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LOPE DE VEGA'S `COMEDIAS DE

TEMA RELIGIOSO'
Re-creations and Re-presentations
Elaine Canning
Monografas A

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Coleccin Tmesis
SERIE A: MONOGRAFAS, 204

LOPE DE VEGAS COMEDIAS


DE TEMA RELIGIOSO:
RE-CREATIONS AND
RE-PRESENTATIONS
Unlike his secular drama, Lope de Vegas religious plays have been
largely neglected. This two-part study aims to redress the scant attention paid to the comedias de tema religioso by offering an analysis of
the thematic axes of five plays. Part I, which is concerned with the
re-creation of the source material for the seventeenth-century stage,
is based on a discussion of La hermosa Ester and the Isidro plays. The
generation of a variety of forms of audience reception through the
manipulation of biblical and hagiographical material is examined, as
well as Lopes treatment of socio-literary themes including love and
the role of woman. The relationship between religious drama and
metatheatre forms the focus of part II. Lopes use of self-referential
devices in Lo fingido verdadero and La buena guarda serves to
highlight the illusory nature of life and the relationship between
lo verdadero and lo divino which lie at the heart of the theocentric
world view of seventeenth-century Spain. The conflicting imperatives
of human and divine love and the issue of identity are features of all
of the plays. Furthermore, it is illustrated that the interplay between
illusion and reality and the relationship between playwright and
audience are crucial to Lopes dramatic output.

Dr Elaine Canning lectures in Spanish at the University of Wales,


Bangor.

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LOPE DE VEGAS
COMEDIAS DE TEMA
RELIGIOSO
RE-CREATIONS AND
RE-PRESENTATIONS

Elaine M. Canning

TAMESIS

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Elaine M. Canning 2004


The right of Elaine Canning to be identified as the author of this work
has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation
no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system,
published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast,
transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means,
without the prior permission of the copyright owner
First published 2004 by Tamesis, Woodbridge
ISBN 1 85566 030 X
Tamesis is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd
PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK
and of Boydell & Brewer Inc.
PO Box 41026, Rochester, NY 146044126, USA
website: www.boydell.co.uk
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available
from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Canning, Elaine M., 1973Lope de Vegas comedias de tema religioso : re-creations and
re-presentations / Elaine M. Canning.
p. cm. (Coleccin Tmesis. Serie A, Monografas ; 204)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-85566-030-X (Hardback : alk. paper)
1. Vega, Lope de, 1562-1635Criticism and interpretation. 2.
Religious drama, SpanishHistory and criticism. 3. Christian saints in
literature. I. Title: Comedias de tema religioso. II. Title.
PQ6490.R4C36 2004
863'.3dc22
2003024936

This publication is printed on acid-free paper


Printed in Great Britain by
St Edmundsbury Press Limited, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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CONTENTS
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations

vi
vii

Introduction

PART I: RE-CREATION AND RE-PRESENTATION:


THE CASES OF ESTHER AND ISIDRO
1 La hermosa Ester and the Re-creation of the Biblical Esther

2 The Re-presentation of Madrids patrn in La niez de San


Isidro and La juventud de San Isidro

44

PART II: DRAMATISING THE DRAMATIC:


METATHEATRE AND THE COMEDIA DE TEMA RELIGIOSO
3 Metatheatre and the Spanish comedia religiosa: An overview

87

4 Lo fingido verdadero as metaplay

95

5 Doa Clara saint or sinner? Role-playing within the


Role in La buena guarda

128

Conclusion

139

Appendix
Bibliography
Index

141
142
151

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my thanks to Dr Isabel Torres of Queens University,
Belfast, for her constant guidance and encouragement, and to my family for
their continual support. I am also grateful to the staff at the Biblioteca
Nacional, Madrid and at the British Library, London, for their provision of
essential materials.
The author and publishers would like to record their thanks to the
University of Wales, Bangor for assistance in the costs of publication of this
book.

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ABBREVIATIONS
BCom
BH
BHS
BRAH
CH
FMLS
Hisp
Hispan
HR
JHPh
KRQ
MLN
MLQ
MLR
M.Phil
Neophil
NRFH
RCan
RH
RHM
RN
RR

Bulletin of the Comediantes


Bulletin Hispanique
Bulletin of Hispanic Studies
Boletn de la Real Academia de la Historia
Crtica hispnica
Forum for Modern Language Studies
Hispania
Hispanfila
Hispanic Review
Journal of Hispanic Philology
Kentucky Romance Quarterly
Modern Language Notes
Modern Language Quarterly
Modern Language Review
Modern Philology
Neophilologus
Nueva revista de filologa hispnica
Revista canadiense de estudios hispnicos
Revue Hispanique
Revista hispnica moderna
Romance Notes
Romanic Review

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INTRODUCTION
While the secular drama of Lope Flix de Vega Carpio (15621635) has
attracted much critical attention, his comedias de tema religioso constitute a
corpus of his works which has been largely neglected. Traditionally, Lope de
Vegas religious plays have been analysed and categorised in terms of their
biblical or hagiographical content alone. Mnendez y Pelayo, for example,
divides them into two groups Comedias de asuntos de la sagrada escritura,
and Comedias de vidas de santos and does not attempt to study them beyond
their religious framework.1 It is possible that works like that of Menndez y
Pelayo, which are preoccupied solely with lo religioso, have discouraged
critics of Golden Age drama from exploring the many other possibilities that
Lopes comedias de tema religioso may offer to comedia scholarship.
Since the publication of Menndez y Pelayos Estudios, some attempts
have been made to redress the scant regard paid to these plays. In 1935, Jos
Montesinos stressed that Lopes religious drama was deserving of further critical attention El teatro religioso de Lope no ha sido objeto de atento estudio, aunque lo mereca.2 However, very few scholars rose to this challenge
and those that did tended to concentrate on Lopes hagiographical drama.
Principal among them are Garasa, Aragone Terni, Dassbach and Morrison.3
In Santos en escena, Garasa provides a summary of twenty-seven plays,
together with a general analysis of three aspects of Lopes principal hagiographical works. Specifically, he examines the role of the angel and the
demon, the presentation of supernatural interventions and miracles and the
development of the themes of virtue and sin.4 The fundamental characteristics
1 See his Estudios sobre el teatro de Lope de Vega, ed. Don Adolfo Bonilla y San
Martn, 6 vols (Madrid: V. Surez, 191927), I (1919), pp. 131316; II (1921), pp. 1113.
2 See Lope de Vega, Barlan y Josafat, ed. Jos F. Montesinos (Madrid: Centro de
Estudios Histricos, 1935), pp. 18990.
3 Delfn Leocadio Garasa, Santos en escena (Buenos Aires: Cuadernos del Sur, 1960);
Elisa Aragone Terni, Studio sulle Comedias de Santos di Lope de Vega (Firenze: Casa
Editrice DAnna, 1971); Elma Dassbach, La comedia hagiogrfica del Siglo de Oro
espaol, Ibrica, XXII (New York: Peter Lang, 1997) and Robert Morrison, Lope de Vega
and the Comedia de Santos, Ibrica, XXXIII (New York: Peter Lang, 2000).
4 It should be noted that Garasa, like the other critics examined here, includes several
works in his study which are categorised as Comedias dudosas by Morley and Bruerton
in Cronologa de las comedias de Lope de Vega (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1968), p. 603.

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of the genre are examined by Aragone Terni in Studio sulle Comedias de


Santos di Lope de Vega, which includes a classification of twenty-eight of
Lopes plays as hagiographical works. In addition, Aragone Terni discusses
the opposition which the comedia de santo generated in seventeenth-century
Spain, primarily because of its use of stage machinery. She also explores the
use of amorous and comical elements in Lopes religious drama. Dassbach
conducts a comparative study of the hagiographical plays of Lope, Tirso and
Caldern in her work, La comedia hagiogrfica del Siglo de Oro espaol. She
is concerned not only with an identification of types of saints, but also with
the espectacularidad escnica produced by the incorporation of supernatural
features into the comedia de santo, as well as the function of the sub-plot and
the gracioso.5 Finally, Morrisons Lope de Vega and the Comedia de Santos,
the most recent work on the subject, centres on twenty-five plays, for which
he provides a summary and commentary. However, Morrisons work is particularly interesting because it is the first to provide a lucid survey of the
saints play in Spain and to investigate the potential dramatic and nondramatic sources of the comedias de santos.
Interestingly, while critical surveys of Lopes hagiographical works have
been limited, his biblical plays have been the subject of even fewer lengthy
analyses. Three Ph.D. theses have gone some way towards acknowledging the
significance of Lopes comedias bblicas. In 1952, Cecilia Ross dissertation
on La hermosa Ester provided a new edition of the play.6 Subsequently,
Robert Shervill conducted a thematic survey of the Old Testament drama of
the Golden Age by dividing his thesis according to Old Testament characters.7
For instance, it includes chapters on what he terms The Moses theme, The
Tobias theme and The Esther theme. Several years later, Haydee Macera
Burkort studied typological characters and events in eight biblical plays, of
which she acknowledged that three were controversial regarding authorship.8
Nevertheless, as Jack Weiner rightly pointed out, Golden Age biblical plays
in general are still awaiting full appreciation: El estudio de los temas del
Antiguo Testamento en la literatura del Siglo de Oro es un campo que apenas
se ha examinado.9
For the purposes of this study, I will take into account only those comedias de tema
religioso of which Lopes authorship is certain.
5 See La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 99.
6 Lope de Vega: La hermosa Ester (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of
California, 1952).
7 The Old Testament Drama of the Siglo de Oro (unpublished doctoral thesis,
University of North Carolina, 1958).
8 Typology in the Biblical Plays of Lope de Vega (unpublished doctoral thesis, Florida
State University, 1983).
9 Lope de Vega, un puesto de cronista y La hermosa Ester (16101621), in Actas del
VIII Congreso de la Asociacin Internacional de Hispanistas, ed. A. David Kossoff et al.,
2 vols (Madrid: Istmo, 1986), II, pp. 72330 (p. 724).

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If lengthy studies of Lopes religious drama have been few and far between,
articles on some of the individual plays have been a little more apparent.
These include Concejos examination of the female in La hermosa Ester,
Farrells analysis of the treatment of Jews in El nio inocente de La Guardia,
Gallego Rocas study of staging techniques in the Isidro trilogy, and Dixons
examination of metatheatrical devices in Lo fingido verdadero.10 These analyses have undoubtedly contributed to a regeneration of interest in Lopes religious plays, and have illuminated a need for a more detailed exploration of
the issues which lie at the heart of them. It will be the aim of this book to
continue and develop previous research by offering a comprehensive analysis
of Lopes comedias religiosas; an analysis which rejects the traditional,
limiting, formulaic classification. My approach will demonstrate that Lopes
biblical and hagiographical plays lend themselves to a comparative investigation, especially in terms of their thematic axes. While the conclusions of this
book are based on an examination of twenty-nine of Lopes comedias de tema
religioso, the scope of the study does not lend itself to a meticulous analysis
of each play.11 Consequently, the salient features of five of these comedias
religiosas, which best exemplify the concepts being treated, will be examined
in detail. The remaining plays will be cited where appropriate.
I have opted for a division of this book into two sections in order to highlight
what I consider to be two of the fundamental characteristics of Lopes religious
dramatic works. Part I presents an examination of Lopes re-creation of biblical
and hagiographical material for the seventeenth-century stage. My primary concern in both chapters 1 and 2 is the concept of audience reception and the playwrights ability to challenge the horizon of expectation of the corral audience
through the re-creation and/or omission of the source material. In an analysis of
La hermosa Ester, the comedia bblica which is considered in chapter 1, Lopes
manipulation of the Book of Esther, in order to treat contemporary issues such
as love and honour, will be examined. Moreover, the possibility of the audiences
susceptibility to a more subversive reception of the play, involving the degradation of the Christian and the elevation of the Jew, will also be highlighted.
While the re-creation of a biblical text presented an obvious challenge,
Lopes dramatic craftsmanship was tried even more seriously when he

10 Pilar Concejo, Funcin y simbolismo de la mujer en La hermosa Ester y en La juda


de Toledo, in Lope de Vega y los orgenes del teatro espaol, Actas del I Congreso
Internacional sobre Lope de Vega, ed. Manuel Criado de Val (Madrid: EDI-6, 1981),
pp. 46171; Anthony J. Farrell, Imagen, motivo y tcnica dramtica en El nio inocente de
La Guardia, in Lope de Vega y los orgenes, pp. 399404; Miguel Gallego Roca, Efectos
escnicos en las comedias de Lope de Vega sobre la vida de San Isidro: Tramoya y poesa,
Criticn, 45 (1989), 11330; Victor Dixon, Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores,
Diablotexto, 45 (199798), 97114 and Ya tienes la comedia prevenida . . . La imagen
de la vida: Lo fingido verdadero, Cuadernos de teatro clsico, 11 (1999), 5371.
11 See Appendix 1 for a list of comedias religiosas which form the focus of this study.

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attempted to represent the life of Madrids patrn. Chapter 2 explores the


representation of the popularly acclaimed Isidro in both La niez de San Isidro
and La juventud de San Isidro, which were composed for the purposes of the
celebration of Isidros canonisation in 1622. My analysis of La niez de San
Isidro concentrates on the various techniques employed by Lope in order to
establish a relationship between the unknown child Isidro and his adult equivalent. It will reveal that, in spite of Lopes lack of source material relating to the
saints childhood, the necessity to comply with the audiences horizon of expectation determined his presentation of a pious, unchildlike nio. In contrast, an
examination of La juventud de San Isidro will highlight, paradoxically, that the
audiences familiarity with the source material granted Lope greater liberties in
his re-creation of Madrids patrn, permitting him to present both the saintly
qualities and the more human side of his main protagonist. It is my contention
that Isidros canonisation constitutes a very authentic resolution to the plays in
question. Such a proposition underlines the relationship between reality and
theatrical illusion, which forms the very essence of metatheatre.
It is precisely a concern with metatheatre and the comedia religiosa which
defines the second part of this book. Despite the ground which has been
covered to date on metadrama and the comedia, Catherine Larson states
explicitly that this particular area of comedia scholarship continues to provide
a wealth of investigative opportunities: I would submit that the relationship
between metatheater and the comedia still offers the critic much material for
textual analysis. Comedia scholars have accomplished a great deal, but the
field nonetheless remains open for future exploration and study.12 Stoll
similarly highlights the abundance of suitable material available by insisting
self-conscious techniques are so prevalent that they can virtually be considered a convention.13 Nonetheless, not all Renaissance commentators are
comfortable with the application of a metatheatrical approach to the comedia.
Consequently, chapter 3 reviews and engages with the debate on the comedia
as metaplay and examines the several key studies on this topic. Chapters 4
and 5 then focus on the metadramatic quality of Lo fingido verdadero and
La buena guarda. Employing Hornbys categories of metadrama, my examination of Lo fingido verdadero deals with the use of role-playing within
the role and the play within the play in order to elucidate the fundamental
themes of Lopes metaplay.14 In chapter 5, my analysis of La buena guarda is
12 See her Metatheater and the Comedia: Past, Present, and Future, in The Golden Age
Comedia: Text, Theory, and Performance, eds Charles Ganelin and Howard Mancing
(West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 1994), pp. 20421 (p. 216). Since the publication of Larsons
article in 1994, a significant number of works on the metatheatrical qualities of both
secular and religious comedias have appeared. See chapter 3, p. 89 for further details.
13 Anita K. Stoll, Teaching Golden Age Drama: Metatheater as Organizing Principle,
Hisp, 75 (1992), 134347, (p. 1343).
14 See Richard Hornby, Drama, Metadrama, and Perception (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP,
1986).

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INTRODUCTION

concerned with a definition of Clara as saint or sinner, based on her engagement in role-playing within the role. My studies of both plays will conclude
that it is precisely because of the seventeenth-century theocentric world view
that the Spanish comedia religiosa can be viewed in a metatheatrical light.
I will also go beyond an identification of metatheatrical properties in both
Lo fingido verdadero and La buena guarda to examine how these devices
manipulate audience reaction.
The methodology which informs my reading of the plays in both sections
of this book is based upon my awareness of the play as only fully realised in
the context of its relationship to the corral audience. Although my interpretation of the plays in Part I is determined by an examination of the source
material and Lopes re-creation of this material, my analysis of how Lope uses
these written texts is ultimately linked to the impact of his re-creation on that
audience. My consideration of a more subversive form of audience reception
is a postmodern concern and is based, to some extent, on the theories of
Connor (Swietlicki), Friedman and Simerka.15 This approach, of course, relates
to my examination of the concept of metatheatre in the comedia. While the
term itself was not coined until 1963 by Lionel Abel, it cannot be denied that
the fundamental metatheatrical devices described by Hornby are prevalent in
the comedia religiosa. By using a modern theory, I will attempt to illuminate
for the modern reader issues which lie at the heart of the seventeenth century.
Clearly, then, in both parts of this book, my examination of the models is
conducted very much with a seventeenth-century audience in mind. Above all,
however, my study of Lopes comedias religiosas is concerned with the interplay between illusion and reality. In Part I, the dichotomy between illusion
and reality is a key feature of the Isidro plays, where the canonisation of
Madrids patrn constantly inhabits the texts, while in Part II, the double
image of individual characters in both Lo fingido verdadero and La buena
guarda is responsible for the generation of audience dissociation. Ultimately,
it will be my intention to demonstrate that the critical marginalisation of
Lopes religious drama has been unjustified. The success of the comedia
religiosa, like that of the secular comedia, was very much dependent upon the
relationship between playwright and audience. Likewise, this book will highlight that the dramatic techniques employed by Lope in both his religious and
secular works are identical, even if some of the issues which he treats in these
comedias differ.

15 See Catherine Connor (Swietlicki), Postmodernism avant la lettre: The Case of Early
Modern Spanish Theater, Gestos, 9 (1994), 4359; Edward H. Friedman, Postmodernism
and the Spanish Comedia: The Drama of Mediation, Gestos, 9 (1994), 6178; and Barbara
Simerka, Early Modern Skepticism and Unbelief and the Demystification of Providential
Ideology in El burlador de Sevilla, Gestos, 23 (1997), 3966. For further details on these
studies, see chapter 1, p. 11, n. 8.

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PART I
RE-CREATION AND RE-PRESENTATION:
THE CASES OF ESTHER AND ISIDRO

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1
LA HERMOSA ESTER AND THE RE-CREATION
OF THE BIBLICAL ESTHER

Any dramatist writing during Spains Golden Age was acutely aware that
he was writing for a public obsessed by fe, salvacin, gracia divina,
condenacin and of course Dios. Bartolom Bennassar claims that las cuestiones de la fe preocupaban en las conversaciones corrientes, en las plazas, a
lo largo de los caminos.1 The establishment of the Inquisition in Spain in
1478 to maintain religious homogeneity throughout the Peninsula, coupled
with the Council of Trents efforts to christianise the masses from the midsixteenth century onwards, obviously contributed to the religious fanaticism
which swamped Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.2 Within this
climate it is not surprising that the comedia de tema religioso became
extremely popular among audiences of the corrales. For that reason, a significant number of religious dramas on various themes can be found among
the corpus of plays attributed to many of the most important, influential

1 See his La Espaa del Siglo de Oro, trans. Pablo Bordonava, 3rd edn (Barcelona:
Crtica, 1994), p. 171.
2 The Spanish Inquisition was founded as an institution of the church following Pope
Sixtus IVs approval of Ferdinand and Isabellas official application for its establishment
in 1477. On the role and impact of the Inquisition in Spain, see for example Henry Kamen,
The Spanish Inquisition (New York: The New American Library, 1965); Jean Pierre Dedieu,
The Inquisition and Popular Culture in New Castile, in Inquisition and Society in
Early Modern Europe, ed. and trans. Stephen H. Haliczer (London: Croom Helm, 1987),
pp. 12946; and virgilio Pinto Crespo, Thought Control in Spain, also in Inquisition and
Society, pp. 17188.. The Council of Trent (15451563) reviewed and tackled religious
corruption within the church and took various decisive measures including the institutionalisation of preaching, the retraining of the lower clergy and the promotion of the position of
saints. On the Tridentine reforms, see Jean Pierre Dedieu, Christianization in New Castile:
Catechism, Communion, Mass, and Confirmation in the Toledo Archbishopric, 15401650,
trans. Susan Isabel Stein, in Culture and Control in Counter-Reformation Spain, eds Anne
J. Cruz and Mary Elizabeth Perry (Minneapolis: U Minnesota Press, 1992), pp. 124 and
Sara T. Nalle, God in La Mancha. Religious Reform and the People of Cuenca, 15001650
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1992).

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dramatists of the Golden Age, including Mira de Amescua,3 Tirso de Molina4


and Caldern de la Barca.5
What is particularly fascinating about the religious plays of this period is
how they might have been interpreted by the seventeenth-century public.
Golden Age dramatists were aiming to entertain an audience which not only
believed that events as recounted in the Bible were factual, but which, primarily as a result of the oral transmission of detail, was also familiar with the
Scriptures (preachers instructed through sermons and biblical catechisms).6
3 The plays by Mira de Amescua (1574?1644) based on biblical narrative include the
following: El arpa de David; El clavo de Jael; El ms feliz cautiverio, y los sueos de
Josef, a dramatisation of the story of Joseph and his brothers; Los prodigios de la vara, y
Capitn de Israel, based on Exodus 214, and El rico avariento, which treats the parable
of the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke 16. 1931. Among Mira de Amescuas
hagiographic plays appear the following: El esclavo del demonio; El santo sin nacer y
mrtir sin morir; Vida y muerte de la monja de Portugal, and La mesonera del cielo. On
Mira de Amescuas religious plays, see James A. Castaeda, Mira de Amescua (Boston:
Twayne, 1977), pp. 10938.
4 The biblical plays of Tirso de Molina (15801648) include: La mujer que manda en
casa; La vida y muerte de Herodes; La mejor espigadera; Tanto es lo de ms como lo de
menos, a dramatisation of the parables of the rich man and the poor man and of the
Prodigal Son, and La venganza de Tamar, which presents the rape of Tamar by her halfbrother, Amnon. Tirso also wrote three plays on Santa Juana which are known simply as
La Santa Juana. On Tirso de Molinas religious theatre, see J. C. J. Metford, Tirso de
Molinas Old Testament Plays, BHS, 27 (1950), 14963; and Francisco Ruiz Ramn,
Historia del teatro espaol (desde sus orgenes hasta 1900) (Madrid: Alianza Editorial,
1967), pp. 25569.
5 Apart from the many autos which he wrote on Old and New Testament themes,
Caldern de la Barca (16001681) wrote several biblical plays including Los cabellos de
Absaln. Caldern also wrote plays concerned with Roman Catholic dogma, such as
La devocin de la cruz, La Virgen del Sagrario and El purgatorio de San Patricio. On
Calderns religious drama, see Lucy Elizabeth Weir, The Ideas Embodied in the Religious
Drama of Caldern (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1940). See also
Interpretacin dramtica y sociocultural de pasajes bblicos en Caldern, in Espaa,
teatro y mujeres, eds Martin Gosman and Hub Hermans (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1989),
pp. 2331, in which Hans Flasche compares Calderns auto, La cena del Rey Baltasar
with its biblical source. Flasche claims that a comparative study between autos and their
respective biblical sources, particularly in Calderns case, is an area of research still
awaiting investigation (p. 23).
6 The Church and the Inquisition endeavoured to maintain control of instruction in
biblical matters and, for that reason, the Inquisitor-General Fernando de Valds, appointed
in 1547, restricted access to the Bible in the vernacular. Catholic versions of the Bible did
not begin to circulate in Spain until the eighteenth century. Medieval versions in the
vernacular did exist, but they were for the most part Jewish compositions. Margherita
Morreale claims that preaching, which was institutionalised by the Council of Trent, was
a channel for the diffusion of biblical texts. See her Vernacular Scriptures in Spain, in
The Cambridge History of the Bible, ed. G. W. H. Lamp, 3 vols (London: Cambridge UP,
1970, 1969, 1963), II (1969), pp. 46591 (p. 486). Catechisms were a popular means of
instruction in biblical matters. According to Jos Ramn Guerrero, the biblical catechism
was a new type of catechism which featured in the first half of the sixteenth century. See

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RE-CREATION: LA HERMOSA ESTER

11

Similarly, the contemporary audience was well acquainted with hagiography.


The cult of the saints, an essential component of popular religion in Spain
from medieval times, was promoted by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth
century. Following Trent, the authenticity of the works and miracles of venerated saints was stressed by the removal of dubious saints from the Roman
calendar and the implementation of a series of tests for new saints by the
Sacred Congregation of Rites.7 The audiences familiarity with, and knowledge of, the subject matter of many of the religious plays performed in the
corrales, therefore, raises several key issues. Was it enough for a dramatist to
recreate a dramatic version faithful to the biblical narrative or the life of a
saint? Could he offer a frank regurgitation of stories and events without running the risk of sacrificing dramatic tension? How did the dramatist challenge,
if indeed this was his aim, the horizon of expectation of his spectators when
he was treating a subject which might be well known to some? Could these
plays have generated a univocal audience reaction or, indeed, could the individual spectators have been receptive to other oppositional, even subversive,
elements of the individual play?8 My analysis of La hermosa Ester, La niez
de San Isidro and La juventud de San Isidro will hopefully approximate an
answer to these questions, or at least provide a better understanding of the
complexity of creating drama in this context.
Catecismos espaoles del siglo XVI. La obra catequtica del Dr. Constantino Ponce de la
Fuente (Madrid: Instituto Superior de Pastoral, 1969), p. 169. By means of the catechism,
the preacher presented the biblical narrative as factual. Although literacy rates were rising
and religious books and pamphlets were circulating in Spain, the Inquisition was primarily
concerned with the prohibition of biblical material. See Nalle, God in La Mancha, p. 144.
7 See Sara T. Nalle, A Saint for All Seasons: The Cult of San Julin, in Culture and
Control, eds Cruz and Perry, pp. 2550 (p. 33). Nalle analyses attempts to promote the
veneration of saints in response to the threat of the Protestant Reformation by focusing on
the resurrection of the cult of San Julin in Cuenca. According to Nalle, the tests which the
new saints had to pass were set to establish the quality of their writings, heroic virtues,
miracles and, if applicable, their martyrdom.
8 The complexity of audience reception is a postmodern concern. Three studies on the
relationship between postmodern criticism and the comedia have sought to offer new
possibilities of reinterpreting the comedia. In Postmodernism avant la lettre, Catherine
Connor (Swietlicki) highlights how postmodern theory can problematize traditional
comedia criticisms narrow focus and by doing so, can open up new ways of interpreting
Golden Age drama. Edward H. Friedman also presents possibilities for analysing the
comedia from a postmodern perspective in Postmodernism and the Spanish Comedia.
He suggests that Golden Age theatre and postmodernism find a connecting point in the
use of metadramatic techniques (p. 61). Barbara Simerka examines unbelief and
skepticism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and focuses on the reception of
unorthodox religious and philosophical discourses in El burlador de Sevilla. She argues
that the receptive spectator can interpret the play from an atheistic perspective. See her
Early Modern. All three critics stress that, unlike traditional criticism, which focuses on
order and closure, postmodernism is concerned with openness, disorder, fragmentation,
the analysis of minor characters discourse and actions and the importance of subversive
elements.

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La hermosa Ester (1610), the play which forms the focus of this chapter, is
one of four biblical dramas of which Lopes authorship is certain.9 This drama
has been chosen not only because of its controversial subject matter the
triumph of the Jew but also because it presents the success story of an individual who assumed a position of power and authority against the odds. The
dramatic effectiveness of this play will be evaluated in terms of character
development, the expansion of biblical episodes, the omission of biblical
detail and the introduction of original material. La niez de San Isidro (1622)
and La juventud de San Isidro (1622), both of which dramatise events in the
life of Madrids patron saint, will form the focus of chapter 2.10 The dramatic
techniques employed by Lope in his presentation of Isidro will be analysed in
an attempt to determine the essence of the image of Isidro which he wished
to convey, whether that of miracle worker, common man, or a fusion of both.
I will also examine whether the saintliness of Isidro was exaggerated in both
works, taking into account that they were written to coincide with the celebration of the saints canonisation. Ultimately, I hope to explore the possible
reasons why Lope either recreates or omits original source material in his
dramatisations of the respective stories of Esther and Isidro.

The Book of Esther


According to Menndez y Pelayo, La hermosa Ester merece la palma entre
todas las comedias bblicas de Lope.11 A tragicomedia written in 1610, it was

9 Lopes other biblical plays are Historia de Tobas, El robo de Dina and Los trabajos
de Jacob, which have attracted little critical attention. Historia de Tobas is based on the
Book of Tobit, a deuterocanonical book of the Old Testament which was written originally
about 200 BC in Hebrew or Aramaic, but now only exists in its totality in Greek and other
versions. El robo de Dina is based on Genesis 31. 17Genesis 35. 1. The main action of the
play concentrates on Genesis 34, which involves the rape of Dinah (Dina), daughter of Jacob,
by Shechem (Siquen), son of Hamor the Hivite, (Emor), and the ritual of circumcision
forced upon Shechem and all his male subjects by Jacobs sons. The play ends with the
slaughter of Siquen, his father and subjects and the appearance of an angel who advises
Jacob to settle in Bethel and construct an altar. Alan E. Knight, in The Enacted Narrative:
From Bible to Stage in Late Medieval France, Fifteenth-Century Studies, 15 (1989),
23344 (p. 236) comments on the inherently dramatic nature of the rape of Dinah and its
consequences. Los trabajos de Jacob was written as a sequel to El robo de Dina and was
to have formed a trilogy with a play on the Exodus from Egypt which, judging by the corpus
of works and collection of critical essays which exist, Lope does not appear to have written.
It is based on Genesis 3747, which tells the story of Joseph and his brothers.
10 Lope also wrote a third play before 1622 on the saint entitled San Isidro, labrador
de Madrid (15981608) (probably 160406) in order to promote his canonisation. The
limited scope of this book does not permit a detailed examination of San Isidro, labrador
de Madrid, but comparative references to this earlier play will be made where appropriate.
11 See his Estudios, I, 17886 (p. 179). The edition of La hermosa Ester used for the
purposes of this study is contained in Lope Flix de Vega Carpio, Obras selectas, estudio

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first published in Madrid in 1621 in Decimaquinta Parte de las Comedias de


Lope de Vega Carpio with a dedication to Doa Andrea Mara de Castrillo,
seora de Benazuza.12 As its title suggests, it is based on the Old Testament
Book of Esther, a popular story among European writers in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.13 Spain was no exception to this trend with the appearance of two autos on the story of Esther in the latter half of the sixteenth
century Auto del Rey Asuero quando desconpuso a Basti and Auto del Rey
Asuero quando ahorco a Aman.14 Following Lopes dramatisation, Felipe
Godnez wrote two plays on the same theme La Reyna Ester (1613) and
Amn y Mardoqueo (1653);15 Joan Pinto Delgado composed a poem entitled
Poema de la Reina Ester en sexta rima (1627) and Don Juan Clmaco Salazar,

preliminar, biografa, bibliografa, notas y apndices de Federico Carlos Sinz de Robles,


2nd edn, 3 vols (Mxico: Aguilar, 1991), III (Teatro 2), 10535. All subsequent references
will be taken from this edition.
12 For full publication details of the Decimaquinta parte, see chapter 5, p. 128. An
autographed manuscript of La hermosa Ester can be found in the British Museum library
dated 5th April 1610. Jack Weiner examines the dedication of La hermosa Ester to Doa
Andrea Mara de Castrillo in Lope de Vega, un puesto de cronista.
13 In France, for example, a number of writers adopted the Book of Esther to suit their
own purposes. In 1566 Rivaudeaus Aman appeared, followed by Pierre Matthieus trilogy,
Esther, Vashti and Aman between 1585 and 1589. In 1601 Montchretien wrote his
Aman ou La Vanit and Du Ryer composed his Esther in 1644. Frances most popular work
on the subject is Racines Esther. It was first performed at Saint-Cyr on 26 January 1689
before an audience which included Louis XIV, some courtiers and Mme de Maintenon
who commissioned Racine to write this work. Racine follows the biblical story quite
closely, but concentrates on Hamans efforts to annihilate the Jews, Esthers campaign to
overturn his edict and the killing of Haman at the end of the play. Vashti is not included
among the characters and only a passing reference is made to her. Each act takes place in
a different setting Esthers apartments, Assurus throne-room and Esthers gardens.
Music in the play is provided by J. B. Moreau. On Racines Esther, see for example Martin
Turnell, Jean Racine Dramatist (London: Hamilton, 1972), pp. 27995; Philip John
Yarrow, Esther and Athalie, in Racine (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), pp. 8290 and
R. J. Howells, Racines Esther: Reintegration and Ritual, FMLS, 20 (1984), 97105.
14 These autos appear in the famous Cdice de Autos Viejos, now kept at the Biblioteca
Nacional, Madrid. The characters of the first auto include Asuero (king), three pages, a butler
or steward (mayordomo), Vasti (queen) and three wise men. Among the characters of the
second auto are La Fortuna (Fortune), Amn, Ester, Asuero and an executioner (verdugo).
15 La Reyna Ester was instrumental in bringing about the inquisitional trial of Godnez,
who was of Jewish ancestry, in 1624. Amn y Mardoqueo was published in Quinta Parte
de las Comedias Escogidas de los meiores ingenios de Espaa (Madrid, 1653) and is
the second play in this volume of twelve. Alice Goldberg produced annotated editions of
both plays. See Alice Goldberg, Felipe Godnez, dos comedias: Edicin anotada de
La Reyna Ester y Amn y Mardocheo con introduccin, Dissertation Abstracts
International, 43.2 (1982), 461A. For further information on Felipe Godnez, see Germn
Vega Garca-Luengos, El libro de Ester en las versiones dramticas de Lope de Vega y
Felipe Godnez, Castilla, 23 (1981), 20945; Alice Goldberg, Felipe Godnezs Queen
Esther Play, BCom, 35 (1983), 4749 and Carmen Menndez Onrubia, Aspectos
narrativos en la obra dramtica de Felipe Godnez, Criticn, 30 (1985), 20133.

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a Jesuit, published a dramatic poem entitled Mardoqueo (Madrid, 1791). The


source material, the Book of Esther, which provides the subject matter of
these works and indeed which offered dramatic possibilities to Lope, merits
attention here.16
The Book of Esther tells the story of a Jewess named Esther who, exiled to
the Persian empire following Nebuchadnezzar IIs capture of Jerusalem, was
appointed queen by Ahasuerus and subsequently saved the Jewish people
from annihilation by Haman, the royal favourite.17 It originated in the first half
16 La hermosa Ester is Lopes biblical play which has attracted most critical attention,
despite the fact that critical analyses of this drama are still scant in comparison to that of
Lopes other, more famous secular comedias. Edward Glasers Lope de Vegas La hermosa
Ester, Sefarad, 20 (1960), 11035 is the most extensive study done on this work. Other
critics have generally conducted comparative studies. For example, some have compared the
female characters in this play with those in other works by Lope. See Pilar Concejo, Funcin
y simbolismo in Lope de Vega y los orgenes, ed. Manuel Criadode Val, pp. 46171 and
Diane Sacks, Breaking the Silence: An Archetypal and Feminist Analysis of La hermosa
Ester, Fuente Ovejuna and La mal casada, Dissertation Abstracts International, 50 (Dec
1989), 1677A. Others have concerned themselves with an analysis of the representation of
the Jew in this and other plays. See A. A. Sicroff, Notas equvocas en dos dramatizaciones
de Lope del problema judaico: El nio inocente de La Guardia y La hermosa Ester, in Actas
del VI Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas Celebrado en Toronto del 22 al 26 de agosto
de 1977, eds Alan M. Gordon and Evelyn Rugg (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1980),
pp. 70105 and Roberta Zimmerman Lavine, The Jew and the Converso in the Dramatic
Works of Lope de Vega, Dissertation Abstracts International, 44 (1983), 185A. An
examination of the treatment of the Book of Esther in La hermosa Ester and works by other
writers has also been carried out. See for example Fishlocks Pinto Delgado, Menndez
Onrubias Aspectos narrativos and Vega Garca-Luengos El libro de Ester. Jack Weiner
has examined the presentation of Esther, both from a Jewish point of view (Ester Esther)
and a Christian perspective (Ester prefiguration of the Virgin) in Golden Age drama in his
La reina Ester en el teatro del Siglo de Oro espaol: dos puntos de vista, in Estudios sobre
el siglo de oro en homenaje a Raymond R. MacCurdy, eds ngel Gonzlez et al. (Madrid:
Ctedra, 1983), pp. 3749. Most recently, Nancy Mayberry examined the function of the
concepts of obedience and disobedience, pride and humility in Fearful Symmetry in Lope
de Vegas La hermosa Ester, Hispanfila, 132 (2001), 1323.
17 On the Book of Esther, see for example The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible: An
Illustrated Encyclopedia, eds George Arthur Buttrick et al., 4 vols (New York: Abingdon
Press, 1962), II, 14952; The New Bible Dictionary, eds J. D. Douglas et al. (London:
Inter-Varsity Press, 1962), pp. 39294; Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, ed. L. H. Brockington
(London: Nelson, 1969), pp. 21646; Otto Kaiser, Introduction to the Old Testament, trans.
John Sturdy (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1975); and David J. A. Clines, The Esther Scroll
(Sheffield: JSOT, 1984). The Nebuchadnezzar of Esther is Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
who reigned for 43 years (605562 BC). He captured Jerusalem on 16 March 597 BC and
took Jehoiakim, King of Judah and many of his people back to Babylon. Major revolts
followed in Babylon (594 BC) and Judah (58887 BC) and many more Jews were exiled to
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is best remembered for his building projects. According to
legend, he was responsible for the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one
of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ahasuerus is usually identified with Xerxes I
(approx. 519465 BC) who reigned as king of Persia from 48565 BC, ascending the throne
following his fathers death. Between 483 and 480 BC he invaded Greece and when he

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of the second century BC. One of the primary functions of the Book of Esther
is to explain the origins of the feast of Purim, an important date in the Jewish
calendar.18
The Book of Esther, before additions, is divided into ten chapters.19 The
first chapter relates the dethronement of Queen Vashti following her refusal
to obey her husbands order to appear before him and all his male subjects. It
begins with a banquet lasting 180 days organised by King Ahasuerus, ruler of
the provinces stretching from India to Cush, and designed to entertain all his
nobles and officials. Ahasuerus next arranges another seven-day feast for all
the male inhabitants, poor and noble alike, of the citadel of Susa. Queen Vashti
holds a banquet at the same time for the women of Susa. On the seventh day
of the banquet, King Ahasuerus orders Queen Vashti to come before him and
his people so that everyone can admire her beauty. When Vashti refuses to
obey his order, Ahasuerus becomes extremely angry and, having consulted his
wise men, he issues a royal decree to all the provinces stating that Vashti has
been removed from her office.20
In the second chapter of Esther, King Ahasuerus appoints commissioners
in every province of his kingdom to seek out the most beautiful females and
introduce them into his harem for the purposes of selecting a new queen. The
women are entrusted to the care of a eunuch, and undergo twelve months of
beauty treatments before being presented to the king. Among the girls selected

finally retired to Asia Minor, he left his brother-in-law Mardonius in charge of his army.
Xerxes was murdered by Artabanus, captain of the palace guard at Persepolis and was
succeeded by his son Artaxerxes I, who reigned from 46525 BC. In the Book of Esther,
no references are made to the historical events of Xerxes reign.
18 The feast of Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from
destruction as recorded in the Book of Esther. It is celebrated one month before Passover
and is characterised by the reading of the Scroll of Esther in synagogues. Held on the 14th
and 15th of Adar (springtime), it is a joyous celebration with feasting, almsgiving,
dramatic performances and the recital of the text of Esther.
19 The additions, known as the Apocryphal (of Greek: apokryphos hidden) parts of
Esther constitute six passages made up of a total of 107 verses not found in the Hebrew
text but included in the Greek version. For details on the additions to Esther, as well as their
inclusion in the Vulgate, see pp. 1820 of this chapter. Details on chapters 110 of Esther
are taken from Holy Bible: New International Version (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1979),
pp. 56776.
20 According to Jack Weiner and Edward Glaser, Josephus Jewish Antiquities was also
an important source of reference for Lope on the story of Esther. See, respectively, La reina
Ester, p. 38 and La hermosa Ester, p. 112. In Jewish Antiquities, which appeared
AD 9394, Josephus paraphrases the Book of Esther. Unlike the Biblical version of the story,
he also provides a reason for Vashtis refusal to obey Ahasuerus. Josephus states: She,
however, in observance of the laws of the Persians, which forbid their women to be seen by
strangers, did not go to the king. See Flavius Josephus, Josephus, trans. Henry St John
Thackeray et al., The Loeb Classical Library, 9 vols (London: Heinemann, 192665), VI,
trans. Ralph Marcus (1937), 40357 (p. 407). Note: Jewish Antiquities is contained in vols
IVIX (193065).

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is Esther, daughter of Abihail, a Jewess who has been brought up by her


cousin Mordecai. She enters the harem under strict orders from Mordecai not
to reveal her background and origins. Esther appears before Ahasuerus in the
month of Tebeth (tenth month) and immediately wins his favour.21 She is
appointed queen and a banquet is held in her name.22 Afterwards Mordecai,
while seated at the palace gates, overhears two of the royal officials, Bigthana
and Teresh, plotting to kill the king. He reports this incident to Esther who
subsequently informs the king, and both guards are hanged.
Chapter 3 discloses Hamans plot to destroy the Jews. Haman is honoured
by King Ahasuerus and elevated to a status higher than that of any other noble.
The king orders everyone to kneel down and pay homage to Haman, but
Mordecai refuses to do so. The royal officials inform Haman not only of
Mordecais resistance but also of the fact that he is a Jew. Haman decides to
take revenge not only on Mordecai but on all the Jews in Ahasuerus kingdom
and the pur (the lot) is cast to select a day and month. It falls on the thirteenth
day of the month of Adar (twelfth month).23 Haman informs the king that
there are people within his kingdom who do not obey his laws and instead
practise their own customs. He proposes that those people (i.e. the Jews)
should be destroyed. Ahasuerus grants Haman permission to do just that and
Haman proceeds to issue a royal decree, sealed with the kings ring, proclaiming the annihilation of all Jews on the thirteenth day of Adar.
Mordecais reaction to Hamans edict and his request for Esthers assistance are described in chapter 4. At the beginning of this chapter, Mordecai has
learned of the edict to destroy his race and immediately reacts by tearing his
clothes and putting on sackcloth. Esther summons Hathach to find out what is
troubling her cousin. Mordecai informs Hathach about the edict, gives a copy
of it to him for Esther and asks him to urge Esther to intercede with the king
for the survival of her people. Mordecai is ordered by the queen to gather
together all the Jews in Susa and to fast for three days and nights. When the
fast has been completed, Esther will present herself before the king (it is
important to note that any individual who appeared before the king without
being summoned would be put to death. If, however, the king extended the
gold sceptre, the male or female subjects life would be spared).
In chapter 5, Esther approaches the king and the gold sceptre is extended
to her. Esther invites both the king and Haman to a banquet that same day.

21 Josephus does not mention when Esther appeared before the king, but states that the
wedding took place in the month of Adar (the twelfth month). See Josephus, p. 411. In the
biblical narrative we are not told when the wedding took place.
22 Josephus claims that the celebrations lasted a month (Josephus, p. 411). However,
the Hebrew version of the Book of Esther does not state how long they lasted. On Lopes
use of the Hebrew version, see p. 19, n. 30.
23 In Josephus, p. 421, the date given is the 14th of Adar. In Addition B of the
Apocrypha, the fourteenth is also the date given.

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During the banquet, the king asks Esther what she wants from him and she
replies that she will voice her request at a second banquet the following day.
As Haman sets off home, he passes Mordecai at the palace gates who again
demonstrates his determination to deny the royal favourite respect. At home,
Haman expresses his discontent with Mordecai to his wife, Zeresh, and his
friends. They propose that he build a gallows 75 feet high and seek royal
permission the following morning to hang Mordecai.24
Chapter 6 of Esther focuses on the royal reward attributed to Mordecai for
uncovering the planned assassination of the king. The chapter begins with
the reading of the Book of Chronicles to Ahasuerus and the kings sudden
discovery that Mordecai has not received any payment for saving his life.
Ahasuerus summons Haman and invites him to suggest the treatment which
should be bestowed upon a man whom he wishes to honour. Haman, convinced that the king is referring to him, recommends that the individual should
be dressed in a royal robe and led through the streets of the city on a horse
which the king himself has ridden. Ahasuerus then instructs Haman to dress
Mordecai accordingly and lead him through the streets. At the end of this
chapter, Haman is escorted back to the palace for Esthers second banquet by
two eunuchs, having informed Zeresh and his companions of the days events
and listened to their comments that he cannot seek revenge on Mordecai or he
will come to ruin.25
In chapter 7 we learn how the king reacted to news of Hamans planned
destruction of the Persian Jews and the course of action taken against the
royal favourite. At the second banquet, Esther implores Ahasuerus to spare
the lives of both herself and her people. When the king asks who has threatened his queen and subjects, Esther denounces Haman. The king leaves
the banquet in a rage and Haman, alone with Esther, takes the opportunity
to beg for her forgiveness. On his return to the banqueting hall, Ahasuerus
witnesses Haman falling onto the queens couch and accuses him of the
attempted molestation of his wife. Haman is hanged on the gallows which he
himself built.
Following the death of Haman, chapter 8 opens with the presentation
of Hamans estate to Esther and the offering of the royal signet ring to
Mordecai by the king. Esther beseeches Ahasuerus to issue an order overruling
Hamans edict against the Jews. The king responds by granting Mordecai and
Esther permission to dispatch a new decree in his name on behalf of the Jews.

24 In Josephus, the recommendation to destroy Mordecai is made by Hamans wife, not


the group. Josephus also refers to the crucifixion, rather than the hanging of Mordecai:
Then Zarasa, his wife, told him to order a tree sixty cubits high to be cut down, and in the
morning ask the king for leave to crucify Mordecai. See Josephus, p. 433.
25 In note d., p. 439 of Josephus, Ralph Marcus states that reference to protection by
God is not included in the Hebrew version of the Bible. Hence Hamans predicted failure
is unexplained.

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The new edict is written, sealed and sent to all the provinces in the kingdom,
bestowing upon the Jews the right to destroy and kill any hostile armed force
on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar.
Chapter 9 describes the triumph of the Jews and the establishment of the
feast of Purim. It relates how, on the thirteenth day of Adar, the Jews assemble in their cities to defend themselves and destroy the enemy. In the citadel
of Susa, the Jews kill five hundred men, as well as the ten sons of Haman.26
Esther seeks royal permission to carry out the dictates of the edict a second
time in Susa on the fourteenth of Adar and obtains her request. In the other
provinces of the kingdom, the Jews kill a total of 75,000 enemies on the thirteenth of Adar. This is followed by the writing and sending of letters by Esther
and Mordecai to all the Jews within Ahasuerus dominion to fix a formal
celebration of the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar known as Purim (from
pur, the lot). The days of Purim were to be celebrated with feasting and the
exchange of presents. The protocanonical text of the Book of Esther ends with
chapter 10, a short, straightforward account of the importance of Mordecai the
Jew within the Persian empire.27
What is unique about the Book of Esther is that, unlike every other book in
the Old Testament, there are no references to God, even though it is implicit
that Esther is guided by a divine force in her mission to save the Persian
Jews.28 It is quite possible, as Bruce Metzger suggests, that the author of
Esther wrote at some period when it was extremely dangerous to publicly
admit to the worship of Jehovah.29 The Apocryphal Esther differs from the
protocanonical text due to the abundance of references to God and his divine
qualities. In fact, of the six additions which constitute the Apocryphal or
deuterocanonical parts of Esther, all except one contain the name of God.
These additions cannot be overlooked since, at the time of composition of
La hermosa Ester, they were readily available to Lope. Specifically, they
appeared in the form of an appendix following the canonical text of Esther in

26 The death of Hamans sons is confusing in Scripture. In Esther 9. 13, Esther seeks
permission for the ten sons of Haman to be hanged, despite the fact that in Esther 9. 11,
reference is made to the massacre of Hamans sons. Josephus avoids this ambiguity. He
mentions the massacre of five hundred enemies but does not include the annihilation of
Hamans sons on the 13th of Adar. Instead, he writes that Esther begged for permission to
crucify the ten sons of Haman on the 14th of Adar. See Josephus, p. 453.
27 The attribution of Esther 9. 2010. 3 to the original narrator of the Book of Esther
has caused concern among scholars. In Ezra, p. 221, Brockington states: In its Hebrew
form the book seems to have been expanded at a very early time by the addition of
9. 2010. 3. In The Esther Scroll, Clines refers to the scholarly debate and examines the
difficulties presented by what he terms as appendices. See chapter 4, The Appendices of
the Esther Scroll in The Esther Scroll (Sheffield: JSOT, 1984) (9. 2010. 3), pp. 5063.
28 The Book of Esther was considered a nationalist text by many of its critics as a result
of its emphasis on Judaism and Judaic practices. Martin Luther was a great enemy of it.
29 See his An Introduction to the Apocrypha (New York: OUP, 1957), p. 62.

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the Vulgate, the bible which most certainly provided Lope with the biblical
sources of his plays.30 The additions, as we will see, would influence how
Lope presented the story of Esther in his drama.31 According to Edward
Glaser, While Lope uses, of course, both the protocanonical and the deuterocanonical portions of the Old Testament book, he favors, whenever possible,
the Greek Esther.32
The first addition (Addition A: 11. 212. 6) tells the story of the dream of
Mordecai. Mordecai has a dream in which he sees two dragons roaring and
preparing to fight. As the dragons roar, every nation gets ready to fight against
the Jews, who beseech Gods mercy and help. Next, a great river emerges
from a tiny spring and the needy are exalted. When Mordecai awakens, he
hears two eunuchs plotting the assassination of Ahasuerus. He informs the
king of their plan and is granted a position at court as reward for saving
Ahasuerus life. Haman, meanwhile, decides to kill Mordecai and his people.
The significance of Mordecais dream is explained in the sixth addition
(Addition F: 10. 411. 1) where Mordecai recognises the influence of divine
intervention in saving the Jews from annihilation. The two dragons in the
dream represented Mordecai and Haman and the river which developed from
a tiny spring was Esther.
What constitutes the second addition (Addition B: 13. 17) is a copy of the
supposed edict issued by Haman proclaiming the massacre of the Jews. The
fifth addition (Addition E: 16. 124) also takes the form of an edict, only this
time it is the one which serves to counteract Hamans previous decree.33
Addition C (13. 814. 19) is quite a long addition in which the prayers of
Mordecai and Esther beseeching Gods divine assistance are presented in

30 The Vulgate is a fourth-century standard Latin version of the bible translated from
Hebrew and written by St Jerome. Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damascus to
prepare this bible. When he translated the Book of Esther, he then gathered together the
additions which he found in old Latin copies and added them to the end of his translation
with accompanying notes. The notes indicated where each addition belonged in the
canonical book. The Latin additions had come from a Greek version of the bible dating
from the first or second century before Christ. At that time, Lysimachus translated the
Hebrew text of Esther into Greek, but at six different places in the narrative he or someone
else added episodes not originally found in the Hebrew. It is these additions known as
Apocryphal or deuterocanonical which were subsequently translated into Latin and later
included in the Vulgate. In 1546, the Council of Trent decreed the inclusion of the
deuterocanonical texts in the Roman Catholic canon.
31 Details on the Apocryphal additions are taken from Metzger, An Introduction,
pp. 5661. Metzger suggests where these additions can be integrated into the canonical
framework of Esther in order to make sense. On the Apocrypha, see also The Septuagint
Esther, in Clines, The Esther Scroll, pp. 6970 and W. O. E. Oesterley, An Introduction to
the Books of the Apocrypha (London: Macmillan, 1935), pp. 18395.
32 La hermosa Ester, p. 112.
33 Josephus integrates Addition B into his work (see pp. 41921) and paraphrases
Addition E (pp. 44551).

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detail.34 References to the omniscience of God abound in this text. Mordecais


prayer is a justification concerning why he will not bow down to Haman. He
exalts God, stressing that only He is worthy of such reverence. He ends his
prayer begging God to save his people (13. 15). Esther exchanges her royal
attire for clothes which symbolise mourning before addressing God. She asks
for strength and guidance when she appears before the king and emphasises
her reliance on Divine help in order to complete her mission successfully. It
is clearly highlighted here that God, the Divine, works through Esther in order
to save the people of Israel.
Finally, Addition D (15. 116) is a longer, more detailed version of Esthers
appearance before King Ahasuerus.35 It relates how the king initially became
extremely angry at Esthers entrance to the throne-room, causing her to faint,
and how God changed Ahasuerus attitude in such a way that he calmly offered
Esther the opportunity to present her petition when she regained consciousness.

Lopes La hermosa Ester


When Lope decided to write La hermosa Ester in 1610, he clearly recognised the dramatic potential of the biblical narrative. However, despite the fact
that he followed the basic plot and sequence of events of the Book of Esther,
his play is much more than a simple, faithful retelling of the primary text, as
some critics have suggested.36 Like the Book of Esther, Act I of La hermosa
Ester begins with details of the banquet hosted by King Ahasuerus (Asuero in
the play) for all his subjects. Next, Lope presents the disobedience and subsequent dethronement of Vashti (Vast in La hermosa Ester) and ends the first act
with the election of Esther (Ester) as queen. Act II opens with Mordecai
(Mardoqueo) informing Isaac, a Lopean creation, of Esters appointment to the
position of queen and his own prophetic dream. This is followed by a dramatisation of Mardoqueos disclosure of the plotted regicide, the conspiracy of
Amn (Haman of the biblical text) against the Jews and Mardoqueos refusal
to pay respect to the royal favourite. Act II ends with Amn arranging the
construction of the gallows from which to hang Mardoqueo. In Act III, Lope
presents on stage the honouring of Mardoqueo by the king for saving his life,
In Josephus, pp. 42529 are based on this addition.
This addition is also integrated into Josephus text (see pp. 42931).
36 Menndez y Pelayo, for example, claims that: Su fuente nica es el Libro de Esther,
seguido con toda la fidelidad y respeto con que nuestro poeta trataba siempre las palabras
de la Sagrada Escritura. See his Estudios, I, 179. In his nota preliminar to his edition of
La hermosa Ester, Federico Carlos Sinz de Robles states: La nica fuente es el Libro
de Ester, seguido con toda fidelidad y respeto por el genial poeta. See Obras selectas, III,
105. Other critics, however, recognise that Lope has manipulated and recreated his biblical
source. Vega Garca-Luengos, for example, claims: En definitiva, Lope ha sabido manipular
los datos de la historia con el fin de potenciar su virtualidad dramtica, sometindolos a un
proceso de concentracin o de dilatacin. See El libro de Ester, p. 221.
34
35

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Esters revelation of Amns threat to the Persian Jews and the murder of the
royal favourite. The play ends on a joyous note with the Jews celebration of
their salvation in the company of Asuero, Mardoqueo and Ester.
Lopes first task in La hermosa Ester is to set the scene to explain to the
audience who King Asuero is, to highlight his jurisdiction and to reveal details
of the banquet which he has hosted for the poor and nobility alike. In the bible,
a brief historical account at the beginning of Chapter 1 provides these details.
Lope brings the biblical narrative to life by assigning the role of narrator to
two characters Bassn and Egeo while at the same time making them participants in Asueros banquet. The inclusion of two narrators rather than one
gives Lope the advantage of having one narrators comments supported by
the other, thereby reinforcing for the audience the validity of their account of
the king. The narrators comment upon the elaborate preparations made for the
banquet, which correspond very closely to the details presented in the bible.
The biblical text describes the setting for the feast in the following way: The
garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white
linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches
of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl
and other costly stones. Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other (Esther 1. 67). In La hermosa Ester, Egeo paints the picture of a similar location. He claims:
En este bosque del Rey
se han puesto diversas tiendas,
y sobre columnas blancas
toldos de diversas telas
que cuelgan por varias partes
de cordones de oro y seda.
Hay ricas bordadas camas,
y sobre la verde hierba
tales alfombras, que hacen
a las flores competencia.
Hay vasos de oro y cristal,
(I, 107)

Egeo is also responsible for introducing the king on stage. He declares:


Mas oye: que sale el Rey
de la comida postrera,
con sus prncipes y grandes.
(I, 107)

It could be argued that Lope did not need to set the scene since his audience
was familiar with the biblical story. However, without the opportunity to read
the bible for themselves, both men and women of seventeenth-century Spain

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were probably only aware of the main characters and plot of the story that
Esther, a Jewess, became queen of Persia and managed to disclose Hamans
conspiracy against the Jews, thereby saving her people from destruction. Lope
presents the biblical story to his audience in its entirety.
The magnificence of Asuero is also highlighted by Bassn and Egeo. In
fact, the play opens with Bassns declaration of the kings might. He informs
the audience:
Slo el poderoso Asuero,
que admirando el mundo reina
en ciento y veinte provincias,
hiciera tanta grandeza:
desde la India a Etiopa,
de medos, partos y persas
es absoluto seor.
(I, 107)

Bassn continues to extol the kings virtues and qualities, describing his banquet as muestra / de su magnfico pecho and his actual presence as amable
(I, 107) when he first appears with his princes and nobles. In comparison to the
biblical narrative, which describes the king fundamentally as a generous type,
Lopes drama transforms him into a warm, living, breathing, gracious man,
who is not only a kindly soul because he threw a lavish party for his people,
but because his subjects say that he is. The comments of Bassn and Egeo and
the subsequent remarks made by the msicos and todos who alternately
proclaim Viva el rey Asuero! / Viva el gran seor! (I, 107) are of vital
importance because they contribute to the build-up of dramatic tension within
the play. In other words, the horizon of expectation of the corral audience is
frustrated as it anticipates a marvellous sovereign who conscientiously protects
and cares for his subjects, nobles and peasants alike, only to find that Asuero
permits Amn to issue a royal decree announcing the massacre of the Jews.
Since the narrator acquires a type of authenticity in the eyes of the audience,
acting almost as an intermediary between them and the dramatist, Lopes
audience should have no reason to doubt Bassns and Egeos representation
of the king. Given that the play is based on a biblical story, their description of
characters and events gains extra support. Hence, in spite of the fact that
Bassn and Egeo provide the relevant historical background to the play, it is
because of their participation in the production of dramatic tension right from
the beginning of La hermosa Ester that they are especially important.
Once Asueros praises have been sung, La hermosa Ester focuses on the
dethronement of Vast, a vital episode in both the biblical story and the play in
terms of plot development. However, Lope not only includes this scene for the
purposes of the story line, but cleverly manipulates the biblical material in
order to comment upon issues which Lope knew would appeal to the

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sensibilities of the seventeenth-century audience love, honour and the role of


woman.37 Asuero engages in a convoluted description of Vast in accordance
with the courtly love/Petrarchan topoi of amorous lyric poetry.38 Emphasising
the superiority of Vast to him, Asuero refers to her as la grandeza ma
(I, 107). Asuero undertakes the deification of his wife, who he describes as
el divino trasunto / del Hacedor de la Naturaleza (I, 108) and who continues
to be for him el reino que adoro (I, 111) following her dethronement. Like
the Petrarchan lover, Asuero compares his beloved to nature. Vasts mouth is
el clavel de dos hojas, ms hermoso / que el sol por mayo toca and her cheeks
are rosas which blossom in her snow-white face and compliment her statuesque body (I, 108).39 Asuero states:
y por las dos hermosas
mejillas blancas, entre nieve rosas.
El cuerpo, no hay columna
de marfil ni alabastro;
(I, 108)40
37 In his Arte nuevo, Lope specifically identifies the theme of honra as exemplary
subject matter for the comedia: Los casos de la honra son mejores / Porque mueuen con
fuera a toda ge[n]te,. See El arte nuevo de hacer comedias en este tiempo, ed. Juana de
Jos Prades (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas, 1971), 32728.
38 The characteristic features of courtly love do not appear in the lyric poetry of Castile
until the fifteenth century. However, the themes of courtly love persisted in Spanish
literature throughout the early modern period. Courtly love poetry is based on the
impossible love for a beautiful yet unattainable woman. The principal themes of the trend
include the superiority of the beloved to the lover, the blessed suffering of the lover and
the contemplation of death. The Petrarchan tradition became grafted onto courtly love
poetry in the sixteenth century in Spain. In Petrarchan poetry, the beauty of the female is
compared to nature and is also praised through analogy with mythological characters and
the use of metaphor. On courtly love and Petrarchism, see for example: chapters 37 in
Otis H. Green, Spain and the Western Tradition, 4 vols (Madison: The University of
Wisconsin Press, 196366), I (1963), 72299; A. A. Parker, The Philosophy of Love in
Spanish Literature, 14801680 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1985) and Ignacio Navarrete,
Orphans of Petrarch. Poetry and Theory in the Spanish Renaissance (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1994). According to Vctor de Lama, Las tradiciones cortesana y
petrarquista se entrelazan frecuentemente en la lrica de Lope. See his Lope, poeta de
cancionero, Edad de Oro, 14 (1995), 17996 (p. 188). For an examination of the
burlesque treatment of courtly love in Gngora, Lope and Quevedo, see Iris M. Zavala,
Burlas al amor, NRFH, 29 (1980), 367403.
39 Vasts beauty is not only highlighted by Asueros description of her, but also by her
very name. According to Brockington, Vashti is a Persian name meaning something like
best, desired, beauty. See Ezra, p. 225. Lope draws attention to the significance of
Vashtis name within the play. Asuero asserts: Vast, mi mujer bella; / Vast, que as se llama,
porque basta / para saber por ella, / despus de su virtud honesta y casta, / que no dio el cielo
al suelo / mayores muestras del poder del cielo (I, 108). Glaser mentions Lopes allusion
to the meaning of Vashtis name in Lope de Vegas La hermosa Ester, p. 113, n. 10.
40 In Petrarchan imagery, alabaster and snow are used to convey the whiteness of the
beloveds body. According to Leonard Forster, these can be combined with the conceits

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The dramatic impact of Asueros monologue reveals itself when Vast refuses
to appear before him.41 At this point, Asuero becomes the courtly lover that
he imitated in speech, aspiring to the love of a woman who is out of his grasp
and who ultimately is pushed beyond his reach by his royal advisers.
Marsanes adds to the tension at this point in the drama, urging the king to
leave Vast alone in the company of her female subjects. He suggests to the
king:
Si con sus damas est,
djala gozar queta
su generoso convite;
(I, 108)

Ultimately, the audience knows that Asuero must disregard this piece of
advice if Lope is to conform to the plot of the biblical narrative. Nevertheless, by playing the role of the courtly lover, Asuero ironically becomes a
more human character troubled by doubt, hesitation and anxiety. Unlike his
counterpart in the bible who, angry at his wifes disobedience, immediately
accepts his advisers decision that Vast should be removed from office,
Asueros automatic response to the wise mens proposal is podr, querindola bien? / Fuerte consejo me dais! (I, 109).42 This minor adaptation of the
source material could easily be overlooked or simply disregarded because it
has no impact on plot development. The king, in spite of his hesitancy, ultimately accepts the advice of his councillors. In addition, the kings vacillation
at this point is not reflective of his behaviour in other important scenes in the
play. Like the biblical king, Asuero unquestioningly accepts Amns recommendation concerning the massacre of the Jews (II, 120). However, Asueros
reaction at this point is of vital importance because it draws attention to the
seventeenth-century preoccupation with reputation. Through the character of
used to express the womans hardness of heart. See The Petrarchan Manner: An
Introduction, in The Icy Fire. Five Studies in European Petrarchism (Cambridge: CUP,
1969), pp. 160 (p. 15). In La hermosa Ester, Asueros description of Vasts body as an
alabaster column presages the coldness with which Vast responds to Asueros request to
appear before him.
41 In Josephus, the king and queen are named, respectively, Asueros and Aste. Regarding
Astes refusal to appear before Asueros, Josephus claims: She, however, in observance of
the laws of the Persians, which forbid their women to be seen by strangers, did not go to the
king. See Josephus, p. 407. Weiner reiterates this point: La negacin que le hizo caba
perfectamente dentro de las costumbres persas. See La reina Ester, p. 45. In a
seventeenth-century Spanish context, however, Vast would have been expected to obey her
husbands orders.
42 It should be noted that in Josephus, pp. 40709, Muchaios (equivalent to Memucan
in the Bible) urges Ahasuerus to inflict severe punishment on Vashti as well as to arrange
her dethronement. This is not the case in the biblical narrative, nor in Lopes play. In note
a, p. 408, Marcus claims that, according to Rabbinic tradition, Vashti was executed.

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the king, Lope comments on the themes of love and honour and emphasises
the dilemma which they can force upon the seventeenth-century Spaniard
when he/she must choose between the public and the private role. It seems
that Asuero reluctantly relinquishes his love for Vast for the sake of el
pblico bien (I, 109). Following Marsanes speech regarding Vasts
deposition and the importance of obedience to the husband on the part of the
wife, the king declares:
Afuera amor; que no es justo
que sujetis la razn:
fuertes los consejos son
contra las leyes del gusto:
pero si es bien que los reyes
sean espejos del bien,
bien es que en ellos se den
los principios a las leyes.
Salga de Palacio al punto
la Reina: no quede en l!
(I, 109)43

In spite of the fact that Adamata, one of the kings advisers, initially links
passion to reason, claiming that quien reina de sus pasiones, / ese vive con
razn (I, 109), both Adamata and Tares ultimately categorise love as an
unreasonable emotion which imprisons the individual and of which the king
must rid himself if he is to reign successfully.
Tares

Amor es una pasin


que nunca llega a razones:
vive de su voluntad
en la libertad que quiere.
Adamata Por eso quien le venciere
tendr mayor libertad.
(I, 109)

43 In De Clementia, Senecas treatise on the behaviour of the emperor Nero, the opening
lines of the text underlined that Seneca would show Nero to himself as in a mirror. Ciceros
definition of the play as a mirror of life, Est imitatio vitae, speculum consuetudinis, imago
veritatis, was re-presented by Lope in his Arte nuevo. Lopes treatise includes the following
affirmations: Espejo de las / De las costu[m]bres, y vna viua image[n] / De la verdad
(12325); Humanae cur sit speculum comoedia vitae (377). It should be noted that the
Latin source of the concluding lines of the Arte nuevo is unknown, and may have in fact
been written by Lope himself. In Act I of El castigo sin venganza, the Duke also refers
to the comedia as an espejo in his conversation with Ricardo. See Lope de Vega, El perro
del hortelano, El castigo sin venganza, ed. A. David Kossoff (Madrid: Castalia, 1970),
I. 215225.

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In comparison, Asueros love for Ester is associated with reason at the end of
Act III.44 The king describes love as an illuminating force:
Bien parece que mi amor
alumbr mi entendimiento
para honrar tu noble to
con el hacha de su fuego;
que ensalzarse hasta poner
de Oriente en su mano el cetro
sin haberle conocido,
solo amor supiera hacerlo;
en todo acierta quien ama
(III, 135)

Since Ester acts as a divine instrument through whom Gods chosen people
are saved in the play, it is essentially divine love which ultimately will be associated with reason, rather than human love.
Lope highlights how badly Asuero is affected by human love by tampering
with the biblical narrative again and transforming him into a lovesick victim
who blames himself for the break-up of his relationship and who suffers from
instability without his queen. Setar remarks ya sin ella no se halla (I, 111).45
A remedy is discussed in his absence by his doctors Adamata, Marsanes and
Setar who exploit the courtly love / Neoplatonic concept of love entering
through the eyes.46 Setar is the first to suggest that a replacement should be
44 Concerning the relationship between love and reason in the medieval and
Renaissance worlds, Otis H. Green states: That love was born of reason but that it was not
controlled by reason was a medieval and Renaissance commonplace. See Spain and the
Western Tradition, I, 141. In courtly love poetry, voluntad prevails over razn.
45 In courtly love poetry, the blessed suffering of the lover may produce the lovers
malady of hereos. The physical effects of love, including insomnia, loss of appetite and
pallor are also a Petrarchan commonplace. For a discussion of the lovers malady
of hereos, including references to the physical effects of love and proposed remedies
contained in medieval and Renaissance medical treatises, see John Livingston Lowes, The
Loveres Maladye of Hereos, M.Phil, 11 (1914), 491546. Teresa Scott Soufas also refers
to the definition of lovesickness in medical treatises of the Renaissance, including Burtons
Anatomy of Melancholy and Ferrands Erotomania in Love Melancholy (Lope,
Caldern), in Melancholy and the Secular Mind in Spanish Golden Age Literature
(Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990), pp. 64100. The malady of love and the
relationship between amor and locura are the principal themes of Lopes Los locos de
Valencia. For a study of these particular issues in the play, see Luciano Garca Lorenzo,
Amor y locura fingida: Los locos de Valencia, de Lope de Vega, in El mundo del teatro
espaol en su Siglo de Oro: ensayos dedicados a John E. Varey, ed. J. M. Ruano de la
Haza, Ottawa Hispanic Studies, III (Ottawa: Dovehouse Editions, 1989), pp. 21328.
46 The king has already stressed this theory of love in his lament for the absent Vast:
Vast de mi casa ausente, / y sus ojos de mis ojos! (I, 111). While Marsanes and Setar
accept this theory, they also comically assert that the ears, not the eyes, are responsible for
keeping love alive. See their conversation, I, 11112.

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found for Vast, while Marsanes recommends that an edict should be drafted
instructing all beautiful virgins to be handed over to the palace guards so that
the king can choose a new wife from among them. Setar comments explicitly
on the nature of their proposed cure:
Buscar tantas mujeres, que entre tantas
haya alguna hermosura tan valiente
que mate la memoria de la ausente.
(I, 112)

At the end of Act I, the king is in fact cured by the contemplation of the
hermossima Ester whose exceptional beauty cannot be depicted by Egeo,
the painter. Egeo tells the king: No te quiero pintar su rostro hermoso, /
porque son muy groseros mis pinceles (I, 115). Egeos inability to describe
Esters attractiveness provokes the king to respond: Tanta belleza, / monstruo
ser de la Naturaleza (I, 115).47
In contrast to Asuero, his biblical counterpart experiences neither remorse,
regret nor guilt prior to and following Vasts dethronement. In Esther 2. 1, we
are simply told: Later when the anger of King Xerxes had subsided, he
remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about
her. In addition, the biblical king unquestioningly listens to and accepts the
collective proposal of his personal attendants concerning the appointment of
a new queen.48 Some ambiguity arises in the play concerning the kings direct
involvement in the search for a new queen. While the audience does not witness Asueros approval of Marsanes edict, the caja and capitn discuss the
selection process in terms of the kings orders. The caja begins his synopsis
of the edict by attributing its contents to Asuero: manda el poderoso rey
Asuero (I, 113). In a similar vein, the capitn affirms that the king prefers
hermosura to calidad: calidad no me ha pedido; / hermosura pide el Rey,
(I, 113). Nevertheless, it is not evident from the statements of either whether
the king willingly gave orders for the search to be conducted. In fact, Asuero
is still afflicted by the malady of love and associates Vast with his death
following the presentation of several women to him: Vast me mata, y sola
su hermosura / es el crisol que mi memoria apura; (I, 115).49 In contrast to

47 The title Monstruo de la Naturaleza was conferred upon Lope himself by Cervantes
in 1615 in the prologue to his Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses.
48 In Josephus text, we are told that although the king was in love with the queen and
could not bear the separation from her, he could not be reconciled to her because of the
law. Therefore, he continued to grieve until he was advised to instigate a search for a new
wife. Like his biblical counterpart, he sent commissioners in pursuit of young virgins in
order to find a replacement for Vashti (p. 409).
49 In courtly love poetry, the lover contemplates death at the hands of the beloved. The
identification of the beloved both as a source of life and death of the lover is also found in
Petrarch and is a paradox which continued to be exploited in the seventeenth century.

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the assertions of both the caja and capitn, Mardoqueo, in his conversation
with Ester, attributes the search for a new queen to the kings councillors:
los prncipes de su imperio,
por medicina, aunque nueva,
mandan en todos sus reinos
buscar hermosas doncellas,
para que la que le agrade
reine en lugar de la Reina.
(I, 113)

Whether the king gave orders for the search to be carried out or not, the fact
remains that private desire is sacrificed for public duty. Asuero is the seventeenth-century Spanish man who must, according to Donald Larson, no matter
what his inner inclination, avenge an insult to his reputation.50 Although
Lope deals with the seventeenth-century preoccupation with honour in this
play and demonstrates the importance of reputation in contemporary society,
it is not proof of his tolerance of, and agreement with, the concept.51 In fact,
Lope emphasises the importance of love and the fulfilment of private needs
in La hermosa Ester. When Vast declares quien trata as su mujer, / necio
Asuero adds that he is suffering from a sangra which Ester offers to cure with her vida
and sangre (I, 115).
50 See Donald Larson, The Honor Plays of Lope de Vega (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
UP, 1977), p. 13. Larson continues: For one person to lose his honor is for society to be
hurt in some degree, and for that person to suffer the loss of his honor and make no attempt
to regain it is for society to be permanently harmed. This it will not tolerate.
51 Honour is also given a problematic treatment in many of Lopes plays, including El
perro del hortelano and El castigo sin venganza. In El perro del hortelano, the
impossibility of the relationship between Diana, a countess, and Teodoro, criado, because
of the limitations imposed by honra is resolved by the deceptive transformation of Teodoro
into a nobleman as he poses as Ludovicos long lost son. Victor Dixon states regarding this
solution to the play: Although Lope is too pragmatic to suggest that appearances dont
matter and need not be maintained, sham appearances, he makes Diana aware, may be as
effective as realities. See Introduction in Lope de Vega, El perro del hortelano, ed. Victor
Dixon (London: Tamesis, 1981), pp. 967 (p. 49). In El castigo sin venganza, the
motivation for the chastisement administered by the Duke at the end of the play is
ambiguous. As both injured party and judge, his decision to eradicate both his adulterous
wife, Casandra, and his illegitimate son, Federico, could be interpreted as a barbarous act
of vengeance or a necessary course of action within the societal code of honour. On
the concept of honour in this play, Gwynne Edwards states: Lope could not present the
Dukes actions against the erring couple simply as a punishment which is the case in the
original for their behaviour offends not merely against public morality but also against
his personal honour. On the other hand, Lope did not wish the Dukes actions to be seen
merely as a private revenge for lost honour when larger moral questions were involved.
The title points to his concern with both issues. See his Introduction in Lope de Vega,
Three Major Plays (Fuente Ovejuna, The Knight from Olmedo, Punishment without
Revenge), trans. Gwynne Edwards (Oxford: OUP, 1999), pp. viixxxi (p. xxviii).

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consejo ha tomado (I, 109), she is expressing how foolish the king was to
heed the advice of his wise men. In a clever and subtle manner, Lope attributes a voice to Vast which she is denied in the biblical narrative in order to
present his own ambivalence regarding honor/honra.52
As a comedia de tema religioso, La hermosa Ester naturally treats the
theme of love not only in a human/physical context, but also from the aspect
of the divine. While Vast is defined and ultimately debased by a human love,
Ester is inspired and protected by a divine force which guides her in her campaign to prevent the massacre of the Persian Jews. In this respect, Lope
follows the deuterocanonical text of Esther by demonstrating how the Jews
are saved by Ester, Gods instrument on earth, and not only by the human
efforts of the female. While God, the Divine, supports Ester, Asuero, the
human, disowns Vast.
When Lope decided to shift two biblical scenes around in order to present
Ester as soon as Vast is dethroned, and not after the search for a new queen
begins, obviously he was aiming to produce a specific dramatic impact on his
audience. The juxtaposition of the exit of Vast with the entrance of Ester on
stage is dramatically very effective for two reasons. First of all, it highlights
the superiority of divine love to human love without undermining Lopes attitude towards the expression and fulfilment of human love. Secondly, the presentation of Vast and Ester one after the other sets the women up as two
oppositional forces. Vast, the ex-queen characterised by disobedience and
insolence is replaced by Ester, the new queen who remarks on her own
humildad and the importance of obediencia (I, 115) when she first appears
before Asuero.53 It is interesting that when Ester and Vast are analysed in
apposition at this point in the drama, Vast emerges as a strong, self-assertive
woman endowed with what are normally categorised as negative traits, while
Ester initially appears as an almost submissive female type. Dramatic tension
is successfully created in Act I as we are forced to question and anticipate how
52 Edward Glaser, in Lope de Vegas La hermosa Ester, pp. 11315, takes a different
view on the conflict between the king and queen. He claims that the moral which Lope
reads into the incident is that pride goes before deposition and that the dismissal of the
haughty queen presents a preview of the fate which is to befall the kings conceited
favourite, Haman (p. 114). While I accept Glasers analysis as a valid interpretation of the
opening scenes, the kings immediate expression of hesitancy with regard to the dismissal
of his beloved is still an important modification to the biblical narrative. If this change is
borne in mind, then honour can be interpreted as a metaphorical straitjacket.
53 In Fuente Ovejuna, Rodrigo Tellez Girn, master of Calatrava, compares the king
and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, to Ahasuerus / Xerxes and Esther respectively when he
appears before them to seek forgiveness for his involvement in the siege of Ciudad Real.
He extols them in the following manner: Vos sois una bella Ester, / y vos, un Xerxes
divino. See Lope de Vega, Fuente Ovejuna, ed. Juan Mara Marn (Madrid: Ctedra,
1997), p. 185. All subsequent references to the play will be taken from this edition. The
use of divino implies a Christian interpretation of the role of the king as Gods instrument
on earth. On La hermosa Ester from a Christian perspective, see pp. 4142 of this chapter.

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the playwright will transform Ester into an authoritative individual capable of


defeating the arrogant Amn.
Lope continues to build tension in this play through Mardoqueos predictions of the role which Ester must ultimately assume. When we first meet
uncle and niece, Mardoqueo describes Ester in the following way:
Con hermosura y discrecin naciste,
y con divino entendimiento claro,
vivir sola pudieras; pero el cielo
algo pretende de tu santo celo
(I, 110)54

Later, when Mardoqueo reveals to Ester that she has been listed by Egeo
among the prospective new lovers for king Asuero, he prophesies:
No temas;
que Dios te dar favor,
porque por tu medio sea
su pueblo restituido
a su primera grandeza;
(I, 113)

In the bible, the first sign of any type of prediction on the part of Mordecai
does not occur until Chapter 4 when he sends the following message to Esther
through Hathach in an attempt to persuade her to plead with the king for the
protection of the Jews For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your fathers
family will perish (Esther 4. 14). In La hermosa Ester, Lope does not permit
Ester to become queen without hinting at the role which she will have to
perform on behalf of all her people. Mardoqueos predictions are significant
because they anticipate the plot of the play and the course of action which
Ester must take without pinpointing details. His speeches serve to increase the
expectation of the audience in the corral those individuals who do not know
the plot of the story will be forced to reflect on what the main action will
consist of before it happens; others, who are familiar with the tale, will wonder how Lope will bring it to life on stage.
54 Ester is the niece of Mardoqueo in La hermosa Ester, not the cousin as in the biblical
story (i.e. daughter of Mordecais uncle, Abihail). In Racines Esther, Esther is also the niece
of Mardoche. Josephus, p. 409, likewise describes Mordecai as the uncle of Esther. In note d,
p. 409 of Josephus, Marcus confirms that Rabbinic tradition, unlike Scripture, makes Esther
the niece of Mordecai. Lope probably chose the uncle/niece connection in order to intensify
the relationship between his two characters, as well as to endow Mardoqueo with explicit
authority over his niece. Indeed, when Mardoqueo discusses Esters future role as the saviour
of her people, he states: es bien que al cielo y a m, / hermosa Ester, obedezcas (I, 113).

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Throughout La hermosa Ester, Lope is continually striving to expand


biblical detail in order to intensify the dramatic action. Nonetheless, he does
make several omissions. The first of these is contained in Esther 2. 1214 and
relates to the twelve months of beauty treatments which every female must
complete before appearing before the king.55 This is a Persian custom which
would have been meaningless to a seventeenth-century Spanish audience and
which Lope simply chooses not to include. The omission of this detail does
not impact on the plot of the play. Lope also denies Asuero the harem which
his counterpart possesses in the Book of Esther. Marsanes simply orders:
la que entrare de noche, salga al alba, / y la que le agradare, o por dichosa /
o por bella, que reine (I, 112). Of course, it was essential for Lope to omit
these for the purposes of decorum, a cardinal doctrine of the Spanish drama
of the seventeenth century, according to Duncan Moir.56 Finally, and best
categorised as a suppression rather than an omission of biblical detail, the two
banquets which Esther hosts in the Book of Esther become one in La hermosa
Ester.57 Since nothing happens at the first biblical banquet, Lope understandably includes only one in his play. By doing so, the development of dramatic
action within the play is not impeded by the inclusion of unnecessary scenes
which would slow down the pace of his drama.
As a religious play, it was necessary for Lope to include the deuterocanonical additions in La hermosa Ester. Without these, his play would have been
a secular representation of the protocanonical text which contains no references
to God. Lope emphasises the importance of faith and the omniscience of God
through the characters of Ester and Mardoqueo. In Act II, Mardoqueos
speech in which he stresses why he will not pay respect to Amn is based on
Addition C of the Apocrypha. Mardoqueo tells Isaac:
Yo no, que solo a Dios hincarlas pienso,
que no quiero quitar lo que le debo,
por darlo a la criatura, que bien sabe
el mismo Dios, que no es por ser yo grave
(II, 117)

In Josephus, the beauty treatments last for six months (p. 411).
See The Classical Tradition in Spanish Dramatic Theory and Practice in
the Seventeenth Century, in Classical Drama and its Influence: Essays Presented to
H. D. F. Kitto, ed. M. J. Anderson (London: Methuen, 1965), pp. 191228 (p. 208).
According to Duncan Moir, the Spanish ideas of decorum in the seventeenth century are
an expression of the social, religious and moral ideals of the particular civilization which
has moulded them (pp. 21011). The question of decorum is crucial to Lopes reworking
of Seneca in El castigo sin venganza. See Victor Dixon and Isabel Torres, La madrastra
enamorada: Una tragedia de Sneca refundida por Lope de Vega?, RCan, 19 (1994),
3960.
57 In Racines Esther, the two banquets are also reduced to one. See Yarrow, Esther,
p. 84.
55

56

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Esters prayer to God before hosting the banquet for Amn and Asuero also
comes from Addition C of the Apocrypha. She cries out for divine assistance
as the esclava of God:
Oh gran Seor, si aquesta esclava vuestra
las mujeres ilustres imitase
de vuestro pueblo y de la sangre nuestra,
y algo de sus desdichas restaurase;
[. . .]
haced que Amn por estas manos muera
(III, 131)

Lope does not remain wholly dependent on the deuterocanonical parts of


Esther in order to present his drama as a biblical, rather than secular, comedia.
Throughout this play, both Ester and Mardoqueo constantly refer to the power
of God and highlight that the people of Israel will be saved by His intervention. Mardoqueo classifies the Jews as the pueblo de Dios, while Ester
exhibits obedience to, and love of, God right from the beginning of the play,
even before she has been chosen as queen of Persia. She prays:
Inmenso Dios, vuestra soy!
[. . .]
dadme entendimiento y fuerzas
para saber agradaros,
pues que yo os doy la obediencia.
(I, 113)

There is no doubt that although Lope manipulated the Book of Esther in order
to exploit and problematise contemporary themes, he also used his source
to promote an orthodox belief and hope in God to his seventeenth-century
audience.
Although Juan O. Valencia believes that the dream of Mardoqueo was
invented by Lope, in fact the playwright based his re-creation of the dream on
one of the Apocryphal additions (addition A).58 At the beginning of Act II
Mardoqueo tells his dream to Isaac, who is a new character created by Lope.
Regarding the significance of the dream, Mardoqueo remarks: yo pienso que

58 For Valencias view on Mardoqueos dream, see Pathos y tab en el teatro bblico del
siglo de oro (Madrid: Ediciones y Distribuciones Isla, 1977), pp. 6373 (pp. 6566).
Valencias work is particularly interesting as regards his analysis of the character of Amn.
He describes Amn as un personaje desgarrado por los contrastes: su vanagloria le lleva
a querer escalar las estrellas y su suerte lo arroja hasta los suelos. Apoyado en los favores
del Rey, se ve luego condenado por ste (p. 67). For Valencia, Amn is an unbalanced
individual who is at once confident, insecure and plagued by paranoia, despite his false
sense of self-importance. On Amn, see especially pp. 6672 of Valencias work.

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ha de ser para bien nuestro (II, 117). The dream symbolises the deliverance
of the Jews from Amns organised persecution as a result of Esters efforts.
However, Ester has just been appointed queen and the hostility between Amn
and Mardoqueo has not even surfaced yet. Lopes inclusion of the dream is
therefore another means of heightening dramatic suspense.
The creation of Isaac is fundamental to an understanding of Lopes recreated play. Isaac is not only included by Lope in order to serve as the listener
and receiver of Mardoqueos prophetic dream. He is also significant because
his ignorance of Amns identity and stature allows Mardoqueo to reveal
Amns superior role to the rest of the kings officials. When Isaac asks:
quin es aqueste? (II, 117), Mardoqueos response provides the precise
details found at the beginning of Esther 3. He states:
Este es Amn, un prncipe
que preside a los otros, tan soberbio
con el imperio, que me causa enojos
(II, 117)

This conversion of biblical narrative into dialogue is markedly significant


because it establishes the antagonism which grows between Amn and
Mardoqueo throughout the play. However, Lopes most important reason
for including Isaac in his play is the fact that his submissive obedience
serves to highlight the stoicism of Mardoqueo. When Isaac fearfully bows
down to pay respect to Amn, he leaves his Jewish friend standing defiantly
alone. There can be no doubt that Lope deliberately selected the name of
Isaac, one of the great patriarchs of the Old Testament, for his character.59
The inability of this character to take a stand against the royal favourite,
having been named after the heroic biblical figure who convinced the Lord
of his obedience in Genesis, magnifies the courage and steadfastness of
Mardoqueo.
Throughout La hermosa Ester, Mardoqueo is portrayed as an exceptional,
distinguished character endowed with valour and humildad. His heroism is
made much more explicit in Lopes drama than in the biblical story. At the
beginning of Act III, before reading from the annals that Mardoqueo
was responsible for saving the kings life, Egeo pronounces a list of recorded
names and feats attributed to them. This does not happen in the biblical
narrative where only Mardoqueos discovery of the plot against the Jews is

59 Isaac is the son of Abraham and father of the twins Jacob and Esau. He was born to
Abraham and his wife Sarah after a long and childless marriage. The events of his life are
recounted in Genesis 2128. One of the most important episodes in Isaacs life was the
projected sacrifice of him by his father Abraham (Genesis 22). In the end, God accepted a
ram as a substitute for Isaac because he was convinced of the obedience of both Abraham
and Isaac to His word.

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underlined.60 The effect created by Egeos comments on characters such as


Rufino Tebano, a painter, Tirio, an engineer, and Tesenio, a poet and the
reasons why they have been honoured by Asuero is the intensification of the
significance of Mardoqueos deed. Mardoqueo is projected as a man much
more worthy of reward than one who presents the king with a bad self-portrait,
constructs the royal baths or offers a book of poetry to him. Lope consequently succeeds in setting Mardoqueo, a Jew, above the Persian nobles of
Asueros kingdom. Given Spains longstanding anti-Semitic tradition, the
elevation of the Jew raises several questions. For Lopes audience, for whom
the Persians may mask the Spanish, it could signify the promotion of the Jew
above the Spanish nobility. If this is the case, the play not only forces the
audience to see itself in a negative light, but problematises concepts such as
anti-Semitism and honour.61
Perhaps the most significant expansion of biblical detail in the play is the
dramatisation of the conspiracy against the king based on Esther 2. 23: And
when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were
hanged on a gallows. Lope presents the investigation into the planned assassination of Asuero and introduces an important prop a carta. Mardoqueo
overhears Bagatn and Tares not only discussing the murder of the king but
also commenting on the carta.62 This carta, carried close to the chest of Tares,
contains details of the proposed regicide. The carta is both Asueros proof that
Mardoqueos denouncement of the royal officials is true and the cause of the
mens downfall. Lope heightens suspense in his play by having Bagatn and
Tares fear that Mardoqueo has overheard their conversation. His inclusion of
the carta also serves to set Amn and Mardoqueo up as two contradictory
forces while Mardoqueo informs the royal household about the letter, Amn
reads the contents to them. In order to assign the role of reader to Amn and
not just to any royal adviser, Lope must promote him to the status of royal
favourite before the conspiracy to kill the king is thwarted by Mardoqueo.

60 In Josephus text, the accomplishments of two other individuals, apart from Mordecai,
are mentioned: It was found that a certain man as a reward for his bravery on one occasion
had received some land, the name of which was also written. Then, in mentioning another
who had received a gift for his loyalty, he also came to the eunuchs who had plotted against
the king and against whom Mordecai had informed. See Josephus, pp. 43335.
61 The issue of the elevation of the Jew through the characters Mardoqueo and Ester
is complex. While the promotion of the Jew appears to be Lopes aim, this does not
coincide with the more traditional picture of Lope in religious terms depicted in other
parts of this study. It is possible that the dramatisation of the story of Esther proved
attractive to Lope because of the opportunity it provided to give anti-Semitism a
problematic treatment and consequently, to generate a range of audience responses. For
several critics opinions on Lope as anti-Semitic or as a supporter of the Jewish cause, see
pp. 4042 of this chapter.
62 In Josephus narrative, a character named Barnabazos, a Jew, discovers the conspiracy
against the king and informs Mordecai (p. 415).

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Because he aims to increase the rivalry between the hero and antihero of the
play, Lope cannot wait to promote Amn after the conspiracy is uncovered, as
is the case in his biblical source.
The animosity between Mardoqueo and Amn is escalated when, following Amns invitation to dine with Ester and Asuero, the royal favourite is
ignored three times by Mardoqueo. This constitutes a deliberate amplification
on Lopes part of Esther 5. 9 which reads as follows: Haman went out that
day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the kings gate
and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was
filled with rage against Mordecai. Mardoqueo has already informed both
Isaac and the audience why he will not pay homage to Amn. To Isaacs comment that everyone is kneeling before Amn, Mardoqueo replies:
Yo no, que solo a Dios hincarlas pienso,
que no quiero quitar lo que le debo,
por darlo a la criatura, que bien sabe
el mismo Dios, que no es por ser yo grave.
(II, 117)63

As Mardoqueo denies him respect time and time again, Amn becomes more
infuriated. The first time Mardoqueo passes by without bowing down he is
called el necio arrogante. On the second occasion, he becomes for Amn un
miserable hebreo. Finally, Amn resorts to dehumanising the Jew, referring
to him as una hormiga [. . .] una mosca miserable (II, 125).
By developing the negative qualities of Amn in the play, Lope undermines
the comments of this antihero. Amn is a cruel, arrogant and authoritative
governor who rejects the petitions of his subjects at the beginning of Act II.
He refers to himself as el rey Amn (II, 120) and a godlike figure who is not
only un hombre que respetan las estrellas (II, 121) but an individual whose
praises are sung by nature (II, 120).64 In this respect, he equates himself with
the divine being who, according to the child Isidro in La niez de San Isidro
63 Lope bases Mardoqueos justification of his actions on Mordecais prayer contained
in addition C of the Apocrypha. In the Hebrew text of Esther, Mordecai offers no reason
why he refuses to bow down before Haman. Josephus states in this regard: But Mordecai
because of his wisdom and his native law would not prostrate himself before any man.
See Josephus, p. 417.
64 Like Amn, the figure of Senacherib, king of Assyria in Historia de Tobas, is
characterised by arrogance. He too establishes himself as a godlike personage by
describing his conquest of Jerusalem in terms of Christs triumphal entry into Jerusalem
on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21.111). Senacherib claims: con laurel entro maana /
triunfando en Jerusaln. The edition of this play used for the purposes of this study is
contained in Obras de Lope de Vega, ed. Don Marcelino Menndez y Pelayo, Biblioteca
de Autores Espaoles, 15759, VIVIII (Madrid: Atlas, 1963), VIII, 87136. Senacheribs
declaration is found in I, 93. All subsequent references to the play will be taken from
this edition.

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and his adult equivalent in La juventud de San Isidro, is eulogised by the


natural world.65 He boasts of supernatural powers in a lengthy monologue
claiming that the very sun and planets pay him homage.66 Lope presents Amn
as a despicable man, placing him in apposition to Mardoqueo who is for the
royal favourite nothing more than un vil hebreo (II, 120). More than that, he
is a mastn (II, 126) who disobeys his master. Amn is ultimately punished
in the play, not only because of his planned massacre of the Jews, but also
because of his soberbia. Humildad, as exemplified by Mardoqueo, is
rewarded in La hermosa Ester. Amn is struck down by Gods cetro de la
muerte because he tried to destroy Gods chosen people.67 For him, the sceptre symbolises damnation, while for Ester and Mardoqueo, it means salvation.
While Asuero extends his sceptre to Ester when she enters the throne room,
thus pardoning her for presenting herself uninvited, Mardoqueo receives the
royal sceptre and is dressed in royal attire when the king decides to honour
him for saving his life. Indeed, Mardoqueo appears on stage con cetro y
corona en un caballo, y su palio; (III, 129). Ironically, it is Amn who
suggests that Asuero should present his sceptre to the man he wishes to
reward. In fact, this suggestion is made precisely when Amn wants to ask for
permission to put Mardoqueo to death.
Lope also exploits the character of Amn to deal with the concept of honra.
At the end of Act II when he decides to hang Mardoqueo for being a
disrespectful citizen, Amn expresses the importance of honour in the manner
of a seventeenth-century Spanish male whose pride has been damaged. He
states:
que no hay oro, seda y telas,
granas tirias, persas joyas,
gobiernos, reinos, imperios,
mesas, deleites, aromas,
que causen tanta gloria
como vengar agravios de la honra
(II, 126)

Nonetheless, in failing to redress his grievance, Lope presents Amn as an


individual who is not entitled to honour, and thus suggests for a second time
in this play his uncertainty regarding the concept. However, as part of the
fabric of Spanish patriarchal society, and essentially about belonging to that
See my analysis of the prayers of the child and adult Isidro in chapter 2, pp. 6668.
See his speech, II, 120.
67 See Mardoqueos speech, II, 117. In Historia de Tobas, Senacherib is also punished
by God through an ngel santo who puts 185,000 of his soldiers to death (I, 9394). Tobas
(viejo) attributes Senacheribs eventual murder by Sarasar and Adramelech, the kings sons,
to Gods intervention. He tells his wife, Ana, his son, Tobas (mozo) and Rubn, who
delivered the news of the royal death: Hijos, Dios lo permiti (I, 98).
65
66

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society, honour is the privilege of those who enjoy pureza de sangre. Marginal
individuals, such as the Jews, were not entitled to honour. By denying honour
to Amn and punishing him for his attack on the Jews, Lope once again
elevates the Jew.68
Apart from Isaac, Lope presents another new character named Marsanes
based on the biblical Marsena, one of the seven nobles of Persia. Marsanes
acts as amigo y consejero de Amn.69 The function of Marsanes is to bridge
gaps, connect scenes and increase tension in the play. He is the official who
initially expresses leniency towards Vast by advising the king to allow her to
remain in the company of the other women. However, he subsequently makes
a declaration concerning the superiority of the male to the female. He also
suggests that the king should make the dethronement of Vast known in all the
provinces.70 Marsanes similarly informs Amn of Mardoqueos lack of
respect for him. He does this alone, rather than as part of the group of royal
officials who relate Mordecais disobedience to Haman in the Book of Esther.
Marsanes exaggerates Mardoqueos refusal to honour Amn, thereby magnifying Amns agitation and disgust with the Jew. He tells him: De tal manera le hallo / mil veces en tu presencia (II, 120). One of the most significant
roles that Marsanes plays in La hermosa Ester is that of the faithful friend of
Amn who suggests to him that he should have Mardoqueo hanged from the
gallows. Consequently, the inclusion of this character might have mitigated
somewhat Amns negative role and made the audience see him as less
culpable for his actions.
Lopes originality in La hermosa Ester is manifested through his introduction of a sub-plot. This serves to make the play more explicitly relevant to the
seventeenth-century audience and to produce comic relief. Weiner believes
that it demonstrates that opposites, specifically the Spanish nobility and peasantry, can never complement one another: Creo que en este episodio Lope ha
querido mostrar que las cosas opuestas sangre baja y sangre alta no se
pueden mezclar.71 In the form of two short interludes in Acts I and II, the
sub-plot takes place in a typical seventeenth-century rustic setting and tells the
story of how Sirena aspires to become queen and how Selvagio, her lover,
refuses to take her back when she fails in her quest. The choice of names of
these characters was no coincidence. Selvagio is the rustic figure which his
name suggests, while Sirenas name is symbolic of the role that she would like
68 Lopes El nio inocente de La Guardia serves as an interesting contrast to
La hermosa Ester because of its treatment of the theme of anti-Semitism. However, even
within that particular play, the Jews voice their sufferings in Act I. Francisco, for example,
states: Mseros de nosotros, desterrados / de nuestra patria en tanta desventura! / Los
daos tan de atrs profetizados, / an no se acaban, y el castigo dura. See El nio inocente
de La Guardia, ed. Anthony J. Farrell (London: Tamesis, 1985), I. 32225.
69 See Valencia, Pathos, p. 70.
70 See Marsanes speech, I, 109.
71 La reina Ester, p. 45.

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to play. She aims to become the siren of Greek mythology who will lure and
tempt the king. She is an arrogant female, described in terms of her vanidad
(I, 114) and locura (II, 121) by Selvagio. She believes that the king should
choose her for his wife because of the superiority of the natural countryside
to the ambience of the palace and because lo que falta es lo mejor (I, 115).
Sirena is a comic figure who ironically wishes to become queen in an environment which she has just criticised. The fact that the audience knows that
Ester, not Sirena, will become queen intensifies the comic effect of this scene
and invalidates Sirenas monologue.
Nevertheless, Sirena mirrors Vasts self-assurance and independence. Just as
Vast disregarded Asueros request that she appear before him, so Sirena ignores
Selvagios plea that she remain faithful to him and abandon her ambition.
Although Sirena is also portrayed as a foolish female who admits to her own
locura and soberbia (II, 122) in aspiring as one of sangre baja to an unattainable status of sangre alta within the hierarchical structure of seventeenthcentury Spain, her assertiveness and her initial refusal to play the part of the
submissive female cannot be denied. Sirena leaves the stage in Act II with a confident speech concerning how she will win back Selvagios love. She boasts:
pero yo le ablandar
la condicin fiera y brava;
no me da mucha fatiga
por ms que volar presuma;
(II, 122)

The audience, therefore, is left not with an image of Sirena as a defeated, undermined woman, but as a bold, positive female. Consequently, Lopes sub-plot not
only makes La hermosa Ester more appealing by setting it within a contemporary context, but also allows a subversive female presence to have a forceful voice
within the play. This sub-plot is particularly effective because it is successfully
worked into the main plot and thematic axis of La hermosa Ester.
When Lope decided to write a play based on the Book of Esther, rather than
any other biblical story, he was obviously not interested in merely presenting
the omniscience of God on stage. Of course there is no denying that the importance of faith is highlighted in La hermosa Ester. However, by concentrating
on the success of a young woman in an alien environment, the Book of Esther
offered Lope the opportunity to present the strong, assertive female (a prevalent type in Lopes secular drama) within a religious framework.72 Principally

72 A thorough investigation into the numerous representations of the strong-willed


female in Lopes secular plays is beyond the limits of this book. However, examples of the
type include the women of the Amazons, explicitly praised by Lope in Las mujeres sin
hombres and the character Laurencia in Fuente Ovejuna. In Fuente Ovejuna, the
authoritative and resolute Laurencia is capable of both condemning men and joining forces

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through the character of Ester, and to a much lesser extent, Vast, Lope exalts
the female. Esters triumph over Amn is coupled with the fulfilment of
Vasts promise to make Asuero suffer, if only for a short time, for sacrificing
love for public duty. It may only have been possible for Lope to present the
ultimate victory of the female Jewess (Ester) over the male (Amn) because
Ester is almost non-human; she is Gods instrument on earth through whom
His divine powers operate. In the final scenes of La hermosa Ester, she is
praised both by the king and by his Hebrew subjects.
Indeed, Lopes final manipulation of biblical material relates to the ending
of the play. He succintly dramatises the final chapters of the Book of Esther
and concludes his play by focusing on the rejoicing and celebrations of the
Jews on stage with Ester, Mardoqueo and Asuero. Prior to the final dance and
the redistribution of Amns estate to Mardoqueo and Ester, Asuero authorises
the revocation of Amns decree against the Jewish population. He addresses
Mardoqueo in the following manner:
Esta es mi sortija y sello;
despachad cartas al punto,
en que revoco el decreto
que Amn, soberbio, haba dado
contra el santo pueblo hebreo.
(III, 135)

La hermosa Ester ends on a happy, non-violent note, omitting the biblical


account of the murder of Hamans ten sons and other Persians by Jews in
Asueros provinces. This means that Lopes audience is left to contemplate the
triumph of the Jews, rather than the destruction of the enemy. It is Amn, not
the santo pueblo hebreo who is the embodiment of evil as the play draws to a
close.73 Significantly, Esters success is not undermined by acts of vengeance.
The ending of La hermosa Ester could be viewed as problematic for members of the seventeenth-century audience if they have identified themselves
with them as befits the occasion. Furthermore, Laurencia draws attention to the valour of
the Amazonian women of Lopes previously cited play, as she remarks: y torne / aquel
siglo de amazonas, / eterno espanto del orbe (III, 160). An analysis of feminism and
distinct female types in the comedia forms the focus of Melveena McKendricks Woman
and Society in the Spanish Drama of the Golden Age (London, New York: CUP, 1974) and
Frederick A. De Armas The Invisible Mistress: Aspects of Feminism and Fantasy in the
Golden Age (Charlottesville, Virginia: Biblioteca Siglo de Oro, 1976). More recently, the
theme of women as a subversive force in the comedia has been examined in a collection
of essays entitled The Perception of Women in Spanish Theater of the Golden Age, eds
Anita K. Stoll and Dawn L. Smith (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1991).
73 In Addition E of the Apocryphal Esther, the Jews are not presented as evil-doers.
Josephus paraphrase of Addition E (Josephus, pp. 44551) does not omit this important
detail. Josephus states regarding the thirteenth of Adar: For God has made it a day of
salvation for them instead of a day of destruction (p. 451).

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with the Persians, especially with Amn, and with his preoccupation with
honour and his detestation of the Jews. If we accept the possibility of such an
interpretation, then the spectators were susceptible to two contradictory
representations of themselves through the characters of Amn and the king.
They may have seen themselves portrayed negatively as a result of Amns
destiny, but also in an altogether more positive light through the ultimate presentation of the king as a tolerant and just individual. Asuero is revered by
both Mardoqueo, who addresses him as Oh soberano seor! (III, 135), and
by an hebreo who, like Mardoqueo, prostrates himself before him. The hebreo
tells the king:
Danos tus pies, gran seor,
y pon de tu nombre el hierro
en las almas, que en las caras
ya le tenemos impreso.
(III, 135)

At the same time, the audience observes the Jew, the national enemy, as represented by Ester and Mardoqueo, in a privileged position within the state and
the recipient of special royal favours. Such an understanding of the representation of the self and the other problematises the concept of limpieza de
sangre which was of fundamental importance to the seventeenth-century
Spaniard.
The date of composition of La hermosa Ester makes the above interpretation particularly significant. It is no coincidence that Lope wrote his play in
1610, the year of the expulsion of the moriscos from Spain and one month
after a decree was issued limiting the return of the Portuguese conversos to
Spain.74 Lope unequivocally wrote this play with a political agenda in mind.
The play obviously makes a statement on the anti-Semitism which pervaded
seventeenth-century society, but whether we can deduce from it that Lope was
an advocate of the Jewish cause is a polemical issue among critics of this
drama. Sicroff, for example, is doubtful that Lope was anti-Semitic, claiming
that el hecho mismo de escoger la historia bblica del Libro de Ester hace
dudosa la idea de un Lope conformista respecto al antisemitismo de sus contemporneos. Es inconcebible que un Lope antisemita en cualquier grado
que lo fuera se propusiera dramatizar el mximo triunfo que conoci el
pueblo israelita en el Antiguo Testamento contra sus perseguidores.75 Weiner
similarly regards Lope as a sympathetic upholder of the Jewish cause. He
states: Creo que esta comedia favorece la tolerancia hacia el morisco y hacia
74 The expulsion of the moriscos from Spain was the result of an edict dated 22
September 1609. The decree limiting the return of Portuguese conversos was issued on
3 March 1610. The expulsion of the moriscos was carried out satisfactorily by 161314.
75 Notas equvocas, p. 703.

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el judo, en particular hacia los conversos.76 However, there are those critics
who assert that a Christian interpretation which promotes Ester as a prefiguration of the Virgin Mary is important in the play, in spite of their recognition
of the fact that Lopes main character is a representation of the biblical
Jewess.77 They claim that just as Ester saves the Jews from the wrath of Amn,
so the Virgin saves the human race from the devil. In a similar vein, just as
Ester is excluded from punishment by Asuero for approaching him uninvited,
so Mary is excluded from the mark of original sin.78 The most widely quoted
parts of La hermosa Ester in support of this opinion are Amns speech at the
end of Act I lo que mujer da, mujer lo sana (p. 116) and the song with
which the play ends
Hoy salva a Israel
la divina Ester.
Hoy, Ester dichosa,
figura sagrada
de otra Ester guardada
para ser esposa,
ms pura y hermosa,
de ms alto Rey.
Hoy salva a Israel
la divina Ester
(III, 135)

Critics argue that Amns speech which explains how Ester repairs the honour of Asuero damaged by Vast symbolises the salvation of the world by the

La reina Ester, p. 43.


Among the critics who argue for Ester as a prefiguration of the Virgin are Glaser,
Lope de Vegas La hermosa Ester, p. 131 and Vega Garca-Luengos, El libro de Ester,
p. 240, n. 40. In Lopes poem entitled El Isidro (1599), the Virgin is described as La Ester,
que tanto / cuanto quiso gracia hall / en los ojos que mir. See Obras selectas, II (Poesa
y Prosa), 413534 (p. 439). Further references to the poem will be from this edition. In the
same work, Lope also describes Ester in terms of her humilde belleza (p. 459). As well as
that, an analogy between the Virgin and Esther is drawn in San Isidro, labrador de Madrid.
Isidro defines the Virgin as Ester divina in his rendition of the Ave Mara. See Obras
selectas, III (Teatro 2), 35788 (I, 366). Subsequent references to the play will be taken
from this edition. For a more detailed analysis of both El Isidro and San Isidro, labrador
de Madrid, see chapter 2, especially pp. 5051.
78 The play in which Lope explicitly treats the theme of the Immaculate Conception is
La limpieza no manchada. Lope was commissioned to write this play in 1618 by the
University of Salamanca in celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Lope
introduces Ester, Amn and Asuero into the second act of this play in the form of a play
within the play. In this play, Esters exemption from the law preventing anyone appearing
before the king without permission does in fact symbolise the Virgins exemption from the
mark of original sin. On the play within the play in Lo fingido verdadero, see chapter 4,
pp. 11027.
76
77

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Virgin following the harm caused by Eve. Weiner, however, disagrees with
this view. He states: En esta pieza de Lope no creo que sea aplicable esta
interpretacin religiosa.79 Similarly, while the final song clearly defines Ester
as a prefiguration of the Virgin, both Weiner and Sicroff take issue with its
dramatic function within the play. Although Weiner maintains that the only
lines in the play which allude to the Marian theme are those contained in the
song, he believes that the song itself serves to create un fin convencional,
rather than uno de base temtico-estructural.80 In Sicroffs opinion, Lopes
attempt to make Ester a prefiguration of the mother of God is an esfuerzo
endeble following his exaltation of the Jewess and the debasement of the
rstica, Sirena.81
I would suggest that Lope presents La hermosa Ester from both perspectives, both Christian and Jewish. By this I mean that Ester is not only Esther,
the saviour of the Jewish people, but also simultaneously a prefiguration of the
Virgin.82 The presence of subversive voices in the play does not preclude an
orthodox Christian interpretation, or vice versa. According to Simerka, a more
comprehensive vision of the complexity of audience reception raises the probability of spectators who sought, and found, experiences other than purgation
and reaffirmation of orthodox values when attending the corral (See Early
Modern, p. 46). Perhaps Lope knew that writing within the dogmatic climate
of his time, he could not possibly dramatise the success of the Jews, the
national enemy, without suffering at the hands of the Inquisition. It is possible,
even, that he cleverly inserted Christian references into his play which would
allow Ester to function as a prefiguration of the Virgin. The date of completion
of La hermosa Ester would suggest that Lope almost certainly did not share
the established anti-Semitic viewpoint and was even, perhaps, a sympathetic
supporter of the Jews/Conversos and Moriscos living in contemporary Spain.83
In the final analysis, Lope indisputably creates a successful dramatisation of
the Book of Esther in La hermosa Ester, remaining faithful to the plot of the
La reina Ester, p. 42.
La reina Ester, p. 42.
81 Notas equvocas, p. 704, in Lope de Vega y los orgenes, ed. Manuel Criado de Val.
82 In Funcin y simbolismo, p. 465, Concejo claims regarding the relationship between
Ester and the Virgin: A travs de la representacin, el espectador puede recorrer los grandes
momentos de la mariologa cristiana: Anunciacin, Corredencin, Glorificacin. In her
concluding remarks, she describes the play in the following manner: La hermosa Ester
[. . .] contrarresta el antisemitismo de la sociedad espaola del Siglo de Oro al exaltar a una
mujer juda que de esclava llega a reina (p. 471).
83 In The Jew, Roberta Zimmerman Lavine argues that aesthetic demands of plays may
have caused Lope to present the Jew or the Converso in a sympathetic light. She concludes
that Lope is not, however, an advocate of the Jewish/Converso cause. Following an analysis
of Lopes poem Sentimientos a los agravios de Christo nuestro bien (approx. 1632), Daniel
L. Heiple concludes it seems that Lope was more willing to dramatize the problem
sympathetically in his plays than in his lyric poetry. See Political Posturing on the Jewish
Question by Lope de Vega and Faria e Sousa, HR, 62 (1994), 21734 (p. 225).
79
80

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story while incorporating his own views on seventeenth-century socio-literary


preoccupations such as love, honour and the role of woman. He has successfully mediated between past and present and attained the goal of the medieval
playwright as described by Alan E. Knight: His goal [. . .] was not just to represent the events of a distant and sacred past to a fifteenth century audience, he
also had to explain those events in ways that would make them applicable to
contemporary life.84 Lope exhibits his dramatic craftmanship and genius by
carefully expanding and omitting biblical detail in order to create a fast-moving
comedia which produces suspense and tension. Important to the impact which
Lope hoped La hermosa Ester would make on his audience is the fact that as
a biblical play, the seventeenth-century viewers interpreted it as a depiction of
real events, a dramatisation of historical reality.85
What the audience witnesses, therefore, is the presentation on stage of a
real woman who saved her people from annihilation during some earlier
period in history. It learns that the Jews were also persecuted in the past and
managed to save themselves from the enemy. La hermosa Ester demonstrates
how the underdog, in this case woman and Jew, can not only survive but succeed in a climate of persecution. It emphasises the importance of love, both
human and divine, and problematises seventeenth-century concepts such as
honour and anti-Semitism. Ultimately, Lopes La hermosa Ester is proof that
a popular story or event can be recreated in order to produce a drama which
is at once appealing and instructive.
Twelve years later, the playwrights task would become even more demanding, after he was commissioned to dramatise the life and works of Isidro,
Madrids patron saint. The challenge to please a contemporary audience,
generally familiar with every detail of the saints life, would seriously put
Lopes dramatic craftsmanship to the test.

The Enacted Narrative, p. 234.


The Book of Esther, however, although set in the early post-exilic period, is not based
on historical fact. As Brockington indicates in Ezra, p. 217, the time period covered in the
biblical narrative stretches from the transportation of Mordecai to Babylon by
Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC (see Esther 2. 56) to the reign of Xerxes (Xerxes I, 48565 BC).
This means that the action took place at least 112 years after Mordecais deportation.
Brockington states: We are forced to the conclusion that the author deliberately projected
his book on to this early post-exilic period, but telescoped the period, as was not unusual with
Jewish writers, so that it could come within the compass of one mans life.
W. R. F. Browning has described the Book of Esther in the following way: Although
fictitious, it is possible that the story may be based on some historical incident. See
Mordecai in Brownings Dictionary of the Bible (Oxford: OUP, 1997), pp. 25657 (p. 257).
84
85

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2
THE RE-PRESENTATION OF MADRIDS
PATRN IN LA NIEZ DE SAN ISIDRO AND
LA JUVENTUD DE SAN ISIDRO
San Isidro, patrn de Madrid
In spite of the fact that Isidro was not canonised until 1622, he was popularly acclaimed saint and patrn de Madrid from the beginning of the thirteenth
century when his body was transferred from the cemetery of San Andrs to the
altar of the church.1 According to Francisco Moreno, Sin esperar a que la
autoridad eclesistica correspondiente diese el oportuno visto bueno, muchos
hombres y mujeres de Madrid, a la vista de los milagros hechos, segn el
dicono Juan, el mismo da del traslado, le concedieron espontneamente en
privado y pblicamente el honroso ttulo de santo, y empezaron a considerarle
como su patrn.2 From 1589, when the first steps were taken to verify the
sanctity of the local saint in Rome, until 1622, the population of Madrid was
particularly concerned with the life and miracles of Isidro.3 The popularity of
this local saint from medieval times, together with an upsurge in interest as a

1 In Saint Patrick of Ireland and the Dramatists of Golden-Age Spain, Hermathena,


121 (1976), 14258, Victor Dixon draws attention to the fact that Christians throughout
Europe not only revered local saints from medieval times, but also international saints.
In the opening lines of his article, Dixon states: It seems appropriate to recall on this
occasion [. . .] the veneration all Christendom accorded, throughout medieval times and in
later centuries, to the life and works of St Patrick (p. 142).
2 Francisco Moreno, San Isidro labrador (Madrid: Editorial El Avapis, 1992), p. 73.
Morenos study is an invaluable detailed analysis of Isidro, Madrids patron saint. In his aim
to be a narrador imparcial (p. 11), he provides details on the miracles, beatification and
canonisation of Isidro, together with references to the saints main biographers, the
witnesses for the beatification and canonisation proceedings and a modernised translation
of the bull declaring the canonisation of Isidro. El dicono Juan or Juan the Deacon, reader
of Theology and Secretary to Alfonso X the Wise, wrote his Leyenda de San Isidro in 1275.
This text will be closely examined in the course of this chapter.
3 The first legal documents for the purposes of the canonisation of Isidro were
completed in 1589 during Philip IIs reign. For further details, see Moreno, San Isidro,
pp. 7980. Devotion to Isidro from medieval times is reflected in the establishment of the
Cofrada de San Isidro, which emerged at the end of the thirteenth century at the latest. In
1537, this brotherhood merged with the Cofrada del Santsimo Sacramento to form the
Cofrada del Santsimo Sacramento y San Isidro Labrador. See San Isidro, p. 158; p. 161.

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result of the canonisation proceedings, strongly suggests that numerous details


relating to the local saint were not only familiar to, but well known by, Lopes
prospective audience.4 When Lope was commissioned by the Council of
Castile to write two plays in celebration of Isidros canonisation, his dramatic
compositions were thus restrained by the necessity to comply not only with a
specified agenda dictated by the authorities, but also by the horizon of expectation of the public.5 Consequently, he was unable to manipulate his source
material to the same extent as he had done in La hermosa Ester.
La niez de San Isidro and La juventud de San Isidro were both written,
performed and printed in 1622.6 They were not staged in a typical corral, but
in the open air, by the use in each case of two elaborately decorated carts and
a platform in the plaza del Palacio by the theatrical companies of Vallejo and
Avendao.7 Lopes audience included not only the general public, but the king
4 In Spain and the Western Tradition; III (1965), 249, Green reiterates Karl Vosslers
assertions in Introduccin a la literatura espaola del siglo de oro (Madrid: Cruz y Raya,
1934), p. 61, regarding Lopes role in the canonisation process. Green states: And Lope
de Vega, himself remarkable as a sinner, was chiefly responsible for the canonization of
St Isidro, the farmer of Madrid who was made the patron saint of that city. The canonisation
was prepared, solicited, and finally brought to fruition through the influence on public and
ecclesiastical opinion of an epic poem and three dramatic works by Lope himself, and
two poetic contests which he organized. Such was the power of poetry and of Christian
devotion in the Spain of 1599, 1617, 1620, and 1622. Greens comments would suggest
that the composition of La niez and La juventud de San Isidro occurred, together with the
poetry competition, prior to the official declaration of the canonisation of the saint. This
was not the case.
5 Thomas Case claims that a comedia de santos was meant to be a part of a series of
celebrations designed for a seventeenth-century public in honor of a saint. It was purposely
written to fit in with other parts of a celebration of a saint. He describes the faithful who
turned up to see the play and the clerics who commissioned it as co-creators of the drama.
See his Understanding Lope de Vegas Comedia de Santos, Hispan, 125 (1999), 1122
(p. 16). Apart from the plays on Isidro, Lope was commissioned to write two others. Prior
to the canonisation of Isidro, he was contracted by the University of Salamanca to compose
La limpieza no manchada (1618). Subsequently, he wrote La vida de San Pedro Nolasco
in 1629 at the request of the Mercedarian Order.
6 Both plays were published in a book entitled Relacin de las fiestas que la insigne villa
de Madrid hizo en la canonizacin de su bienaventurado hijo y patrn San Isidro, con las
dos comedias que se representaron y los versos que en la Justa potica se escribieron
(Madrid: Viuda de Alonso Martn, 1622). In addition to the plays, the book contains a
dedication to Madrid, 3 aprobaciones, an account of the celebrations entitled Relacin de
las fiestas, the prize-winning poems of the poetry contest held in honour of the saint and
Lopes ballad Premios de la fiesta y justa potica en la canonizacin de San Isidro. For an
abridged version of the contents of this book, see Sinz de Robles, Obras selectas, II
(Poesa y Prosa), 112547.
7 In the Relacin de las fiestas, Lope provides significant details on the staging of his
plays. See Obras selectas, II, 112841 (p. 1137; p. 1141). Miguel Gallego Roca compares
the staging of these plays to that of the autos sacramentales: El escenario descrito por Lope
parece ser el mismo que se utilizaba en las representaciones de los autos sacramentales en
las fiestas del Corpus. See Efectos, p. 118.

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and queen themselves, who watched the plays from the lower balconies of the
palace. With the extra provision of richly adorned costumes for the actors and
a magnificent tramoya, Lopes task was to recreate the life and works of Isidro
in a manner which was pleasing to his three-tiered audience of royal, lay and
religious spectators.8
In order to appreciate fully the complexities involved in Lopes dramatisations
of Isidro, we must first explore the details of Isidros life and miracles which
were, in fact, the dramatists raw material. The labrador who inspired Lopes
plays was born in Madrid around 1100, during the early years of the
Reconquest.9 His parents, who were of humble origins, encouraged him to love
God from an early age. He was employed by Ivn de Vargas, a wealthy
landowner and worked for him on the estate of Torrelaguna, situated just outside
Madrid. As a young man, he married Mara de la Cabeza, who bore him one
son.10 The various miracles associated with Isidro during his lifetime include

8 In the Relacin de las fiestas, Lope describes the costumes in the following manner:
La riqueza de los vestidos fue la mayor que hasta aquel da se vio en el teatro. He also
provides details on the tramoya: Lo que hubo mvil fue una tramoya sobre un teatro. Era
de cuarenta pies de alto, su fundamento un fuerte, su extremo una nube, encima de ella la
Fama con una bandera en la mano, y cuatro ngeles que volaban alrededor, sin verse su
movimiento, como si fuera mquina semoviente o automtica. See Obras selectas, II,
1141; 1137.
9 For general details on the life of Isidro, see Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints, ed., rev.
and supp. Herbert Thurston, S. J., and Donald Attwater, 2nd edn, 4 vols (London: Burns and
Oates, 1956), II, 32324; Book of Saints. A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the
Catholic Church, compiled by the Benedictine Monks of St Augustines Abbey, Ramsgate,
5th edn (London: A. and C. Black, 1966), p. 364 and New Catholic Encyclopedia, prepared
by editorial staff at the Catholic University of America, Washington, District of Columbia,
17 vols (New York: McGraw-Hill, 196679), VII (1967), 672. Like the Isidro plays, Fuente
Ovejuna and San Diego de Alcal are set during the reconquest of Spain, although the action
of both takes place in the fifteenth century in the latter years of the struggle (Fuente Ovejuna
is set in 1476 while San Diego de Alcal traces the life and miracles of San Diego de Alcal
[approx. 140063]). Nevertheless, the war against the infidel features in all three. For details
on the reign of Alfonso I of Castile and the early years of the Reconquest, see among others
The Rise of Christian Spain, in The Making of Medieval Spain, by Gabriel Jackson
(London: Thames and Hudson, 1972), pp. 5378 and Angus MacKay, Spain in the Middle
Ages (London: Macmillan, 1977), pp. 1557.
10 The cult of Mara de la Cabeza was approved in 1697 by Innocent XII. She was born
at Torrejn and died in approximately 1175 in Caraquiz. Following her death, various
miracles were attributed to her. The most popular miracle associated with her is the
crossing of the Jarama river on her mantle following a false accusation of adultery. In San
Isidro, pp. 2730, Moreno highlights several popular details relating to the saint. On
pp. 3537, he presents some of what he claims are authentic miracles which God worked
through the intercession of Mara de la Cabeza. On Mara de la Cabeza, see also Book of
Saints, p. 483. In a study of Lopes female saints and their relationship with the mujer
varonil, the maternal figure and the Virgin Mary, Catharine Gilson presents Mara de la
Cabeza as a mirror image of the Virgin. She also draws a parallel between the mujer
varonil and Dona, one of the principal characters of Lopes Los locos por el cielo. See

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angels ploughing the fields while he prayed, the creation of a spring from which
his master, Ivn, could drink and the restoration to life of his masters horse. He
is also remembered for feeding beggars at a confraternity dinner by miraculously
increasing his own portion of food and distributing corn seed to birds on a winters day from a sack whose seed subsequently produced abundant quantities of
flour. Following his death (dated approximately either at 1130, or between 1171
and 1190), Isidro was buried in the cemetery of the church of San Andrs in
Madrid.11 Forty years later, the saint allegedly appeared in two visions, first to a
friend and afterwards to a matron, requesting the removal of his body to a more
appropriate place in accordance with Divine orders. Isidros body, perfumed by
the sweet smell of incense, was discovered to be intact and incorrupt and was
transferred to a beautiful shrine above the main altar in San Andrs.12
Other miracles are attributed to Isidro after his death, including the victory
over the Moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212 when Isidro, in the guise of a
shepherd, appeared to Alfonso VIIIs soldiers and led them to a secret path
from which they could successfully attack and defeat the enemy. Isidro is also
credited with restoring Philip III to health around 1619 when his shrine was
carried to the bedroom of the royal patient. However, he is not only upheld as
the saviour of royal blood. It is also said that, through the intercession of
Isidro, many other individual members of society made miraculous recoveries from various afflictions, including physical disabilities and infertility
problems. Even today, it is claimed that individuals who visit the fuente de
San Isidro continue to be cured.13
Lope de Vegas Female Saints, in Golden Age Spanish Literature. Studies in Honour of
John Varey, eds Charles Davis and Alan Deyermond (London: Department of Hispanic
Studies, Westfield College, 1991), pp. 93103.
11 In Lives, p. 324, Alban Butler claims that Isidro died on 15 May 1130. Similarly, in
the contents of the papal bull concerning Isidros canonisation in Moreno, San Isidro,
pp. 10616 (p. 110), the saints death is recorded to have taken place around 1130. However,
in San Isidro, p. 54, Moreno claims: La fecha de la muerte suele ponerse entre 1171 y 1190,
en 30 de noviembre. In a critical edition of the Leyenda de San Isidro by Juan the Deacon,
Fidel Fita states: La cuenta sale cabal con sealar el ao 1190 para el dicho trnsito del
glorioso labrador, patrn de Madrid. See Leyenda de San Isidro por el dicono Juan.
Cdice del Siglo XIII, procedente del archivo parroquial de San Andrs, ed. Fidel Fita,
BRAH, 9 (1886), 97157 (p. 155).
12 Stephen Wilson claims that the incorruptibility of the corpse was usually, and still is,
taken to be a sign of sanctity, and it is a commonplace of hagiology that saints bodies emit
sweet odours. See his Introduction, in Saints and Their Cults. Studies in Religious
Sociology, Folklore and History, ed. Stephen Wilson (Cambridge: CUP, 1983), pp. 153
(p. 10). Franciso Moreno, in San Isidro, p. 59, claims that the Dominican Fray Domingo
de Mendoza was present at the official opening of Isidros tomb on 20 July 1593. He
provides details on Mendozas testimony relating to the tomb and body of the saint (pp. 60
and 62) and states that Mendoza described the smell emanating from the saints body as
un olor suavsimo diferente de todos los olores y especies aromticas (p. 60).
13 According to Wilson, visits to springs or wells associated with saints was a popular
way of effecting cures by them. Individuals drank the water from the spring or well,

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During their respective reigns, Philip II and Philip III both strove to ensure
the canonisation of Isidro. Finally, the document passing the beatification of
Isidro was signed by Paul V on 14 June 1619, and eight days of festivities
marked the occasion in Madrid from 15 May the following year. Isidro was
later canonised on 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV during the reign of
Philip IV at a ceremony which also included the canonisations of Ignacio de
Loyola,14 Francisco Javier,15 Teresa de vila16 and Philip Neri.17 Isidro is
remembered each year on 15 May. His feast day is not only celebrated in
Spain but even in northwestern Mexico where framed images of the saint are
carried through the fields by farmers who, through the intercession of Isidro,
hope that their land will be blessed by rain.18 His body is currently enshrined
in the Cathedral of Madrid.

San Isidro: A Pervading Presence in Lopes Life and Work


In his Estudios sobre el teatro de Lope de Vega, Menndez y Pelayo stresses
how Madrids patron saint impresses upon Lopes life and compositions: No
hay quien ignore [. . .] cunta importancia tiene en la vida y en las obras de
Lope la devocin al Santo labrador, patrono de Madrid, y de qu modo
contribuy con el prestigio de su rica poesa a difundir y hacer popular, dentro
y fuera de los muros de la villa, el culto del humilde y venturoso labriego,

bathed or washed in it and even dipped the clothing of the sick into it. See Introduction,
in Saints and Their Cults, p. 19.
14 Ignacio de Loyola (14911556) is worshipped as the patron of retreats and his feast is
celebrated on 31 July. For further details on this saint, see Henry Dwight Sedgwick, Ignatius
Loyola: An Attempt at an Impartial Bibliography (London: Macmillan, 1924); Paul Van
Dyke, Ignatius Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuits (New York: C. Scribners Sons, 1926) and
C. de Dalmases, Ignatius of Loyola, St, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, VII (1967), 35456.
15 Francisco Javier (150652) is thought to have been one of the greatest missionaries
of all time. A companion of Ignacio de Loyola, his feast day is 3 December. He was
declared patron of the Orient in 1748, patron of the Faith in 1904 and along with St Thrse
of Lisieux, patron of all missions in 1927. See St Francis Xavier, in Butlers Lives, IV,
47481.
16 Teresa de vila (151582), also known as Teresa de Jess, was one of the great
Spanish mystics and founder of the order of Discalced Carmelites. She was proclaimed a
Doctor of the Church in 1970, the first woman to be granted the title. She is particularly
remembered for her spiritual works. Her feast is celebrated on 15 October. For general
details on Teresa, see O. Steggink, Teresa of Avila, St, in New Catholic Encyclopedia,
XIII (1967), 101316 and Carole Slade, St Teresa of Avila: Author of a Heroic Life
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).
17 Philip Neri (151595), whose feast day is celebrated on the 26 May, is also known
as the apostle of Rome. For further details on this saint, see Book of Saints, p. 575 and
Donald Attwater, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 2nd edn, rev. Catherine Rachel John
(London: Penguin, 1983), pp. 27576.
18 See Jorge Acero, The Fiesta of San Isidro, Journal of the Southwest, 33 (1991),
1819.

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a quien amaba doblemente por razn de paisanaje y por aquel espritu llano y
democrtico que en el alma de Lope reinaba.19 Lopes connection with Isidro
was already well established before he wrote La niez and La juventud in
1622. According to Moreno, Lope appeared as a witness at the official
proceedings for the beatification/canonisation of Mara de la Cabeza as early
as 1612.20 Eight years later, he was not only the judge and organiser of the
poetry competition to celebrate Isidros beatification, but also composed two
quatrains which were inscribed on the new silver coffin especially prepared
for Isidros dead body.21 The verses read as follows:
Esta Urna sacra encierra
ms Cielo que tierra, y fue
de un labrador cuya Fe
labraba Cielo a su Tierra.
Imitando a Eloy el celo,
sus plateros la labraron,
para decir, que engastaron
de todo Madrid el Cielo.22

In 1622, Lope was not only responsible for the composition of two plays in
honour of the saint, but also acted as one of the judges at the poetry
competition which took place in the plaza mayor on 28 June 1622. On this
occasion, Lope read the opening speech, the prize-winning poems and made
a humorous commentary in verse on each of the winning poems. Finally,
Lope closed this ceremony with a ballad just as he had done at the competition two years previously. In his Premios de la fiesta, y justa potica en

See Estudios, II, 4349 (p. 44).


Moreno states: Me agrada recordar que uno de los testigos fue Lope de Vega,
cuando tena cincuenta aos. See San Isidro, p. 30.
21 The poetry competition took place on 19 May 1620 and was held in the church of
San Andrs. Lope opened the celebrations with an introductory speech and the recital of
some of his own poems in the dcimas style. He also recited a poem to conclude the
ceremony entitled Romance para la conclusin de la justa potica celebrada con motivo
de la beatificacin de San Isidro, in which he praised the poets who had participated in
the contest. Finally, Lope distributed prizes to the winning poets. He was paid 300 ducats
for his efforts by the Council of Castile. The poems entered in the competition were
published in 1620 under the title Justa potica y alabanzas justas que hizo la insigne villa
de Madrid al bienaventurado San Isidro en la fiesta de su beatificacin (Madrid: Viuda
de Alonso Martn). Lope added some of his own verses in the dcimas style to this
publication, as well as several verses under the pseudonym Tom de Burguillos and an
introduction in which he attacked culteranismo. Sinz de Robles cites parts of the Justa
potica in Obras selectas, II, 110924, including the Breve suma de la vida del
Bienaventurado San Isidro (pp. 111112) and the ballad with which the function ended
(pp. 112024).
22 See Moreno, San Isidro, pp. 6566.
19
20

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la canonizacin de San Isidro, he applauded the winning poets and their


compositions.23
More importantly, however, Lopes recognition of the wealth of material
associated with Isidro prompted him to devote two significant works to the
saint prior to 1622. He explicitly defined events in Isidros life as promising
subject matter for poets in his Romance para la conclusin de la justa potica
celebrada con motivo de la beatificacin de San Isidro:
Quin pensara que en Madrid
tantos poetas hubiera?
Pero vos lo habis causado,
labrador de nuestra tierra.
Porque con campos y ros,
ngeles, arados, rejas,
fuentes, cristales, milagros,
les dais tan frtil materia,
que vendrn a ser por vos
poetas hasta las piedras;
que para vuestra alabanza
ya no es mucho que hablen ellas.24

The first of these works, and the longest on the subject of the saint by Lope,
is El Isidro (Madrid: Luis Snchez, 1599), which Sinz de Robles considers
to be el ms bello poema de Lope.25 A poem made up of ten cantos, it
focuses on the life of the saint from his birth to his death and presents the
miracles which are commonly associated with him. Lope, however, still
manages to convey his own voice, referring to Isidro in canto V, for example,
as a celestial labrador (p. 471). The poem also provides Lope with the opportunity to address several theological issues in cantos III and IV, such as the
fall of Lucifer, the Immaculate Conception and Christs salvation of mankind.
Moreover, the saintliness of Isidro is highlighted when Lope lists his name
alongside prophets, apostles and biblical heroes/heroines including Joseph
and Esther (canto IV, pp. 45859).
Lopes second important creation on this subject is a three-act play entitled
San Isidro, labrador de Madrid (15981608) (probably 160406).26 Published
in 1617 in the Sptima parte de las comedias de Lope de Vega Carpio, it is
essentially a dramatisation of the adult life of the saint from his request for
permission to marry Mara de la Cabeza to the prophecies of the rivers
23 Lopes ballad is contained in Obras selectas, II, 114347. For details on the prizes
awarded at the contest, see the Nota preliminar, pp. 112526.
24 Obras selectas, II, 1121.
25 See his nota preliminar to the poem in Obras selectas, II, 41314 (p. 414).
26 Unlike La niez and La juventud, San Isidro, labrador de Madrid was not a
commissioned work. Lope, therefore, did not have to comply with a particular agenda.

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Jarama and Manzanares regarding his death, canonisation and miracles.27


Isidros canonisation is effectively promoted in the course of the play through
the discourse of several characters. Isidro himself makes a prediction concerning his future role, nominating himself as el prelado de estos prados in
his conversation with the personification of jealousy, Envidia (II, 375).
Envidia too, in spite of his aspiration to destroy Isidros reputation, ultimately focuses on the possible official recognition of Isidros holiness. He
informs Demonio:
[. . .] vendr el siglo en que Felipe
reine, y por ventura en Roma
le veas canonizar!
(III, 387)28

In terms of content, both of Lopes early works justify his claim regarding
the suitability of the story of Isidro as a literary subject. However, in order to
comprehend how Lope would later reconstruct the fundamental details relating to Isidro in La niez de San Isidro and La juventud de San Isidro, familiarity with the written source material which would have been extant at the
time of writing is vital.

The Source Material


For writers of all genres in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain, the
fundamental source of reference for the legend of San Isidro was Juan
Diconos Leyenda de San Isidro.29 A thirteenth-century text, now preserved

27 In San Isidro, Moreno claims that Lope wrote this play in 1617 (see p. 128). Similarly,
Garasa states regarding its composition: La tercera, San Isidro, labrador de Madrid, fue
escrita cinco aos antes que las otras dos. See his Santos, p. 59. Garasa devotes pp. 5862
of the book to a discussion of the three plays on the San Isidro theme. On pp. 5859, he
takes issue with Menndez y Pelayos definition of the three plays as una especie de
triloga (Estudios, II, 43). As far as he is concerned, Pese a su tema comn, no puede
hablarse de triloga. Una triloga es, por ejemplo, la que Tirso de Molina dedicar a ensalzar
la santidad de la monja de la Sagra, sor Juana de la Cruz. San Isidro, labrador de Madrid
was subsequently published in Parte veinte y ocho de comedias de los mejores ingenios
desta corte (Madrid, 1667).
28 Philip III (15981621) was the ruling monarch at the time of composition of this
play. As already stated, Isidros canonisation did not take place during his reign but in that
of his successor, Philip IV (162165).
29 The edition used for the purposes of this study is that produced by Fidel Fita. The
relevant bibliographical details are cited in p. 47, n. 11 of this chapter. Lope makes the
importance of this text explicit in his Breve suma del bienaventurado San Isidro, contained
in the Justa potica. Here, he claims that the life of Mara de la Cabeza is known thanks to
Juan Diconos work: Esto se sabe de sus antiqusimos retratos, y su vida, de Juan Dicono,
presbtero de aquel tiempo. See Obras selectas, II, 111112 (p. 1112).

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in the archive of Madrids cathedral, it inspired not only Lopes dramatic and
poetic compositions but also the work of several biographers including
Alonso de Villegas, fray Juan Ortiz Lucio and Jaime Bleda.30 The text has
been attacked by critics as a result of its exclusion of basic details, such as the
names of Isidros wife, son and master, and several miracles popularly associated with the saint. These include the restoration to life of Ivn de Vargas
horse, Maras miraculous crossing of the Jarama river and Isidros supernatural creation of springs. In Juan Diconos defence, Fidel Fita argues that the
deacon did not set out to present the vida but the leyenda milagrosa of the
saint (Leyenda, p. 101). Similarly, Moreno acknowledges that an intricate
biography of the saint was unnecessary given the authors objectives: Lo que
pretendi fue simplemente despertar entre los fieles simpata y devocin hacia
el santo. [. . .] En pocas palabras, el dicono pudo y no quiso decir ms de lo
que dijo (San Isidro, p. 27). In spite of his exclusion of material, Juan
Dicono catalogues salient episodes in Isidros life which are subsequently
dramatised by Lope. The contents of the first sections of his biography are
particularly significant in this regard.31

Isidro Feeds the Birds (pp. 10203)32


Isidro departs for the mill with a sack of wheat on a snowy winters day in
the company of the filiolo. He sees some hungry birds settled on the branches
of the trees and pours out some wheat from the sack for them to eat. The filiolo
is angry at his masters actions. When Isidro and the filiolo finally reach the
mill, the wheat produces an abundance of flour.
Angels Help Isidro while he Prays (pp. 10307)
Several of Isidros co-workers approach their master and inform him that
Isidro is neglecting his work by arriving late everyday following his daily visit
to church. Upset, the master visits Isidro and scolds him. Isidro informs him that
he will compensate him if his harvest is affected by his attendance at church.
Isidros maxim is Primum querite regnum dei, et vobis necessaria non deerunt
he who seeks God shall not want (p. 105). Unconvinced, the master decides to
30 Alonso de Villegas Vida de San Isidro labrador, an abridged version of Juan
Diconos text, was published in Madrid by Luis Snchez in 1592. Fray Juan Ortiz Lucios
account of the life of Isidro, which follows Juan Diconos text closely, was contained in
his Flos Sanctorum/Compendio de vidas de los santos, which was also published in
Madrid in 1597. Jaime Bledas Vida y milagros del glorioso San Isidro el labrador
comprises a translation of Juan Diconos text with additions. It was published in Madrid
in 1622.
31 Fita numbers the paragraphs of Juan Diconos text, para mayor firmeza y claridad
(Leyenda, p. 102). The sections cited above are paragraphs 17 of Fitas edition. I have
provided titles for each section in order to draw attention to their content.
32 Page references correspond to the relevant sections of the Latin text in Fitas edition.
What I have presented here is a summary of the most important details of each section.

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visit Isidros workplace and witnesses his late arrival. Filled with anger, he
decides to go and confront Isidro. However, following his lapse of concentration
for a moment, Isidros master looks back at the field and sees two teams of oxen
ploughing to the right and left of Isidro. When he approaches Isidro and asks him
who was providing him with assistance, Isidro replies that he only calls on God
for protection and did not see anyone. His master realises that Isidro was assisted
by divine grace and puts him in charge of his land.

The Miracle of the Wolf (pp. 10708)


Isidro goes to pray in the church of Santa Mara la Magdalena. Several
young boys approach him and inform him that his beast is being attacked by
a wolf. Isidro tells the boys to go in peace and let the will of God be done:
Ite in pace, fili[i]; fiat voluntas domini (p. 107). When Isidro leaves the
church, he finds the dead body of the wolf alongside that of his own uninjured
beast. He returns to the church to thank God.
The Miraculous Feeding of the Beggar (pp. 10809)
One Saturday, a wretched man unexpectedly approaches Isidro seeking
alms. Isidro asks his wife to give the left-over food to the beggar. Although
his wife is sure that there is nothing remaining, she goes to fetch the empty
pot and finds it miraculously filled with food. She offers the beggar an abundance of food and narrates the occurrence to her neighbours.
The Miracle at the Confraternity Dinner (pp. 10910)
Having gone to pray first, Isidro arrives late to the confraternity dinner in
the company of a group of poor men. The brothers inform Isidro that the only
food remaining is his individual portion. Isidro miraculously increases the
amount of food with the result that there is even some left over once Isidro
and the poor have been fed.
The Burial of Isidro (pp. 11011)
Isidros body is buried in the cemetery of San Andrs. His body lies there
for forty years and is rarely visited. A small stream forms inside the tomb as a
result of the rains. However, God ensures that no part of Isidros body becomes
withered.
The Miraculous Appearance of Isidro (pp. 11112)
Isidro appears to a friend telling him to instruct the parish leaders to
exhume his body and place it in the church of San Andrs in accordance
with Divine orders. The friend is hesitant and decides to say nothing. Isidro
subsequently appears to a faithful matron with the same message. Isidros
body is exhumed and discovered to be incorruptible and surrounded by the
sweet smell of incense. It is placed in a new, magnificent tomb in the church
of San Andrs.

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With the exception of the hymns in honour of San Isidro, the remainder
of the biography presents a variety of miracles attributed to the intercession
of Isidro.33 These include the curing of physical disabilities and infertility
problems as well as the provision of rain in times of drought. However, since
Lope is concerned only with the re-creation of the childhood and adult years
of Isidro in La niez and La juventud, a detailed study of these supernatural
occurrences is unnecessary.34
Apart from Juan Diconos biography of the saint, Sinz de Robles
indicates a second source of reference for Lopes plays on Isidro: Para sus
obras escnicas se inspir Lope en su propio poema. Pero y para ste? Era
muy popular la Vida de San Isidro, compuesta en el siglo XIII por el dicono
Juan.35 Understandably, Lope would turn to his first and longest work on the
saint when faced with the task of re-creating the image of the holy man for
the stage. Moreover, Lopes first play on the subject of the saint, San Isidro,
labrador de Madrid (160406?), was also an invaluable source when Lope
was preparing La niez and La juventud in 1622. This fact is generally overlooked by critics who tend to examine Lopes three Isidro plays collectively
rather than as individual compositions.36 This collective approach has
The hymns constitute sections 2530, pp. 12942 of Fitas edition.
A study of these miracles would be fitting in a detailed analysis of El Isidro and San
Isidro, labrador where the prophetical rivers (both the Jarama and the Manzanares in San
Isidro, labrador and the Manzanares only in El Isidro) allude to them. This, however, lies
beyond the focus of this chapter.
35 See his nota preliminar to La niez de San Isidro in Obras selectas, III, 31112
(p. 311). Menndez y Pelayo claims that Lope had access to materials collected by fray
Domingo de Mendoza when he wrote El Isidro. In Estudios, II, p. 45, he explains Lopes
use of sources: Lope nunca las declara de un modo explcito, si bien para el poema dice
haberse valido de los procesos y probanzas que le comunic fray Domingo de Mendoza.
In San Isidro, pp. 8384, Moreno describes Mendozas role in the canonisation process.
According to him, Domingo de Mendoza was one of the first witnesses to be called by
Rome in order to make his declaration in favour of Isidro. He did so on 11 August 1593.
Moreno adds that in February 1596, Mendoza was commissioned by the nuncio Camilio
Caetano to obtain more information on Isidros life and miracles by visiting all areas
within the jurisdiction of Madrid and that he completed his research the following year.
In El Isidro, canto X, p. 532, Lope draws attention to Mendozas connection with the
canonisation proceedings: que la canonizacin / ya el Papa y con gran razn / a s solo
ha reservado. / Mas la madre que se goza / de tal hijo, la pretende, / cuya ejecucin
emprende / fray Domingo de Mendoza, / y en las probanzas entiende.
36 Lopes plays on Madrids patron saint have attracted little critical attention. In
addition, as stated above, their critics for the most part have analysed the three together. In
Estudios, II, 4349, for example, Menndez y Pelayo makes general observations on San
Isidro, labrador, La niez and La juventud de San Isidro. Similarly, Garasa discusses all
three Isidro plays in Santos, pp. 5862, although he focuses primarily on San Isidro,
labrador. In Efectos, Gallego Roca goes beyond a general discussion of the plays in
order to present a detailed analysis of staging techniques employed by Lope in his
dramatisation of Isidro. He examines the use of apariencias, escotillones and the pescante
and the relationship between the tramoya and poesa in the plays. In La comedia de santos
33
34

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obscured the true nature of the relationship between the earlier work and the
two later plays. The earlier one is, in fact, a dynamic intertextual presence in
the later plays, although we might say that Isidro is, to some extent, reborn
in La niez and particularly in La juventud. This is partially a result of the
rewriting of characters and scenes from San Isidro, labrador, fused with the
miracles provided by Juan Diconos text.37
As already stated, the content of La niez and La juventud and the
development of Isidros character were preconditioned by the expectation of
Lopes audience which was well acquainted with the saint. With the approval
of various miracles and details by the Court in Rome in 1622, events in Isidros
life were accepted as factual by the religious authorities and the general public
alike. The most significant approbations made by Rome involved the authenticity of miracles presented in Juan Diconos text, as well as others popularly
associated with the saint, including the miracle of the spring, where Isidro provided water to quench his masters thirst.38 As a result, Lope was confronted
with several fundamental concerns in 1622 when he wrote his plays. In the first
instance, he faced the challenge of transforming what was for his audience a
popular and real individual into a recognisable and credible dramatic character
in a play, who in turn would reach them on a real, albeit emotional level. At the
same time, it was necessary for Lope to reconstruct what was quite stale, written source material into dynamic entertainment for his spectators. Finally, and
most significantly, Lopes La niez and La juventud had to reflect the saintliness of Madrids patron saint, the essential reason behind the revelries of which
the plays were a part. In his dramatisation of the child Isidro in La niez, this
latter demand was to prove particularly challenging.

La niez de San Isidro


In La niez de San Isidro, Lope presents the birth, baptism and childhood
of Madrids patrn.39 The play is accompanied by a loa in which Lope praises

en Antonio de Zamora, DHA, 8 (1989), 33341, Irene Vallejo Gonzlez conducts a


comparative study between Lopes plays on Isidro and Antonio de Zamoras El lucero de
Madrid, y divino labrador, San Isidro, written at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
Her analysis includes a brief summary of each of Lopes plays (pp. 33537). Finally, in his
article entitled Ideologa/espectacularidad en la comedia de santos, Gestos, 2 (1987),
6581, Mario Cesreo provides a succinct commentary on the dramatic structure of San
Isidro, labrador de Madrid (pp. 7579).
37 San Isidro, labrador de Madrid was especially important as a source for Lopes La
juventud since it dramatised a similar period in the life of the adult Isidro.
38 In San Isidro, pp. 10616, Moreno claims to have provided a literal but modernised
translation of the canonisation bull in its entirety. Gregory XV granted the canonisation of
Isidro but died on 8 July 1623. The bull was produced in 1724 and printed in Rome in 1726.
39 The edition of the play used for the purposes of this study is contained in Relacin
de las fiestas, fols 4r18v. All subsequent references will be taken from this edition.

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the youthful Philip IV and his lineage, particularly by drawing attention to the
accomplishments of Philip II, such as the historic union of Spain and France.
Lope also encourages Philip IV to enjoy the privilege of fulfilling the role of
ruling monarch during the canonisation of four of Spains saints. In Act I of
La niez de San Isidro, Lope presents Ins and Pedro, the devout, future parents of Isidro and labradores who are employed by lvaro de Vargas. The play
opens with Ins prayer to the Virgin of Almudena for a son que sea santo
(I, fol. 4r), which is followed by Pedros prayer and his vision in a dream of
the unborn Isidro. Ins subsequently gives birth and Pedro thanks God for the
gift of his son in San Andrs. Act I ends with the arrival at San Andrs of Don
lvaro, several labradores and Isidros godparents (Elvira and Juan Ramrez)
amid singing and dancing for the childs baptismal ceremony. The saintliness
of the child Isidro is highlighted throughout the second act of the play by the
introduction of complicated expressions of faith, an encounter with Christ and
the manipulation of a seemingly innocent game of hide and seek. The play
ends with celebrations in honour of the Virgin of Atocha and the offering of
a cross by Isidro to the Christ child.
As will be seen in due course, La juventud, like La niez, is a two-act play.
Indeed, they are not only fundamentally similar in dramatic structure but have
a variety of similar themes, images and characters. Essentially, the explicit
continuity established between La niez and La juventud serves to define
these comedias as two acts of one play. The following duplications and/or
re-creations will be highlighted:
the shared qualities of father and son (Pedro and Isidro)
the relationship between the child Isidro and his adult counterpart
the similarities between Bato, the gracioso of La niez, and Tirso, his son,
who assumes his fathers role in La juventud
the duplication of scenes (Christs appearance to the child and adult
Isidro)
the re-creation of the miracle of the angels.
In El Isidro, Lope describes Isidros upbringing by his parents in the
following manner:
En su infancia, le enseaban
a amar a Dios, y apartaban
del pecado con ejemplo,
donde la humildad contemplo
que en esto los tres mostraban.40

Spelling and punctuation will be modernised where appropriate. Saints also appear as
youths in El nio inocente de La Guardia and La niez del Padre Rojas. Similarly, La
madre de la mejor is concerned with the conception, birth and childhood of the Virgin.
40 Obras selectas, II, 422.

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A similar, broad overview of Isidros piety as a child is contained in the


canonisation bull: Desde su infancia practic Isidro las virtudes cristianas
con tal grado de perfeccin que en su edad adulta prefiri vivir de la
agricultura, por parecerle el oficio ms humilde, ms penoso y ms apto y
seguro para la salvacin de su alma.41 The lack of concrete details relating
to Isidros childhood would imply that Lope was less constrained in terms
of content in the composition of this play than when he came to write La
juventud de San Isidro and was faced with a wealth of models to work from.
However, the very absence of the child from the dramatic action until the end
of Act I and from the dialogue until Act II suggests that Lope was unconvinced that his audience would immediately accept an unknown child as their
patrn. As a result, the child Isidro is made recognisable to the spectators
through a variety of dramatic devices. Lope establishes a link between the
adult and child Isidro, particularly in Act I, through the use of the offstage
voz, the transformation of Bato, the gracioso, into a prophet-like character,
the incorporation of the miracle of the angels as a vision in a dream of the
unborn childs father and the future parents description of their ideal son.
Having consolidated a relationship between adult and child, the child Isidros
saintliness can then be emphasised in Act II primarily through his own words
and actions.
According to Elma Dassbach, las profecas y voces celestiales, aunque son
expresiones sobrenaturales de menos espectacularidad escnica que las
dems, suelen presentarse como un primer paso para trazar el primer contacto
del santo con el mundo del ms all.42 In Act I of La niez de San Isidro, the
function of the offstage voz is to reveal the child Isidros future role as a saint
and his veneration by the inhabitants of Madrid. The prophecies of the voz which
are heard by Pedro both prior to, and following, Isidros birth intensify the
connection between the child Isidro and his adult counterpart of La juventud
de San Isidro. The first prediction of the voz, which follows Pedros prayer for
a saintly son and which precedes his dream, establishes the first specific association between the unborn child and the adult Isidro for the audience. In a
celebratory tone, the voz cantando (I, fol. 6r) stresses the prestige of Isidro
and the good fortune shared by Pedro and Madrid as a result of their connections with the unborn child. The voz proclaims:
Venturoso el labrador
que coge tan rica prenda
del fruto del matrimonio
para enriquecer la Iglesia.
Y venturosa Madrid
cuando por hijo le tenga,
41
42

Moreno, San Isidro, p. 107.


See La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 99.

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pues le ha de dar ms honor


aunque los Reyes lo sean.
(I, fols 6r6v)

The song portends the saintly nature of Isidro who will appear on stage later
in this play and subsequently in La juventud de San Isidro. In addition, it
underlines the significance of Isidro as patron of Madrid and a saint of the
Catholic Church even before his birth.
When the voz instructs Pedro for the second time at the end of Act I, he
draws attention to the transfer of Isidros body to the altar of San Andrs
following his death. In the first instance, Pedro misinterprets the vozs claim
aqu ha de tener lugar / tu hijo (I, fol. 11r) as a prediction of his newly born
sons imminent death. However, he interprets the message as a prodigio
extrao when the voz elaborates:
Aqu ha de vivir, y ver
muchos siglos esta Villa,
con notable maravilla
del mundo.
(I, fol. 11r)

Pedros inability to accept the vozs prediction, concluding that it must be a


form of engao (I, fol. 11r) reflects his questioning of the validity of his
vision of his unborn child in a dream. He asks himself:
cielos, qu es esto que vi
en vuestro divino oriente?
Esto se puede soar?
esto mirar los sentidos
exteriormente dormidos?
(I, fol. 6v)

More significantly, however, Pedros hesitation to acknowledge himself as a


witness of some supernatural revelation mirrors his sons inability as a child
and adult to accept that he is worthy of a visit from Christ. In Act II of La
niez de San Isidro, Isidro attributes the encounter with Christ to his infantile
imagination following his own self-questioning:
Qu es esto que ofrecieron a mis ojos
mis imaginaciones?
Son sueos, o ilusiones?
Sin duda sueos son, o son antojos,
que como a tan pequeo,
con tales sombras se me atreve el sueo.

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Qu es aquesto que vi? Pero sera


de mi niez efecto,
(II, fol. 18r)43

In La juventud de San Isidro, the adult Isidro is also unable to grasp the implications of such a spiritual reality, explicitly stating that he is undeserving of
a meeting with Christ: sueo fue, que mi humildad, / no tiene merecimientos
(I, fol. 27v). This humble reaction to the supernatural is not the only common
feature shared by father and son. In fact, Pedro in La niez de San Isidro exhibits
several qualities demonstrated also by his adult son in both La juventud de San
Isidro and San Isidro, labrador de Madrid. Both he and his wife Ins are
complimented by lvaro de Vargas, who describes them as buenos cristianos
(I, fol. 9r), while Isidro and Mara are categorised as buenos novios by their
employer, Ivn de Vargas, in La juventud.44 Like Isidro, whose daily attendance
at mass is confirmed by Pascual de Valdemoro and the sacristn in San Isidro,
labrador,45 Pedro is also an ardent churchgoer. The sacristn of La niez de San
Isidro claims in this regard:
No hay mejor hombre en Castilla,
ni ha tenido San Andrs
parroquiano ms galn.
(I, fol. 11r)

Pedro also engages in prayer through which he defines God in terms of his relationship with nature, just as his son does later in this play and in La juventud
43 The preoccupation of both Pedro and Isidro with the relationship between illusion and
reality mirrors Segismundos inability to distinguish between lo real and lo soado in
Calderns La vida es sueo. In addition, the reaction of these characters serves to reinforce
the seventeenth-century theocentric view of the illusory nature of life, which is analysed in
more detail in part 2 of this study. Indeed, as will be seen in due course, the incorporation
of supernatural characters and dreams/visions into La niez and La juventud, and the use of
the different levels of the stage in both are fundamental to the interplay between illusion and
reality. Consequently, both plays could also be examined in detail from this perspective.
44 The edition of La juventud de San Isidro used is contained in Relacin de las fiestas,
fols 20v35r. All subsequent quotations will be taken from this edition. As with La niez
de San Isidro, spellings and punctuation will be amended where appropriate. The reference
cited above can be found in I, fol. 21v. Ivn de Vargas, Isidros employer in both La
juventud de San Isidro and San Isidro, labrador de Madrid, is the son of lvaro de Vargas,
Isidros parents employer in La niez de San Isidro. This is a further example of the
continuity which exists between these plays.
45 Pascual de Valdemoro informs Benito Preciado and Juan de la Cabeza, que no
amanece el alba sin que aguarde / a la puerta de nuestra iglesia, atento / a cuando el sacristn
a abrirla venga, / y que jams al campo va sin misa; (San Isidro, labrador, I, 360). The
sacristn subsequently remarks regarding Isidros presence in the church of Santa Mara:
Que siempre est este villano! [. . .] no deja en Santa Mara / pilares, losas y cantos / detrs
de donde no est (I, 367).

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de San Isidro.46 Furthermore, both Pedro and Isidro in San Isidro, labrador de
Madrid offer their respective newly born sons to God.47 In San Andrs, Pedro
implores Saint Andrew to teach his son to be a pious and exemplary individual, thanks God for the gift of his son and informs Him desde aqu queda
sagrado / a vuestro servicio (I, fol. 11r). In San Isidro, labrador, Isidro likewise hands his son over to Gods service:
Gracias a Dios, suyo es!
Ya se las he dado all;
a ver la parida voy.
(II, 377)

In spite of the fact that Pedros character is defined before the birth of his son
in the play, his personality is based on traits which are traditionally associated
with Isidro and would have been identified as such by the audience. It is possible, therefore, that Lope recreated Pedro in his sons image in order to
remind his audience of some of the saints fundamental characteristics, which
he would then highlight in both La niez and La juventud. Moreover, by
depicting Pedro as hardly less saintly than his son, Lope is able to ensure
Pedros acceptance as a suitable parent for Madrids patrn.
The relationship between the adult and child Isidro established by the voz is
reinforced by the prophecies of the gracioso in Acts I and II. Bato, however,
also displays the characteristic traits of the typical gracioso whom Thomas
Case defines in terms of su comicidad, su cobarda, su amor a la comida [. . .]
al vino, al sueo y su papel como sirviente o lacayo.48 Like Bartolo of San
Isidro, labrador and Tirso of La juventud, Bato is an entertainer. As the child
Isidro is presented at San Andrs to be baptised and the dancing begins, Antn
instructs Bato relincha, voltea, / hazte rajas (I, fol. 11r). In La juventud

See pp. 6668 of this chapter for an analysis of these prayers.


The birth of Isidros son is not included in La juventud de San Isidro. On the absence
of this detail, Gilson claims: Lope omits this detail in La juventud de San Isidro, perhaps
so as to maintain the image of Maras purity and to avoid the added conflict of the duty
to her child (Lope de Vegas Female, p. 100).
48 See his El morisco gracioso en el teatro de Lope, in Lope de Vega y los orgenes,
ed. Manuel Criado de Val, pp. 78590 (p. 790). On the role of the gracioso in Lopes
hagiographic plays, see especially Robert Morrison, Graciosos con breviarios: The
Comic Element in the Comedia de Santos of Lope de Vega, CH, 12 (1990), 3345 and
Elma Dassbach, Personajes cmicos, in La comedia hagiogrfica, pp. 14560. In his
discussion of La niez and La juventud de San Isidro in Graciosos, Morrison states: As
in the earlier San Isidro, labrador de Madrid, Bato provides the comic element (p. 42).
The gracioso in San Isidro, labrador is in fact named Bartolo. Morrisons statement is
ambiguous because it suggests that Bato is the name of the gracioso in both La niez and
La juventud, despite the fact that he subsequently highlights that Tirso, Batos son, is the
gracioso of La juventud.
46
47

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61

(I, fol. 20v) and San Isidro, labrador (I, 363; 36465), Bartolo and Tirso get
involved in the dances at the wedding celebrations of Isidro and Mara. As the
main provider of comedy, many of Batos humorous comments, like those of
his son Tirso in La juventud, relate to the temptation of food and his preoccupation with his empty belly. Whereas Bato considers putting a for rent sign
on his stomach if Ins does not quickly feed him (II, fol. 12r), Tirso provides
Isidro with a detailed and entertaining commentary concerning how he was
tempted by a pastel (II, fols 29v30r).49 Both father and son also provide
amusing descriptions of their singing donkeys. Bato claims that when he goes
riding me ayuda a cantar; / que en dicindole arre, luego / piensa que es re, y
me responde / sol, sol, ut, ut (I, fol. 7v), while Tirso narrates to Isidro how he
was greeted by the donkey: l me dio los buenos das / en la solfa que otras
veces (II, fol. 30r).
One of the most comical scenes in the play, in which the glutton is duped,
is a re-creation of an episode which appears in San Isidro, labrador following
the birth of Isidros son (II, 37677). In the original scene, Bartolo tricks Perote
and Toms by declaring a competition in which the person who tells the best
dream wins the last torrija. Bartolos explanation of his dream, in which he
describes a hook which is trying to swipe a torrija from him, involves the eating of the last torrija as a demonstration of his action in the dream. Afterwards,
Perote and Toms dupe Bartolo by pretending to reluctantly allow him to play
a flute. When Bartolo begins to play, his face is covered in soot.
Lope borrows this scene, but with variations. Bato appears on stage with a
plate of torrijas following the birth of Isidro in La niez (I, fol. 10r). His
refusal to accept a favour from Dominga in exchange for one torrija suggests
that the satisfaction of his greedy appetite is even more of an urgency for him
than for Bartolo. He stresses the importance of self-satisfaction by informing
Antn que en habiendo tiempos dulces, / las amistades se acaban (II, fol.
10v). Lope possibly permits the gracioso to be deceived twice in this play
because of his outright rejection of love and friendship. Like Bartolo, he too
is attracted to the Aragonese flute, the dulzaina, but is covered with both soot
and flour following two attempts to play it. The double trick played on Bato
obviously adds an extra element of humour to La niez.
Nevertheless, apart from fulfilling the conventional role of the gracioso,
Bato is significantly transformed into a prophet-like character who forecasts
several events in the life of the adult Isidro, including his canonisation and the
transfer of his body to San Andrs.50 His reiteration of facts already presented
49 In San Isidro, labrador, Perote playfully uses religious imagery by describing Bartolos
stomach as an arca de No (II, 376).
50 In a discussion on standard cast-lists in the comedia, Victor Dixon states: Such
standardization by no means precluded variation within each of the standard types, most
obviously perhaps in the different combinations of characteristics assigned, from play to
play, to the gracioso. See his Characterization in the Comedia of Seventeenth-Century

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by the voz prevents the audience from losing sight of the child Isidros true
identity. The presentation of the newly born child for the first time on stage
in Batos arms is deliberate on Lopes part. It serves to establish a visual and
physical link between the two characters which is exploited throughout the
play as Bato foretells Isidros future. Bato performs his prophetical role for
the first time when he appears with the child. He comments on the childs
laughter:
Quiz est viendo
algo que le est esperando,
que todos nacen llorando,
y este muchacho riendo
(I, fol. 9v)

Although Batos observation is vague, it accentuates the uniqueness of the


child. Bato strengthens his remark on what lies in store for the child Isidro by
explicitly focusing on his sainthood. He reveals Gods plan for him to lvaro,
Juan and Elvira who disclose their hope that the child will be granted divine
protection:
lvaro:
Juan:
Elvira:
Bato:

Dios te bendiga.
Y te guarde.
Y te haga un santo.
Si har,
que Dios puede, y Dios querr,
y para Dios nunca es tarde.
(I, fol. 9v)

Batos hypothetical statement concerning the status of the adult Isidro


aunque con el Rey se iguale (I, fol. 10r) suggests that, in spite of the fact
that Isidro is the son of a labrador, spiritual piety may grant social mobility.
Bato continues to play the role of the prophet in Act II by confronting the child
with his forthcoming canonisation (II, fol. 12r) and the eventual veneration of
his body in San Andrs (II, fol. 12v). The absence of any attempt on the childs
part to investigate his future role as a saint suggests that the details are provided for the benefit of the audience, rather than the character.
In order to consolidate the relationship between the child and adult versions
of Isidro which Bato has successfully established through his predictions,
Lope manipulates dramatic action, rather than dialogue, and recreates for his
audience the celebrated miracle of the angels ploughing the fields.51 As Pedro
Spain (Manchester: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Manchester,
1994), p. 26.
51 For a summary of the miracle of the angels, see pp. 5253 of this chapter.

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rests by the Manzanares while he waits for Ins to arrive with some food, the
audience witnesses the staging of his dream in which he sees two angels
ploughing with oxen and his future son dressed in a star-covered garment and
a shining crown with a silver goad in his hand.52 The stage directions read:
Tquense chirimas, y abrindose una nube por lo alto del carro, pasen dos
ngeles arando con dos bueyes, y se ve a San Isidro con vestido sembrado de
estrellas, una corona de resplandor en la cabeza, y su aguijada plateada (I, fol.
6v).53 The incorporation of the sueo-representacin as opposed to the
sueo-narracin into the dramatic framework enables Lope to introduce the
adult Isidro as Pedros future son.54 As a result, a direct correlation between
the child and the saint is established.
Before Pedro explains his dream to Antn, Helipe and Bato, the labradores
return to find him staring intently at the sky and wrongly suspect that their
supervisor is attempting to read the stars.55 This assumption prompts Bato not
only to launch a lengthy attack on astrology but to comment on the mundo al
revs topos.56 Bato concludes: no alcanza la astrologa / ms que a engaar
ignorantes (I, fol. 7r). His rejection of superstition and recognition of the
power of God who, in his opinion hace despus lo que quiere (I, fol. 7r) is
a perfect starting point for Pedro to describe the divine revelation which he
has just experienced.
As Pedro recounts his dream to the labradores, he elaborates on the information provided by the stage directions. He informs them that the young man
he saw was dressed in the typical garment of the contemporary labrador but
that his attire was woven from gold and bore the letters I, D, M. He adds that
the mozo wore golden sandals on his feet (I, fol. 7r). In his analysis of this

52 Gallego Roca acknowledges that sleep is characteristic of those who witness


prophetic scenes Condicin general a las escenas que tienen un carcter proftico, es
que el personaje que las presencia se sienta momentos antes vencido por el sueo. See
Efectos, p. 125.
53 Isidros attire is similar to that of the angels in El Isidro. In canto III, p. 442, Lope
discusses their ricas aguijadas, / de piedras y oro bordadas, and capotes de estrellas.
54 Teresa Kirschner discusses the sueo-representacin and sueo-narracin in several
of Lopes historical/legendary plays in El velo del sueo y de la imaginacin en el teatro
histrico-legendario de Lope de Vega, in El mundo del teatro espaol, ed. J. M. Ruano de
la Haza, pp. 197212. Kirschner compares the staging of a dream to una minipieza (p. 202)
and categorises it as a modelo magnfico de metateatro (p. 203). The play within the play
is a common metatheatrical device. Pedros dream is also what Kirschner categorises as
symbolic staging, that is, the representation on stage of the mental processes of dreaming
or thinking. See her Typology of Staging in Lope de Vegas Theater, in The Golden Age
Comedia, eds Charles Ganelin and Howard Mancing, pp. 35871 (pp. 35961).
55 It should be noted that in La vida es sueo, Basilio, king and father of Segismundo,
misreads the stars concerning the fate of both himself and his son.
56 On this topos, see Helen F. Grants The World Upside Down, in Studies in Spanish
Literature of the Golden Age Presented to Edward M. Wilson, ed. R. O. Jones (London:
Tamesis, 1973), pp. 10335.

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apariencia, Gallego Roca asserts that the various elements symbolise several of Isidros attributes: Los ngeles arando con los bueyes, significando
su entrega a la oracin; un vestido sembrado de estrellas, que simboliza la
sabidura conseguida desde la ignorancia; una corona de resplandor, smbolo
de su santidad; y la aguijada plateada, que recuerda los milagros que realiz
en vida (Efectos, p. 124). Pedros vision of his son constitutes a complex
representation of two images of Isidro. On the one hand, it presents Isidro,
the common labrador, whose desire to dedicate himself to God through
prayer is rewarded with divine assistance in his daily work. In addition, it
highlights Isidros coronation as a saint, which the play was written to
celebrate.
The interpretations of Pedros dream by the labradores not only function
as light-hearted assessments of the event but accentuate the presentation of
Pedro as a sabio. Helipe, for example, attributes the dream to excessive drinking (I, fol. 7r). For Bato, the gracioso obsessed with food, wheat is synonymous with gold of the highest order and Isidros golden sandals thus signify el
trigo / que trilla con pies contentos (I, fol. 7r). Pedro correctly interprets the
dream as a revelation that a labrador, divinely blessed, will be born in Madrid
for the good of the villa, the letters I, D and M meaning Jess de mi alma
(I, fol. 7v). As a shrewd interpreter of dreams, Pedro becomes the biblical
Joseph who lucidly explains the dreams of the cupbearer, the baker and
Pharoah himself (Genesis 40 and Genesis 41. 140).57 Antns speech in
which he dissociates himself from the biblical sabio intrprete de sueos
(I, fol. 7r) presages the representation of Joseph in the character of the devout
Pedro. Pedro mirrors his biblical counterpart in two significant ways. Firstly,
he is endowed with an astuteness similar to that of Joseph which sets him
apart, like the biblical hero, from other aspiring exponents of dreams.
Secondly, and more importantly, Pedros future status as father of Madrids
patron saint echoes Josephs privileged position of power in Egypt. Both characters assume a prestige which belies their status as labrador and Hebrew
respectively. As a result, the dream reaffirms Isidros saintly nature and presents his father as a shrewd and privileged individual.
The prayers of Isidros holy and aspiring parents in which they express
hope for a virtuous, god-fearing son underline Isidros saintly qualities even
further.58 However, Ins, Isidros mother performs a particularly significant

57 As mentioned previously, the story of Joseph is presented in Los trabajos de Jacob,


based on Genesis 3747. However, Genesis 40, in which Joseph, while in prison, explains
the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker, is omitted. Instead, the cupbearer himself,
Asiris, recounts how Josef interpreted the dreams of the baker and himself while they were
in prison following Elios and Isacios unsuccessful attempts to interpret Pharoahs
dreams.
58 See especially Ins prayer to the Virgin of Almudena at the beginning of Act I
(fol. 4r) and Pedros prayer prior to the vozs prediction and his dream (I, fols 5v6r).

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role in establishing a connection between Isidro and Isidore of Seville.59


Following her description of the procession in honour of Isidore, whom she
refers to as Isidro, rather than Isidoro, Ins promises to call her son after the
holy saint of Seville (I, fol. 8r).60 While the procession itself does not add a
metatheatrical quality to the play, since it is described, rather than witnessed
by Lopes audience, the illusion of the drama and reality do in fact merge
as references to the procession in honour of Isidro of Seville recall the
festivities taking place in Madrid to celebrate the canonisation of Isidro of
Madrid.61 Consequently, the dramatic dialogue forces the audience to ponder
the reality of the historical moment and to fuse illusion and reality in their
minds eye.
Lope manipulates the link between Isidore of Seville and Isidro in order to
present Isidro as a literal as well as a metaphorical pastor. Following the
birth of Isidro, Juan Ramrez compares the role of Isidore of Seville with
Isidros impending role as a shepherd, stating:
Bien le viene a un labrador
nombre de quien fue pastor,
aunque diferentes tanto,
que Isidro de almas lo fue,
y este lo ser de ovejas.
(I, fol. 10r)

Unwittingly, Juan not only refers to Isidros role as a typical shepherd but also
casts him in a Christlike role for the contemporary audience as the shepherd
59 Isidore of Seville (c. 560636) was canonised in 1598 and declared a Doctor of the
Church in 1722. He succeeded his brother, St Leander, as bishop of Seville in approximately
the year 600. Among his most famous writings is the Etymologiae. On St Isidore of Seville,
see Book of Saints, p. 364, and Donald Attwater, The Penguin Dictionary, p. 177. According
to Moreno, San Isidro, p. 18, St Isidores body was transferred to Len by Ferdinand I in
1063. The fact that it is generally accepted that Isidro was not born until approximately
1100 suggests that Lope deliberately manipulated the presentation of historical events in
order to emphasise the link between the two saints. The attribution of the title santo to
Isidore in the play during a period when he had not been officially declared a saint draws
attention to the Spanish custom of popularly acclaiming holy individuals as saints.
60 The connection between Isidro and Isidore of Seville was established in El Isidro,
canto I. In this canto, Lope had already referred to the latter as Isidro, had compared and
contrasted these saints and commented on the removal of Isidores remains from Seville to
Len.
61 Processions are included in Hornbys classification of the metatheatrical device of the
ceremony within the play. Hornby describes the ceremony within the play as a formal
performance of some kind that is set off from the surrounding action (p. 49). The festivities
of 1622 involved an appeal to local patriotism. Consequently, there are references to the
Virgins of Almudena and Atocha in La niez and La juventud, as well as the incorporation
of the local legend of Gracin Ramrez into Act II of La niez. Lope included this legend in
El Isidro, cantos VIII and IX and dramatised it in El alcaide de Madrid in 1599.

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who protects the lost sheep.62 In other words, the audience cannot fail to recognise Lopes depiction of Isidro as patron saint caring for the ovejas of Madrid
in Juans innocent statement. Lope exploits his audiences affiliation with, and
informed opinion of, Isidro in order to highlight his status as a Christlike figure.
With the integration of the child Isidro into the dramatic action and dialogue in Act II, Lopes audience is brought face to face with a character who
is at once mysterious yet familiar. The child Isidros first words draw attention to his faith in God and the Virgin. Lopes audience is instantly confronted
with a pious child who announces his return from school to his parents with
the greeting Loado sea Cristo, y su Madre / bendita (II, fol. 12r). Throughout
Act II, Isidro voices his devotion to God in lengthy monologues which mirror and at times exceed the rhetoric of the adult Isidro in La juventud and San
Isidro, labrador. As a result of the recitation of the Christus to his parents and
Bato, the first prayer delivered by him in the play, Isidro demonstrates an
awareness of the omniscience of God and the purity of the Virgin. Isidro
concludes the holy alphabet, which focuses on issues such as Mans fall from
grace and the doctrine of transubstantiation, with a definition of the letters A,
B and C in terms of their association with the Holy Trinity
que el A es el Padre, la B
el Hijo, la C se llama
el Espritu, [. . .]
(II, fols 12v13r)

The prayer serves two significant purposes in the play. In the first instance, it
functions as a reaffirmation of Catholic dogma for Lopes audience. Secondly,
as a complex summary of the Catholic churchs tenets, it defines the child who
is responsible for its delivery as a devout, holy individual. The faith and
knowledge which the child exhibits are uncharacteristic of his age and render
him almost unchildlike. In fact, the child Isidros definition of the Christus
is more intricate than the adult Isidros explanation in San Isidro, labrador.63
In Act II of San Isidro, labrador, Isidro converses with three angels and
summarises the Christus in eighteen lines, focusing like the child Isidro
on the representation of the Trinity in the letters A, B and C (II, 37172).64
62 When Isidro (i.e. Isidore of Seville) appears to Ordoo in El Isidro, canto I, p. 417,
Ordoo describes him as a pastor de ovejas. The image of Christ as a shepherd is common
in the Bible. In Matthew 10. 6, for example, Christ sends the twelve disciples out to the lost
sheep of Israel.
63 In El Isidro, canto I, pp. 41819, Lope also refers to Isidros knowledge of the Christus.
He states: No supo letras, ni a quien / preguntrselas tambin, / que un abec que oy: / solo
el Cristus aprendi, / pero este spole bien. / De este libro inescrutable / que abarca de polo
a polo, / fue una sibila, un Apolo. Isidro does not recite the Christus in the poem.
64 In San Diego de Alcal, the illiterate Diego confesses to the portero at the end of
Act I that he only knows the A, B and C of the Christus. The portero proceeds to relate the

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In comparison, Isidros explanation is almost four times as long in La niez.


Lope makes the child Isidro almost priest-like in order to stress his piety. He
exploits his priestly role by having him question the boys Ivn and Luis
concerning their recital of prayers, including the Rosary, before he decides to
play a game with them (II, fol. 14v). With the absence of miracles attributed
to the child Isidro and general details relating to his childhood, Lope resorts
to the exploitation of dialogue in order to create the infantile version of the
adult figure. By doing so, he also presents a child analogous to the boy Jesus
as described in Luke 2. 40: And the child grew and became strong; he was
filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Bato emphasises the
relationship between Isidro and the Christ child by drawing a comparison
between the Holy Family Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and that of Pedro. He tells
Pedro and Ins:
Sin comparacin, que es necia
toda la que fuese humana,
me parecisteis los tres,
Jess, Josef, y Mara,
no con humana osada,
que Dios ha de ser quien es,
su Madre, reina del cielo,
y Josef su dulce esposo,
mas un retrato dichoso
de aquel cielo en este suelo.
(II, fol. 13r)65

In spite of the subtle association of Isidro with the Christ child, Isidro is more
explicitly rendered unchildlike in the play as a result of the links established
with his adult counterpart of La juventud and San Isidro, labrador. As demonstrated by his delivery of the Christus, Isidro is successfully transformed into
his adult equivalent through prayer. Lope continues to cast Isidro in the image
of Madrids well-known patrn by attributing other prayers to him in Act II.
In one particular prayer, his acclamation of God and desire to learn through
Him echoes one of Isidros speeches in La juventud. The child Isidro, who
defines God as perfeccin (II, fol. 13r) makes an ardent request for divine
instruction in the following manner:

holy alphabet to him. See Lope de Vega, San Diego de Alcal, ed. Thomas E. Case (Kassel:
Reichenberger, 1988), pp. 8788.
65 In San Isidro, labrador (II, 376), Envidia compares the piety of the family of the adult
Isidro to the Holy Trinity. Thus, in this case, it is Isidros son who is likened to the Christ
child, not Isidro himself. In El Isidro, canto IV, p. 455, Lope establishes a similar
connection. He claims: As, que Isidro y su esposa, / en casa pobre y gozosa, / y un nio
tierno y hermoso, / de Jess, Mara y su esposo / eran una estampa hermosa. [. . .] no digo
que los comparo, / ms digo que los parecen.

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Seor, ensead mi fe:


sed vos el maestro mo,
enseadme solo vos,
porque solamente en vos
lo que he de saber confo.
[. . .]
Yo solo quiero leer
en vuestro Christus, mi Dios,
porque solamente en vos
el alma puede aprender.
(II, fol. 13r)

In La juventud, Isidro informs the Emperador del cielo soberano in a more


concise manner that he wants to learn through him: no s leer, leer en vos
deseo (II, fol. 32v).66 Furthermore, Isidros monologue through which he
compares the countryside to a book in which he can contemplate God parallels another speech made by Isidro in La juventud.67 In this case, the adult
Isidros eulogy in which he praises God and the wondrous creation of nature
is longer than that of the child Isidro. Nevertheless, the emphasis in both is on
the role of nature as instructor in matters of the divine. The child Isidro comments pues que la flor ms pequea / me est diciendo y me ensea / que sois
Dios (II, fol. 17r), while the adult Isidro of La juventud requests instruction
from the trees, plants, flowers and birds (I, fol. 25v).
Lope highlights the fact that the child Isidros words of wisdom and thought
processes are too complex for his age through the comments of other characters, young and old. Juan Ramrez expresses his wish for Isidro to teach his
son Luis and his sons cousin because he is cuanto nio en aos, / viejo en el
entendimiento (II, fol. 14r). Even the child Ivn realises that Isidro is a viejo
nio, / viejo en seso, mozo en aos (II, fol. 14v).68 Nevertheless, it appears
that the presentation of the nio viejo serves two main purposes in the play.
In the first instance, his association with the adult Isidro prevents the audience
from losing sight of the fact that the play is a celebration of its patron saint.
Secondly, Isidros saintliness is exaggerated as Lope stresses that his piety is
not simply a product of his adult life, but was also a feature of his childhood
years.
66 In San Isidro, labrador, Isidro expresses a similar desire. In his conversation with the
angels, he states: no s letras, leer quiero / ese libro celestial (II, 371).
67 In El Isidro, canto I, p. 424, Lope comments on Isidros conversion of nature into
libros divinos. He states: libros divinos haca / los campos, aguas y flores.
68 At this point in the play, Juan Ramrezs son is mistakenly called Ivn (II, fo1. 14r).
Isidro himself clarifies the relationship between Juan and Luis Ramrez and lvaro and
Ivn de Vargas, stating vos, seor Ivn, sois hijo / de D. lvaro, [. . .] Vos, seor Don Luis
Ramrez, / sois hijo, hechura, y retrato / de Don Juan Ramrez, (II, fols 14r14v). Luis and
Ivn are also wrongly presented as primos. Ivn was the brother of Elvira, Juan Ramrezs
wife. Consequently, he must be the brother-in-law of Juan and uncle of Luis.

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The well-documented, charitable nature of the adult Isidro is characteristic


of the child Isidro in La niez. Pascual de Valdemoros statement in San Isidro,
labrador on Isidros acts of charity, lo que es rezar y dar de su pobreza /
limosna a cualquier pobre, es cosa extraa (I, 360), is as applicable to the
child as it is to the adult. In Act II, on encountering a beggar who is seeking
alms, Isidro offers him his coat, having neither money nor food to give him.69
When the coat is finally rescued by Juan Ramrez, who provides the beggar
with a donation instead, Isidro insists that his reasons for parting with the
garment were honourable. He tells Juan: yo pretendo / aprender la caridad, /
porque la fe ya la tengo (II, fol. 14r). The fact that there is nothing miraculous about this act of charity suggests that Lope was more concerned with the
portrayal of the child as an unselfish individual, rather than as a worker of
miracles. With Romes approval of the canonisation of Madrids patron saint
and recognition of the miracles attributed to him, Isidro was already a proven
miracle worker. Consequently, in order to recreate for his audience an acceptable and entertaining representation of the holy patrn, Lope was not compelled to emphasise Isidros saintly character through the dramatisation of his
miracles. Instead, Isidros virtuous character could be recreated through original scenes, such as the confrontation with the beggar and an encounter
between Isidro and Christ in both this play and La juventud. The avoidance of
the re-creation of the child Isidro as a miracle worker prevents a superfluous
exaggeration of his already overstated piety. Rather, the kindness shown by
the child towards the beggar foreshadows the presentation of the more human
side of Isidros character in La juventud.
Isidros concern with his rudeza in La juventud is also presented by the
child Isidro in La niez. In a short prayer, the adult Isidro of La juventud
apologises to God for his rusticity:
pero si soy un rstico villano,
cmo os sabr decir tiernos amores?
Perdonad la rudeza en que me veo,
(II, fol. 32v)

Similarly, Isidros father Pedro in La niez asks God to excuse his


rustiqueza in a monologue in which he prays for the birth of a devout son.
He qualifies himself in terms of his rstico discurso and adds no s yo
deciros ms, / perdonad mi rustiqueza (I, fol. 6r). The child Isidro in this
play expresses concern with the rusticity of his physical dress, his sayal,
and wonders how he can join the company of Ivn and Luis, who are dressed
in brocado (II, fol. 14v). His comments cause Ivn and Luis to engage in
69 Isidros charitable deed mirrors that of Tobas (viejo) in Historia de Tobas. Tobas
gives the very clothing that he is wearing to a pobre (I, 94). The criado states regarding
Tobas charitable nature: no se ha visto caridad / que iguale a la de Tobas (I, 95).

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an appraisal of his spiritual richness which contrasts with their material


wealth. Ivn claims:
[. . .] estimo
tu virtud, tu amor, tu trato,
tu compaa, de suerte,
que lo que sin ella paso,
lo paso en mortal tristeza.
(II, fol. 14v)

while Luis refers to the impact of Isidro on his very soul (II, fol. 14v). Isidros
allusion to the boys brocado recalls Ins description of the brocade covering
which rested on the body of St Isidore of Seville as he was carried in procession
on the outskirts of Madrid (I, fol. 8r). In addition, it reminds the audience of
Batos suggestion that Madrid should prepare a brocade garment for the
labrador divino of Pedros dream (I, fol. 7v). Consequently, the brocado symbolises both material and spiritual wealth. In his comparison of the sayal and
the brocado, Isidro highlights his own future exchange of costume when he
will become Madrids patrn.
Towards the end of Act II, Lope specifically emphasises the saintly nature
of the child in two original episodes. The first involves a seemingly innocent
game of hide and seek which is transformed into a religious experience for
those taking part.70 When Ivn and Luis begin to look for Isidro, their search
not only reveals his whereabouts but underlines for them and the audience the
extent of the childs religious fervour. Led by the song Venite, which the
boys mistakenly assume is Isidros voice and which Isidro subsequently interprets as a divine instruction, Ivn and Luis discover Isidro praying en lo alto
surrounded by candles. The stage directions read: Descbrese en lo alto un
aposentico con un altarico, su imagen y sus velas, e Isidro rezando (II, fol.
14v).71 Thus, a literal game of hide and seek for Ivn and Luis becomes a
metaphorical one for Isidro. It provides him with an opportunity to take refuge
in God from the world and its deceits. Ivn makes this point explicit, stating,

70 Lope comments on Isidros attitude towards games in El Isidro, canto I, p. 420. He


states: No anduvo en juegos ningunos / con muchachos importunos.
71 In Metatheater and World View in Lopes El divino africano, BCom, 42 (1990),
12942, Thomas Case describes the three levels of staging (proscenium, discovery and
the balcony) used by Lope in El divino africano and comments that the balcony is
normally called en lo alto in the stage directions (pp. 13536). On the three levels of
staging, Case claims: The main action of the life of the saint is what we would normally
call the historical level, whereas the other two are metaphysical or mystical (p. 136). In
this scene, Isidro forms an almost mystical union with Christ. On Lopes use of the
diminutive form to describe the room and the altar, Gallego Roca states: Las palabras
[. . .] responden a la utilizacin de pequeas dimensiones para el entorno del pequeo
santo. See Efectos, p. 124.

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Oh nio bendito y santo, / que as te escondes en Dios, / del mundo y de sus


engaos! (II, fol. 15r). For both Ivn and Luis, and indeed for the audience,
the incident points up the exemplariness of the holy child.
The holiness of the child is emphasised in a second scene in which he
receives a visit from Jesus and is invited to dine at his table.72 In the garb of
a shepherd, Jesus promises friendship between himself and Isidro, claiming
mira que habemos de ser / amigos (II, fol. 17r).73 The child Isidro innocently
asks Jesus questions regarding the identity of his father and mother, his
knowledge of prayers including the Creed and the Articles of Faith and his
attendance at mass. Through Jesus answers, Lope once again cleverly and
subtly integrates important tenets of the Catholic faith into the play. The use
of the tramoya to lower the table, chairs and the angels to the proscenium
and to take them back into the air in the company of Christ essentially converts the scene into a supernatural experience for the audience.74 Case
acknowledges this specific impact of complex staging: In the comedias de
santos the different levels on the stage acquire particular importance. These
special effects confer on the action a kind of divine authority and confirm the
spectators belief in the supernatural, which both playwright and public
shared.75 Consequently, the use of different stage techniques, and the incorporation of supernatural characters and visions into the play serve to establish
the immediacy of the divine experience for the audience.
72 The theme of dining is extremely important in a religious context. In the Last Supper,
for example, an invitation to Christs table signifies ultimate union with him. In Tirsos El
burlador de Sevilla, the final meal which don Juan shares with the stone guest is crucial to
the plays dnouement. Recent studies on this play include Joan Ramn Resina, What
Sort of Wedding? The Orders of Discourse in El burlador de Sevilla, MLQ, 57 (1996),
54578 and Francisco J. Martn, The Presence of the Four Elements in El burlador de
Sevilla, in A Star-Crossed Golden Age: Myth and the Spanish Comedia, ed. Frederick A.
de Armas (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1998), pp. 3045. On the appearance of supernatural
characters in hagiographic plays of the Golden Age, Dassbach claims: Estos personajes
sobrenaturales resultan tan frecuentes y reales en las comedias como los mismos
personajes humanos. See La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 110.
73 In Santos, pp. 12426, Garasa briefly examines the appearance of Christ as a pilgrim,
shepherd and child in Lopes hagiographic plays. On p. 125 in a discussion of Christ as a
pastor, he excludes references to La niez and La juventud and mistakenly claims that
Christ appears as a shepherd in San Isidro, labrador. He subsequently cites part of the
conversation between Isidro and Jesus taken from La niez (II, fol. 17r), without specifying
the texts source. Garasas citation of San Isidro, labrador would erroneously suggest that
the text is taken from that play.
74 This is the only use of the tramoya in this play. Dassbach provides the following
description on the use of the tramoya: Las tramoyas aaden el espectculo de los
desplazamientos escnicos, areos en su mayor parte, e incorporan diferentes planos
espaciales a la escena, La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 104. In Efectos, pp. 11415, Gallego
Roca draws attention to Lopes criticism of the tramoya in Lo fingido verdadero, as well
as his assertion in the Arte nuevo that the playwright must please the audience. For an
analysis of Lo fingido verdadero in terms of its metatheatrical properties, see chapter 4.
75 Metatheater, p. 131.

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Isidros encounter with Christ is crucial to his character development since


it portrays him as more childlike than in any other episode of the play. Isidro
becomes more childlike as a result of his nave questioning. He asks the
stranger to answer basic questions, including de quin sois hijo? and
dnde tenis vuestra madre? (II, fol. 17r), but admits that he does not understand the responses which he receives. In contrast to this episode, Christs
appearance to the adult Isidro in La juventud does not give rise to a similar
question and answer session (I, fols 26v27v).76 Essentially, Isidros interrogation of the stranger with basic questions detracts somewhat from his characterisation as a serious, god-fearing child. Ultimately, his childlike innocence
is underlined when he invites Jesus to accompany him to the villa in order
to sample, among other things, some of the morello cherry jam which Ivn de
Vargas mother makes (II, fol. 17v). In spite of the fact that Isidros acknowledgment of certain treats is somewhat deflated by his subsequent remark
regarding his tendency to fast me inclino / ms a ayunar que a comer
(II, fol. 17v), it represents the childs only reference to culinary pleasures.77
The ending of the play, which focuses on the peasants arrival at the church
of the Virgin of Atocha in order to honour the Virgin, is an adaptation of a
scene from San Isidro, labrador in which the peasants, who are on their way
to the convent of la madre de Dios with a cross, are halted by the Manzanares
and Jarama rivers which foretell several glorious events relating to Isidro (III,
38485). The main purpose of the scene in La niez is to strengthen the
connection between Isidro and the Christ child. Pedro instructs his son to offer
a cross, not to the Virgin of Atocha, but to her son. This intensification of the
relationship between the child Isidro and the Christ child, which has already
been suggested earlier in the play, presages the parallels between the adult
Isidro and Christ which will be drawn in La juventud.
In spite of its title, La niez presents the saintly nature of both adult
and child. The saintliness of the adult Isidro is highlighted particularly in
Act I through Pedros dream, Batos prophecies and the proclamations of the
voz. The incorporation of this image of the adult Isidro into a play which
76 It is essentially Isidros questioning and curiosity which exhibits his childlike
innocence, not the fact that he does not understand the explanations which Christ gives
him. In his encounter with Christ in La juventud (I, fol. 27r), the adult Isidro also admits
that he does not understand the pastor: No entiendo / las cifras con que me hablis. It
should also be noted that a younger Christ figure appears in La niez. Isidro describes him
as a nio tan discreto (II, fol. 18r), although Christ himself states that he is already a man
when Isidro says that they will be great friends as adults (II, fol. 17r). In contrast, in La
juventud Isidro simply addresses Christ as pastor, labrador and seor (I, fols 27r27v).
Lope may have presented a younger version of Christ in La niez in order to intensify
Isidros connection with him and to provide a suitably aged character for Isidros questions
concerning the identity of his parents, for example.
77 In El Isidro, canto I, p. 425, Lope claims that if the adult Isidro felt hungry while
working, he thought of Christs fasting in the desert: y si hambre le apretaba, / el grande
ayuno de Cristo / en el desierto pensaba.

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dramatises his childhood is crucial because it allows the audience to identify


in the young protagonist the qualities of Madrids patrn. Lope is perhaps
prevented from presenting Isidro truly as a child because such a presentation
would work contrary to the audiences horizon of expectation. Isidros elaborate expressions of faith, encounter with Christ and conversion of a game into
a prayer session accentuate his holiness and thereby make him recognisable to
the audience as its patron saint. His prayers and monologues, through which
he expresses adoration for the divine, at once transform him from a child into
his adult equivalent. Ironically, in a play in which Lope is less restrained by
the source material, he is in fact compelled to recreate the child in the image
of the acclaimed patrn.
With the succcessive dramatisation of Isidros adult life in La juventud,
Lope would no longer be concerned with the presentation of an unfamiliar
Isidro, but with the re-creation of a much celebrated individual.

La juventud de San Isidro


Like La niez de San Isidro, La juventud de San Isidro is preceded by a loa
in which Lope praises Philip IV and offers a succinct acclamation of Spains
four recently canonised saints (Isidro, Teresa de vila, Francisco Javier and
Ignacio de Loyola).78 Act I of the play begins with the celebrations to mark
the wedding of Isidro and Mara, and subsequently focuses on the confrontation of the gracioso, Tirso, with the allegorical character Envidia, and
Envidias false description of Isidros sloth to his master, Ivn.79 Following
the miracles of the wolf and the angels ploughing the fields, together with
Isidros conversation with Christ, Act I ends with Ivns account of the miracle of the angels and condemnation of Envidia. Act II opens with a lengthy
discussion between Isidro and Mara concering the appropriateness yet pain
of departure, and includes the miracle of the feeding of the birds as well as
Ivns vision in a dream of Profeca, who predicts the canonisation of four
Spanish saints during the reign of Philip IV. The play ends with the reunion
of Isidro and Mara following Maras miraculous crossing of the Jarama river.
As indicated already, the subject matter of La juventud had been treated
previously in the poem, El Isidro, and in the play, San Isidro, labrador.80
Although he was not commissioned, so far as we know, to write either of these
works, it would appear that Lope composed both in order to promote the

78 As Morrison has indicated, both loas are more concerned with paying homage to
Philip IV than to Isidro. See Graciosos, p. 42.
79 In La niez, Bato prepares the audience for the arrival of Envidia in this play by
declaring to Isidros father: Pardiez, Pedro, que es rapaz, / para envidiar y querer! (II, fol.
16v, my italics).
80 Of the ten cantos of El Isidro, Isidros birth and youth are only described in canto I.
The rest of the poem focuses on his adult life.

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canonisation of Madrids popularly acclaimed saint. Gallego Roca characterises San Isidro, labrador as a propagandistic work, while classifying La
niez and La juventud as both propagandistic yet celebratory dramas San
Isidro fue escrita cuando estaba en marcha el proceso de canonizacin, por
tanto se la puede considerar como una obra de propaganda; La juventud y La
niez son obras que celebran la canonizacin, son pues obras tambin de
propaganda pero con un mayor sentido festivo (Efectos, p. 129). In the poem
and the earlier play, an attempt is made on Lopes part to describe all the main
events in Isidros life, including the miracles attributed to him prior to, and
following, his death.81 The more extensive use of the adjective santo to
define his character and miracles in San Isidro, labrador than in La juventud
is evidence of Lopes desire to have Isidro officially recognised as such. With
the declaration of Isidro as a saint and proven miracle worker, it was not necessary for Lope in La juventud to recreate every miracle and detail associated
with him in order to verify his holiness and to make him recognisable.
Accordingly, Lope presents the image of Isidro the miracle worker through
carefully selected miracles. At the same time, he accentuates his saintliness
through the reworking of the miracle of the angels, as well as a second
encounter with Christ. More significantly, through the creation of original
scenes involving conversations between husband and wife, Isidro is presented
on a more human level as a man who is forced to make sacrifices for the purposes of his faith.
The four miracles presented in La juventud are successfully woven into the
plays dramatic framework. The inclusion of the miracles of the wolf and the
feeding of the birds serves to highlight qualities traditionally associated with
the saint, while the crossing of the Jarama and the miracle of the angels stress
Maras and Isidros respective associations with the divine.
In his dramatisation of the miracle of the wolf, Lope stresses Isidros constancy and complete trust in Gods protection of the blessed. In contrast to San
Isidro, labrador, where the saint remains absent from the stage while Envidia
and Demonio narrate his reactions to the boys warnings and the resurrection of
his donkey (II, 37576), in La juventud Isidro remains devoted to prayer while
Envidia taunts him with the cries of the offstage voices. The use of the campo
as the setting for Isidros prayer session, rather than the church which features
in his source material, is highly suitable given Isidros repeated acknowledgment in both this play and La niez of his ability to learn about God through
nature. Isidro manifests his faith in Gods protection following Envidias advice
that he should abandon his prayers and return to his donkey. He affirms:
81 On the use of miracles in the comedias de santos, George Ticknor claims: Pero en
tiempo de Lope, el pblico no slo acuda con fe a tales espectculos, sino que reciba con
agrado la representacin de milagros, que hacan familiar la vida del Santo y sus benficas
virtudes. See his History of Spanish Literature, 3 vols (London: John Murray, 1849), II,
24749.

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que yo s que mi jumento


estar en vindole vivo,
que a nadie que habl con Dios
hacienda se le ha perdido.
(I, fol. 26v)

In an attempt to undermine his statement, Envidia cites several biblical


episodes, including the story of Joseph, as examples of Gods abandonment
of his beloved. Isidro, the embodiment of piety and goodness, proves his
knowledge of the Bible by providing the successful resolutions of each story.
Envidia Si miras a Job, vers
muertos sus queridos hijos,
derribados sus palacios,
quemados sus verdes trigos,
preso a Jos, y a Israel,
del Rey Faran cautivo.
Isidro
A Job dobl Dios la hacienda,
y a Jos Virrey le hizo,
y a Israel dio libertad.
(II, fol. 26v)

The efforts of Envidia, the embodiment of evil, to downplay Isidros speech


are thwarted. The confrontation between good and evil not only serves as a
form of instruction in biblical narrative for the audience, but also underlines
Isidros awareness that even the blessed are subject to some form of suffering.
Isidro himself experiences the hardship of winter in the well-known miracle of the feeding of the birds. With the exclusion of the miraculous feeding
of the pilgrim and the miracle at the confraternity dinner, the miracle of the
birds, a milagro til according to Dassbach, is representative of Isidros charitable nature in this play.82 Following Isidros self-justification for the feeding
of the palomas, which contains resonances of Isidros defence of his actions
to Envidia in San Isidro, labrador (II, 375), Envidia arrogantly comments that
his behaviour will cost him his job. He claims que esta ocasin es famosa /
para que Ivn le despida (II, fol. 31r). However, the authority of the labrador

82 The miraculous satisfaction of hunger is one of the several milagros tiles presented
by Dassbach: Los milagros en las comedias son, por lo general, milagros tiles, esto es,
dirigidos a satisfacer necesidades fsicas o espirituales concretas (hambre, enfermedad,
conversin); librar de peligros, sufrimientos o tentaciones; o destinados a mostrar el poder
y favor divinos (La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 109). An abridged version of the miracle
relating to the feeding of the pilgrim is narrated by Envidia in San Isidro, labrador (III, 379).
In the same work, the miracle at the confraternity dinner is dramatised (III, 37981). In El
Isidro, Lope presents both miracles in detail. See canto IV, p. 459 canto V, p. 467, and
canto V, p. 471 canto VI, p. 479.

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is revealed as Envidia hears, over the sound effects of the milling machinery,
the offstage comments of Tirso and Bartola regarding the abundance of flour
produced.83 To Bartolas exclamation y cmo crece la harina!, Tirso adds
esto parece milagro; / la abundancia lo confirma (II, fol. 31v). The sole presence of Envidia on stage as the miracle is confirmed concentrates the audiences attention on his destruction at the hands of Isidro.
Lope not only exaggerates the saintly nature of Isidro through the representation of a miracle, as will become apparent in an analysis of his reconstruction
of the miracle of the angels, but also that of his wife. Mara de la Cabeza is
blessed with a visit from the Virgin in a new version of her miraculous crossing
of the Jarama, based on the presentation of the miracle in San Isidro, labrador
and El Isidro.84 In Lopes previous two works, an angel appears to inform Mara
that she has been wrongly accused of adultery. In La juventud, however, the
stage directions indicate that Maras informer is in fact the mother of God. They
read as follows: La Virgen en una nube, y una voz (II, fol. 35r).85 Although
Envidia of San Isidro, labrador informs Demonio that the Virgin was Maras
guide, following Maras own deconstruction of her name to designate herself
the mar of the title and the Virgin, the gua (III, 382), Mara does not enjoy
the privilege of direct instruction from her namesake. Mara manifests her belief
in divine protection by taking the initiative in La juventud to cross the river on
her mantle as proof of her innocence. In San Isidro, labrador, on the other hand,
it is the angel who instructs Mara to cross the river (III, 382).
At first sight, the miracle of the angels does not appear to have been
subject to very significant reconstruction in La juventud. However, a closer
83 In San Isidro, labrador, the multiplication of the flour is simply narrated to Envidia by
Demonio. To Envidias complaint regarding Isidros act of charity, Demonio replies: Qu
mucho, si ve crecer / tanto el harina de un grano? / Vesle all, que muele trigo, / y que el
harina se vierte (II, 375). It should be noted that Lope does not make excessive use of stage
machinery in any of his plays on Isidro. Gallego Roca attributes this not simply to Lopes
personal choice, but to the life of Isidro himself. He states in this regard: Pero no slo es el
nimo de Lope el que pone freno a una escenografa desbordante; es, especialmente, el
carcter del protagonista San Isidro, un santo contemplativo, que lleva una vida de oracin y
no de accin. Los grandes milagros y las grandes victorias quedan fuera de la religiosidad
que propone la figura del patrn de Madrid. See Efectos, p. 116.
84 Garasa briefly comments on the appearance of Virgins to saints in Lopes hagiographic
plays in Santos, p. 126.
85 Orozco Daz highlights the dramatic effectiveness of the presentation of the king or
the Virgin by means of la pintura or la imagen: Ante la imagen de una Virgen o el
retrato del Rey, la reaccin de los espectadores no es la misma que si contemplara a una
comediante vestida con la indumentaria y atributos correspondientes. La relacin que en
ese momento se crea entre el cuadro y el espectador, era muchas veces de la misma ndole
que la que haba de producirse en la vida real; como si en un lugar y momento solemne se
encontrara ante la efigie de la Virgen o de su monarca. Es indiscutible que con esa
duplicidad de punto de vista se reforzaba el general poder emocional desbordante y
comunicativo de la escena. See Emilio Orozco Daz, El teatro y la teatralidad del barroco
(Barcelona: Planeta, 1969), p. 223.

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examination reveals some important innovations, such as the appearance of


Christ on stage, the acclamation of Isidro by Christ himself and Isidros
defamation at the hands of Envidia. For the first time in Lopes plays on
Isidro, we hear Christ summon the angels to plough and his reasons for doing
so.86 He tells them to work mientras Isidro atiende, / a la oracin que de mi
amor le enciende (I, fol. 27r), and again orders them:
Arad, ngeles, luego
los surcos desta tierra venturosa,
porque con ms sosiego
levante en oracin tan fervorosa
el espritu suyo
adonde yo mi gloria constituyo.
Arad, dejadle ocioso
(I, fol. 27r )87

Christ not only acknowledges Isidros devotion to him through prayer, but
sings the praises of the labrador whom he characterises in terms of his puro
corazn (I, fol. 26v). He is not seeking out the lost sheep, but el regalo de la
ms querida (I, fol. 27r).88 Christs recognition of Isidro as an exceptional
individual constitutes the ultimate consolidation of his image as a saintly man.
His subsequent, brief encounter with him, a newly created scene which serves
as a sequel to that of La niez, underlines that Isidro is not only deserving of
Christs compliments, but also the privilege of his company.
Lope continues to modify elements of the miracle by assigning the role of
detractor to the allegorical figure, Envidia.89 In both San Isidro, labrador and
86 In El Isidro, we also hear God summon the angels to help Isidro in his work. He
orders them: Id, celcolas, volando / a la tierra, en que ya veo / su humildad, por quien
deseo / que ayudis a Isidro orando; / Isidro nuevo Eliseo (canto III, p. 438). In San Isidro,
labrador, the angels simply inform Isidro that they have been sent by God (II, 371).
87 There are no stage directions to indicate the appearance of the angels. Christs
remark Oh, qu bien parecis labrando el campo [. . .]! (I, fol. 27r) may represent an
attempt on Lopes part to create an imaginary picture of the scene for his audience.
88 In contrast, the pastor is looking for Clara, the lost sheep, in La buena guarda. See
Lope de Vega, La buena guarda, ed. Pilar Dez y Gimnez Castellanos (Zaragoza:
Editorial Ebro, 1964). All references will be taken from this edition. The pastor, who is
not named Jess or Cristo as he is in La niez and La juventud respectively, appears
twice in La buena guarda in his search for the lost sheep (see II, 7578 and III, 108110).
Unlike Isidro, Clara has sinned by abandoning her role as abadesa at a convent in order to
escape with her lover, Flix. The pastor reveals that the sheep he is looking for is white,
except that en la frente sola / una mancha tena (II. 48081). In III. 495, the pastor
stresses that the lost sheep can still be found because although she was bitten by the wolf,
she was not eaten. In other words, Clara was not completely devoured by human passion.
For an analysis of roleplaying within the role in this play, see chapter 5.
89 It should be noted that although Envidia and Mentira appear in La juventud, they had
played a much more prominent role in El Isidro and San Isidro, labrador.

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El Isidro, as in the source material, it is Isidros co-workers who approach


Ivn de Vargas in order to denounce him.90 In San Isidro, labrador, Envidia
approaches Lorenzo, Esteban and Tadeo and defames Isidros name (I, 364).
The labradores do not question Envidias portrayal of Isidro, but rather they
falsely accuse Isidro before Ivn and even implicate other labradores (II, 368).91
The characters of Lorenzo and Esteban are degraded further as they expose
their awareness of the fact that their accusations are false, yet still proceed in
their campaign to undermine Isidro (II, 373). In an episode in which Esteban and
Lorenzo misinterpret Benitos description of Bartolo for an account of Isidros
shortcomings, the labradores are provided with an opportunity to reiterate
Isidros negative qualities. Despite the fact that Pascual and Benito rise to Isidros
defence, their comments cannot eliminate the ridicule to which Isidro is exposed.
In addition to the criticism of the labradores, Isidro is branded a bausn and
haragn (II, 369) by his angry master. The validity of his miracles is also questioned by Fernando, criado del rey, following his death (III, 387).
In La juventud, with the exception of Envidias accusations, Isidro is not
subject to any form of condemnation. As a result, any connection with Isidros
detractors in the form of the nobility, labradores or criados, which may have
been experienced by the audience of San Isidro, labrador is absent from La
juventud. The criticism of Isidro by Envidia, an allegorical and therefore unreal
character, prevents the audience forming any kind of association with him.
Consequently, Lopes spectators do not witness a negative portrayal of themselves as they may have done in La hermosa Ester, but rather see themselves
in a positive light as faithful, honest, god-fearing individuals. Lopes manipulation of the source material and characters introduced in San Isidro, labrador
enables him to create a suitable, non-challenging tone for this celebratory play.
The audience is indeed reminded that the play is a celebration of Isidros
canonisation through Ivns vision in a dream of Espaa and Profeca.92 With
the appearance of both allegorical characters por alto, en dos nubes (II, fol.
33v), Ivn listens to Profecas predictions regarding the canonisation of four
Spanish saints during the reign of Philip IV. He encourages the veneration of
Isidro by describing his canonisation as a glorious event and addresses Madrid
in the following manner:
Famosa Villa, apercibe
a tu hijo, a tu Patrn,
la gloria desta visin;
y con triunfo le recibe,
(II, fol. 34v)

For the criticism of Isidro by the labradores in El Isidro, see canto II, p. 437.
It should be noted that only Lorenzo and Esteban approach Ivn; Tadeo is absent.
92 See p. 63, n. 52 for Gallego Rocas statement on the relationship between sleep and
prophetic scenes.
90
91

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Ivn promotes the appreciation of the celebration and depicts the audience as
privileged spectators of the canonisation. The members of the audience are
thus presented with another positive image of themselves.
Lope elevates Isidro to the highest point of perfection by taking him beyond
the status of a saint and establishing a direct link between him and Christ. In
El Isidro, San Isidro, labrador and La niez, Isidro has already been referred
to as a labrador divino.93 However, for the first time on the stage, Isidro
shares the title with Christ.94 It is Envidia, the embodiment of evil, who attributes the description to Isidro, while Isidro himself addresses God in prayer
as the divino labrador.95 In a monologue in which Isidro praises God through
pastoral imagery, the literal labrador describes the role of the metaphorical
one and asks him to provide him with what is necessary so that he may follow his example. Isidro expresses his desire to emulate the heavenly labrador,
now his namesake, who exemplifies selflessness and goodness. He is therefore prompted to ask for the arado, the metaphorical cross which Christ is
forced to bear.96 His desire to become the disciple of the divino labrador and
to suffer for his sake illustrates his wholehearted dedication to his saintly role.
Apart from a direct association with Christ, Isidros piety and humility are
exemplified through the introduction of two scenes in which both he and his
wife speak frankly about their devotion to God. Their lengthy discussion on
the decoration of their marital home immediately following their wedding
replaces Juan de la Cabezas description of Maras dowry in San Isidro,
labrador (I, 36263). While Juan mentions money and basic necessities such
as mattresses, sheets and pillows first, Isidro concentrates on the domestic furnishings of a religious nature. The first thing that he and Mara will do is construct an altar, hang their prints of St Roque and St Sebastian and put up the
wall-hanging depicting Davids victory over Goliath (I, fols 22r22v). Isidro
even forgets to mention the bed, the first item mentioned in Lopes description of the marital home in El Isidro, in an effort to be honesto (I, fol. 22v).97
However, it is the second conversation between Isidro and Mara which
provides an insight into the conditions which must be met and the sacrifices
93 In El Isidro, see for example canto I, p. 419, canto IV, p. 450 and canto IX, p. 518.
In La niez, Bato refers to the mozo of Pedros dream as a labrador divino (I, fol. 7v),
while the Reina of San Isidro, labrador attributes the title to Isidro when she visits his body
in San Andrs (III, 38788). Ivn also describes the angels as divinos labradores in this
play (II, 372).
94 In El Isidro, Lope establishes a connection between the births of Christ and Isidro,
stating sus padres, pobres e iguales, / dironle pobres paales, / entre animales naciendo. /
Mirad: qu va pareciendo / con nacer entre animales? (canto I, pp. 41920).
95 See II, fols 26r and 26v.
96 Even as a child, Isidro associates Christ with the pastoral, refers to the doctrine of
transubstantiation and remarks that Christ has ordered him to follow his cross (La niez,
II, fol. 14r). The child claims: Mis letras son vuestro divino arado, / pues yo soy labrador,
con l os sigo, / que seguir vuestra cruz me habis mandado.
97 See El Isidro, canto II, p. 429.

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which have to be made in order to live a holy, pious life. This dialogue precedes the separation of husband and wife for the purposes of la castidad
celestial (II, fol. 28v) and underlines the pain of departure.98 Isidro and Mara
must relinquish human love in order to commit themselves to the veneration
of the divine. Moreover, Isidros list of instructions to his wife concerning the
conditions to be met in order to remain chaste, highlights the daily sacrifices
made by both.99 Their separation is characterised by dolor, but in Isidros
opinion, their decision to part is santa (II, fol. 28v). Both characters explicitly highlight their love for one another. As far as Mara is concerned, no he
de ver / cosa que tenga alegra / sin tu dulce compaa, while Isidro admits,
Mucho siente el corazn / el apartarse de ti (II, fol. 28v). Their fires of passion will be kept in check by the river which separates them as Mara moves
to the convent of the Mother of God on the other side of the Jarama. Isidros
recognition of the temptation of human love underlines his more human side,
despite his acknowledgement, like Asuero in La hermosa Ester, that only
divine love is associated with reason. To serve God, according to Isidro, is [to]
obedecer / las leyes de la razn (II, fol. 29v).100
Isidro continues to receive the support of Tirso, the gracioso, following his
wifes departure. Apart from providing comedy and voicing his obsession
with food like his father in La niez, Tirso is also concerned with winning the
love of a woman (Bartola) and defending the reputation of a friend (Isidro).
The light-hearted episode of San Isidro, labrador, in which Constanza throws
flour over her zealous lover, Bartolo, is reconstructed for the purposes of the
development of the main plot in La juventud.101 Essentially, this playful scene
is presented in Act II of the play, but is preceded by a new, serious scene in
which love is scorned.

98 In San Isidro, labrador, Demonio informs Envidia of the separation of Isidro and
Mara (III, 379). We learn only that Isidro and Mara have missed one another when they
reunite following Maras miraculous crossing of the Jarama (III, 38384). The tone of the
discussion, however, is very lighthearted and is in complete contrast to the conversation
between Isidro and Mara analysed here.
99 These include daily prayer, conservative dress, daily attendance at Mass and the
observation of silence and modesty. See II, fols 29r29v.
100 In the Middle Ages, churchmen associated human love with locura and claimed that
human love prevented the individual from focusing on divine love, or real love. In the
Corbacho, for example, the Arcipreste de Talavera makes the following comments: Amor
e luxuria traen muchas enfermedades e abrevian la vida a los onbres; fselos antes de tienpo
envejescer o encanescer, los mienbros tenblar, e, como ya de alto dixe, los cinco sentydos
alterar e algunos dellos en todo o en parte perder, e con muchos pensamientos a las veses
enloquecer; e a las veses priva de juyzio e razn natural al onbre e muger, en tanto que non
se conosce l mesmo a las oras quin es, dnde est, qu le contesci, nin cmo bive. [. . .]
Pues, por Dios nuestro seor, en tal guisa de amor usemos verdadero que para syenpre
bivamos, solo Dios amando. See Alfonso Martnez de Toledo, Arcipreste de Talavera o
Corbacho, ed. J. Gonzlez Muela, 4th edn (Madrid: Castalia, 1985), p. 76.
101 See San Isidro, labrador, II, 370.

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In their first encounter, Bartola rejects Tirso outright, categorising him as a


traidor and grosero and classifying his love as fingido (I, fol. 24v). Unlike
Constanza, who grants Bartolo permission to speak to her father in La niez,
Bartola does not give Tirso permission to ask their master for her hand in marriage. Instead, she threatens to tell their master about the inappropriateness of
the relationship. The references made by both characters to the influence of
el dimuo on their respective attitudes reminds the audience of the presence
of Envidia on stage. Bartola tells Tirso el dimuo / te hace andar tan altanero,
while Tirso subsequently makes almost the same accusation by informing
Bartola el dimuo / os hace andar altaneras (I, fol. 24v). Envidia exerts a critical influence on the relationship in his attempt to introduce celazos. Tirsos
proposal of marriage to Bartola is undermined by Bartolas declaration that
Gil, another villano, is in love with her. As Tirso is left feeling dejected and
desperate, Envidia approaches him and attempts to cast him in the role of the
jealous labrador whose mission will be to defame Isidro to Ivn.
The re-creation of the love scene of San Isidro, labrador is crucial to plot
development and the role of the gracioso in La juventud. In the belief that
Tirso may already be suffering from the affects of jealousy because of Gils
potential feelings for his beloved, Envidia is confident that the gracioso will
accept his allegation against Isidro. Indeed, Envidia describes his timing as
buena ocasin (I, fol. 25r).102 For Lopes audience, Tirso, a labrador, was
suitable for the role of the accusing co-worker of Juan Diconos text.
Consequently, the spectators may have deduced at this point in the drama that
the sub-plot was introduced in order to present Tirso as a vulnerable victim
of the influential Envidia and, therefore, less blameworthy. However, as
has already been stated, it is Envidia who criticises Isidro in the presence
of his master because he cannot destroy Tirsos loyalty to the labrador. The
gracioso is portrayed as a resilient, faithful friend, steadfast in his beliefs even
during a crisis point in his personal life. When put to the test, he proves himself the servant of Isidro, a role which he promised to fulfil following the wedding celebrations (I, fol. 21v).
Clearly, then, one of Tirsos most important duties in the play is that of
defender of Isidros virtuous qualities against the slander of Envidia. In San
Isidro, labrador, the gracioso Bartolo does not have any contact with Envidia,
but does safeguard Isidros reputation when Ivn de Vargas complains about
Isidros laziness (II, 371). Here, Lope intensifies this specific function of the
gracioso by converting Bartolos seven lines of defence into various heated
discussions between Tirso and Envidia. In the first instance, Tirso responds
aggressively to Envidias initial accusations by threatening to stone him,
thereby proving, albeit in a violent manner, his determination to defend
102 There is no reaction on the part of Tirso to jealousy. By this I mean that Tirso does
not confront Gil, nor does he lose himself in lengthy monologues in which he complains
that he is the shunned lover.

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Isidros honour.103 Subsequently, when Ivn de Vargas arrives, Tirso takes on


the defence of the innocent against the prosecuting Envidia. In two lengthy
speeches, he remarks on the productivity of Isidros land and describes Isidro
as an exemplary worker:
a la fe, no tien, seor,
en todo Madrid, ni fuera,
tal labrador como Isidro.
(I, fol. 25r)

In addition, Tirso subtly transforms Envidias negative comparison of Isidro


and himself as bad workers into a positive one. To Envidias comment that
Ivns land is deteriorating at the hands of Isidro, who, he claims, Tirso must
be like, Tirso responds si yo fuera / como l, qu me faltara? (I, fol. 25r).
In spite of Tirsos efforts to save Isidros reputation, the prosecution wins,
a necessary outcome for the presentation of the miracle of the angels.
Nevertheless, Tirso is not discouraged and continues to defend Isidro
throughout the play, in spite of the fact that he is aware of who/what Envidia
really is. Envidia reveals his identity to Tirso following their conversation
with Ivn. After stating that he is quien dio la muerte primera / al primero
labrador (I, fol. 25v), he commands the inferno to open up and disappears
from the stage amid the beating of drums and smoke. The fearful Tirso, who
makes a general appeal to labradores to flee from the path of this evildoer,
demonstrates bravery and courage when he comes face to face with Envidia
throughout the play.
During the second encounter between Tirso and Envidia, Envidia catches
the gracioso dipping into food on the way to the mill and threatens to reveal
his greed to the other villanos (II, fols 31r31v). Tirso, resolute in his efforts
not to be overcome by the evildoer, shows no sign of worry or fear in the face
of Envidias threats. In fact, he is characterised by constancy and courage
when he acts as Isidros advocate and resolutely defines Envidia as seor
serpiente engaosa, the antithesis of Isidro who is characterised by santas
costumbres (II, fol. 31v). Tirso demonstrates selflessness by showing no concern for Envidias threats to tarnish his reputation.
Towards the end of Act II, Lope makes Tirso the privileged spectator who,
in the company of Isidro, watches Maras miraculous crossing of the Jarama.
His re-creation of the popular story and indeed the same scene in San Isidro,
labrador, where Isidro is the only witness, serves two purposes in the play.104
First of all, Lope makes Maras crossing more real to his audience by
103 There are resonances here of the conflict between Bato and the pobre in La niez,
where Bato insults the pobre who refuses to return the child Isidros coat (II, fol. 13v). In
this case, it is the pobre, not the gracioso, who threatens violence.
104 See San Isidro, labrador, III, 383.

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providing another witness. Secondly, by granting the exceptional and exemplary individual (Isidro) and the flawed yet loyal and honest character (Tirso)
a similar privilege, Lope suggests that it is not only saintly perfection which
is recognised and rewarded by the divine. He highlights to his audience the
importance of belief in orthodox, religious values, yet at the same time proposes that there is room for human shortcomings.
The play ends with a playful treatment of envidia. Tirso expresses that he
is jealous of the embrace of Isidro and Mara, the reunited couple.105 However,
he envies the embrace for positive reasons, admitting Pardiez, que por ser
tan castos, / tales envidio! (II, fol. 35r). In contrast to the malicious and potentially destructive envidia of the labradores in San Isidro, labrador and the
character of Envidia in both plays, Tirsos assertion of jealousy is a simple,
inoffensive comment. It reflects his desire to partake in the celebrations. At
the same time it injects humour into the scene by drawing attention to the
importance of physical bonding for Tirso. The play ends on a celebratory note
with the reunion of Isidro and Mara and the nymphs dance. Tirso is not
required to seek forgiveness for his innocent envidia, unlike Lorenzo and
Esteban who rightly express regret and desire for forgiveness by Isidro at the
end of San Isidro, labrador (III, 386). La juventud concludes with a celebration of Madrids patron saint together with the virtues of the common man as
presented by the character Tirso.
In La juventud, Lope is no longer dependent on the dramatisation of miracles in order to portray Isidros saintly nature, since the audience is already
aware of his holy status. As a result, the dramatist ironically enjoys more dramatic freedom in the composition of this play than in La niez. In La juventud,
well-known miracles are replaced with newly created scenes and devised so
that Isidro might transcend the status of saint and become essentially
Christlike. The direct relationship established between the saint and Christ
represents the ultimate acclamation of Isidro. By depicting the sacrifices made
by Isidro for the first time on stage, Lope paradoxically makes Isidro even
more Christlike, and therefore even more worthy of the title of saint.
In his Arte nuevo, Lope defines the comedia as a three-act play: El sujeto
elegido, escriua en prosa, / Y en tres actos de tiempo le reparta.106 In spite of
that, both La niez and La juventud are two-act plays.107 Morrison outlines
possible reasons for this: The comedias de santos remind us of the medieval
religious drama in that their authors paid little heed to the dramatic rules.

105 The reunion of the lovers is treated very briefly at the end of the play and, unlike
their separation, does not permit a detailed analysis of the conflicting imperatives of
human and divine love.
106 See El arte nuevo, 21112.
107 The only other two-act play found among Lopes corpus of comedias de tema
religioso is El robo de Dina. It could be argued that the sequel to this play, Los trabajos
de Jacob, constitutes the third act.

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Often unity is absent, plot is scanty, and character development is illogical.


[. . .] The absence of the unities was criticized only rarely.108 However, it
would seem that Lope disregards his own dramatic theory in the cases of
La niez and La juventud because of reasons relating to performance / staging
and the demands of the Consejo. Each of the Isidro plays was performed on
two medios carros, just like autos, and as indicated previously, the content
of these was more than likely prescribed by the Council of Castile. In addition, time restrictions may have prevented the presentation of two three-act
plays. Nevertheless, the interrelationship which exists between La niez and
La juventud and which has been exposed in the course of this chapter makes it
possible to consider these works as two acts of one play. Moreover, I would
argue that the canonisation of Isidro and the celebrations surrounding the event
in Madrid, of which Lopes audience was very much aware, constitute the perfect, triumphant resolution of both Isidro plays. This is, perhaps, Lopes most
elaborate working out of the interplay between illusion and reality.
The availability or absence of source material, coupled with the expectations
of his audience, shaped Lopes representation of saint and biblical heroine for
the stage. While his plays on Isidro were restrained by the necessity to comply
with a specified agenda, Lope was able to rewrite biblical scenes, introduce
new characters and subtly comment on contemporary issues in La hermosa
Ester. His successful and complex dramatisation of the biblical story is proof
of the dramatists ability to manipulate both the source material and the horizon of expectation of his audience when he alone is the sole creator of his work
and does not have to abide by the dictates of an external authority.

108 Lope de Vega and the Comedia, p. 25. The absence of unities in the comedias
hagiogrficas is understandable, given the breadth of material available on the lives of
saints which Golden Age dramatists may have wanted to incorporate into their works.
However, the analysis presented in this chapter alone on La niez and La juventud contests
Morrisons claims on plot development and characterisation. His reference to scanty plots
may in fact be an easy solution to the two-act play problem.

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PART II
DRAMATISING THE DRAMATIC: METATHEATRE AND
THE COMEDIA DE TEMA RELIGIOSO

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3
METATHEATRE AND THE SPANISH
COMEDIA RELIGIOSA: AN OVERVIEW1
With the publication of Lionel Abels seminal work on metatheatre,2 critics
were provided not only with a basic definition of the concept of metadrama,
but also with specific terminology with which to analyse self-referential
plays.3 According to Abel, metaplays are
Theatre pieces about life seen as already theatricalized. By this I mean that
the persons appearing on the stage in these plays are there not simply
because they were caught by the playwright in dramatic postures as a camera
might catch them, but because they themselves knew they were dramatic
before the playwright took note of them. What dramatized them originally?
Myth, legend, past literature, they themselves. They represent to the playwright the effect of dramatic imagination before he has begun to exercise
his own; [. . .]. (Metatheatre: A New View, p. 60)

Abel was intent on giving metatheatre a working definition, treating it as a


genre in itself as opposed to tragedy. He polarises tragedy and metatheatre by
providing a summary of what he describes as the values and disvalues of
tragedy and metatheatre.4 Catherine Larson regards Abels concern with the
generic purity of the metaplay as an unnecessary complication of the issue
and suggests that we move away from Abels attempts to pin down what
metatheatre is and focus instead on what metatheatre does.5

1 The title of this chapter is adapted from and is my response to Thomas Austin
OConnors article Is the Spanish Comedia a Metatheater?, HR, 43 (1975), 27589. See
p. 88 for details on the significance of this article in the mid-1970s debate concerning the
appropriateness of a definition of the comedia in terms of its metatheatrical qualities.
2 See his Metatheatre: A New View of Dramatic Form (New York: Hill and Wang, 1963).
3 This does not mean, of course, that some critics were not already studying to some
extent the incorporation of metatheatrical devices into plays, but they were doing so
without the explicit label. See, for example, Robert J. Nelson, Play Within a Play. The
Dramatists Conception of His Art: Shakespeare to Anouilh (New Haven: Yale UP, 1958).
4 See p. 113 of his work for further details.
5 See Metatheater: Past, Present, p. 206. Larsons essay addresses the difficulty in
defining what metatheatre actually is and examines how critics have reacted to the notion
of the comedia as metatheatre. Larson also presents a variety of possibilities that are open

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However, before the publication of Larsons article, Abels ideas on


metatheatre were already having an impact on comedia scholarship. The mid1970s witnessed a major debate between those critics who believed that
Abels theories could be usefully and significantly applied to the comedia, and
those who regarded them as invalid. Thomas Austin OConnors article which
posed the vital question, Is the Spanish Comedia a Metatheater?, was specifically responsible for initiating this debate.6 OConnor believed that the concept of metatheatre was at odds with seventeenth-century Spains theocentric
and moral view of the world in which role-playing was viewed negatively.
OConnor states: To be an actor is to be false, a mime or mimic of what really
is. The Christian cannot be thus and be sure of salvation (p. 287). OConnor
recognises that metatheatre gives many insights into the structure and form of
the serious Spanish comedia, but claims that it fails to explain the Christian
response to pretence and theatricality (p. 287). He defines role-playing as
The road to sure deceit and possible damnation (p. 288). However, as will
be highlighted in the following chapters, it is in fact because of the contemporary theocentric world view that the comedia can be deemed a metaplay.
OConnor is supported by Arnold G. Reichenberger who insists on the
uniqueness of the comedia and who also stresses the theocentric concept of
life which was commonplace in the seventeenth century.7 Nevertheless, there
are various scholars such as Frank P. Casa and Stephen Lipmann who oppose
the theories of OConnor and Reichenberger.8 Casa dispels some of the
negativity attributed to role-playing by OConnor and insists that OConnors
thesis regarding the disharmony between Abels theory on metatheatre and
seventeenth-century Spains Catholic drama is inconclusive, since other
social factors had an impact on the make-up of the comedia. Stephen Lipmann
states from the outset that he finds Abels definition of metatheatre entirely
to comedia scholarship in this field (e.g. an analysis of the relationship between comedy
and metatheatre, as well as the exploitation of self-conscious language, the staging of selfconscious comedias and the inclusion of literary references within Golden Age plays). An
extensive bibliography on the subject is also provided.
6 Prior to the debate of the mid-1970s, several studies focused on the concept of roleplaying in the comedia. These included Alan S. Trueblood, Role-Playing and the Sense of
Illusion in Lope de Vega, HR, 32 (1964), 30518; Robert Sloane, Action and Role in
El prncipe constante, MLN, 85 (1970), 16783; Peter N. Dunn, El prncipe constante:
A Theatre of the World and Bruce W. Wardropper, The Implicit Craft of the Spanish
Comedia, in Studies in Spanish Literature of the Golden Age Presented to Edward M.
Wilson, ed. R. O. Jones (London: Tamesis, 1973), pp. 83101; pp. 33956. For details of
other related works which predated the debate, see Catherine Larson, Metatheater: Past,
Present, p. 209.
7 See his A Postscript to Professor Thomas Austin OConnors Article on the Comedia,
HR, 43 (1975), 28991.
8 See Casas Some Remarks on Professor OConnors Article Is the Spanish Comedia
a Metatheater? , BCom, 28 (1976), 2731 and Lipmann, Metatheater and the Criticism
of the Comedia, MLN, 91 (1976), 23146.

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applicable to the comedia, despite the fact that he is somewhat less than thorough in developing the implications of his generic formulation (p. 231).
In the wake of this controversy, several critics began to examine Golden
Age drama using metatheatre as a valid analytical tool. For some of them, an
analysis of metatheatre or metatheatrical devices in a particular play was the
main focal point of their essays or articles, while for others it featured only as
a secondary concern. In the 1970s, Fischer and Madrigal were among those
who began to study the comedia in this new theoretical light.9 They were
followed by scholars such as Kirby and Moore in the 1980s10 and Case, Larson,
Stoll and Dixon in the 1990s.11 Most recently, works by Thacker have served
to reinforce the metatheatrical qualities of the comedia.12

9 Susan L. Fischer, The Art of Role-Change in Calderonian Drama, BCom, 27 (1975),


7379 and Jos A. Madrigal, Fuenteovejuna y los conceptos de metateatro y psicodrama:
Un ensayo sobre la formacin de la conciencia en el protagonista, BCom, 31 (1979),
1523. See also Fischer, Calderns Los cabellos de Absaln: A Metatheater of Unbridled
Passion, BCom, 28 (1976), 10313; William McCrary, The Duke and the Comedia:
Drama and Imitation in Lope de Vegas El castigo sin venganza, JHPh, 2 (1978), 20322
and Theater and History: El rey don Pedro en Madrid, CH, 1 (1979), 14567.
10 Carol Bingham Kirby, Theatre and the Quest for Anointment in El rey don Pedro en
Madrid, BCom, 33 (1981), 14959 and Roger Moore, Metatheater and Magic in El
mgico prodigioso, BCom, 33 (1981), 12937. See also Fischer, Lopes El castigo sin
venganza and the Imagination, KRQ, 28 (1981), 2336 and Alejandro Paredes L.,
Nuevamente la cuestin del metateatro: La cisma de Inglaterra, in Caldern: Actas del
congreso internacional sobre Caldern y el teatro espaol del Siglo de Oro, ed. Luciano
Garca Lorenzo, 3 vols (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas, 1983),
I, 54148. For further details on major studies of the 1970s and 1980s, see Catherine
Larson, Metatheater: Past, Present, pp. 20911. I will also engage with more recent
contributions to the debate not considered in Larsons article.
11 See Case, Metatheater; Catherine Larson, Lope de Vega and Elena Garro: The
Doubling of La dama boba, Hisp, 74 (1991), 1525; Anita K. Stoll, Staging, Metadrama,
and Religion in Lopes Los locos por el cielo, Neophil, 78 (1994), 23341 and Victor
Dixon, El post-Lope: La noche de San Juan, meta-comedia urbana para palacio, in Lope
de Vega: comedia urbana y comedia palatina. Actas de las XVII Jornadas de teatro clsico,
eds. F. B. Pedraza and R. Gonzlez Caal (Almagro: Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha,
1996), pp. 6182. Dixons most recent articles on Lopes Lo fingido verdadero concentrate
on an examination of a range of metatheatrical devices which present themselves in the
play. See introduction, p. 3, n. 10 for complete bibliographical references. The 1990s have
witnessed the publication of a significant number of critical analyses which concentrate on
the relationship between metatheatre and the comedia. Other works include: Michael Kidd,
The Performance of Desire: Acting and Being in Lope de Vegas El laberinto de Creta,
BCom, 47 (1995), 2136; Jonathan Thacker, Comedys Social Compromise: Tirsos Marta
la piadosa and the Refashioning of Role, BCom, 47 (1995), 26789 and Harry Vlez
Quiones, Entre verdad y mentira: Woman and Metatheater in Lope de Vegas Los
amantes sin amor, BCom, 47 (1995), 4353.
12 See Jonathan Thacker, Que yo le har de suerte que os espante, / Si el fingimiento
a la verdad excede: Creative Use of Art in Lope de Vegas Los locos de Valencia (and
Velzquezs Fbula de Aracne), MLR, 95 (2000), 100718 and Role-play and the World
as Stage in the Comedia (Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2002).

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For the purposes of this analysis, a review of the studies by several of these
critics is important for a number of reasons. In the first instance, such analyses serve to highlight the variations in approaches which can be adopted in
an exploration of the comedia as self-referential drama. Additionally, and
most significantly, they stress the fact that metatheatrical devices abound in
both secular and religious Golden Age plays, in spite of Abels claim that
There is no such thing as religious metatheatre.13 Before engaging with studies of the 1980s and 1990s, I will focus on several studies of the 1970s, and
we will see that the analytical approaches are similar.
In The Art of Role-Change, Fischer examines the relationship between the
social convention of honor and complex forms of role-change. In a study of
what she terms socially conditioned role-change (p. 74), Fischer concentrates
on the character of Roca of El pintor de su deshonra, a type of dramatist who
confers on Serafina the role of faithless wife and who himself becomes the
determined avenger. Fischer concludes that the fact that certain aspects of
twentieth-century psychological theory can be applied to Calderns depiction
of the individual means that Calderns comedia is probably more universal
than unique (p. 78).14
Madrigals Fuenteovejuna y los conceptos centres on two main issues.
First of all, it aims to evaluate Abels theories on metatheatre and their appropriateness to a study of the comedia. Secondly, by applying Morenos theories
on psychodrama, Madrigal examines how the individual or collective protagonist acquires full consciousness of the part which has been assigned by the
playwright through the performance of roles.15 Madrigal concludes that Abels
theories on metatheatre constitute useful critical apparatus for analysing the
comedia. He states: A mi entender, su aporte al enfoque crtico reside en
llamar la atencin no slo a la importancia que posee la ontogenia psquica de
los personajes, sino tambin a la tcnica de role playing. [. . .] El personaje dramtico no se ha estudiado tan meticulosamente como merece (p. 16).16
However, he warns that his theories should not be considered definitive or
absolute (p. 17). This is what he regards as Sloanes fundamental error in
Action and Role, in which Sloane claims that this play, although a sizable step
in Abels direction, is some distance from true metatheatre because God plays
the role of a dramatist (p. 183). In response to Sloanes assertions, Madrigal
claims that decir que la comedia no es metateatro, a causa de que hay un
dramaturgo final (Dios), equivaldra a decir que Lionel Abel est negando, lo cual

13 Metatheatre: A New View, p. 113. As will be seen in chapter 4, an analysis of Lo


fingido verdadero alone challenges this claim.
14 For the debate concerning the uniqueness or universality of the comedia, see Eric
Bentley, The Universality of the Comedia HR, 38 (1970), 14762 and Arnold G.
Reichenberger, The Uniqueness of the Comedia, HR, 38 (1970), 16373.
15 See Joseph Moreno, Psychodrama (New York: Beacon House, 1972).
16 The italics are mine.

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no creo sea su propsito, el fondo o mentalidad religiosa que era parte integral
de la idiosincrasia de aquella poca (p. 17). Madrigal devotes the second part
of his article to a study of the involvement of Laurencia and the villanos in roleplaying within the role in Lopes Fuenteovejuna. He identifies Laurencia as the
best illustration of the actor/author dichotomy within the play.
The studies of the 1980s and 1990s on the comedia and metatheatre which
are considered illustrate that metadramatic properties are characteristic of both
secular and religious plays of the Golden Age. In Theater and the Quest,
Kirby examines the function of metatheatrical devices in Calderns El rey
don Pedro en Madrid. She considers the implications of role-playing and its
impact on the audience by focusing on the kings appearance at the beginning
of the drama as an unidentifiable, sweaty, untidy rider with a bloodied sword
in hand, and his subsequent public performance as king in Act II. Kirby
proposes that Pedro is both consciously and unconsciously a playwright who
manipulates his subjects to perform particular roles. Moreover, she underlines
the fact that the other characters in the play are not always aware that the king
is influencing their course of action. She refers to Pedro as autor of the
comedia palaciega (p. 153). Kirby traces the roles that Pedro adopts and
demonstrates how they are at odds with the spiritual nature which he is
supposed to boast, in accordance with the politicaltheological doctrine of the
kings two bodies. She stresses that the kings spiritual completion depends
on the election and performance of new roles.
Moore examines the metatheatrical nature of El mgico prodigioso in
Metatheater and Magic and presents five reasons why he considers this particular drama to be a metaplay. Firstly, he identifies Cipriano, the devil and
God as three competing dramatists in the play. He acknowledges that the
devils main role is that of magician, while Cipriano plays various roles before
finally assuming his definitive role as martyr in Gods play.17 Moreover,
Moore claims that Cipriano can also be viewed as an apprentice dramatist.
Finally, Moore divides the characters of the play into two groups. The first
comprises those who are deceived by the devil and whose performances are
thus directed by him, while the second contains those who focus upon a higher
order of reality and truth.18
The analyses conducted by Larson, Case and Stoll in the 1990s, which focus
specifically on Lopes plays, demonstrate that both his religious and secular
works can be viewed in a metatheatrical light. Larsons study is based on two
examples of metaplays. Specifically, Larsons primary concern in Lope and
Elena Garro is a comparative study of the self-referential devices in Lopes
La dama boba and Elena Garros adaptation of the play. Her analysis includes
an examination of Fineas self-referential language (p. 18) and the confusion
17 In Lo fingido verdadero, Gins engages in the art of role-playing before finally
becoming a martyr.
18 See p. 135 of his article.

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of the audience within Elena Garros version who watch a performance of


Lopes La dama boba (p. 22). Larson concludes that through her imitation of
Lopes self-conscious strategies, Elena Garros reading actualizes Lopes text
by incorporating it within a new horizon of expectations (p. 24).
In his investigation of the metatheatrical features of El divino africano in
Metatheater, Case maintains that metadramatic techniques are an essential
part of the comedias de santos (p. 140). He also highlights the significance of
faith in this particular drama, which alerts Agustino to his true role in life.
Case identifies two levels of reality in the play the reality of Agustinos
historical life and the reality of the mystical world of salvation and Gods
grace. He qualifies God as a dramatist in the voz and emphasises how Mnica
and Alipio are responsible for the creation of plays within the play through
the dramatisation of their dreams. Case also draws attention to an interesting
metadramatic ingredient in his reference to Agustinos writing of his Confessions
in Act III. In point of fact, these Confessions constitute the script of Acts I and
II of El divino africano (p. 134).
Finally, in Staging, Metadrama, Stoll begins by asserting that the view of
life in the Golden Age as having various levels of reality easily relates to the
concept of metatheatre in drama. She analyses the function of various metatheatrical devices and pinpoints the play within the play as the most significant
in Los locos por el cielo (p. 233). Stoll also investigates the use of the vestuario
or discovery space, which she describes as an excellent vehicle for metatheater (p. 233). Additionally, she draws attention to the dramatic impact of the
integration of the stage audience with the real audience as they watch the play
within the play (pp. 23637). Ultimately, Stoll convincingly proposes that Lope
combines metatheatrical devices, staging techniques and his Christian faith in
an attempt to reconstruct his personal, profound beliefs for the audience (p. 239).
Indeed, I would suggest that the self-conscious comedia is inextricably linked to
the seventeenth-century concept of theatrum mundi which Weisinger describes
in the following manner:
Theatrum mundi is [. . .] an extended metaphor; the world is symbolized as
a theatre, and all its events, or plot, and all its inhabitants, or dramatis personae, are depicted as taking place and acting within its confines and within
its particular terms as a medium of representation.19
19 See Herbert Weisinger, Theatrum Mundi: Illusion as Reality, in The Agony and the
Triumph: Papers on the Use and Abuse of Myth (East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1964),
pp. 5870 (p. 59). On the same theme, see also Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand, Overt
Theatricality and the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor in Spanish and English Drama, 15701640,
Kwartalnik Neofilologiczny, 26 (1979), 20114. As this critic points out, The comparison of
the world to a stage and of men to actors was certainly not a new one in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. [. . .] We find more or less ample fragments on the Theatrum Mundi
metaphor in the works of Plato, Plotinus, Democritus, Epictetus, Seneca, Petronius, and
Terence among the more notable ancients (p. 206).

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The world is a stage and life is a dream topoi stressed the illusory nature
of life in which the individual was an actor or role-player.20 Consequently, it
would appear that the use of self-referential techniques in the comedia not
only enabled the Golden Age playwright to manipulate the horizon of expectation of his audience, but also to reinforce the principal themes of the age.
It is evident, then, that most studies to date have been concerned with identifying the metatheatrical qualities of the comedia, but have not engaged with
the effects of metatheatre on the audience.21 In the following chapters, I will
examine several metatheatrical devices which present themselves in Lopes
Lo fingido verdadero (approx. 1608) and La buena guarda (1610). My analysis will be based on an application of Richard Hornbys categories of
metadrama presented in Drama, Metadrama, which, according to Larson,
gives what is arguably the most comprehensive approach to the concept of
self-conscious theater.22 Hornby defines metadrama as drama about drama
and stresses that the seeing double of the audience constitutes the essence of
metatheatre.23 Of the five overt forms of metadrama catalogued by him, two
in particular will be considered in my analysis of Lo fingido verdadero and
one in my examination of La buena guarda. While I will concentrate on
Lopes manipulation of role-playing within the role in both plays, I will analyse
in detail the function of the play within the play in Lo fingido verdadero. I will
20 The topoi of course provided Caldern with the titles of two of his most famous
works La vida es sueo and El gran teatro del mundo. For a discussion of these in
relation to metatheatre, see, for example, Thomas Austin OConnor, La vida es sueo:
A View From Metatheater, KRQ, 25 (1978), 1326 and Manuel Sito Alba, Metateatro en
Caldern: El gran teatro del mundo, in Caldern: Actas del congreso, II, 789802. For
further references, see Catherine Larson, Metatheater: Past, Present, p. 216, n. 6.
21 There are of course exceptions. These include Stolls Staging, Metadrama which
has already been discussed briefly in this chapter, and Thackers Comedys Social
Compromise. In his article which focuses on Tirsos Marta la piadosa, Thacker examines
Martas role-playing within the role and considers the onstage and offstage audiences
reactions to incidents in the play. Furthermore, audience reception is taken into account by
Mara del Pilar Palomo and Victor Dixon in their analyses of Lopes metadrama, Lo
fingido verdadero. See Proceso de comunicacin en Lo fingido verdadero, in El castigo
de venganza y el teatro de Lope de Vega, ed. Ricardo Domnech (Madrid: Ctedra/Teatro
espaol, 1987), pp. 7998 and Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores respectively. Both
works are discussed further in chapter 4.
22 Lope and Elena Garro, p. 16. See introduction, p. 4, n. 14 for full bibliographical
details of Hornbys work on metatheatre. Hornby identifies five categories of overt
metadrama. They are as follows: 1) The Play within the Play; 2) The Ceremony within the
Play; 3) Role-Playing within the Role; 4) Literary and Real-Life Reference; 5) Self
Reference (p. 32). For a definition of role-playing within the role and the play within the
play, see chapter 4, p. 98 and p. 110 respectively. The second part of Hornbys work is
dedicated to an examination of drama and perception, which he describes as a broader and
more subtle type of metadrama (p. 32). As will be seen subsequently, the theme of
perception is a fundamental component of audience reception.
23 Drama, Metadrama, p. 31; p. 32. Hornby also highlights that The metadramatic
experience for the audience is one of unease, a dislocation of perception (p. 32).

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aim to determine the factors which stimulate role-change within the role, to
differentiate between positive and negative forms of role-playing and to assess
the connection between role-playing and destino. The relationship between
language, role, costume/disguise and identity will also be considered. In the
case of Lo fingido verdadero, I propose to compare the impact of the two plays
within the play on both the corral audience (which I will define as the outer
audience) and the audience within the main play (which will be described as
the inner audience), with specific focus on the complex fusion of both the
main play and inset play.24 Ultimately, I hope to uncover the varying degrees
of audience estrangement provoked by the exploitation of particular forms of
metadrama and to demonstrate how such self-referential devices serve to illuminate the thematic tension of the plays the conflict between human and
divine love.25

24 Hornby categorises the play within the play as being of either the inset type or
framed type. In the inset type, Hornby states that the inner play is secondary, a
performance set apart from the main action [. . .]. In contrast, in the framed type, [. . .]
the inner play is primary, with the outer play a framing device (Drama, Metadrama, p. 33).
Both plays created by the character Gins in Lo fingido verdadero are of the inset type and
will be classified as such in chapter 4.
25 Larson indicates that a variety of audience reponses to a metaplay is possible: It is
obvious that reader or audience reactions to a metaplay will vary at least to a certain
extent due to the same kinds of readerresponse factors that govern any type of reaction
to literature: [. . .] Readers respond to a given text based on their own horizons of
experience and expectations (Metatheater: Past, Present, p. 207).

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LO FINGIDO VERDADERO AS METAPLAY
Lo fingido verdadero, described by Menndez y Pelayo as de las ms notables
del repertorio religioso de Lope, was probably written about 1608, but first
appeared in print in Decimasexta parte de las comedias in 1621.1 Traditionally
categorised as a comedia de santos, it is essentially a dramatisation of the
conversion and martyrdom of St Genesius, patron saint of actors, as well as the
representation of the rise to power of the Roman emperor Diocletian.2 Act I of
the play presents Dioclecianos transition from soldier to emperor following the
deaths of the emperor Aurelio and his sons Carino and Numeriano. It opens with
the complaints of the soldiers Maximiano, Marcio, Diocleciano and Curio
concerning their campaign against the Persians and lack of food, together
with their condemnation of Aurelio and Carino and an appraisal of the qualities
of Numeriano, soldier and second son of the emperor. This is followed by
Dioclecianos criticism of Aurelio, though later he repents and urges respect for
his role as emperor. With the appearance of Camila, the labradora and breadseller, Diocleciano requests some bread and lightheartedly promises to repay

1 Estudios, I, 251. For Menndez y Pelayos complete study of this play, see pp.
24968. All references to the play will be taken from this early edition (Madrid: Viuda de
Alonso Martn,), fols 261r84v. Spelling and punctuation will be modernised where
appropriate.
2 Lo fingido verdadero has been included in all of the main studies of Lopes
hagiographical works to date. See for example Garasa, Santos; Aragone Terni, Studio sulle;
Dassbach, La comedia hagiogrfica and Morrison, Lope de Vega and the Comedia.
Menndez y Pelayo identifies Pedro de Rivadeneiras Flos Sanctorum (15991601) and
Pero Mexas Historia imperial y cesrea as the probable sources of this play (II, 251; 258).
The relevant passage from the Flos Sanctorum relating to the conversion and martyrdom of
Gins, entitled Vida de San Gins representante, mrtir, is presented in Estudios, I, 25154.
The emperor Diocletian was ruler of Rome from 284305 AD. Born of humble parents in
Dalmatia, he became an officer in the Roman army and was proclaimed Emperor by his
troops when emperor Numerianus died in 284 AD. Carinus, Numerianus brother, contested
Diocletians right to control the empire, but Diocletians rule was assured when Carinus
was killed by one of his own officers. Diocletian selected Maximianus, a Dalmatian, to be
co-ruler of the Roman Empire, and believed that a successful reign depended on the
veneration of pagan gods and the imposition of traditional laws and customs. Diocletian is
particularly remembered for his persecution of Christians. On this topic, see for example
Karl Christ, The Romans (London: Chatto and Windus, 1984) and Antony Kamm, The
Romans. An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1995).

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her when he becomes emperor of Rome. Camila teasingly predicts that he will
become emperor when he kills a jabal, or wild boar.
Following Camilas prophecy, the emperors Aurelio and Carino are introduced into the dramatic action. Firstly, the arrogant Aurelio utters a lengthy
monologue in which he asserts his authority and challenges the Roman god
Jupiter, only to be struck down and killed by lightning. Subsequently, Carino
is presented on his nightly mission in Rome in search of adventure accompanied by his criado, amante and msicos. After a discussion with Gins
regarding theatre in general and a play about himself which he would like
Gins to present, Carino is killed by Lelio, a consul whose wife has been
seduced by the libertine ruler.
At this point, the Roman soldiers are presented for a second time, now in the
company of Apro, father-in-law of Numeriano. The discovery by the soldiers
that Apro has killed his son-in-law in order to gain personal control of the
empire results in the murder of Apro, the metaphorical jabal, by Diocleciano.
With the fulfilment of Camilas prediction, Act I ends with Dioclecianos
instructions to the army to return to Rome.
In Acts II and III of Lo fingido verdadero, plays created by Gins for the
entertainment of Diocleciano and his favourites complicate the dramatic
action of the main play. Act II opens with the celebration of Dioclecianos
election as emperor and the presentation of the emperors generosity towards
the soldiers who supported him. Diocleciano makes Maximiano his co-ruler
and repays Camila by granting her wish to have unlimited access to the royal
chambers and his personal company. Following Gins appearance to pay his
respects to the newly-crowned emperor, Diocleciano entrusts him with the
responsibility of preparing a comedia for performance in the palace. The discussion between emperor and autor/actor concerning various types of plays ends
with Gins decision to present one of his own dramas. The dramatisation of
Gins play, which he bases on his personal experience as the jealous lover,
and through which the inset play and main play become inextricably linked,
constitutes the remainder of Act II.
In Act III, Camilas and Dioclecianos declaration of love is followed by
Rutilios detailed description of the mythical fieras which have been gathered
together for the fiestas. A second play within the play is presented as a result
of Dioclecianos request for a representation of the baptised Christian. Gins
ultimately assumes the role of Christian within the framework of the main
drama which he only set out to adopt for the purposes of the inset play. Act III
ends with Gins conversion, martyrdom and declaration concerning his
participation in the comedia divina.
While Lopes comedias de santos have been largely disregarded by comedia
scholars, Lo fingido verdadero has attracted some critical attention.3 The
3 See especially Susan L. Fischers Lopes Lo fingido verdadero and the Dramatization
of the Theatrical Experience, RHM, 39 (197677), 15666; J. V. Bryans, Fortune, Love

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plays complex interplay between lo fingido and lo verdadero, explicit in


its title, together with its engagement with the theatrum mundi topos and
exploitation of metatheatrical devices such as role-playing within the role
and the play within the play, have been principally highlighted.4 In fact, several
critics who have acknowledged Lo fingido verdadero as a metaplay have
questioned its classification as a comedia de santos. McGaha, for example,
claims: Ostensibly a religious drama based on the life and martyrdom of
St Genesius, patron saint of actors, the play is in fact a sustained meditation
on the phenomenon of role-playing and its consequences in human life. He
adds that the religious overtones of the play seem to have been introduced
almost as a casual afterthought.5 Dixon explicitly criticises scholars for
categorising the play as a hagiographical drama: De hecho no es ms que
parcialmente otra comedia de santos; ha sido un error de la crtica encasillarla como tal, y condenarla luego por no haberlo sido centralmente y en su
totalidad.6 The critics to whom Dixon alludes include Menndez y Pelayo,
who describes the first play within the play in terms of its gravsimo defecto
de pertenecer enteramente a la comedia profana, y de no preparar de ningn
modo el nimo a las impresiones solemnes y trgicas de la conversin y
martirio de Gins.7 Garasa, on the other hand, defines the play as a comedia
hagiogrfica in which the vidateatro metaphor is developed throughout.
However, by proposing that Lope was forced to add episodes to his play
because the life of Gins, por conmovedor y fascinante que sea, no alcanza
a colmar tres jornadas, he underlines his classification of the play primarily
as a comedia hagiogrfica.8
and Power in Lope de Vegas Lo fingido verdadero, RCan, 9 (1985), 13348; Mara del
Pilar Palomo, Proceso; Victor Dixon, Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores and Ya
tienes. In Dramatization of the Theatrical, Fischer divides the play into three inner
dramas and discusses the relationship between fiction and reality within the play. Bryans,
on the other hand, examines the themes of fortune, love and power through an analysis of
the subgenres of the tyrant play and the martyr play. In Proceso, Palomo defines the
theatrum mundi metaphor as the central idea of the play (p. 87) and looks briefly at the
Baroque fondness for art within art. She also examines Lopes captivation of his audience
through what she describes as la complicidad entre emisor y receptor (p. 92). Dixons
articles in particular provide an invaluable insight into the use of metatheatrical techniques
within the play. In Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, Dixon demonstrates that all
six of Hornbys varieties of metadrama are present in Lo fingido verdadero. In Ya tienes,
he discusses the adaptation and staging of Lo fingido verdadero for a modern audience,
examines the play within the play and explores audience reception.
4 Dixon points out that this play constitutes the first Spanish dramatisation of the
theatrum mundi concept. See Ya tienes, p. 59.
5 See Lope de Vega, Lo fingido verdadero/Acting is Believing: A Tragicomedy in Three
Acts, trans. Michael McGaha (San Antonio: Trinity UP, 1986), p. 21; p. 25.
6 Ya tienes, p. 54.
7 Estudios, I, 26364.
8 See Santos, p. 19. Garasa provides a brief summary and commentary on this play on
pp. 1823.

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Clearly, the dramatisation of the conversion and martyrdom of Genesius in


Act III of Lo fingido verdadero renders the play a type of comedia de santos,
if not a fully developed one, and therefore merits its inclusion in this study.9
However, it is also true that the plays appeal rests with Lopes fascination
with the association between illusion and reality and the incorporation of a
variety of metatheatrical devices into the fabric of the drama.10 In fact, Lo
fingido verdadero is the most patent example of the metaplay among Lopes
corpus of plays, both religious and secular. I would suggest that the two
concepts, religious drama and a metatheatrical approach, are not mutually
exclusive but are interdependent. Through an analysis of role-playing within
the role and the play within the play in Lo fingido verdadero, with particular
focus on the difficulties of perception encountered by both the characters and
the corral audience, I will demonstrate how a metadramatic methodology
serves to uncover the essential themes of Lopes play.

Role-Playing within the role


According to Hornby, Role playing within the role is an excellent means
for delineating character, by showing not only who the character is, but what
he wants to be.11 In Act I of Lo fingido verdadero, Carino, Apro (the fatherin-law of Numeriano) and Diocleciano engage consciously in the art of roleplaying.12 Motivated by a range of factors, the characters are responsible for
9 Dassbach stresses that Gins even experiences quite an atypical martyrs death:
Gins no sobrevive milagrosamente torturas y no se da evidencia de hechos
sobrenaturales en torno a su muerte. [. . .] Su martirio no atrae seguidores ni genera
elogios, [. . .]. Por el contrario, los actores de la compaa de Gins, como sucede a los
torturadores, no entienden su obstinacin en querer morir por la fe cristiana y, por tanto,
culpan a Gins de su propia muerte (La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 58). Dassbach states that
the reason for this might be the lack of historical detail relating to Genesius and Lopes
consequent greater freedom of expression in dramatising this saint (p. 66, n. 24).
10 Dixon describes the plays metateatralidad as el atractivo primordial de la obra de
Lope (Ya tienes, p. 55).
11 Drama, Metadrama, p. 67.
12 Role-playing within the role is extremely important in Acts II and III, where Gins
and several other characters, including Fabio and Marcela, adopt roles within the inset
plays. As Hornby points out regarding the various types of metadrama, They are rarely
found in pure form, but often occur together or blend into one another (Drama,
Metadrama, p. 32). This type of role-playing will be analysed in conjunction with the play
within the play in the course of this chapter. It is important to note that the degree of
dislocation of perception produced by a particular metatheatrical device varies. Voluntary
role-playing within the role, for example, is the most metadramatic type of role-playing.
Involuntary role-playing, on the other hand, causes less estrangement, as Hornby indicates:
we feel less estranged than when the role playing is voluntary, because we are more
secure as to who the character really is (Drama, Metadrama, p. 74). As will be seen in the
course of this study, even voluntary forms of role-playing produce different degrees of
audience dissociation.

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the manifestation of both positive and negative forms of role-playing. The


various roles which they play, however, are not affected by the tension
between human and divine love which characterises the performance of Gins
in Acts II and III. Prior to the appearance of Carino who is acting as deputy
in Rome and who sees and refers to himself as an emperador, the audience is
introduced to him principally through Maximianos comments. Maximiano
tells the other soldiers:
Dicen que vive en Roma deshonesto,
forzando las mujeres ms honradas,
sin que se escapen Senadores desto,
ni las monjas a Vesta reservadas:
que a mil nobles ha muerto y descompuesto,
sin respetar las canas veneradas
de hombres que han sido cnsules, jueces,
Pretores, y triunfando muchas veces.
(I, fol. 262r)

The spectators therefore expect an indecent, dishonourable character dressed


in the attire of an emperor.13 What they witness, however, is the presentation
of Carino disguised en hbito de noche (I, 264v) with those same negative
traits.14 Despite the fact that Carino explains to Gins that he has adopted the
part of un noble un noble no ms, un hombre / pretendo representar, (I, fol.
265v), his discussion with Celio, his criado, and Rosarda, his amante
concerning the pleasure he derives from dishonouring women emphasises the
artificiality of this assumed title. Carino boasts:
Mucho me deleito y gusto
de quitar, Celio, el honor
a una mujer casta y noble,
y virtuosa, y al doble
si es mujer de Senador.
(I, 266r)

It is ironic that Carino dresses as a lesser-ranking citizen in order to enjoy the


world of prostitution and corruption since his actions as seducer are identified

13 McGaha defines Carino and Diocleciano as the tyrant and good king respectively. He
also compares Carino to Philip III. See Lo fingido verdadero / Acting is Believing, pp. 3134.
14 At the beginning of El castigo sin venganza, an acting scene is overheard by the Duke
of Ferrara, who, like Carino, is de noche. See El perro del hortelano, El castigo, ed. A. David
Kossoff, p. 231. On the use of disguise in Spanish drama, Richard F. Glenn states: Of the
many commonplaces in the Spanish theatre, one that had extensive success during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is the use of disguise and masquerade. See Disguises
and Masquerades in Tirsos El vergonzoso en palacio, BCom, 17 (1965), 1622 (p. 16).

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by several characters as evidence of his defective role as emperors son and


deputy.15 Characterised by soberbia like his father, Aurelio, who threatened to
raise an army against Jupiter (I, fol. 263v), Carino not only plays the role of
emperor badly, but also the secondary role which he imposes on himself.16 In
the belief that all emperors are casi iguales / a los Dioses celestiales, and
untouchable by human law (I, fol. 265r), he exploits his privileged position in
order to create his own perverted version of the noble.17 Not only is he a seducer
but an indiscreto who discusses his deeds in public. Lelio, whose wife has been
dishonoured by Carino, makes this point explicit by identifying himself as
Un Cnsul de tu Senado,
cuya mujer has forzado
ms en decirlo despus
que en hacer tan gran maldad.
(I, fol. 266r)

Consequently, Carino not only negates the image of the ruler as an espejo del
bien, but also presents a distorted image of the nobleman.18 Although Carino
voluntarily engages in a form of role-playing within the role, the self-proclaimed
noble is in fact analogous to the unruly son of Aurelio described by Maximiano
at the beginning of the act. The proximity of his primary and secondary roles
would therefore have reduced the intensity of the metadramatic experience for
Lopes audience.
In spite of this, the debate between Carino, Celio and Rosarda concerning
the relationship between theatre and life draws attention to the theatrum
Carinos hbito de noche is not only representative of his assumed role of nobleman, but,
as McKendrick points out, it also fixes the action temporally: Night scenes could be
signalled at a stroke by a long cloak and hat (Theatre, p. 194; p. 195). While the relationship
between disguise and role-playing is not a major concern in the play, it is important to note
that Rosarda accompanies Carino on his nocturnal adventures en hbito de hombre.
McKendrick describes the female dressed as a male as one of the commonest and most
popular stock types of the theatre (Theatre, pp. 19495). Lope himself highlights the
popularity of the mujer vestida de hombre in his Arte nuevo: porque suele / el disfraz
varonil agradar mucho (28283). While the mujer vestida de hombre is not a common
feature of Lopes comedias de tema religioso, it is important in the dnouement of Los locos
por el cielo. In Lo fingido verdadero, the importance of costume as a visual sign of status
is highlighted particularly through the emperor Diocleciano.
15 See, for example, Lelios speech in which he tells Carino: perdiste la majestad /
cuando tu honor ofendiste, (I, fol. 266r).
16 In Ya tienes, p. 61, Dixon states regarding Aurelio, Carino and Apro, Cada uno
desempea mal el papel que le ha asignado el destino.
17 For an analysis of Amn in La hermosa Ester and Apro in Lo fingido verdadero, who
are also exponents of soberbia, see, respectively, chapter 1 and pp. 102105 of this chapter.
18 See chapter 1, p. 25 on Asueros contemplation of kings as espejos del bien in La
hermosa Ester, and p. 25, n. 43 for details on Senecas treatise concerning the behaviour
of the emperor Nero and a discussion of the comedia as espejo.

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mundi topos, a prevalent theme in seventeenth-century Spanish literature and


art.19 The discussion is set in motion by Carino who asks Celio regarding several
actresses: Y podr un Emperador / ser galn de esas mujeres? (I, fol. 265r).
By defining himself as a galn, Carino unintentionally draws a parallel
between drama and reality which he subsequently rejects in a lengthy monologue in which he dissociates himself from the emperador fingido (I, fol.
265r). The theatrum mundi metaphor is explicitly addressed for the first time
in the play by Celio who compares Carino to the actor-king:
[. . .] Les dura hora y media
su comedia, y tu comedia
te dura toda la vida.
T representas tambin,
mas ests de Rey vestido,
hasta la muerte, que ha sido
sombra del fin.
(I, fol. 265r)

His views on the illusory nature of life are supported by Rosarda. She describes
herself as dama de esta comedia and rebukes Celio for his unsuccessful representation of the criado, thereby intensifying the relationship between vida/
comedia and comedia/espejo presented by Lope in his Arte nuevo (I, fol.
265r).20 In contrast, Carino rejects the very notion of the comedia as imagen de
la vida by instructing Gins to organise the performance of a play based on a
fictitious version of his relationship with Rosarda.21 Carino would like himself
to be presented as necio, y celoso and Rosarda as discreta (I, fol. 265v). Only
when faced with death does Carino recognise that he is a player on the world
stage without any control of destino. His previous insistence on the permanence
of his role is completely undermined by the fact that he does not even die in the
garb of an emperor but with la Majestad embozada.22 He emphasises the significance of costume as a visual sign of status as he relinquishes his robes to the
next actor-king:
sospecho que no dur
toda mi vida hora y media.
Poned aquestos vestidos

19 On the theatrum mundi metaphor, see chapter 3, p. 92. For Palomo, the theatrum
mundi topos is the idea nuclear of the play (Proceso, p. 87).
20 See chapter 1, p. 25, n. 43 for Lopes assertions in the Arte nuevo on this theme.
21 Just before the presentation of Gins play in Act II, the first play within the play in Lo
fingido verdadero, Diocleciano announces that he is ready para escuchar la imagen de la vida
(II, fol. 273r). Unlike Carino, Rosarda asks Gins to present a play which is an imagen de la
vida in which she is de mil celos llena and Carino is amado, e ingrato (I, fol. 265v).
22 See Lelios speech, I, fol. 266v.

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De un representante Rey,
pues es tan comn la ley
a cuantos fueran nacidos,
adonde mi sucesor
los vuelva luego a tomar,
porque ha de representar.
(I, fol. 266v)

The theatrum mundi topos presents itself throughout the play and is
exploited to its full potential in Act III with Gins conversion to Christianity.
Following Carinos death, the depiction of the individual as a roleplayer is
reinforced by Severio who, unlike the audience, is unaware of the emperors
fate. In his description of Carino, he maintains ni toma / un papel en la mano
(I, fol. 267r). The double meaning implicit in papel as both paper and role
expresses a lack of industry on Carinos part in the role as deputy ruler, as well
as an inability to take on that very role. It is also possible that Severios reference served as a reminder to the audience that the papel of emperor would
have to be assumed by another individual.
It is precisely Apros desire to play the role of ruler of the empire which causes
him to function as a type of intratextual dramatist as described by Larson.23
According to her: Characters may become self-dramatizing or function as intratextual dramatists or directors, writing new scripts or directing the actions of
other characters in a patently self-referential attitude.24 Apro casts Numeriano,
his son-in-law, in the role of enfermo when he is already dead, while he himself
poses as the concerned relation. Apro is, in fact, the murderer. This means that
the audience is immediately presented with an illusion within the dramatic
illusion of the main drama. Apro is transformed from caring minder to professed
murderer through his revelation of the secret killing to Felisardo. He openly
confesses to him: yo le he muerto, y le he trado / as cubierto y tapado (I, fol.
267v). Apros complex double image may have generated various levels of
estrangement depending on, firstly, the audiences susceptibility to his references
to his son-in-laws future role as emperor and, secondly, the audiences awareness of the significance of his name.
Following the death of Aurelio, Apro expresses his wish for Numeriano to
become emperor, a rejuvenated version of his father. He instructs the soldiers
regarding the removal of Aurelios body:
Llevad el cuerpo luego
adonde se le d el honor debido

23 It should be noted that Apro is intially referred to as Apio in the text of the 1621
edition, as well as in the list of characters presented at the beginning of the play. He is first
referred to as Apro in I, fol. 267v.
24 See Metatheater: Past, Present, p. 213.

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para que de su fuego


salga, y de su valor recin nacido
el Fnix Numeriano.
(I, fol. 264r)

Subsequently, when he discusses Numerianos feigned illness with Severio, he


describes him as: el ms gallardo / Prncipe que habr visto aqueste Imperio
(I, fol. 267r). There is no indication on Apros part that he wishes to eliminate
his son-in-law from accession to the throne. Instead, he simply states that
Numeriano still has not recovered from his illness: largos caminos, y la mar
revuelta / convalecer apenas le han dejado, (I, fol. 267r). If Lopes audience
had paid attention to the lack of conflict between the two characters, as well as
Apros positive depiction of Numerianos qualities, then adverse or antagonistic forms of behaviour on the part of either character would not have been
anticipated. Consequently, the mimetic reality established up to that point
would have been destroyed with the discovery of Apros malicious deed
through his conversation with Felisardo. The irony of Apros previous statement
in his discussion with Severio, in which he maintains felicidad de su gobierno
aguardo (I, fol. 267r), would also have become apparent.25 Both the audience
and Felisardo are thus confronted with the fact that Apros true identity lies
beneath the projected image which was presented intially.
The degree of unease experienced by the audience as a result of this sudden
exposition of role-change may have been affected by an understanding of the
relationship between Apro and aper, the Latin term for wild boar. In other
words, the establishment of a link between this metaphorical jabal and that
which Camila predicted would be killed by Diocleciano may have raised
suspicions regarding Apros more barbaric nature. This being the case, Apros
admission of his unsavoury behaviour may not have produced the same
degree of shock or surprise found in an unsuspecting public. In addition,
recognition of Apros association with the jabal stresses the futility of
his aspirations to become emperor. Of course, the unsuccessful nature of
25 Apros declaration is an example of what Catherine Larson describes as linguistic
manifestations of dramatic irony. See Speech Act Theory and Linguistic Approaches to
Teaching the Comedia, in Approaches to Teaching Spanish Golden Age Drama, ed.
Everett W. Hesse (York, South Carolina: Spanish Literature Publications Company, 1989),
pp. 4355 (pp. 4748). In this article, in which she describes speech act theory in terms of
its ability to underscore the ways that speakers use language in order to act (p. 43), Larson
discusses the function of multi-levelled discourse and linguistic subversion in relation to
audience reception: Linguistic game-playing, double entendres, parodic language, and
other examples of word play show how language can turn in on itself to create specific
effects for the audience (p. 48). On speech act theory, see also Ins Azar, Self,
Responsibility, Discourse: An Introduction to Speech Act Theory, and Albert Prince,
Dramatic Speech Acts: A Reconsideration, in Things Done With Words: Speech Acts
in Hispanic Drama, ed. Elias L. Rivers (Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 1986),
pp. 113 and pp. 14758 respectively.

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Apros quest is anticipated generally since Camilas prediction has identified


Diocleciano as the future emperor. Nevertheless, the case of Apro proves that
the potential for variation in the degree of estrangement of individual
spectators is considerable, depending on their appreciation of details relating
to a particular character.
Apro is motivated to assume the roles of both murderer and carer as a result
of his lust for power, or, in his own words, el deseo de reinar (I, fol. 267v).
He is acutely arrogant, unremorseful and confident that con tan grande
poder, / opinin y sangre ma, / ninguno se ha de elegir / adonde estuviere yo
(I, fol. 267v). Devoid of any sense of shame, he eliminates Romes promising
ruler, in spite of his reputation. Although Severio reveals that la gente / a
Numeriano espera alegremente (I, fol. 267r), Apro endeavours to reshape the
fate of both his son-in-law and himself. The self-acknowledged murderer
reverts to his position as concerned relation in the company of the soldiers,
who are unaware of his crime, in order to ensure his acceptability as Romes
newly-crowned emperor. He informs the soldiers: Dios sabe con el cuidado /
que por su vida mir (I, fol. 267v), before highlighting his personal
redeeming characteristics:
[. . .] Siempre he sido yo
padre de cualquier soldado.
Qu hacienda no he repartido?
Qu pobre no remedi?
A quin jams agravi?
Ni fui desagradecido.
A cualquiera doy licencia
que diga en qu le ofend.
(I, fol. 268r)

The audience now witnesses, as it had done earlier, the presentation of a


fictitious pose as an authentic display of emotion. This shift between lo
fingido and lo verdadero is emphasised further by Felisardo. Having promised
himself as Apros confidant, informing him bien puedes fiar de m /
cualquiera dificultad (I, fol. 267v), he becomes the traitor who communicates
the wicked crime to the soldiers, and consequently ensures Apros downfall.26
Apro is the burlador burlado; the deceiver is ultimately deceived.27
Apros engagement in role-playing within the role not only underlines
the intangible nature of reality, but also makes a vital contribution to plot
development in two significant ways. In the first instance, the murder of
Numeriano eliminates Carinos natural successor and thereby clears the
way for Dioclecianos ascent to the throne. Secondly, by performing as an
26
27

See Felisardos speech, I, fol. 268v.


See Fischer, Dramatization of the Theatrical, p. 161.

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assassin, Apro provides Diocleciano with a plausible excuse for murdering


him, the jabal of Camilas prophecy, and thus converts her prediction into a
reality. Felisardos transition from confidant to traitor, on the other hand, is
not critical to the plot, since the soldiers have already decided that Apro is the
murderer. Prior to Felisardos declamation against Apro, the audience is
exposed to attacks on Apros reputation by Maximiano and Curio, following
Marcelos assertion that illness has not caused Numerianos death:28
Maximiano
Curio

Eso es cosa
muy cierta, y que Apro le ha muerto.
En lo que nos dijo ahora,
se conoce bien que es Apro,
y que le ha dado ponzoa.
(I, fol. 268r)

In spite of this, Felisardos statement is proof of the villainous conduct of


Numerianos father-in-law, for which he deserves to be punished.
Unlike Apro and Carino who, as intratextual dramatists, create individual
positions which lead to the degradation of other individuals, Dioclecianos
change of role within the play is more problematic. His substitution of the role
of soldier for that of emperor is preceded by two playful suggestions through
which he makes reference to his future status. As the hijo de un esclavo, he
informs the other soldiers that he could become emperor one day: ya ser
podra / que fuese Emperador (I, fol. 262r). Subsequently, he informs Camila,
as he had done on previous occasions, that he will repay her for the bread
cuando sea Emperador / de Roma (I, fol. 262v). Despite his aspirations, it is
Camila who provides the method by which Diocleciano will become emperor,
jesting twice that his transformation will occur following the slaughter of a
wild boar, or jabal. In the first instance, Camila maintains: toma, que cuando
matares / un jabal, t sers / Emperador. On the second occasion, she simply
reinforces what she has already said: t sers Csar romano / en matando un
jabal (I, fol. 262v). This type of performative language, as described by
Larson, exemplifies how dialogue and action interact in order to produce what
she categorises as a representable text.29 Camila promotes the assumption of
both the role of murderer and emperor, the former being crucial to the fulfilment of the latter. As a result of her light-hearted prediction, the question is

28 Marcelo is not included in the list of characters at the beginning of the play. He seems
to have replaced Marcio, whose name does feature in the character list and who accompanies
the other soldiers at the beginning of Act I. Marcelos name first appears in I, fol. 263v, when
he is presented with Diocleciano, Curio and Maximiano following the death of Aurelio.
29 See Speech Act Theory, p. 49; p. 43. In relation to Camilas prophecy, McGaha
claims: One of Lopes favourite dramatic devices was to begin a play with a foreshadowing
of later developments. See Lo fingido verdadero / Acting is Believing, p. 28.

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raised as to whether Diocleciano engages voluntarily or not in role-playing


within the role. In his discussion of involuntary role-playing, Hornby states:
Involuntary role playing within the role may be caused by factors outside the
character, or caused by some inner weakness, or, quite commonly, caused by
some combination of outer and inner factors.30 While the means of becoming
emperor are not detected by Diocleciano himself but presented to him, he
willingly and consciously assumes the role for which he yearned. According
to Fischer: He takes the prophecy as a cue for his future stage appearance.31
However, the degree of dissociation experienced by the audience is reduced
since Dioclecianos role-change constitutes a fundamental part of the plot of
the play. In other words, his conversion to the status of emperor is imperative
since he will be responsible for instructing the martyrdom of Gins. For those
who were not aware of the historical background of the drama, Dioclecianos
change of role would have been anticipated as a result of Camilas repeated
prophecy.32 The conversion, then, of soldier to emperor would have been
expected generally.
Essentially, then, it is Camila who is the primary intratextual dramatist
responsible for the rewriting of the script of Dioclecianos life. However, the
soldier himself also resorts to the creation of his own fiction before acting as
Apros assassin. He informs Apro:
[. . .] La imagen espantosa
de Numeriano, tu yerno,
convertida en negra sombra
anoche me apareci,
y me dijo con voz ronca
que de su sangre inocente
diese esta venganza a Roma.
(I, fol. 268v)

By doing so, Diocleciano justifies his role as murderer to Apro, to the other
soldiers and, most importantly, to himself. While he is not driven by a desire
to become the tyrannical, authoritarian ruler, it cannot be denied that he
engages in an element of deceit, like Apro, in an attempt to validate his course

Drama, Metadrama, p. 74.


Dramatization of the Theatrical, p. 159.
32 Palomo describes Dioclecianos first claim presented to the soldiers regarding his
future role as emperor as un primer dato de la complicidad entre emisor y receptor: el
pblico sabe que no es locura sino premonicin (Proceso, p. 83). While I suspect that a
significant proportion of the audience might well have known that Diocletian was emperor
during the martyrdom of Genesius as a result of the availability of texts on the life of the
emperor, such as Mexas Historia imperial, it is possible that several spectators were
unaware of the precise historical details. This being the case, not every individual would
have interpreted Dioclecianos assertion as a statement of fact.
30
31

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of action. Nonetheless, it appears that Diocleciano is more concerned with the


manifestation of his inherent generous nature and the rewarding of deserving
individuals. Following Camilas prediction, he invites the soldiers to share his
bread, claiming:
que a verme yo por misterio
en el imperio algn da,
tambin repartir sabra
como este pan el imperio.
Toma y come, Maximiano,
que has de ser mi coadjutor.
T, amiga, por tanto amor,
si llego a Csar romano,
vers lo que eres por m.
(I, fol. 262v)

Unlike Apros, Dioclecianos aspirations to the throne do not involve the


infliction of suffering on the innocent. In addition, there is no indication
that the role will be manipulated, as it was by Carino, in order to humiliate
those of a lesser rank for personal pleasure. Diocleciano, endowed with
humildad, not only acknowledges the risks involved in killing Apro by
reminding himself mira que nadie te abona, / que soy hijo de un esclavo
(I, fol. 268v), but also offers himself up for punishment following his
justification of his deed (I, fols 268v269r). In effect, it is the soldiers
who confer the title of emperor upon Diocleciano. Despite the fact that
Diocleciano has been motivated by Camilas prediction, he nevertheless
has doubted his acceptability as ruler of the empire. His newly-acquired
status, therefore, is not one which he has taken by force, but one which he
has earned.
On the basis of this evidence, it could be argued that Dioclecianos change
of role within the play is one which has a positive impact on himself and those
around him. Indeed, once he assumes his position as emperor, in keeping with
his promise, he transforms Maximiano from soldier to Csar, and makes
Camila both a privileged subject with unlimited access to his quarters and his
lover.33 Such changes would have been expected, of course, by those who
regarded Diocleciano as a man of his word.34 Humildad is rewarded through
the character of Maximiano as Diocleciano ignores his plea for his status to
33 It should be noted that, while we have been concerned in this section with roleplaying within the role and the conversions of roles in Act I of the play, the change of roles
conferred upon Maximiano and Camila by Diocleciano occur at the beginning of Act II.
34 In her discussion of performative language, Catherine Larson highlights the
significance of the promise: In addition to the promise, curses, blessings, and warnings
offer a focus of attention that can lead to an examination of the world-changing power of
words. See Speech Act Theory, p. 49.

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be lowered to that of criado and elevates him to the rank of Csar instead.35
The placing of the hojas consagradas(II, fol. 270r) upon Maximianos head
is an outward symbol of his changed position. The laurel constitutes a visual
representation of identity and role, which is of extreme importance to
Diocleciano who relinquishes wealth in exchange for the emperors attire.36
He informs the soldiers:
Pues esa tienda toda
de Numeriano y su suegro,
dineros, armas y joyas,
repartid entre vosotros,
que a m me basta esta ropa
y esta espada que os defienda.
(I, fol. 269r)

However, it is highly probable that the corral audience would not have
seen Diocleciano in such a positive light since he is the pagan who is
ultimately responsible for imposing a death sentence upon Gins, the
Christian. In spite of the fact that the emperor would have been expected to
react in such a manner to a converts open confession, the degradation of the
Christian at the hands of the pagan would surely have provoked a negative
reaction from Lopes audience. In comparison with Carino and Apro,
Diocleciano appears to play his role well, earning himself the titles of
invicto seor and Csar nclito and being defined in terms of his sacra
Majestad and raro divino entendimiento.37 Nevertheless, the fact that he
can be viewed in a negative light emphasises the difficulties which arise
when categorising behaviour/role.
In spite of the necessity of Dioclecianos assumption of the role of emperor
for the purposes of plot development, his change in status may serve as a
critique for some members of the corral audience of a restrictive hierarchical
structure such as that which characterised seventeenth-century Spanish
35 Maximiano implores Diocleciano: suplcote que me tengas / por tu criado en tu casa /
que ya de lo justo pasa, / que a igualarme a tu ser vengas (II, fol. 269v).
36 It should be noted that contemporary costumes were used in the corrales, with the result
that Diocleciano was more than likely presented in the garb of a contemporary king. On the
use of costume in the comedia, McKendrick comments: As in the Shakespearean theatre,
contemporary dress was normally worn whatever the period depicted, with vaguely
distinguishing costumes or accessories for kings and queens, Moors, Turks, angels, devils and
so on. [. . .] However, ethnic and historical accuracy apart, a limited range of costumes and
accessories was normally perfectly adequate for the dramas requirements (Theatre, p. 195).
Lope presents his reservations about the use of costume in his Arte nuevo: Los trages nos
dixera Iulio Pollux, / Si fuera necessario, que en Espaa / Es de las cosas brbaras que tiene /
La Comedia presente recebidas: / Sacar un Turco un cuello de Christiano, / Y calas atacadas
un Romano (35661).
37 See Maximianos and Gins speeches, II, fol. 269v and fol. 270v respectively.

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society.38 A slave of lowly birth, he himself is dubious about his approval by


the other soldiers. Furthermore, he is exposed to the pessimistic remarks of
Curio, the anti-playwright, who presents his position as soldier as a fixed,
stable one, and negates the possibility of change. Curio advises him: nunca
en ageros confes. [. . .] Come, y deja de pensar / en lo que no ha de llegar
(I, fol. 262v). However, Dioclecianos successful realisation of his dream to
become emperor, as well as Felisardos rejection of the importance of sangre
and opinin, promote the individuals ability to transcend socially-imposed
limitations.39 The relationship between changeability/unpredictability and
fortuna is one which presents itself throughout the play. Camila, for example,
who has herself experienced a change of fortune as a result of Dioclecianos
promotion, comments on this issue prior to the presentation of Gins second
play within the play in Act III:
Ved lo que puede la fortuna varia,
que a unos levanta y a otros aniquila;
en qu piensa parar esta voltaria,
que ya vuela en maroma, y ya en esfera
del viento?
(III, fol. 280v)

It is through Diocleciano and, as we shall see, Gins, that the potential for
profound change is best exemplified in the play.
It is evident, then, that varying degrees of audience dislocation are generated primarily as a result of the spectators sensitivity to, and interpretation of,
the material presented within the dramatic framework. Moreover, the various
forms of role-playing undertaken by the three characters presented above are
all crucial to plot development. With the elimination of both Carino and Apro
from succession to the throne as a consequence of their vile actions as seducer
and murderer respectively, the path is cleared for Dioclecianos essential
progression towards control of the empire.
In spite of the problems posed when differentiating between positive and
negative forms of role-playing, especially in the case of Diocleciano, it is clear
that soberbia is ultimately punished, while humildad is rewarded. The failure
of both Carino and Apro to assume the principal position of authority is proof
of the individuals powerlessness to control or reshape destino. On the other
hand, Dioclecianos success in the same quest testifies to the capricious
nature of existence, or the illusory nature of life, which has been emphasised
38 Of course, those spectators who knew that Lope was following the account given in
Pero Mexas Historia imperial would not have interpreted Dioclecianos assumption of
his new role in the same manner.
39 Felisardo informs Apro: que el romano Senado, / cualquiera Csar que toma / el ejrcito
y legiones / aprueba sin distincin / de sangre, ni de opinin (I, fol. 267v).

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throughout Act I. The fate of the three characters highlights that life is indeed
a perplexing, deceptive dream or play.
The degree of audience estrangement reaches its height in Acts II and III
with the presentation of Gins inset plays. Hence, the play within the play, as
we shall see subsequently, offers the audience the prime opportunity to reflect
on the concerns of the playwright.

The Play within the play


For a play within the play of either the inset or framed type to be fully
metadramatic requires that the outer play have characters and plot [. . .]; that
these in turn must acknowledge the existence of the inner play; and that they
acknowledge it as a performance. In other words, there must be two sharply
distinguishable layers of performance. (Drama, Metadrama, p. 35)

In Lo fingido verdadero, the inset plays presented by Gins to an inner


audience comprising Diocleciano and his favourites are not only highly
metatheatrical but extremely complex performances.40 Not only do they
impact on the action of the main play itself, but also frustrate the expectations
of both the outer and inner audiences.41 Moreover, the actors themselves,
including Gins, creator and main protagonist, are often perplexed by plot

40 For a definition of the inset play and the framed play, see chapter 3, p. 94, n. 24.
It should be noted that Fischer defines the play in terms of three inner dramas, with or
without the element of artistic formality but always with the key ingredient of
impersonation (Dramatization of the Theatrical, p. 158). She describes the first as
a political drama that deals with Dioclecianos ascent to the Roman throne (p. 158). For
the purposes of this study, I am concerned with the full metadramatic quality of the play
within the play as defined by Hornby. Thus, Dioclecianos rise to power cannot be
qualified as an inset play given the absence of two explicit layers of performance in the
first act. The play within the play is a device which features in several other religious plays
by Lope. In Los locos por el cielo, for example, an auto on the birth of Christ is presented
in Act III to a church congregation of 20,000 Christians in order to reinforce the tenets of
the Christian faith. See Stoll, Staging, Metadrama for an analysis of this inset play. As
well as that, the crucifixion of Juanico, a Christian child, is presented in Act III of El nio
inocente de La Guardia by the Jews Hernando, Francisco, Benito, Pedro and Quintanar.
The various characters associated with the crucifixion are enacted by the Jews. Finally, a
section of the story of Esther, from Amns denunciation of the Jews to Esthers
appearance before the king, is enacted in Act II of La limpieza no manchada. On the play
within the play, see also Nelson, Play Within a Play.
41 Palomo argues that the actors of Gins company and the inner audience receive a
mensaje equvoco, while the outer audience experiences a mensaje inequvoco
(Proceso, p. 92). As will be highlighted in the course of this study, the concept of audience
reception is more complex than that. Dixon makes this point explicit: en varios momentos
de la accin el pblico externo queda engaado, o cuando menos autnticamente perplejo
(Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, p. 111).

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development.42 In fact, as will become evident, Gins ultimately assumes a


role to which he had never aspired, substituting his preoccupation with human
love for devotion to the divine. It is his love for the actress Marcela, however,
which inspires his first inset play.
The first play within the play is preceded by two canciones and a loa. The first
cancin celebrates the election of Diocleciano as emperor, while the second
highlights the beauty of Lucinda, Lopes poetic name for Micaela de Lujn.43
The play begins with the harsh rejection of Rufino (played by Gins) by Fabia
(played by Marcela). The shunned lover questions his beloved: tan resuelta
vives, Fabia, / de tratarme con rigor / y no agradecer mi amor? (II, fol. 274r).
The illusion of the inset play is broken almost immediately as Gins,
overwhelmed by loco amor (II, fol. 274r) for Marcela, addresses her as such
rather than by her characters name. Subsequently, Rufino is granted Fabias
hand in marriage by her father, Seor Tebandro, who is impersonated by
Fabricio, father of Marcela in the main play. Once the engaged couple have
embraced, Rufino and Tebandro leave the stage in order to discuss the proposed
marriage with Rufinos father. An onstage conflict ensues between Fabia and the
jealous Octavio, performed by the character Octavio of the main play. Octavio
rebukes Fabia for her treatment of him, her supposed lover, while Fabia uses
obedience to her father as justification for her actions. Following Pinabelos
suggestion that the lovers should take flight and his revelation to the outer
audience of his plot to keep Fabia for himself, Marcela/Fabia expresses her wish
for the action of the comedia to become a reality. The lovers escape is made
public by Celio, a criado, after Tebandro and Rufino disclose the successful
outcome of their meeting with Rufinos father. While Tebandro leaves to pursue
the couple, Rufino/Gins engages in a lengthy monologue in which he expresses
his desire that the ship carrying the lovers will get out of control. His second,
improvised speech in which he calls on Neptune to wreak destruction is followed
by the confusing dnouement which leaves the actors within the inset play, the
inner audience and the outer audience bewildered. Fabricio announces that
the actors who were playing Fabia and Octavio have really fled, Gins calls upon
the perplexed Diocleciano to act as restorer of justice, but Pinabelo declares that
Octavio has returned. Ultimately, Pinabelos statement marks the end of the inset
play for the inner audience, while his subsequent conversation with Gins

42 Garasa incorrectly maintains that the actors in the first play within the play can
distinguish between fiction and reality: Pero los actores, al tanto del conflicto real entre
bastidores, ven claramente los lmites entre la vida y la ficcin (Santos, p. 20).
43 On the presentation of the cancin and the loa, Dixon states: el pblico habr
pensado en las representaciones de particulares en Palacio (Lo fingido verdadero y sus
espectadores, p. 106). The song which celebrates Lucindas beauty exploits the language
and conventions of the Petrarchan sonnet. Lucindas mouth, for example, is described in
the following manner: que su boca celestial / no sea el mismo coral, / bien puede ser, / mas
que no excedan la rosa / en ser roja, y olorosa, / no puede ser (II, fol. 273v).

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stresses to the outer audience that the fiction of Gins play has in fact become a
reality within the main drama. In other words, Gins play ends with the
departure of Octavio and Marcela, rather than the return of Octavio and Fabia.
The intricate fusion of the action and characters of the main play and those
of the inset play is of course responsible for the establishment of a complex
form of audience reception. Nevertheless, both the inner and outer audiences
interpretation of the play within the play is also affected by their individual
horizons of expectation. The inner audiences expectation is summed up by
Diocleciano immediately preceding the first cancin. He tells Camila that he
is ready para escuchar la imagen de la vida (II, fol. 273r).44 This assertion
follows a conversation with Gins, who emphasised to the emperor the relationship between acting and imitation and the advantages of having experienced the feelings associated with a particular role. Gins explains:
El imitar es ser representante;
pero como el poeta no es posible
que escriba con afecto y con blandura
sentimientos de amor, si no le tiene,
y entonces se descubren en sus versos
cuando el amor le ensea los que escribe,
as el representante, si no siente
las pasiones de amor, es imposible
que pueda, gran seor, representarlas;
(II, fol. 271v)

Therefore, while Dioclecianos description of the play he is about to hear


suggests that he foresees it as a performance based on Gins personal experiences as a lover, having requested a representation of an amante, there is no
indication that he is aware of the galns true feelings for his leading lady,
Marcela.
In contrast, the outer audience is not only introduced to Gins, the jealous
lover, prior to his performance before the emperor, but is also acquainted with
Marcelas love for Octavio and details relating to the inset play. The impact
of jealousy upon Gins is made explicit in a monologue in which the actor
forms a decisive link between the individual and role-playing. Gins identifies
his senses as representantes which are each assigned a particular role. His
odos, for example, play the part of the sordo who refuses to listen to reason,
while his tristes ojos perform the role of the ciego who recites his passion.
His olfato, on the other hand, imita una gente / que dicen mil escritores / que
44 Lope comments on the aural reception of the comedia in his Arte nuevo: Si hablare
el Rey, imite cuanto pueda / La grauedad real; si el viejo hablare / Procure vna modestia
sentenciosa; / Descriua los amantes con afectos / Que mueuan co[n] estremo a quie[n]
escucha. / Los soliloquios pinte de manera / Que se transforme todo el recitante, / Y con
mudarse a s mude al oyente (26976).

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del olor de las flores / se sustenta solamente, (II, fols 271v272r). Gins
emphasises the proximity of his fictional role within the inset play and his
sentiments as the jealous lover in the main play by asking his senses to act for
him: pues vstanse mis sentidos, / y representen por m (II, fol. 272v). Despite
the fact that Pinabelo advises him, entra a ponerte galn (II, fol. 272v), the
outer audience is conscious of the fact that the use of costume is unnecessary
since he is, to a large extent, the part that he will play.
Apart from an insight into the character of Gins, Lopes audience is also
presented with material concerning the relationship in the main drama
between Gins, Marcela and Octavio, and introduced to the theme of the inset
play. It is the conversation between Gins and Pinabelo which serves as the
source of this information. Gins stresses that his unrequited love for Marcela
causes him to suffer in the manner of the courtly lover. Following Pinabelos
enquiry concerning the pampering of the beloved, Gins retorts:
Regalo a quien me desvela,
y nunca me tuvo amor?
No me nombres, Pinabelo,
esa mujer.
(II, fol. 272r)45

Gins also makes direct reference to the bond between Marcela and Octavio
and the impact that his dismissing the latter would have on the former. He
explains: har en ausencia de Octavio / algn sentimiento injusto (II, fol.
272r). In addition, the corral audience is informed that the theme of jealousy
will present itself in the inset play. Specifically, according to Gins, the play
will not be a celosa comedia, but, given its subject matter, a tragedia. In
the guise of Rufino, Gins will have the opportunity to embrace
Marcela/Fabia on several occasions, since he admits that he has exploited his
dual role as dramatist/protagonist: compsela con cautela, / por darle tantos
abrazos, / cuantas prisiones y lazos / pone al alma que desvela. Finally, the
inset play will be manipulated por tratar mal / a Octavio (II, fol. 272v).
In essence, the outer audience anticipates an enactment of the relationship
between Gins, Marcela and Octavio, albeit with modifications. While the
illusion of the main play constitutes the basis of the inset play, it is evident
that this will be reworked somewhat to Gins advantage. Moreover, as a
result of the complicity between the outer audience and the playwrights (both
Gins, now as writer, and Lope as original author), some degree of thematic

45 On insomnia as one of the effects of love in courtly love poetry, see chapter 1, p. 26,
n. 45. Flix and Clara in La buena guarda also suffer from insomnia as a result of their
love for one another. Additionally, they suffer from loss of appetite, another common trait
of the courtly lover. Flix explains Ya no como ni duermo, while Clara tells her lover No
he comido ni dormido. See I. 689 and I. 946 respectively.

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conflict will be expected. The inner audience, on the other hand, simply looks
forward to a performance in which love will be the prominent theme.
As a result of the intermingling of the main play with the first inset play, the
deliberate destruction of mimetic reality takes place and generates varying
levels of identification and non-identification between the outer and inner audiences. The first instance of the interplay between lo fingido and lo verdadero
occurs in the introductory scene in which Fabia rejects Rufinos love for her.
Gins/Rufino addresses his dama in the following manner:
Bien s, Marcela, que nace
el hacerme aqueste agravio
de que quieres bien a Octavio;
Octavio te satisface,
Octavio te agrada, ingrata;
por l me dejas a m.
(II, fol. 274r)

Having been introduced previously to Gins feelings for Marcela, the outer
audience would recognise the invasion of reality upon the fiction of Gins play.
On the other hand, since there is no indication of the inner audiences familiarity with the relationship between the two, we would expect its experience of the
inner play to be somewhat different. This is indeed the case, as illustrated by the
comments of Maximiano, Lntulo and Diocleciano. While Maximiano believes
that the characters have become confused, Lntulo attributes this to the presence
of the emperor.46 Diocleciano himself interprets the confusion of the lover as a
deliberate dramatic technique employed by Gins:
Mas pienso que es artificio
deste gran representante,
porque turbarse un amante
fue siempre el mayor indicio.
(II, fol. 274r)47

However, it should be noted that Gins stresses the fact that he is speaking as
himself, rather than Rufino, following Marcelas/Fabias enquiry regarding
his use of her real name:
Marcela

Cmo me llamas Marcela,


si soy Fabia?

46 Maximiano states: sospecho que se han turbado, / que hablando a solas estn.
Lntulo subsequently addresses Diocleciano: con mirarte olvidarn, / seor, lo ms
estudiado (II, fol. 274r).
47 Confusion, of course, was the cornerstone of the secular love poetry of the Cancionero
general (1511) anthology.

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Gins

115

Por hablarte
de veras, por obligarte
a que tu desdn se duela
de aqueste mi loco amor.
(II, fol. 274r)

The inner audiences failure to even suspect Gins love for Marcela increases
the estrangement of members of the outer audience who, rather than see its
own role reflected in the onstage audience, sees it negated. For the corral
audience, the Gins/Rufino interchange within the inset play serves to
reinforce the illusory nature of life which is central to seventeenth-century
Spains theocentric view of the world. Hornby specifically refers to the association between such a world view and the use of the play within the play:
Whenever the play within the play is used, it is both reflective and expressive of its societys deep cynicism about life. When the prevalent view is
that the world is in some way illusory or false, then the play within the play
becomes a metaphor for life itself. The fact that the inner play is an obvious illusion (since we see other characters watching it), reminds us that the
play we are watching is also an illusion, despite its vividness and excitement; by extension, the world in which we live, which also seems to be so
vivid, is in the end a sham. (Drama, Metadrama, p. 45)

The transformation of the fate of both Octavio and Marcela within the main
drama as the action of Gins play becomes a reality is indeed proof of the
deceptive and unpredictable nature of existence. In fact, it is the flight of
Octavio and Marcela that is chiefly responsible for the disruption of harmony
of both the inset and main plays in Act II. Marcelas/Fabias declaration, in
which she links the comedia to reality, follows Pinabelos exposition of the
plot and prompts Octavios reference to her by her real name. Pinabelos allusion to the flight of the lovers proves so attractive to Marcela/Fabia that she
remarks: Ay, cielo, si verdad fuera / la comedia! (II, fol. 275v). Moreover,
she reiterates her desire to escape as Marcela with her beloved by informing
Octavio tan perdida estoy, / que quisiera que a Gins / le hiciramos este tiro
(II, fol. 275v). While the lovers conversion of fiction into reality will only be
revealed explicitly to the outer audience and to Gins himself by
Fabricio/Tebandro as the inset play draws to a close, Marcela hints at the
course of action which will be taken. In response to Octavios expression of
admiration for her loyalty to him, Marcela replies: mayor la vers despus
(II, fol. 275v). Hence, as a consequence of Marcelas allusion to the lengths
to which she is prepared to go for her lover, it is possible that the outer audience might anticipate the ensuing dnouement.
Undoubtedly, then, outer audience estrangement is dependent upon how it
receives the coded message of the inset play. However, the degree of dissociation experienced by the outer audience is also affected by their subjection to

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the various interpretations of the scene by the inner audience. Dioclecianos


admission that he suspects that a relationship exists between Octavio and
Marcela is counterbalanced by Lntulos lack of awareness of the situation.48
In fact, Lntulos summary of the plot development he anticipates confirms
his indifference to the previous name changes and dialogue:
Ahora quiere el criado
ser traidor a su seor,
que Octavio al padre traidor
viene a quedar engaado.
De suerte que aquel Rufino
y este Octavio han de quedar
sin Fabia, y la ha de gozar
su esclavo.
(II, fol. 275v)

Essentially, then, it is the complexity of reality and its relationship with falsification and misconception that is brought to the outer audiences attention.
Furthermore, the association of human love with random, irrational forms of
behaviour is also underscored, regardless of whether the departure of Marcela
and Octavio or Fabia and Octavio is envisaged.49 For the remainder of the
inset play, the delusion and confusion of both the outer and inner audiences
highlights the intangible nature of reality.
The first individual to allude to the lovers actions is Celio, the criado. He
relates to Fabricio/Tebandro and Gins/Rufino that Fabia and Octavio have
escaped by boat.50 Consequently, by referring to the characters by the names
attributed to them in the inset play, Celio presents their flight as fictional, that
is, as part of the action of the play within the play, even if it may have been
interpreted by the outer audience as real.51 Moreover, the delay of the lovers
to reappear on stage may have increased the outer audiences expectation of
their flight within the main play. Gins stresses that their return constitutes the
next scene of his play by instructing Celio di que salgan (II, fol. 276v).
Nevertheless, their failure to present themselves does not raise Gins suspicions. Instead, he believes that sin duda se estn vistiendo and repeats their
cue to enter (II, fol. 276v). It is only through Fabricios direct reference to the

Diocleciano states: sospecho que representan / stos su misma verdad (II, fol. 275v).
On the association of human love with madness and irrationality, see chapter 2,
p. 80, n. 100.
50 See his speech, II, fol. 276r.
51 The choice of Celio as criado and bearer of news also contributes to the complex
interplay between fiction and reality, if he is the same Celio who was servant to the
philandering Carino. This being the case, Celio is the part he plays. The outer audiences
ability to identify him as such increases the probability that his announcement will be
viewed in the context of its impact on the main play.
48

49

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disappearance of his daughter, made all the more poignant with the removal
of the false beard of Tebandro, that Gins and the outer audience are clearly
informed of the reality of the situation for the first time. Fabricio laments:
Castigo, invicto seor,
que el mismo paso que haca
Fabia, o Marcela, hija ma,
a quien amaba el autor,
han hecho tan verdadero
que han salido del palacio,
y en este pequeo espacio
que aun era el paso primero,
no parecen, ni hay un hombre
que diga por dnde van.
(II, fol. 277r)

Yet the sensibilities of both character and audience are frustrated once again
as Pinabelo announces the return of Octavio, the lover who bears the same
name in both the main play and inset drama. This deliberate creation of
ambiguity on Lopes part is only clarified for Gins and the outer audience
following the close of the inset play. At this point, Pinabelo advises Gins:
recoge / al pensamiento la vela, [. . .] Ella y Octavio / se van, Gins, a
embarcar (II, fol. 277r).
As the outer audience attempts to establish an understanding of the
sequence of events presented on stage, it is exposed to the confusion and
duping of the inner audience. Indeed, it witnesses the destruction of mimetic
reality for Diocleciano in particular following Fabricios explicit reference to
the departure of Marcela and Octavio. Gins plea to Diocleciano to act as
restorer of justice perplexes the emperor, in spite of his allusion to Octavios
true love for Marcela. In response to Gins claim muy cierto es / que Octavio
amaba a Marcela, Diocleciano questions the actor/playwright hablas de
veras o no? (II, fol. 277r). His inability to ascertain the course of action
required illustrates to the outer audience the difficulties encountered in
attempting to detect the necessary or appropriate form of behaviour in reality.
The final deception of the inner audience, for whom the return of Octavio constitutes the ending of the inset play and who is not fully aware of the link
between the performance and the reality of the main play at this stage, exemplifies, and is symbolic of, the powerlessness of the individual to comprehend
the true nature of existence.52
52 By Act III, Diocleciano is conscious of the fact that Marcela and Octavio have
converted fiction into reality and asks Gins to describe the outcome of their actions Oh
Gins! / No te hemos visto despus / de aquella riguridad / que us Marcela contigo. /
Qu se hicieron? (III, fol. 278v). While Diocleciano, at the end of the first play within the
play, asks Gins to return the following day to perform the part of a Christian (II, fol. 277r),

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Ultimately, the outer audience sees double, not only as a result of the
presentation of the inset play within the main play, but also through the
duplicity within the inset play itself. As we shall see, this multiple layering
effect, which constitutes the most complex form of metadrama, is also a
primary feature of Gins second play within the play. In essence, the first
inset play reinforces the illusory nature of life by approximating lo fingido
and lo verdadero. Moreover, it underlines the inability to detect authenticity,
a theme which recurs throughout Lo fingido verdadero. Beyond the confines
of the inset play, Octavio, for example, still cannot distinguish between
fiction and reality when he discovers his newly-wed in the company of
Gins. He informs his wife: que aun las burlas, no las veras / que representa
contigo / me parecen verdaderas (III, fol. 279v). In addition, the inset play
stresses the impossibility of control, even within fiction, and the futility of
the individuals attempts to steer events of life in a certain direction the
presumption of assuming the position of God. In the case of Gins, his efforts
to create a situation in his drama which is inconceivable within the reality of
the principal play are thwarted.53 Specifically, his anticipated performance as
the abandoned betrothed who finally confronts his beloved and her lover is
prevented by Marcelas and Octavios manipulation of fiction for their own
ends.54 While the course of action taken by these characters is evidence of
the sacrifice which the individual is willing to make for the sake of love,
human love is fundamentally associated with negative forms of behaviour
and sentiments within Gins play. Not only is it responsible for the suffering of Gins/Rufino, who is only briefly relieved of his pain with the promise of his marriage to Marcela/Fabia, but it also causes conflict between the
true lovers of the inset play. Octavio hurls bitter accusations at Fabia,
describing her as ingrata, following his discovery that she has been
embraced by Rufino (II, fol. 275r). Moreover, Gins/Rufino exemplifies the
relationship between the unfulfilment of human love and aggression. As the
personification of the abandoned lover, Gins/Rufino engages in an improvised, hostile outburst through which he promotes the annihilation of the
lovers by calling upon Neptune to act as a destructive force.55 Ultimately, the
overpowering and debilitating effects of human love are manifested through
Gins description of the events following the departure of the couple (Fabricios discovery
of the lovers, the marriage of Marcela and Octavio and Gins forgiveness of them)
suggests a longer time span.
53 Gins himself emphasises the impossibility of a future relationship with Marcela. In
response to Pinabelos advice to ask Fabricio for Marcelas hand in marriage, he replies:
que los casamientos son / unin de las voluntades, / y en distintas calidades / es imposible
la unin (II, fol. 272v).
54 Marcela subsequently identifies Gins as the culprit regarding her newly-found
reality. She tells him: pero t, que compusiste / la comedia en que me diste / a Fabia, que
a Octavio am, / el camino me ense; / luego la culpa tuviste (III, fol. 279r).
55 See his speech, II, fol. 276v.

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Marcelas/Fabias willingness to risk honour and reputation for union with


her beloved.56
In Gins second inset play, his preoccupation with human love in the first
is replaced with a concern with the divine. As the following analysis of this
play will demonstrate, the fiction of the inset play once again imposes on the
reality of the main drama, resulting in Gins conversion to Christianity by the
end of Act III.
As in the first play within the play, the second is introduced by a cancin
which alludes to the birth and crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of
Christians, together with a loa recited by Marcela. The cancin, which establishes a relationship between Christianity, suffering and martyrdom, prepares
the audience subconsciously for the dnouement of the second inset play: the
conversion and martyrdom of Gins. The drama itself opens with the
presentation of Gins/Len, the professed Christian, in the company of three
soldados and a capitn. Following an invitation by an angel to receive the
sacrament of baptism and the soldiers and captains comments on deviation
from the script, Gins/Len disappears behind a curtain and reappears
surrounded by angels having apparently been baptised. The remainder of the
inset play is marked by a series of improvised speeches by Gins/Len in
which he confesses his devotion to God, describes his conversion in theatrical
terms and requests martyrdom. In addition, the drama becomes increasingly
complex as a concerned soldier and captain call upon the prompter to assist
the main protagonist and a confused Fabio is reminded by both the inner
audience and by the captain that he has already played his part. Finally, the
play ends with Gins explicit reference to his conversion to Christianity and
Dioclecianos subsequent bewilderment regarding the truthfulness of Gins
statement.
Before the performance of the inset drama commences, the interplay
between illusion and reality is highlighted as a result of Gins inability to
determine the source of the voz which addresses him during rehearsals. The
voz advises Gins on the portrayal of the baptised Christian: no le imitars
en vano, / Gins, que te has de salvar (III, fol. 280r). In spite of the fact that
Gins debates whether the announcement is a heavenly authorised one, or,
erroneously, a fictitious statement made by a member of his troupe, he finally
accepts that Fabio debi de ser / que en lo del ngel me habl (III, fol.
280v).57 Indeed, the impact of the voz on Gins, which, he admits todo
mi odo me ha penetrado el sentido, (III, fol. 280r), is undermined by Fabio.
56 In La buena guarda, Clara also endangers her image as a reputable nun by
abandoning her duties and fleeing with her lover. See chapter 5.
57 On the use of the voz to establish the first form of contact between the saint and the
divine, see Dassbachs affirmation cited in chapter 2, p. 57. Gins inability to accept the
authenticity of the voz echoes the reaction of Pedro, father of Isidro, to the prediction of
the voz concerning his sons future role in La niez de San Isidro. See chapter 2, p. 58.

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The latter reduces Gins supernatural experience with the divine to a confrontation with human love through the association of the cielo, from which
the voz has emanated, and the ngel, who has spoken to Gins, with Marcela.
He states:
Como Marcela es tu cielo,
y el ngel haba de hacer,
pensando en ella recelo
que piensas que ha de poder
glorificarte en el suelo,
pues advierte que no sabe
el ngel, y que me manda
que le estudie.
(III, fol. 280v)

Fabios unintentional degradation of Gins heavenly encounter is made all


the more poignant for members of the corral audience, given their awareness
of the influence of the supernatural. The incorporation of a painting of the
Virgin and Christ in his fathers arms into the play highlights the impact of
divine intervention upon the action.58 Consequently, this complicity between
playwright and audience impresses upon the latters horizon of expectation,
for whom Gins eventual change of role is reinforced.
Naturally, the degree of audience estrangement achieved is also determined
by the outer audiences familiarity with the hagiographical account of the
saints life. For certain members of the audience, there can be no surprises in
the dnouement. Those who are acquainted with the account of Gins life are
confident from the outset that his conversion will take place at the end of the
play. However, the audience in general does not know at what exact moment
Gins transformation will be enacted. Dixon stresses this point in his reference to the audiences inability to differentiate between Gins lines: Iniciada
la representacin, tampoco saben siempre cules son los versos improvisados
por Gins.59 The audience is forced to question what constitutes the illusion
of the inset play, and what is evidence of Gins true conversion. In other
words, it experiences difficulty in distinguishing between Gins, the feigned

58 For Orozco Dazs analysis of the dramatic effectiveness of the presentation of the
king or the Virgin by means of la pintura or la imagen, see chapter 2, p. 76, n. 85.
Dassbach emphasises the significance of divine intervention in Lo fingido verdadero by
stating that Gins conversion is not prompted by the role which he plays, but rather by the
influence of supernatural forces: Aunque crticos [. . .] afirman que la conversin de
Gins es resultado del papel teatral que ste representa sobre un cristiano, pienso que esto
debe considerarse como circunstancial ya que no se convierte, reflexiva o emocionalmente,
instigado por su papel, sino a causa de las fuerzas sobrenaturales que operan sobre l
mientras representa este papel (La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 48, n. 8).
59 Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, pp. 11213.

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Christian, and Gins, the new convert. In fact, Gins final assertion which
precedes his performance is ambiguous. Just prior to appearing before his
royal audience, the actor exclaims:
Cristo mo, pues sois Dios,
vos me llevaris a vos,
que yo desde ahora os sigo!
(III, fol. 280v)

This speech may have caused the corral audience to suspect that Gins
transformation had already occurred, or may simply have been interpreted as
a form of preparation or an extended rehearsal on the part of the actor for the
role which he is about to assume. Dixon interprets the impact of this speech in
a similar fashion. According to him, no pueden saber si slo est ensayando
otra vez o si se ha convertido ya.60 Consequently, the outer audience does not
receive what Palomo describes as a mensaje inequvoco, even while watching
this play, the plot of which is known. The captains and soldiers references to
Gins abandonment of the script may have generated increasing suspicion
regarding his assimilation of the role of the Christian. However, it is possible
that the inner audiences repeated comments on the proximity of Gins
presentation of the feigned Christian to the true, self-confessed Christian may
have engendered confusion among members of the corral audience.
Maximiano, for example, comments:
Represntale Gins,
que parece que lo es,
y verdadero el suceso
(III, fol. 281r)

Undoubtedly, however, the most significant part of the second inset play in
terms of audience reception is the interpretation of the baptismal scene.
Essentially, this scene comprises two main parts, the first of which is introduced with the stage direction: Un ngel en lo alto (III, fol. 281v). The angel
provides the actor with an invitation for baptism, addressing him as Gins (his
real name), rather than as Len (his fictional name within the inset play). The
angel states: sube, sube, llega a verme, / que te quiero bautizar (III, fol. 281v).61
Subsequently, Gins/Len, having withdrawn behind a curtain, emerges in the

Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, p. 112.


Gins responds Seor, aunque no s hablar / T sabes bien entenderme, / pues este
lenguaje mudo / de mi pensamiento entiendes; / llvame donde pretendes (III, fol. 281v).
His inability to speak to the angel mirrors the concerns of both Pedro in La niez de San
Isidro and Isidro himself in La juventud de San Isidro regarding the inappropriateness of
their speech when addressing God. See chapter 2 for further details.
60
61

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company of four angels. The stage directions read: Descbrase con msica
hincado de rodillas; un ngel tenga una fuente, otro un aguamanil levantado,
como que ya le ech el agua, y otro una vela blanca encendida, y otro un capillo
(III, fol. 281v). The inner audiences interpretation of this scene is unquestionable. Following the appearance of the first angel, Diocleciano declares:
Gins
finge ahora que despus
que a Jesucristo ador,
que es el Dios de los cristianos,
aquel ngel viene a verle,
a ensearle, y defenderle.
(III, fol. 281v)

Similarly, the staging of the baptism itself is interpreted as fictional, and


evokes comments on Gins persuasive acting skills. While Lntulo claims
no hay diferencia / desto al verdadero caso, Diocleciano is convinced that
parece que lo es l mismo (III, fol. 282r).
However, in terms of its impact on the outer audience, the baptismal scene
has produced oppositional responses from two of the plays main critics.
Palomo argues that the outer audience knows that the baptism is not part of the
play, but rather that pertenece, convencionalmente, al plano de la vida.62
Dixon, on the other hand, claims: Los espectadores externos, por tanto, no
pueden haber sabido al presenciar el bautismo de Gins por este actor y otros,
que no fuera slo, como suponan los dems, un paso no ensayado pero aadido
en el ltimo momento a la representacin interna.63 Crucial to the analyses of
these critics is the identification of the character who plays the part of the ngel.
According to Palomo, the ngel is not impersonated by the actor Fabio, in spite
of the fact that, prior to the performance, Gins has instructed Fabio to play this
role. Gins informs him: como pudieres le hars, / ven, repsale conmigo (III,
fol. 280v). Palomo presents the following argument: Porque el hecho de salir
en lo alto y adems, no ser el actor Fabio, identifica para el espectador [. . .] a
ese ngel como autntico mensajero celestial.64 In contrast, Dixon maintains
that the inner audiences and the capitns subsequent association of Fabio with
this angel when the young actor unwittingly appears to play his part is only
justified if the actor playing Fabio also plays the role of the first angel presented:
s tiene que ser el mismo actor, llevando naturalmente el mismo atuendo. Slo
as se justifica la total seguridad con la cual le reconocen los dems.65

Proceso, p. 93.
Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, p. 113.
64 Proceso, p. 93.
65 Lo fingido verdadero y sus espectadores, p. 113. The capitn advises Fabio s habis
salido!, while Diocleciano and Camila both comment on the fact that they have already
62
63

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Although I support Dixons contention that the inner audiences inability to


distinguish between the angel and Fabio suggests that the same actor played
both parts (by using one actor for both roles, Lope would have created
deliberate ambiguity within his play, and thereby intensified the relationship
between lo fingido and lo verdadero), one crucial factor in terms of the outer
audiences interpretation has been overlooked by Palomo and Dixon.66 Neither
has considered the manner in which the angel addresses the autor/actor. The
angel refers to him as Gins and not as Len, the name of the Christian which
he plays in the inset drama. Consequently, the audience may well have
registered the form of address used and automatically identified the character
of Gins and therefore accepted the baptismal scene as part of the illusion of
the main, rather than inset play. On the other hand, the characters name
(Len) is presented on one occasion only in the play within the play and may
not have provided a sufficient opportunity for the outer audience to associate
the character with his name. This occurs when the capitn reprimands him
with mucho, Len, replicis (III, fol. 281r). This single reference must
surely be overshadowed by the various references to the Christian as Gins by
Diocleciano, in his discussion of the actors performance, and indeed by the
capitn, who calls on the prompter to provide assistance. In addition, Fabio
states: Gins, de parte de Dios / te vengo a hablar (III, fol. 282v) when he
enters onstage to impersonate the angel which the inner and outer audiences
have already seen and heard. Therefore, it would seem more likely that the
outer audience would have identified the character Len as Gins and would
have been unable to further suspend disbelief with regard to the play within
the play.67

seen Fabio. Diocleciano states: pues no te he visto yo mismo? and Camila declares:
hombre, qu dices?, que yo / y todos te habemos visto! (III, fol. 282v).
66 On the appearance of angels as human beings, Dassbach states: Ocasionalmente, sin
embargo, los ngeles asumen la apariencia o persona de otros seres humanos, como ocurre
a los ngeles convertidos en trabajadores de la construccin en Santa Teresa de Jess [. . .],
o al ngel que suplanta a Fabio, un actor, en Lo fingido verdadero (La comedia hagiogrfica,
p. 111). As will be seen in chapter 5, angels also assume the images of Clara and Carrizo
in La buena guarda. In addition, the characters in La buena guarda are unable to
distinguish between Clara and Carrizo and the angels which play their roles while they are
absent. This would suggest that the same actress and actor played both parts. However, as
will be discussed in chapter 5, the encounter between Clara the angel and Clara the nun,
and Carrizo with Carrizo fingido, makes the impersonation of both characters by one actor
an impossibility in each case.
67 If we accept Cases claim on the use of special effects in the form of the
different levels on the stage, then the emergence of the angel en lo alto and the use of the
discovery endow the action with a type of supernatural authority. The outer audiences
recognition of Lopes subtle use of stage techniques would have conditioned its sensibility
to divine intervention at this point in the drama. See chapter 2, p. 70, n. 71 and p. 71
for further details on Cases comments on the three levels of staging in the comedia de
santos.

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While the complexity of reception cannot be denied, there is no doubt that


both the outer and inner audiences ultimately are persuaded to accept the
superiority of divine love to human love in both the inset and main plays.68
As Bryans indicates, Human love must give way to that more perfect love,
the divine love for which it is a preparation.69 Essentially, Gins exchanges
his love for Marcela for love of God and contentedly prepares for martyrdom.70 His rapid conversion from pagan to Christian is further evidence of the
inconstant nature of reality and the unruly essence of destino. Gins describes
his transformation into the mejor representante (III, 282v) to the inner and
outer audiences and to his compaa in theatrical terms:
Csares, yo soy cristiano,
ya tengo el santo bautismo,
esto represento yo,
porque es mi autor Jesucristo;
en la segunda jornada
est vuestro enojo escrito,
que en llegando la tercera
representar el martirio.
(III, fol. 282v)

However, in spite of Gins deliberate destruction of mimetic reality,


Diocleciano repeats his inability to distinguish between fiction and reality
which he demonstrated at the end of the first play within the play. Following
Gins speech, he questions him: hablas de veras, Gins? (III, fol. 282v). His
uncertainty serves to underline the pagans inability to identify real life which
is divinely inspired. Gins is indeed speaking the truth; in fact, his movement
towards a divinely-inspired love is emphasised through the use of theatrical
language. Gins himself explains:
Puso Dios en mi papel
estos pies, que no pudiera
68 For a comparison between human and divine love in both La hermosa Ester and La
buena guarda, see chapters 1 and 5 respectively. On the relationship between human and
divine love in Lo fingido verdadero, Trueblood states: We now see the full irony in
Genisus [sic] earlier assertion that role and reality coincide for the lover: the words are
true of divine love, not of human. See Alan S. Trueblood, Role-Playing and the Sense,
p. 314. Trueblood devotes pp. 31215 of this article to a study of Lo fingido verdadero.
69 See Fortune, p. 141.
70 El Amor Divino appears as an allegorical character in Act III of Santa Teresa de
Jess. A clear identification between this character and Christ is established as Amor
Divino emerges with a crown of thorns in his hands and is aided by Teresa to carry his
cross. The saving grace of divine love is underlined by Teresas reaction to the presentation
of the crown of thorns to her. She comments that the thorns Hoy, en m, / no son sino
clavellinas. See Obras, Biblioteca de Autores Espaoles, 18687, XIXII (Madrid: Atlas,
1965), XII, 247305 (p. 302).

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seguirle si no pusiera
todos estos pies en l.
Con stos le voy siguiendo
en la comedia y comida
de su mesa, y de la vida
y gloria que en Dios pretendo
(III, fol. 282r)71

In essence, the double meaning implicit in pies suggests not only that God is
the autor of Gins role, but that a definitive transition from pagan to Christian
occurs. Effectively, Gins becomes involved in a new paso created by God.
His shift to that particular scene is underlined by the angel who instructs him
camina, Gins, camina, / Gins (III, fol. 282r). Indeed, Gins now enjoys
control, which he did not have in his first inset play, when he hands himself
over to God. In contrast to Gins who is engaged in a forward journey, Fabio
expresses a desire to retreat when he appears to play the part of the angel.72
The capitn informs Diocleciano quera / volver al paso (III, fol. 282v).
Carino, in opposition to Gins, lacks direction, as he tells Celio and Rosarda
estoy / desocupado de pies (I, fol. 266r). Moreover, Carino stresses the fictitious, unstable nature of his existence in his reference to the relationship
between his pies and poetry: que en tratando con poetas, / pienso que estn
en sus rimas (I, fol. 266r).
Fundamentally, both Fabio and Carino represent the antithesis of Gins. In
other words, paganism is debased while Christianity is extolled in the play.
Gins alludes to the redeeming power of divine love in a comparison between
the heavenly and demonic troupes of players. According to him, Nicodemus,
a member of Gods company, buries individuals who later rise from the dead:
Nicodemus mete muertos, / pero luego resucitan. On the other hand, the
pecador is responsible for the burial of the dead in Lucifers compaa, mas
no vuelven a vivir (III, fol. 284r).73

On the importance of dining in a religious context, see chapter 2, p. 71, n. 72.


In La buena guarda, Flix is involved in a forward movement towards the
consummation of human love. He declares: pasos, no volvis atrs (I. 344).
73 It should be noted that Roman emperors, representatives of paganism, are debased by
Gins since they are assigned to Lucifers company of players. According to Gins, en esotra
compaa / Judas haca traidores, / romanos Emperadores, / la crueldad y tirana (III, fol.
284r). According to Dassbach, when the demonio is absent from the comedia de santos, Hay
una tendencia en los actores a asociar, o encarnar, las fuerzas del mal en otros personajes,
claramente identificados con grupos de creencias religiosas no cristianas: judos, moros, o
paganos. En El nio inocente de La Guardia, las fuerzas diablicas aparecen encarnadas en
los judos; [. . .] en Lo fingido verdadero, en los paganos (La comedia hagiogrfica, pp.
11213; p. 122, n. 37). By extension, other characters in Lopes comedias de tema religioso
are also embodiments of such fuerzas diablicas. See, for example, Amn in La hermosa
Ester and the gentlemen who attempt to lure Clara in La buena guarda (III. 37578).
71
72

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While Gins comparison of both compaas serves to define the


predominance of amor divino, it is precisely his description of diabolical,
Biblical and saintly characters as roleplayers which is particularly striking.
Gins second inset play makes explicit reference to the theatre of the world
metaphor and reinforces the contemporary theocentric view of real life after
death. Accepting his sentence resolutely and rejecting the worldly for the
divine, Gins abandons the company of the devil and moves to that of Jess.
With God as his scriptwriter, Gins announces: maana temprano espero /
para la segunda parte (III, fol. 284v). Following his baptism, Gins addresses
God: representad conmigo desde hoy ms (III, fol. 282r). His request not
only anticipates his participation in the comedia divina at the end of the play,
but also emphasises the theatrical nature of human existence which has
prepared him to assume his true role. Gins underscores the image of the
individual as a roleplayer in a speech in which he reveals Gods involvement
in his role. As far as he is concerned, everyone is a representante.74
Interestingly, Diocleciano is also responsible for the reinforcement of the
theatrum mundi concept. He recognises that he must perform the part of
restorer of justice following Gins confession.75 Hence, he orders the convert
morirs en comedia, / pues en comedia has vivido (III, fol. 282v), and
assigns roles to Lntulo and Sulpicio:
y acabar mi papel
con que Lntulo y Sulpicio
prendan y examinen luego
a cuantos vienen contigo.
(III, fol. 282v)

In the final analysis, the rejection of paganism is presented alongside the


abandonment of lo fingido of existence for lo verdadero of the afterlife.
Ultimately, despite the fact that self-referential devices generate varying
levels of audience estrangement throughout the play, Lo fingido verdadero is
undoubtedly an example of a well-crafted metadrama. In fact, the seeing
double which is fundamental to metatheatre is not only presented through the
incorporation of two inset plays within the main drama, but also as a result of
the double images of characters within the inset plays themselves. Moreover,
the unexpected role-changes of both Diocleciano and Gins prove that destino
cannot be controlled, and at the same time debase the concept of a restrictive
existence. The illusory nature of life is highlighted through the characters
inability to detect the roles which they must assume, while the reality of the
See his speech in III, fol. 282r.
The final restoration of order was one of the conventions of the comedia. As
McKendrick highlights: Often there are representatives of law and order dukes, princes,
kings who contribute in some way to the solution at the end (Theatre, p. 73).
74
75

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afterlife is underscored in Gins reference to the comedia divina. The establishment of identity is presented as a complicated process for the individual
concerned (such as Gins) and for those who witness his behaviour.
Ultimately, Lopes play expresses a sense of disillusion with life. While the
relationship between amor divino and amor humano is not the principal focus
of Lo fingido verdadero, the play does discredit negative attitudes and forms
of behaviour associated with human love, while divine love triggers Gins
martyrdom and assumption of his true role. As the following study of La
buena guarda will demonstrate, Clara, like Gins, is also prompted to assume
a number of roles as a result of a preoccupation with love, both human and
divine.

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5
DOA CLARA SAINT OR SINNER? ROLE-PLAYING
WITHIN THE ROLE IN LA BUENA GUARDA
Written in 1610 and first published in 1621, La buena guarda presents the
plight of Clara, abadesa, who is forced to confront the effects of both human
and divine love.1 Based on the legend of the monja sacristana, a devoted nun
who abandons the monastery with her lover and who is replaced by the Virgin
or an angel in her absence, La buena guarda focuses on the flight of Clara with
Flix, the mayordomo.2 The play opens with a diatribe against female vanity
as Carrizo, the sacristn of the monasterio, criticises the female preoccupation

1 An autographed manuscript of this play, dated 16th April 1610 and entitled
La encomienda bien guardada, is currently held at the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. The
play was first published with the title La buena guarda in Decimaquinta parte de las
comedias (Madrid: Fernando Correa de Montenegro, 1621). For full bibliographical details
of the edition of the play used for the purposes of this study, see chapter 2, p. 77, n. 88.
This play has attracted little critical attention, although there have been some interesting
analyses in recent times. See especially Fernando Lzaro Carreter, Cristo, pastor robado
(Las escenas sacras de La buena guarda), in Homenaje a William L. Fichter: Estudios
sobre el teatro antiguo hispnico y otros ensayos, eds David A. Kossoff and Jos Amor y
Vzquez (Madrid: Castalia, 1971), pp. 41327; Mara del Carmen Artigas, Edicin crtica
y anotada de La buena guarda de Lope de Vega (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of
Virginia, 1990), El mito del paraso en La buena guarda (1610) de Lope de Vega,
Explicacin de textos literarios, 19 (199091), 2936 and La mancha en la sangre versus
la mancha en el alma en La buena guarda de Lope de Vega, RN, 32 (1991), 12732.
2 The legend of the monja sacristana was extremely popular in Europe between the
twelfth and sixteenth centuries. According to both Gimnez Castellanos and Menndez y
Pelayo, the text written by Cesreo de Heisterbach, a Cistercian monk, constitutes the oldest
known version of the legend. (See La buena guarda, p. 10, and Estudios, II, 86.) In Edicin
crtica, however, Artigas states on the origin of the legend: Aadiremos que es nuestra
opinin que el primer autor de la leyenda no es Heisterbach, sino que probablemente fue
compuesta unos aos antes por un monje ingls, cuyo nombre desconocemos, (p. 8).
Artigas work is an invaluable study which not only presents an annotated edition of
La buena guarda, but also includes an examination of Marian literature in the West, in Spain
and in Lopes work, with specific reference to the legend of the sacristana in Spain and in
Lope. It should be noted that, while La buena guarda is not a comedia de santos, it is
included in an analysis of Lopes hagiographic plays by both Menndez y Pelayo (Estudios,
II, 8595) and Garasa (Santos, pp. 7678). Dassbach categorises this play as a comedia
piadosa (La comedia hagiogrfica, p. 5, n. 3), while Aragone Terni includes it in a list of
commedie apologetiche e devozionali (Studio sulle, p. 84).

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with physical appearance.3 Subsequently, the action concentrates on Flixs


declaration of love for Clara, the efforts of both to overcome human passion,
and Claras ultimate decision to become his lover. In Act II, the extent of
Claras devotion to the Virgin is illustrated through the lengthy monologue
which she offers to her patron and in which she calls upon the Mother of God
to protect her flock. Outside the monastery, Clara and Flix consummate their
love while an angel plays the role of Clara, abadesa, under orders from the
Virgin. At the end of Act II, Clara resolves to win divine favour, having been
abandoned by Flix. Thus, in Act III, Clara, disguised as Juana, the labradora,
returns to the monastery after three years of penance, confronts the angel who
has been playing her part and regains her authority as abadesa.
Unlike Lo fingido verdadero, La buena guarda is not a fully-developed
metaplay, but it does concern itself with the metatheatrical device of roleplaying within the role. Through the exploitation of this technique, the play
emphasises the problematic nature of identity in terms of both physical
appearance and the inherent characteristics of the individual. Audience dissociation is not only generated as a result of the enactment of various roles by
Clara, abadesa / adltera / labradora, but most significantly, through the
presentation of the complex double image of Clara, protagonist, and Clara, the
angel who takes her place in the abbey.4 Indeed, the replacement of Carrizo
during his absence from the monasterio with Carrizo fingido, another angel,
also contributes to the estrangement of the audience.5 Essentially, angels
perform Claras and Carrizos original roles as they assume new ones. As will
become evident in the course of this chapter, Claras engagement in roleplaying is defined by her shifting concern with human and divine love. In fact,
Clara plays three discrete parts within the drama as esposa de Cristo (I. 334),
adltera (II. 138) and labradora (III. 692), which are conditioned by divine
love, human love, or a combination of both. As a result of her movement away
from the status of saint to sinner and her return to that of saint, Clara, like Gins,
ultimately recognises the pre-eminence of divine love to human love.
3 The topos of female preoccupation with physical appearance has its roots in classical
elegiac poetry and was often a standard criticism in anti-feminist discourse of Spanish
medieval literature. In La Celestina, Sempronio even alludes to the elegant appearance of
women in his condemnation of intrinsic female characteristics. He warns Calisto: considera
qu sesito est debaxo de aquellas grandes y delgadas tocas, qu pensamientos so aquellas
gorgueras, so aquel fausto, so aquellas largas y autorizantes ropas, qu imperficin, qu
alvaares debaxo de templos pintados. See Fernando de Rojas, La Celestina, ed. Dorothy
S. Severin, 6th edn (Madrid: Ctedra, 1992), p. 97.
4 In the 1621 edition of La buena guarda, several amendments were made. The
monasterio of the manuscript became a casa de seoritas and the names of Spanish towns
and cities were omitted. Clara herself was reduced from the status of abadesa to a nun who
had not yet taken her vows. It would seem that this last change was made in order to avoid
any criticism of religious orders.
5 While I will concentrate on the various roles played by Clara in the play, reference
will also be made to the double image of Carrizo and Carrizo fingido where appropriate.

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Unlike Gins, who is only inspired by divine love towards the end of
Lo fingido verdadero, Clara is introduced to the audience as a devout, Godfearing, saintly abadesa, endowed with honestidad, paciencia and inocencia.6 Nevertheless, the abadesa abandons her role in order to pursue human
passion. This ngel en velo humano (I. 625), according to Carrizo, is
prompted to adopt an alternative role within the play by Flix, the enamoured
mayordomo.7 In spite of the fact that she manages to resist Flixs advances
on two occasions, Clara finally surrenders to her lover when he professes his
love for a third time. She insists:
y as, vengo a suplicarte
con lgrimas en los ojos,
que me lleves o me mates.
(I. 95557)

By doing so, she runs the risk of losing her gran santidad which, in Flixs
opinion, is common knowledge.8 Essentially, Flix is the intratextual dramatist
who is responsible for redirecting the course of Claras existence.9 He introduces her to the concept of human passion by declaring his personal love for
her.10 Clara makes this point explicit:
el da que me dijiste
amores o disparates,
no pude dormir, pensando
los efectos que amor hace;
y de pensar los efectos,
me naci el determinarme
a quererte; [. . .]
(I. 91824)

See Flixs speech, I. 649713 (67885).


Ironically, Clara perfectly fits Carrizos description when an angel impersonates her
in Acts II and III. As far as Flix is concerned, he embodies the typical characteristics of
the courtly lover. In the belief that he is pursuing an impossible love for an unattainable
woman, he states: que no hay mal que tenga igual / a amar imposiblemente (I. 32930).
Additionally, he describes his state in terms of Petrarchan conceits: Ponme esa nieve /
sobre aquestos labios presto; / ponla presto, que me abraso (I. 74648). Likewise, Cosme,
who subsequently falls in love with Clara, describes his condition in a similar fashion: A
m me incita y me mueve / tan vivo desasosiego, / que es nieve, y me abrasa el fuego, / y
es fuego, y me hiela en nieve (III. 22427). See chapter 1, p. 23, n. 38 for a brief
discussion of courtly love poetry and Petrarchism.
8 Flix tells Clara: Dicen mil cosas aqu / de vuestra gran santidad (I. 40708).
9 See chapter 4, p. 102 for Larsons definition of the intratextual dramatist.
10 This is a clear example of the force of eloquence which can be found in other plays
by Lope. For instance, in La dama boba, Finea is awakened to love through the power of
rhetoric, that is, through what Laurencio tells her.
6
7

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Although it is Clara who ultimately chooses to become, in Flixs words, his


esposa y eterno dueo (II. 100), the mayordomo represents the external
factor which influences her decision. In addition, Clara specifically refers to
a particular inner factor which shapes her course of action. In a lengthy monologue in which she regretfully redefines herself as adltera, Clara pinpoints
passion as the uncontrollable force which determines her change of role. She
addresses the Virgin in the following manner:
Con lgrimas lo digo, Virgen bella:
adltera soy ya; yo voy perdida;
que un ciego amor me arroja y atropella,
y una pasin en vano resistida.
(II. 13740)

Through the rejection of legitimate love/God, Clara unwillingly becomes the


embodiment of Eve, the sinner. Consequently, the establishment of the
saint/sinner or Virgin/Eve dichotomy means that the Virgin functions almost
as the alter ego of Clara on a divine plane. Clearly, then, while Claras engagement in role-playing within the role cannot be defined as involuntary, the
impact of the factors outlined above upon her transformation would have
affected the degree of audience estrangement generated.11 Moreover, since her
involvement in role-playing, like that of Gins and Diocleciano in Lo fingido
verdadero, is fundamental to the development of the plot, the intensity of the
metadramatic experience for the outer audience might have been limited,
depending on familiarity with the legend of the sacristana. Nevertheless,
there can be no doubt that some level of dissociation would have been
produced as a result of Claras various transformations.
What is particularly thought-provoking about Claras assumption of the role
of adltera, or lover of Flix, is the fact that the former abadesa is endowed
almost with a reluctance to embrace the part. As already stressed, she agrees
to adopt this specific role, but at the same time recognises that she is
consciously about to undertake a negative form of role-playing. In opposition
to Carino and Apro, who also play negative parts in Lo fingido verdadero, but
are free from any form of guilt, Clara describes her behaviour to the Virgin as
tan gran maldad (II. 154) and takes flight with Flix in spite of her sense of
vergenza (II. 141).12 Thus, while it cannot be denied that Clara becomes a
sinner as she abandons her flock, de seglar (II, 63), in order to consummate
her love with Flix, the outer audience might have been forced to sympathise
with this character. Clara is not solely responsible for her actions, but
11 See chapter 4, p. 98, n. 12 for Hornbys definition of involuntary role-playing within
the role.
12 For an analysis of Carino and Apro in terms of role-playing within the role, see
chapter 4, pp. 98105.

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apologises regardless before leaving the monasterio. Indeed, the explicit reference within the play to the Virgins protection of Claras reputation during her
absence might have conditioned the audiences judgement of the abadesas
actions. The Virgin, in the form of an offstage voz, which, as we have seen
throughout the course of this study, constitutes an important link with the
supernatural in Lopes comedias de tema religioso, instructs an angel:
Al punto te transforma
en esta miserable, que, perdida,
a su esposo desprecia desta forma.
De su rostro y sus hbitos vestida,
sirve su oficio, y las dems informa
de divinos consejos.
(II. 18790)13

Therefore, rather than interpreting Claras departure from the convent as a


selfish, despicable act, it is more likely that the audience would have regarded
it as the actions of a confused, manipulated individual.
The change in Claras status from saint to sinner is accompanied by a
significant alteration in Flixs discourse. The earlier eulogy of her inner
virtue is now replaced with a detailed description of her physical beauty. In
Act II, Flix compares his beloveds beauty both to nature and to several
mythological characters and concludes that Clara is more beautiful:
aqu, donde las flores
parece que se esfuerzan diligentes
a vencer tus colores,
aunque las desengaan las corrientes,
espejo de sus hojas,
contigo menos blancas, menos rojas,
puedes, hermosa Clara,
pasar aquesta siesta calurosa,
si no es que el sol se para
a verte entre las flores, y ms hermosa
que Daphne y que Jacinto,
(II. 38393)

The association of human love with physical attractiveness and divine love with
inner beauty which is established by Flix is a concept which is underlined

13 Clearly, the Virgin/Voz safeguards Claras role as abadesa by putting an angel in her
place. In Acts II and III, the pastor/Christ who appears to Clara and urges her to return to
the convent also has an impact on Claras course of action. Clara remarks: Quiz este
pastor es ngel, / y me anima a dar la vuelta (III. 52425). It could therefore be argued
that both the voz and the pastor function as divine intratextual dramatists within the play.

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throughout the play. It is illustrated particularly through Clara as she undertakes


her quest to regain divine favour (which she believes she has lost) in the guise
of Juana.14 After Flixs reluctant abandonment of his beloved following his
discovery that she is still secretly wearing the scapular of her order, Clara simultaneously assumes the roles of Juana, the labradora, and of repentant sinner.15
Claras change of role is significant because it is provoked for a second time by
the behaviour of Flix. In spite of her obvious, constant religious devotion, Clara
is unable to detach herself from Flix. The separation of the couple is imposed
upon her. Hence, it is only when she is abandoned that Clara fearfully seeks out
her first husband:
Qu har? Toda estoy turbada.
Ya tiemblo mi airado Esposo,
y no s por dnde vaya
a buscarle, aunque jams
cerr sus puertas al alma
que le llamase contrita.
(II. 95964)

In effect, the audience might have regarded Claras repeated failure to act
without the influence of external factors as a sign of the protagonists
weakness. Clara is in fact a reactive, rather than a proactive role-player.
However, it is also possible that Claras ability to manipulate unforeseen and
uncontrollable events would have generated audience commendation. This is
possible because Clara maintains a constant, identifiable relationship with the
divine in spite of the imposition of roles upon her.
As adltera and sinner, Claras scapular represents a visual sign of her
dedication to her previous role. Subsequently, as she impersonates Juana, the
labradora and pastora (an appropriate role for an abadesa, which foreshadows her return to positive role-playing), her explicit task of looking after her
flock is overshadowed by her personal mission to indulge in prayer, fasting
and penance in an attempt to receive divine forgiveness for her past actions.

14 Carrizo also emphasises the relationship between human love and physical beauty by
stating the reasons why he would like to travel to Toledo. He informs Flix and Clara of the
attractions which Toledo offers: gente noble, entendimientos / raros, damas siempre
hermosas (II. 61920). The italics are mine. At the beginning of Act I, in the role of the
hypocritical sacristn, Carrizo criticises women who spend an excessive amount of time on
beauty treatments because, in his opinion, their physical appearance will attract the attention
of potential suitors at Mass. Carrizo laments: y si ellas vienen ans, / esos, mirranme a
m? (I. 17576).
15 Flix highlights his grief to Carrizo before abandoning his beloved: a Clara he
escrito esta carta, / aunque breve de razones / de pesadumbre bien larga (II. 88385). In
addition, he explains that his course of action is determined by his fear of Gods reprisal
el temor de la justicia, / de su presencia me aparta (II. 89495).

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Cosme, the labrador who seeks Claras hand in marriage, informs his father
regarding her pious lifestyle:
Vive como una santa, recogida
en oracin perpetua y en ayunos;
mtese en esas peas que coronan
las mrgenes del Tajo, y dase en ellas
tantos azotes, que sus carnes bellas
las hacen jaspe con la sangre viva;
(III. 19499)

Essentially, her love for the divine is not explicitly substituted with human
love, but in fact constitutes a latent preoccupation for the protagonist. As she
relinquishes the role of adltera for that of Juana, Clara/Juana becomes
increasingly described in terms of her inherent, saintly characteristics, rather
than her physical beauty. For both Cosme and Gentilhombre 2o, she is an
ngel;16 she is subsequently described as a virtuosa who is invested with
honestidad.17 The redefinition of Clara as Juana, both in terms of her pious
nature and in terms of Juanas occupation as pastora serves as a preparation
for the plays dnouement, when the saint/sinner will embrace the position of
abadesa once again.
It is evident, then, that while it is difficult to ascertain the level of audience
dissociation created as a result of the performance of several roles by the principal character, the metadramatic strategy of role-play focuses the audiences
attention on the question of identity. Clara demonstrates that the individual is
a composite of oppositional, intrinsic characteristics strength/weakness,
perfection/imperfection and is driven by both rational and irrational forces.
The complexity of individuality is highlighted further through the introduction of an angel, in the guise of Clara, into the play.18 As the following analysis will demonstrate, the incorporation of Clara fingida into the action causes
the destruction of mimetic reality for the outer audience, who witnesses the
acceptance of Clara fingida as the absent Clara by a range of characters.
The complicity between the outer audience and the playwright functions on
various levels and ultimately produces what Palomo describes as a mensaje
inequvoco.19 In the first instance, the corral audience not only witnesses the
presentation of both Clara and Clara fingida onstage in Acts II and III, but is
also privy to the Virgins instructions to the angel to assume the role of the

See III. 241 and III. 374, respectively.


See the remarks of Gentilhombre 1o, III. 384 and Gentilhombre 2o, III. 381, respectively.
18 For the purposes of this study, and in an attempt to underline the relationship between
the angel and Clara, I will refer to the angel as Clara fingida.
19 See chapter 4, p. 110, n. 41 for further details on Palomos analysis of the complicity
between Lope and the corral audience in Lo fingido verdadero.
16
17

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absent nun. Consequently, the outer audience is explicitly informed by the


dramatist that Clara fingida is indeed a fictitious representation of Clara.
On the other hand, the characters in the play who remain within or in contact
with the monasterio following Claras disappearance are unaware of the fate
of their former abadesa, and, therefore, are ignorant of the true identity of
Clara fingida. Their inability to differentiate between this new leading female
and the previous one is hardly surprising since the Virgin has instructed the
angel to assume both the rostro and hbitos of her predecessor.20 Carrizo,
Flix and indeed Clara herself remain ignorant of the state of affairs at the
monasterio. Clara may have beseeched the Virgin to protect her flock from
the hambriento len (II. 167), but she has not witnessed the outcome of her
request. This means, therefore, that only the corral audience sees double
where Clara is concerned.21 Secondly, the cast list provided by Lope at the
beginning of his play highlights the fact that Clara and Clara fingida, and
indeed Carrizo and Carrizo fingido, were not played by the same
actress/actor.22 As a result, the use of two actors in each case would not only
have been necessary, given the fact that the characters ultimately confront one
another, but also might have served to underline the distinction between the
real and fictional self for the corral audience, despite Lopes attempts to
approximate the physical appearance of both. When Clara fingida first
appears, the stage directions read: Entren el Angel en figura de Doa Clara,
y don Carlos (II, 83). Similarly, Carrizo fingido entre con el traje que traa
el que se fue con Flix y con Clara (II, 71). It is highly probable that the deliberate presentation of the fictitious characters in the garb of their true counterparts might have made the characters acceptance of them as the real Clara
and Carrizo more convincing to the outer audience.23
Fundamentally, the impact of the double image of Clara upon the outer audience is twofold. Firstly, the inability of the characters to uncover the true identity of Clara/Clara fingida stresses the individuals susceptibility to delusion by

See p. 132 of this chapter for the Virgins complete instructions to the angel.
It should be noted that, while Carrizo and Clara eventually come face to face with
their respective fictional selves when they return to the monasterio, neither has the
opportunity to conduct a thorough comparison between himself/herself and his/her
namesake.
22 In the 1621 edition of this play, the cast list is omitted. Below the list of figuras de la
comedia, the text simply reads: Representla Riquelme. See Decimaquinta parte, fol.
204v. It should be noted that Carrizo, who deludes other characters with his false saintliness,
is replaced with Carrizo fingido, the angel who warns Gins against mujeres and juego,
the terribles enemigos (II. 37576). The play subsequently shifts between the presentation
of Carrizo fingido, the devout sacristn, who is accepted as Carrizo, and Carrizo, the
gracioso, whose primary concerns include food and women. See chapter 2, p. 60 for Cases
definition of the conventional gracioso.
23 While this play negates the relationship between costume and identity, costume is an
outward sign of role and status for Diocleciano in Lo fingido verdadero.
20
21

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outer appearances.24 Not even Claras father, Don Pedro, suspects that he is
conversing with a supernatural being, rather than his daughter, when he
informs her of the behaviour of his philandering son-in-law, Carlos.25 On the
other hand, Clara is unable to detect any similarity between herself and the
so-called doa Clara de Lara with whom she comes face to face. Following
Carlos revelation to her of the abadesas name (III. 700), Clara questions the
unrecognisable stranger: sois, seora, la Abadesa? (III. 724). Most significantly, however, Claras reassumption of the role of abadesa presents no problems in terms of acceptance by the other characters. Hence, in spite of her
fathers inability to distinguish between his daughter and the angel, Claras
own inability to recognise any similarity between herself and the character in
question, and the distinction drawn by Carlos between the abadesa and the
visiting labradora, Claras transition from Juana to abadesa is a fairly smooth,
uncomplicated one. Nevertheless, Clara finds herself having to improvise
when she resumes her role. The role is that of abadesa which she had carried
out previously, but the role is now prescribed by the angels playing of it. In
several asides, Clara emphasises that she is out of touch. In one of these, she
states: A todos tiemblo de hablarlos, / porque no s la ocasin (III. 82829).
The outer audience is aware of Claras need to improvise, while the characters
surrounding her, a type of inner audience, mistakenly believe that she is out of
touch because she is elevada. Essentially, in the wider context of seventeenthcentury Spain, the case of doa Clara stresses to the corral audience the difficulty of discovering the legitimate identity or personality of the individual in a
society which has abandoned itself to illusionism. In other words, the illusory
nature of life, which lies at the heart of the seventeenth-century concept of
theatrum mundi, is highlighted through doa Clara.

24 While the portera notices some recent change in the abadesa, claiming de unos das
a esta parte / est en ngel convertida (II. 81415), she is completely unaware of the
truthfulness of her statement. Likewise, Gins observation of slight changes in the character
of the sacristn does not prompt him to dispute the identity of the latter whom he simply
accepts as Carrizo. He tells Carlos: no tiene aquellas seales / que en el hermano se ven. /
Es el mismo y no es el mismo; / ms modesto y ms compuesto / trae el hbito y el gesto
(II. 33539). At the beginning of Act I, Carrizo emphasises the artificiality of physical
appearance in his discussion of female beauty treatments. He refers to their use of fingido
color and their canas mal disimuladas (I. 125; 133). A play which deals with the concept
of susceptibility to delusion by outer appearances is very much in keeping with an obsession
of the literature and art of the period, often called the theme of Ser/Parecer. At the heart of
the literature and art of seventeenth-century Spain was the notion of the individuals
susceptibility to engao, a concept which was encapsulated in Velzquezs Las Meninas. On
this theme, Jeremy Robbins states: So obsessive are the questions of appearance and reality,
of deceit and disillusionment, in Spanish baroque fiction that such fiction can justifiably be
viewed as Spains major and distinctive contribution to the early-modern preoccupation with
knowledge. See his The Challenges of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Seventeenth-Century
Spanish Literature (London: Duckworth, 1998), p. 41.
25 See the conversation between Pedro and the angel, III. 52954.

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The second effect of the double image of Clara upon the audience relates
to how the characters evaluate Clara fingida, and how they relate to the various miraculous occurrences attributed to the angel. In basic terms, the outer
audience is confronted with the parallel images of Clara, the sinner, and Clara,
the saint, as the words and deeds of the angel are associated with the real Clara
by individuals within the play. As a result, the main protagonist becomes more
saintly, at the same time that she violates Holy Orders. Indeed, she is not only
a santa, but a unique being with supernatural powers. Miraculously, she discovers Carlos intentions to punish Don Juan, a gentleman who has won the
favour of Elena, Claras sister, and also Carlos subsequent, illicit affair with
Ana following his marriage to Elena.26 However, even more striking is the
explicit presentation of Clara fingida (Clara, of course, to the other characters) as a miracle worker, who saves Magdalena. The miracle, which is presented offstage, is related to Carlos and Gins by the hortelana:
Para que no te vayas sin que sepas
un milagro tan raro, y seas testigo,
as como lleg Clara al estanque,
entr por l, y sin mojarse el hbito,
asi de un brazo a soror Magdalena,
y la sac a la orilla viva y sana:
dilo a su padre y a su amada hermana.
(III. 65965)

In addition, the implicit references to the relationship between Clara and the
Virgin within the play serve to exaggerate the holiness of the imperfect
abadesa. Ultimately, Clara becomes the buena guarda of the play, a role
which she attributed originally to the Virgin prior to her departure with her
lover. Before her exit from the monasterio, Clara declares: Virgen, en vos
les dejo Buena Guarda! (II. 185). Consequently, the exaltation of the repentant sinner, particularly through the incorporation of Clara fingida into the
drama, stresses the redeeming power of divine love. Clara is elevated to a
saintlike status, which she of course must assume and develop at the end of
the play when she replaces the angel. Ultimately, she will devote herself
wholeheartedly to amor divino. Naturally, Clara highlights that human frailty
is not only permissible, but in fact is also found in even the most pious of
individuals.27 The association of divine love with forgiveness is underlined by
See II. 67178, and III. 62127.
The idea that there is scope for human error is one which also presents itself through
the development of the character Tirso in La juventud de San Isidro. See chapter 2, p. 83
for further details. It is not surprising that Lope would have dealt with these issues in his
plays. Lopes own behaviour was motivated by very human and divine impulses. He was
torn throughout his life between amor humano and amor divino. This has been well
documented by critics.
26
27

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ELAINE CANNING

Flix in a statement which can be categorised as one of the most patent morals
of the play:
Errar es de hombre mortal,
y ms en esto que ves;
pero de demonios es
perseverar en el mal.
(III. 8184)

It is only unrepentant persistence in sin that earns damnation. Indeed, the


determination of the pastor, Christ himself, who appears twice in the play in
his search for la oveja / de ms hermosa y cndida pelleja (II. 44748), which
en la frente sola / una mancha tena (II. 48081), stresses the relationship
between compassion and amor divino.28 While Flixs decision to desert Clara
serves to associate human love with rejection and abandonment, the pastors
constant quest for his lost sheep, in spite of physical suffering, symbolises the
very opposite.29 In fact, for Christ, pain becomes almost pleasurable when it
is endured for a worthy cause. In his description of his search to Clara, he
states: que aun por ella entre espinas / andar juzgan mis pies por calvellinas
(sic) (II. 48990).30
Thus, while La buena guarda cannot be defined as a well-developed
metadrama like Lo fingido verdadero, there is no doubt that Lopes exploitation
of role-playing within the role within the play causes the outer audience to question the essence of identity. The illusory nature of existence, a predominant
theme in Lo fingido verdadero, is reinforced in this play primarily through the
deceptive nature of physical appearance. In addition, Lopes exploitation of the
double image of the main protagonist serves to define amor divino as a forgiving, ennobling love, in contrast to amor humano, conveyed as a degrading and
destructive force. Ultimately, Clara, like Gins, abandons human love for divine
love and allows divine love to redefine her role. Ironically, this is the same
role which the audience saw threatened at the outset. By finally proactively
assuming this role, Clara too discovers the saving grace of God.

28 For an analysis of the appearance of Christ to Isidro in both La niez de San Isidro
and La juventud de San Isidro, see chapter 2.
29 See the pastors speech, III. 42749 for details on his various forms of suffering.
30 The pastors reaction to the thorns is analogous to that of Teresa to the crown of
thorns in Santa Teresa de Jess. See chapter 4, p. 124, n. 70. This image would have caused
the audience to recall Christs own crown of thorns, and to contemplate the themes of
sacrifice, suffering and redemption.

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CONCLUSION
While this study consists of two discrete parts, together they offer a coherent
analysis of the origins and key features of Lopes comedias de tema religioso.
In part I, it is evident that through the re-creation of his models, Lope is able
to generate a variety of forms of audience reception, as well as to re-create
identifiable and instructive images of the biblical Esther and Isidro. In La
hermosa Ester, the reconstruction of episodes taken from the Book of Esther
enables Lope to problematise socio-literary themes such as love, honour and
the role of woman. In addition, susceptibility to a more subversive form of
audience reception serves to elevate the Jew above the dramatic representation of the Spaniard. The pre-eminence of divine love over human love which
is presented in La hermosa Ester is also a principal theme in Lopes plays
which deal with the life of Madrids patrn. Through the re-creation of the
source material, Lope establishes a link between the child Isidro and his adult
equivalent in La niez de San Isidro. Lopes innovative manipulation of the
written source material in La juventud serves to present Isidro as a Christ-like
and humble figure, who is willing to sacrifice human love for divine love.
Moreover, the fact that Lopes dramatic re-creations of the saint were presented to the seventeenth-century public when Isidros actual canonisation
was being celebrated stresses the interplay between illusion and reality which
prevails in these plays.
The connection between role-playing, language and costume which characterises Lo fingido verdadero and La buena guarda in part II serves to highlight the complexity of identity and the relationship between role and destino.
Above all, Lopes engagement with self-referential devices underlines the
illusory nature of life and the link between lo verdadero and lo divino, which
constitute the very essence of the theocentric world view of seventeenthcentury Spain. While varying degrees of audience estrangement are a possibility, particularly in Lo fingido verdadero, Lope also draws attention to the
relationship between divine love and human love in both plays.
It is evident that in his comedias religiosas, Lope deals with a variety of
contemporary issues which he also treats in his secular plays. In La hermosa
Ester, for example, there is an explicit preoccupation with anti-Semitism and
honor/honra, while in Lo fingido verdadero, some members of the corral audience may have interpreted Dioclecianos elevation to the status of emperor as
criticism of class division. The conflicting imperatives of human and divine

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CONCLUSION

love are treated in all of the plays studied in this book, and as is to be expected
in a comedia de tema religioso, role is ultimately defined in terms of its relationship with the divine. Lopes shifting concern with the positive and negative
effects of human love throughout this study is perhaps evidence of his personal
ambivalence to amor humano.
Although I have addressed several characteristic features of Lopes comedias
religiosas, there are many issues still to be explored. The themes examined
the reworking of biblical and hagiographical texts and the relationship between
the comedia religiosa and metatheatre can naturally be applied to other religious plays. A detailed study of the use of comedy, as well as an examination
of allegorical characters in Lopes religious plays, also merit attention. Of
course, there are a wealth of investigative opportunities for the scholar interested
in comparative analysis with Lopes secular drama. The representation of the
female in both types of comedia, together with the similarities between Lopes
exploitation and re-creation of source material in historical/legendary plays and
the comedia religiosa, are just two areas which lend themselves to potential
research. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the scant availability of
modern editions of Lopes religious plays needs to be addressed.
In a fairly recent article, Robert Morrison made the following comment
about religious drama in general: Among the multitude of dramas written
during the seventeenth century were several hundred religious ones. [. . .] The
autos have been repeatedly studied. The comedias devotas comedias bblicas
and comedias de santos, for the most part may be still awaiting full appreciation.1 It is hoped that this study has gone some way towards redressing the
balance.

Graciosos, p. 33.

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APPENDIX: LOPES COMEDIAS DE TEMA RELIGIOSO1


15901604
1594
15961603
15981603
15981608 (prob. 1603)
15981608 (prob. 160406)
15981610 (1604?10)
1605
16061615 (prob. 1609)
Before 1607
1608 (approx.)
1610 (approx.)
1610
1610
1610
16101615 (prob. 161012)
16101615 (prob. 161012)
1611
1613
16131615
16131615 (prob. 1614)
16131616 (prob. 1615)
1618
16151622
1622
1622
1625
1629
16201630

Santa Teresa de Jess


Comedia de San Segundo
La gran columna fogosa
Los locos por el cielo
El nio inocente de la Guardia
San Isidro, labrador de Madrid
Juan de Dios y Antn Martn
El rstico del cielo
Historia de Tobas
El santo negro Rosambuco
Lo fingido verdadero
El divino africano
La hermosa Ester
La buena guarda
El cardenal de Beln
El serafn humano
La madre de la mejor
Barlan y Josafat
San Diego de Alcal
El nacimiento de Cristo
San Nicols de Tolentino
El Capelln de la Virgen
La limpieza no manchada
El robo de Dina
La juventud de San Isidro
La niez de San Isidro
La niez del Padre Rojas
La vida de San Pedro Nolasco
Los trabajos de Jacob

1 All dates for Lopes comedias de tema religioso are taken from Morley and Bruerton,
Cronologa de las comedias de Lope de Vega (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1968).

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INDEX
Abel, Lionel, 5, 87, 88, 90
Ahasuerus, see Xerxes I
Apocrypha, 15 n.19, 1820, 39 n.73
Aragone Terni, Elisa, 2
Artigas, Mara del Carmen, 128 n.1, n.2
Azar, Ins, 103 n.25
Bentley, Eric, 90 n.14
Bleda, Jaime, Vida y milagros del glorioso
San Isidro el labrador, 52 n.30
Book of Esther, 1320
Book of Tobit, 12 n.9
Brockington, L. H., 18 n.27, 23 n.39,
43 n.85
Browning, W. R. F., 43 n.85
Bryans, J. V., 96 n.3, 124
Burkort, Haydee Macera, 2
Butler, Alban, 46 n.9, 47 n.11, 48 n.15
Caldern de la Barca, Pedro, 10 n.5
El gran teatro del mundo, 93 n.20
La vida es sueo, 59 n.43, 63 n.55,
93 n.20
Cancionero general, 114 n.47
Casa, Frank P., 88
Case, Thomas, 45 n.5, 60, 70 n.71, 71,
89, 92, 123 n.67
Catechism, 10 n.6
Cervantes, Miguel de, 27 n.47
Cesreo, Mario, 54 n.36
Clines, David J. A., 18 n.27,
19 n.31
Cdice de autos viejos, 13 n.14
Cofrada de San Isidro, 44 n.3
Concejo, Pilar, 3, 14 n.16, 42 n.82
Connor (Swietlicki), Catherine,
11 n.8
Corbacho, 80 n.100
Council of Trent, 9, 10 n.6, 11, 19 n.30
Courtly love, 23 n.38, 26 n.44, n.45,
27 n.49

Dassbach, Elma, 2, 57, 60 n.48, 71 n.72,


n.74, 75, 98 n.9, 120 n.58, 123 n.66,
125 n.73
De Armas, Frederick A., 38 n.72
Deuterocanonical additions, see Apocrypha
Diocletian, emperor, 95
Dixon, Victor, 3, 28 n.51, 31 n.56, 44 n.1,
61 n.50, 89, 93 n.21, 96 n.3, 97, 98
n.10, 100 n.16, 110 n.41, 111 n.43,
120, 121, 122, 123
Dunn, Peter N., 88 n.6
Edwards, Gwynne, 28 n.51
Farrell, Anthony J., 3
Fischer, Susan, 89, 90, 96 n.3, 104, 106,
110 n.40
Fishlock, A. D. H., 14 n.16
Fita, Fidel, 47 n.11, 52
Flasche, Hans, 10 n.5
Forster, Leonard, 23 n.40
Friedman, Edward H., 11 n.8
Gallego Roca, Miguel, 3, 45 n.7, 54 n.36,
63 n.52, 64, 70 n.71, 71 n.74, 74, 76
n.83
Garasa, Delfn Leocadio, 1, 51 n.27, 54
n.36, 71 n.73, 76 n.84, 97, 111 n.42
Garca Lorenzo, Luciano, 26 n.45
Genesis, 12 n.9, 33 n.59, 64
Genesius, St, 95; see also Lo fingido
verdadero
Gilson, Catharine, 46 n.10, 60 n.47
Glaser, Edward, 14 n.16, 15 n.20, 19,
23 n.39, 29 n.52, 41 n.77
Glenn, Richard F., 99 n.14
Godnez, Felipe
Amn y Mardoqueo, 13 n.15
La Reyna Ester, 13 n.15
Goldberg, Alice, 13 n.15
Gracioso, 601

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INDEX

Grant, Helen F., 63 n.56


Green, Otis H., 23 n.38, 26 n.44, 45 n.4
Guerrero, Jos Ramn, 10 n.6
Heiple, Daniel L., 42 n.83
Hornby, Richard, 4, 65 n.61, 93, 94 n.24,
98, 106, 110, 115
Inquisition, 9, 10 n.6
Isaac, Old Testament, 33 n.59
Isidore of Seville, St, 656, 70
Isidro, patron saint of Madrid, 448; see
also under Vega Carpio, Lope de;
El Isidro; La juventud de San Isidro;
La niez de San Isidro; San Isidro,
labrador de Madrid
Javier, Francisco, 48 n.15, 73
Josephus, Flavius, Jewish Antiquities,
1520, 24 n.41, n.42, 27 n.48, 30
n.54, 31 n.55, 345, 39 n.73
Juan Dicono/Juan the Deacon, Leyenda
de San Isidro, 44 n.2, 47 n.11, 514
Kidd, Michael, 89 n.11
Kirby, Carol Bingham, 89, 91
Kirschner, Teresa, 63 n.54
Knight, Alan E., 12 n.9, 43
Lama, Vctor de, 23 n.38
Larson, Catherine, 4, 87, 88, 89, 912, 93,
94 n.25, 102, 103 n.25, 105, 107 n.34
Larson, Donald, 28
Lavine, Roberta Zimmerman, 14 n.16,
42 n.83
Lzaro Carreter, Fernando, 128 n.1
Lipmann, Stephen, 889
Lowes, John Livingston, 26 n.45
Loyola, Ignacio de, 48 n.14, 73
Madrigal, Jos A., 89, 901
Mara de la Cabeza, 46 n.10, 49
Mayberry, Nancy, 14 n.16
McCrary, William, 89 n.9
McGaha, Michael, 97, 99 n.13, 105 n.29
McKendrick, Melveena, 38 n.72, 99 n.14,
108 n.36, 126 n.75
Menndez Onrubia, Carmen, 14 n.16
Menndez y Pelayo, Don Marcelino, 1, 12,
20 n.36, 489, 54 n.36, 95, 97
Metatheatre, 87, 90, 93, 94 n.25, 98 n.12
ceremony within the play, 65 n.61

intratextual dramatist, 102


play within the play, 94 n.24, 110, 115
role-playing within the role, 98, 106
Metzger, Bruce, 18, 19 n.31
Mexa, Pero, Historia imperial y cesrea,
95 n.2
Mira de Amescua, 10 n.3
Moir, Duncan, 31
Monja sacristana, 128
Montesinos, Jos, 1
Moore, Roger, 89, 91
Moreno, Francisco, 44, 46 n.10, 47 n.11,
n.12, 49, 51 n.27, 52, 54 n.35, 55
n.38, 57, 65 n.59
Moreno, Joseph, 90
Morley and Bruerton, Cronologa de las
comedias de Lope de Vega, 1 n.4
Morreale, Margherita, 10 n.6
Morrison, Robert, 2, 60 n.48, 73 n.78,
834, 140
Mroczkowska-Brand, Katarzyna, 92 n.19
Mundo al revs, 63
Nalle, Sara T., 10 n.6, 11 n.7
Navarrete, Ignacio, 23 n.38
Nebuchadnezzar II, 14 n.17
Nelson, Robert J., 87 n.3
Neri, Philip, 48 n.17
OConnor, Thomas Austin, 87, 88, 93 n.20
Orozco Daz, Emilio, 76 n.85
Ortiz Lucio, Fray Juan, Flos Sanctorum,
52 n.30
Palomo, Mara del Pilar, 93 n.21, 96 n.3,
101 n.19, 106 n.32, 110 n.41, 121,
122, 123, 134
Paredes L., Alejandro, 89 n.10
Parker A. A., 23 n.38
Petrarchism, 23 n.38, n.40, 26 n.45,
27 n.49, 111 n.43
Philip II, 44 n.3, 48, 56
Philip III, 478, 51 n.28, 99 n.13
Philip IV, 48, 51 n.28, 56, 73
Prince, Albert, 103 n.25
Purim, feast of, 15 n.18, 18
Racine, Jean, Esther, 13 n.13, 30 n.54,
31 n.57
Reichenberger, Arnold G., 88, 90 n.14
Rivadeneira, Pedro de, Flos Sanctorum,
95 n.2

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INDEX

Robbins, Jeremy, 136 n.24


Rojas, Fernando de, La Celestina, 129 n.3
Ross, Cecilia, 2
Sacks, Diane, 14 n.16
Sinz de Robles, Federico Carlos, 20
n.36, 50, 54
Seneca, De Clementia, 25 n.43
Ser/Parecer, 136 n.24
Shervill, Robert, 2
Sicroff, A. A., 14 n.16, 40, 42
Simerka, Barbara, 11 n.8, 42
Sito Alba, Manuel, 93 n.20
Sloane, Robert, 88 n.6, 90
Smith, Dawn L., 38 n.72
Soufas, Teresa Scott, 26 n.45
Stoll, Anita K., 38 n.72, 89, 92, 93 n.21
St Thrse of Lisieux, 48 n.15
Teresa de vila/Teresa de Jess, 48
n.16, 73
Thacker, Jonathan, 89, 93 n.21
Theatrum mundi, 92, 97, 1002
Ticknor, George, 74 n.81
Tirso de Molina, 10 n.4
El burlador de Sevilla, 11 n.8, 71 n.72
Torres, Isabel, 31 n.56
Trueblood, Alan S., 88 n.6, 124 n.68
Valencia, Juan O., 32, 37
Vallejo Gonzlez, Irene, 54 n.36
Vega Carpio, Lope de, 1, 5, 137 n.27, 140
El alcaide de Madrid, 65 n.61
El arte nuevo de hacer comedias en
este tiempo, 23 n.37, 25 n.43, 83, 99
n.14, 108 n.36, 112 n.44
El castigo sin venganza, 25 n.43, 28
n.51, 99 n.14
El divino africano, 70 n.71
El Isidro, 41 n.77, 50, 54, 56, 63 n.53,
658, 70 n.70, 72, 739
El nio inocente de La Guardia, 37
n.68, 55 n.39, 110 n.40
El perro del hortelano, 28 n.51
El robo de Dina, 12 n.9, 83 n.107
Fuento Ovejuna, 29 n.53, 38 n.72,
46 n.9
Historia de Tobas, 12 n.9, 35 n.64, 36
n.67, 69 n.69

153

Justa potica y alabanzas justas, 49


n.21, 50, 51 n.29
La buena guarda, 77 n.88, 113 n.45,
119 n.56, 123 n.66, 125 n.72, 12838
La dama boba, 130 n.10
La hermosa Ester, 1213, 14 n.16,
2043
La juventud de San Isidro, 456, 55, 56
5961, 669, 72, 7384
La limpieza no manchada, 41 n.78, 45
n.5, 110 n.40
La madre de la mejor, 55 n.39
La niez de San Isidro, 456, 5573,
74, 77, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84
La niez del Padre Rojas, 55 n.39
La vida de San Pedro Nolasco, 45 n.5
Las mujeres sin hombres, 38 n.72
Lo fingido verdadero, 95127
Los locos de Valencia, 26 n.45
Los locos por el cielo, 46 n.10, 99 n.14,
110 n.40
Los trabajos de Jacob, 12 n.9, 64 n.57,
83 n.107
Relacin de las fiestas en la
canonizacin de San Isidro, 45 n.6,
n.7, 46 n.8, 4950
San Diego de Alcal, 46 n.9, 66 n.64
San Isidro, labrador de Madrid, 12
n.10, 41 n.77, 501, 545, 5961,
669, 72, 7383
Santa Teresa de Jess, 123 n.66, 124
n.70
Vega Garca-Luengos, Germn, 14 n.16, 20
n.36, 41 n.77
Velzquez, Las Meninas, 136 n.24
Vlez Quiones, Harry, 89 n.11
Villegas, Alonso de, Vida de San Isidro
labrador, 52 n.30
Vulgate, 19
Wardropper, Bruce W., 88 n.6
Weiner, Jack, 2, 13 n.12, 14 n.16, 15
n.20, 24 n.41, 37, 401, 42
Weisinger, Herbert, 92
Wilson, Stephen, 47 n.12, n.13
Xerxes I, 14 n.17
Zavala, Iris M., 23 n.38

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