4.3 “Las medias rojas” – Emilia Pardo Bazán

11 min readjune 15, 2023

Riya Patel

Riya Patel

AP Spanish Literature 💃🏽

24 resources
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“Las Medias Rojas” se trata sobre una joven llamada Idara que quiere libertad e irse a un lugar diferente. Clodio, un señor mayor, no le muestra mucho amor a Idra. Él la observa con desconfianza mientras ella busca convertirse más atractiva a través de una variedad de aspectos diferentes. Con miedo de enfrentar un futuro difícil sin ella y estar solo y viejo, el padre se pone violento. El piensa que es la responsabilidad de ella, de quedarse con él y cuidar lo. Clodio empieza a decir excusas para que no se vaya y luego la golpea, dejando la gravemente herida. El propósito de la obra es mostrar las desventajas de la mujer en una sociedad, y la falta de amor entre una familia. Vemos el papel del machismo, y la forma en que el género también juega un papel.  

Context Behind “Las medias rojas”

Although we are closer to "modern times" in terms of when this literature piece was written, it is still super important to remember that a literature piece like this was not very common, especially because of its message.

Author Background

Although she lived from 1851 through 1921, Emilia Pardo Bazán, is still a well-known feminist and writer from Spain. She was well-known for her outstanding literary accomplishments and progressive viewpoints at a time when women's voices were frequently marginalized. Writing a variety of genres, including novels, short tales, essays, and literary criticism, Pardo Bazán was a prolific author.
The short story "Las medias rojas" (also known as "The Red Stockings") is one of her best pieces. This 1894 publication examines issues of poverty, gender norms, and the oppression of women in Spanish culture.

Image Courtesy of Wikidata

Time and Place

📜Historical: When "Las medias rojas" was released in 1894, Spain was going through a lot of social and political transformation. As the nation moved from an agricultural to an industrial economy, rural populations were uprooted and new social groups were created. The story's themes of poverty and social injustice were affected by the context of societal change. There was a large displacement of families and communities as well as inequalities.
🗺️Geographic: Northwest Spain's Galicia region is the setting for the story's small community. Galicia was mostly an agricultural area, with modest rural settlements and a conservative way of life. The geographical setting of the novel captures the rural deprivation and lack of options the protagonist, Ildara, experiences in her particular location.

Societal Context

👑Political: Political unrest, characterized by disputes and changes, prevailed in late 19th-century Spain. The loss of colonies, the decline of the Spanish Empire, and political conflict between various factions all defined the time period. Pardo Bazán's critique of societal inequalities and the oppressive systems that upheld poverty and gender inequality was shaped by the political climate of the period.
🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻Socio-economic: The socioeconomic setting of "Las medias rojas" captures the blunt realities of a nation struggling with economic inequality. The narrative depicts the struggles that the lower classes, particularly women, had to deal with because they were frequently trapped in cycles of poverty and had little prospects for upward mobility. In her investigation of the effects of socioeconomic circumstances on people's lives, Pardo Bazán exposes the extreme lengths people would go to in order to survive.
🎭Cultural: Spanish society was still firmly anchored in traditional gender norms and expectations in the late 19th century. Women suffered substantial restrictions in terms of their ability to obtain education, find jobs, and exercise personal agency. Ildara's depiction by Pardo Bazán of her fight against these cultural expectations and her quest for independence reflects the time's shifting views on gender roles as well as the budding feminist movement in Spain.

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Need to Know About ”Las Medias Rojas”


The following characters interact in the story to examine issues of poverty, gender norms, and the restrictive circumstances endured by women in late 19th-century Spanish society.
Ildara: The story's main character and protagonist. Young Ildara resides in a little village in the countryside. She longs to leave her miserable existence behind and embark on a better future. Her objectives are nonetheless hampered by the repressive conditions and societal expectations that are imposed on her.
Doña Rosa is the aunt and protector of Ildara. Dona Rosa symbolizes society's rigid gender roles and conventional beliefs. She rejects Ildara's dreams of a different existence and forces her expectations upon her.
Ildara's cousin, Clodio: Ildara is under the control and oppression of Clodio. He represents the patriarchal authority that limits Ildara's options and abuses her physically and psychologically.
The villagers are the residents of the story's rural setting village. They represent the generalized social pressures and expectations that support traditional gender standards and contribute to Ildara's captivity.

Literary Terms and Devices

  • Descripción: Emilia Pardo Bazán employs specific details to let readers visualize the events in "Las medias rojas" in their minds. She describes both the characters and the actual settings, including sensory information that helps the story come to life.
  • Ambiente: The story is set in a small village in Galicia, Spain, and is primarily set in a rural area. Pardo Bazán uses images to depict the rural setting that show the hardship and poverty of country life, which creates a depressing atmosphere that affects the characters' circumstances.
  • Atmósfera: "Las medias rojas" has a tense, depressing mood. Through the depiction of the characters and their surroundings, the author conveys a sense of helplessness and constraint. Ildara's existence is surrounded by despair and hopelessness, and she has few options, which is reflected in the atmosphere.
  • Diálogo: Using dialogue, the author can make the reader aware of the characters' interactions as well as their feelings and ideas. Through her relationships with her aunt and cousin, Ildara experiences irritation, fear, and oppression, which Pardo Bazán depicts through dialogue.
  • Narrador omnisciente: The narrative is delivered from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator who is aware of the characters' emotions and ideas. The reader is given a more complete understanding of the events and the characters' motivations thanks to the omniscient narrator.
  • Prosopopeya: The prosopopeya is a rhetorical device in which inanimate objects or non-human entities are given human attributes. Although "Las medias rojas" may not have conventional examples of prosopopeia, the author employs specific descriptions to personify ideas like optimism and sorrow, which helps the reader feel something along with the character.
  • Regionalismos: "Las medias rojas" is filled with regionalisms, which are words, phrases, or expressions that are unique to the Galician dialect or speech. These regionalisms represent the cultural and linguistic uniqueness of the area and lend authenticity to the surroundings.
  • Sinestesia: A figure of speech called synesthesia combines various senses to produce vivid sensory impressions. Pardo Bazán uses subtle synesthetic elements in "Las medias rojas," to communicate the emotions and experiences of the characters.

Summary of ”Las Medias Rojas”

Ildara, the main character in "Las medias rojas," approaches the home while carrying a load of firewood she had gathered from the landlord's property. Her uncle, Clodio, ignores her and carries on rolling cigarettes. Ildara builds the fire and begins to cook a small lunch while wearing her hair in a popular manner but tangled from the branches. There is an unusual color rising from Ildara's skirt: a red cotton stocking. Clodio notices this as she bends over to blow on the fire.
Ildara is criticized by Clodio for wearing stockings and is compared to the priest's sister in the process. Ildara justifies herself by saying that she used the proceeds from selling eggs to the priest to pay for the stockings. Ildara is physically attacked by Clodio when he accuses her of lying and throws her against the wall.
Ildara shields her face with her fists out of fear towards her violent uncle. With hopes for a better future as she approaches maturity, she is desperate to maintain her beauty. She intends to board a ship and emigrate in search of a better life and more prosperous prospects. Her uncle, however, is opposed to the notion and whips her severely. In the neighboring stream, Ildara wipes her face after being beaten. There, she discovers her bloodied tooth in her hand.
She has an injury to her eye, and the doctor diagnoses a retinal detachment that has left her partially blind. Ildara's injuries prevent her from achieving her goal of immigrating on the ship. The story ends with the narrative that in order to reach new heights of comfort and luxury, one must be in good physical and emotional condition, however, Ildara is left physically and psychologically damaged and confined to her miserable life in the remote village.

Themes and Motifs in ”Las Medias Rojas”


La construcción del género:  "Las medias rojas" illustrates how society creates gender-restrictive roles and expectations for women. Ildara is a victim of male dominance and repression, as exemplified by her uncle Clodio. Her beauty and independence aspirations are threatened and suppressed, which reflects the subordination of women in the society at the time.
Las divisiones socioeconómicas: The story also discusses the socioeconomic divisions that exist in rural Galician society. Ildara and her family stand in for the working class and the poor, whereas Clodio represents power and wealth. The limitations and opportunities that the characters can take advantage of demonstrate the class divide and how these differences contribute to social immobility and inequality.
La construcción de la realidad: "Las medias rojas" explores how a character's reality is shaped by their circumstances and social expectations. Ildara has hopes for a better life, but her reality is characterized by poverty, violence, and a lack of options. The story highlights how social and economic conditions affect people's perceptions of reality and their capacity to change their circumstances.


Themes and motifs in "Las medias rojas" includes:
  1. Feminism: The novel is a call for women's rights and equality, and it advocates for women's empowerment and education.
  2. Class struggle: The novel portrays the struggle between the working class and the wealthy, and it shows how social and economic inequalities impact women's lives.
  3. Social injustice: The novel deals with themes of poverty, corruption, and political oppression, and it shows how these social issues affect the lives of the characters.
  4. Education: The novel emphasizes the importance of education, particularly for women, and it shows how education can be used as a tool for social change.
  5. Individual versus society: The novel explores the tension between individual freedom and the constraints of society, and it shows how social norms and traditions can limit personal freedom.
  6. Women's roles: The novel challenges traditional gender roles and explores the changing roles of women in society.
  7. Naturalism: The novel is an example of Naturalist literature, which focuses on the realistic portrayal of social and psychological phenomena.

Text Comparison

The following is a comparison between "El hijo" and "Las medias Rojas" which both have very similar themes.
Las dos obras la cuales se analizan tratan sobre las relaciones entre hijos y padres. “El hijo” es una obra escrita por Horacio Quiroga y “Las medias Rojas” es una obra escrita por Emilia Pardo Bazán. Aunque las dos obras hablan sobre las relaciones entre hijos y tutores, lo hacen muy diferentemente. Las diferentes categorías en las cuales se pueden mirar esto en los análisis es la rebeldía, el sentimiento directo del padre, y las reacciones en lo cual hace cada personaje. 
La obra de Bazán es una obra que se basa en la rebeldía. La muchacha se quiere ir de su casa y está en busca de la libertad. Poniendo se las medias rojas representan la rebeldía en esta historia. Ella ya no es callada ni tímida y poniendo se las medias rojas es simbolismo de esto. El papa le pregunta a la joven que si ya no quiere anda descalza como "las mujeres de bien”. El tio Clodio, quien se puede reconocer como su papa, no respecta las decisiones de su hija como visto aquí y aunque ella sabe las consecuencias de lo que hizo, ella acepta eso. Ella se quiere ir de la casa y se rebeldía contra su padre, lo que no pasa en la obra de Quiroga. Desde el principio, en “El Hijo” se puede ver como el niño es obediente y escucha lo que padre dice. La repetición de la línea “Si, papa” representa como el hijo no se rebelada y escucha lo que su padre dice. El hijo no tiene razón por rebordearse como la muchacha en el otro texto. Es más, la relación entre el hijo y su papa a comparación de la hija y su papa es muy obvia al resultado de esta rebeldía. La niña no está feliz con su situación, pero el niño si lo está.  
Esto llega a la comparación de los sentimientos los cuales los padres tienen para sus hijos. Y como es por esto que se puede notar la diferencia entre las relaciones que tiene el hijo con el padre y la hija con el padre. En la obra de Bazán, el papa de tiene resentimiento a la hija, él no la quiere. Esto se puede ver cuando el papa, tio Clodio, de Ildara piense que ella le está mintiendo y le grita “¡Engañosa! ¡Engañosa!” En no puede creer en su hija y la confianza no está allí, lo que es muy diferente en el texto de Quiroga. El papa tiene mucha confianza en su hijo y que es “educado” y que no es necesario que el levante “los ojos de su quehace” para mirar lo que está haciendo su hijo. Estas diferencias es algo muy importante de notar porque en “Las Medias Rojas” el papa no puede confiar en lo que dice la muchacha, pero en el otro texto, el papa puede confiar en su hijo hasta con un arma. La confianza es un sentimiento, pero en los dos textos, la perdida (o la posibilidad de pérdida) es algo con lo cual se lidia. Idalara se quiere ir de su casa porque no está feliz con su papa, pero su papa no está triste por esto si no es que el esta furioso. Para él su hija no es una hija, pero es una posesión que trata mal. No quiere que se vaya porque va a perder a una hija su no porque va a perder un objeto. Para el papa del hijo, el se sigia acordando de su hijo aun cuando murió. Para el, su hijo era una persona y alguien al cual el quería mucho y estaba triste al perderlo. 
Las reacciones de cada personaje, pero especialmente el de los padres es muy importante analizar para comprender las diferencias. El papa es muy violento en las el texto de las medias rojas. El le pega a su hija frecuentemente por las más pequeñas cosas. Por ejemplo, cuando el papa pensaba que ella le estaba mintiendo, el le pego y Ildara tuvo que apretar fuertemente “los dientes por no gritar de dolor.” Esta reacción violenta es muy diferente a las reacciones que se identifican en las relaciones del hijo y el padre en el texto de Quiroga. El papa besa a el niño en la cabeza y le habla con cuidado. El no le pega ni le falta el respeto. Las reacciones son razonables y con cariño, lo que no se identifica en el otro texto. 
Las dos obras la cuales se analizan tratan sobre las relaciones entre hijos y padres. Las diferentes categorías en las cuales se pueden mirar esto en los análisis es la rebeldía, el sentimiento directo del padre, y las reacciones en lo cual hace cada personaje pero la relación en “El Hijo” es mejor que la de “Las Medias Rojas.” 
Las Medias Rojas is a piece that covers a lot of themes and has not been super tested like other stories but is very easy to compare. It would not be a surprise if this piece is tested on any upcoming test (:
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