While they sit by the fire, Bea tells Daniel the history she has learned about The Angel of Mist. The house was built at the turn of the century for an eccentric and tyrannical tycoon named Salvador Jausà, who amassed a fortune in Cuba and returned to Spain with an American wife and a beautiful Cuban maid named Marisela, whom everyone believed to be his lover.
The Jausàs are similar to the novel’s other wealthy clans, such as the Aguilars. The head of the family is a strong-minded man who expresses his power by subjugating or demeaning the other members of the family. In this case, Jausà does so by maintaining both a wife and mistress within the same household.
Jausà decided he wanted a neo-Gothic mansion just like those he had seen in New York. He designed an extravagant garden with statues full of angels. He hired a team of architects, sent them to New York to study the designs he wanted, and ordered the house built in six months. One month after the family moved in, the police arrived at the house to find both women dead and Jausà naked and handcuffed to his armchair.
Jausà’s extravagance demonstrates not only his wealth but his desire to control the circumstances and people around him. However, his power ultimately fails him; tied to the chair, he is literally subject to external control.
The police believed that Jausà and his wife were poisoned by Marisela. Jausà survived, although he lost his powers of speech. After Marisela attempted to murder her employers, they believed, she cut her wrists and splashed her blood on all the house’s walls. The wife had been pregnant and was discovered with a skeleton drawn on her stomach in red wax, so the police concluded that Marisela’s motive was jealousy.
Marisela’s drastic actions demonstrate not just jealousy but deep frustration with her role as Jausà’s subjugated mistress. Through her, Zafón suggests that for women suffocated by male attempts to possess them, violence and rage often seem like the only solution.
At this point, Jausà met Mr. Aldaya, whom he invited to his house to observe “a scientific and spiritual experiment.” He had hired a cinematographer named Fructuós Gelabert to capture on film Marisela’s spirit, which he was convinced still inhabited the house and was trying to speak to him. Gelabert claimed that his special process of developing the film revealed images of Marisela.
At this point, it seems that Jausà is insane and Gelabert (who was a real-life inventor and screenwriter) a charlatan. Jausà’s decline and obsessive behavior show the psychological consequences of giving too much credence to the supernatural.
Mr. Aldaya assumed this was a ruse on Gelabert’s part, but Jausà believed completely in the results. Mr. Aldaya knew that such a gullible and desperate man could be manipulated easily, so he encouraged him to continue experimenting while also convincing him to surrender control of his huge financial reserves. After this was accomplished, Jausà vanished mysteriously and Mr. Aldaya paid Gelabert to forget all about the episode.
It’s ironic and perhaps fitting that Jausà, determined to demonstrate his control over everything around him, falls completely under Aldaya’s spell and is easily swindled by him. His fate argues that it’s both useless and unwise to aspire to an extent of control which can never be sustained.
Mr. Aldaya soon moved his family into the mansion, where Penélope was born. Although Mr. Aldaya denied there was anything supernatural about the house, the family heard noises at night and felt drafts when there was no wind. The servants swore that small things like food and buttons always went missing and turned up in other parts of the house. When jewelry disappeared, Mr. Aldaya fired the maids, although many people thought he really did this because he had a habit of sleeping with them.
Mr. Aldaya is firm in his denial that no traces of the Jausàs’ awful fate linger in the house. However, Mr. Aldaya, with his unilateral decisions about the family’s lodgings and his philandering among the servants, mirrors the very qualities about Jausà that led to his demise. The wealthy Aldayas share their structure and flaws not only with the Jausàs but other rich families like the Aguilars.
The house also altered the family’s character; they were never happy there. Mrs. Aldaya felt isolated and frightened, while the children sometimes disappeared for hours in the house. Once Jorge turned up after eight hours and said he’d been with a black woman who said that “all the females of the family would die […] to atone for the sins of the males,” and told him the exact date of his mother’s death, which occurred exactly when predicted in 1921. All her jewelry was missing and was later found in the courtyard pond next to one of Penélope’s dolls.
It’s not just the Aldayas’ and Jausàs’ similarities in character or socioeconomic circumstances that led them to inhabit the same house or make the same mistakes. Rather, the house itself seems to interact with the families and influence their fate. By making the house an agent in the story, Zafón suggests that some supernatural element is at play in the families’ lives, and that their destinies are determined by something greater than coincidence or worldly events.
In 1922, Mr. Aldaya decided to sell The Angel of Mist, but was unable because of its bad reputation. After bankruptcy, the mansion passed through the hands of several real estate firms and now belongs to a financial group directed by Mr. Aguilar.
Although the Aguilars don’t live in the Angel of Mist, Mr. Aguilar’s ownership of it links him to the other two wealthy families, as does his tyrannical behavior towards his offspring.
Bea says that nothing happens by chance, and Daniel’s discovery of The Shadow of the Wind led directly to this moment in the Aldaya mansion.
While Daniel often thinks about the idea that events in his life are “destined” to occur, it’s Bea who usually puts these thoughts into words. Coming from a trustworthy and sympathetic character, the idea their lives are predetermined by an external force seems more compelling.
Bea produces a letter she’s written to Pablo, telling him she wants to get married as soon as possible, and asks Daniel whether she should send it. Daniel throws the envelope into the fire. Bea tells him to “do whatever you want to me.” Then he and Bea lay down on the carpet and have sex.
By disobeying her father and turning her back on Pablo, Bea demonstrates independence and subverts the patriarchal control that has dominated her life. However, the fact that she can only do this by turning from one man to another shows her inability to conceive of a life free from male influence, and the novel’s truly limited possibilities for female independence.