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Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. While con- sumerism and particularly fashion afforded nineteenth-century spanish women a certain degree of agency Heneghan 5 , the young Rufete undoubt- edly personifies anxiety-ridden social discourses that conflated lujo and lujuria Aldaraca ; Jagoe While these perspectives represent a crucial contribution to the field of spanish gender studies and are persuasively elaborated along the- oretical lines, such scholarship risks overlooking the concrete, historical reali- ties of prostitutes who lived and worked in Madrid in the second half of the nineteenth century.
According to this widely-held view, prostitution not only preserved bourgeois domestic ideologies but also safeguarded masculine morality. Rather, she would merely become incorporated into an alternative if nefarious bourgeois institu- tion at least as structured as the institution of marriage. As Jo Labanyi has persuasively demonstrated, however, isidora does not become una prostituta clandestina at the end of the novel. Labanyi further argues that the house of prostitu- tion itself defies bourgeois norms precisely because the brothel consists of a group of women claiming economic independence within the so-called public sphere: Far from a collaborative or empowering business venture, the brothel will hardly offer isidora an indepen- dent lifestyle, financial autonomy or even control over her own body.
As a mujer comprometi- da, isidora functions exactly as a prostitute should according to the contem- porary theorizations of public health outlined previously: Whether isidora ultimately disavows marriage is, however, debatable. Moreover, the sociohistorical realities of prostitution outlined in this essay — and of which at least some nineteenth-century readers would have been aware — suggest that isidora has vastly overestimated the freedoms promised by prostitution.
Where isidora has relinquished her noble identity, her evident conviction in the liberty prostitution will afford may prove yet another illusion.
Prostitution and sexuality in France after The Gender of Modernity. The Reframing of Realism. Gender and Modernization in the spanish Realist Novel. Mapping the social Body: The spanish Bourgeois Novel and Contemporary Cus- toms Reglamento de higiene especial.