The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the function of desire in the legends of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. In ten of the fifteen legends, the protatonists are led by a misguided desire for something out of the ordinary, rejecting societal norms or common sense, to the point of self- and other-destructiveness. The protagonists create false realities for themselves in which they believe they will be able to conquer their desires with no consequences to themselves or to others. Analyses of desire by psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, philosopher David Hume, and other theologians and thinkers informed this work. While philosopher and literary critic René Girard's triangle model for desire serves a launching point for the discussion, the case can be made from a close examination of the legends themselves. The pattern in each legend is based upon the protagonist fixating upon an impossible object of desire, then temporarily transferring that desire to and pursuing a secondary, representative object. Finally, the uncanny and uncomfortable transposition of human desire to physical objects backfires as nature itself and the underworld turn predator into prey, consuming myth as spiritual forces violently counter human designs to control them.


Kimberly E. Contag

Committee Member

James A. Grabowska

Committee Member

Gregory Taylor

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


World Languages and Cultures


Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License