, to love, to be happy- give me life for my own Carmen- give me more life, or cursed be the life you gave me!" then falls unconscious. Though his condition has fluctuated, Lazarus seems destined to die a miserable death. He no longer has any wish to speak to Carmen and calls towards him his father and mother. Raving, bitterly remembering childhood memories, he then rejects his father: "No. I remember everything now; between the two, no; I was alone with my mother; you were not there. Go away, go away." Next, remembering how his mother chose to send him away, he also rejects her. At last, beginning to go blind, he calls out, to the horror of all three: "The sun! The sun! I want the sun."
"Lowlands". Time: 1890s. Place: Catalania, Spain.
"Lowlands" text at http://archive.org/details/martalowlandste00gillgoog
Villagers in the lowlands have heard a rumor whereby the master of the town, Sebastian, has arranged a marriage between his ward, Martha, and Manelic, a goatherd living in the uplands. One of the villagers reveals in a low voice; "They can't fool me. The master's been huntin' a husband for her for a long time, but he couldn't find one. They both wanted a man who would be like a dumb brute, more so than any of us-" On his arrival, the villagers smile or laugh at Manelic's simplicity. "Every night, without missin' one, I say my prayers; first a paternoster, and then another paternoster, which makes two paternosters," he specifies. "The first for the souls of my father and mother, because they loved each other so; one is enough for both. And the other paternoster- do you know what it is for? Why, so the Lord would send me a good wife." Martha does not want to, but submits to Sebastian, who says: "Why, that's what I want. You don't know how glad I am to hear you say it. Do you think, if he pleased you, I'd let you marry him?" The planned marriage was helped by another villager, Thomas, but after hearing that Martha has been the master's mistress since she was a child, he baulks at it, but yet Sebastian imposes his will, Manelic to become the new miller. He himself is to marry another and thereby annul his uncle's testament whereby he would get nothing. After the ceremony, Martha insists that her husband sleep in a separate room. When she discovers her husband loves her, she is aghast with surprise and horror, having thought he accepted her for money. Hearing about the bad relations between husband and wife, the villagers laugh over it. Because Manelic suspects the presence of a man skulking about his house and because his wife shows no sign of love, he wants to return to the uplands without her, considering this place "a pit of misery". On learning this, Martha pleads to follow him and thereby escape from Sebastian's baleful influence, even goading him to stab her with a knife rather than abandon her. After doing so, he recoils from further violence and decides to take her with him after all, but Sebastian prevents it and removes him from his post. To encourage him to come back for her, Martha reveals that Sebastian is the man he was worried about. One night, Marta is about to escape from the village when caught in time by Sebastian. She struggles. He catches her by the throat, at which point Manelic tears the door-curtain aside and stands peering in. He challenges Sebastian but, seeing him unarmed, throws his knife away. They fight. Manelic strangles him to death, then in front of the villagers points to the mountains. Martha nods absently. They run away, the people falling back to make room for them.