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Helen Burke Ledbury A thesis submitted to the University of
THE TRAGEDIESOF MAMA RosA GkLvEZ DE CABRERA (1768-1806)
Helen Burke Ledbury
A thesis submitted to the University
of Sheffield in candidature for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Department of Hispanic Studies
April 2000
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The researchpresentedin this thesiswas carriedout betweenOctober1994andApril
2000in the Departmentof HispanicStudiesat the Universityof Sheffieldunderthe
supervisionof Dr. Philip Deacon.The projectwas supportedfor threeyearsaspart of
the UniversityFeesandBursaryScheme.A periodof archivalresearchin July 1996was
fundedaccordingto the termsof the PetrieWatsonExhibition.
I would like to thank Professor A. A. Heathcote for supporting my initial
applications for funding and Professor N. Round for subsequentlyaccepting me as a
postgraduate student, Dr. Tim Lewis for enrolling me as Graduate Tutor in Spanishin
the Modem LanguagesTeachingCentre,andDr. JohnEnglandfor encouragingand
supporting me as a tutor in the Department of Hispanic Studies.
The successfulcompletionof this thesisis due,in part, to Dr Philip Deacon
whose expert guidance through the initial phasesand scrupulous direction during the
final stagesof my projecthaveprovedinvaluable.Dr. Deacon'ssupervisionhasbeen
both intellectuallydemandingandrigorousthroughoutandI would Re to thankhim for
his advice, practical support and ongoing interest in my work.
I must also acknowledge the support of colleagues,especiallyJaneWoodin,
Isabel Diez, Antonio Barriga, Nashy Bonelli, Puri Trabada and Julia Falc6n and the
Gon7Aez,
Jordi
Doce,
Catherine
Nuria
friends,
loyalty
especially
and
of
understanding
Smith, Barry Rawlins, Cristina Vald6s, Isabel Vencesli and Rekha Narula.
I mustexpressmy deepestgratitudeto ValerieandVincentBurke, who always
knowledge
learning.
further
denied
I
to
and
my
opportunity
an
ensured wasnever
Mark Ledbury'sunfailingencouragement
at eachstageof this thesishasproveda
for
his
him
like
happiness.
I
to
thank
wisdom,patienceand
would
sourceof strengthand
care,but aboveaH,for his enthusiasm.
H
SUMMARY
The aim of this thesisis to advancean understandingof the author's corpus of tragic
plays,eight in total. ChapterOne explorescontinuitiesand changesin Gilvez's critical
fortunesin the last two hundredyears.ChapterTwo examinesthe author's commitment
Spain,situating
to write tragedyin the light of notionsof the genrein eighteenth-century
GAIvez'sinnovationandexperimentation
with genericconstantsboth ancientandmodem
in the contextof the contemporarydebateon theatre.
The remainingeight chaptersarededicatedto analysesof aesthetic,structuraland
thematic elementsof each play: Afi-Bek, set in Mameluke Egypt, whose ensemblecast of
characters and uncompromising portrayal of
cruelty
and barbarity perplexed
contemporary critics; Safil, which dramatised the final hours in the life of this Biblical
figure in the uni-personal mel6logo format; Sa/b, which depicted the Greek poet's
passionate yet solemn act of suicide; Florinda, which interrogated the legend of the
Moorish Conquest of Spain; Blanca de Rossi, in which elementsof the emergent Gothic
style animated the familiar tragic dilemma between public duty and personal honour;
Amn6n, which recast the Biblical story of Amnon and Tamar and engaged with earlier
treatments by Calder6n de la Barca and Tirso de Molina; Zinda which addressedissues
of slavery, colonialism and nationhood, drawing on elements and techniques associated
with sentimental comedy; La defirante, in which Gilvez approached the historical
account of the rivalry between Tudor and Stuart, through the character of Leonor, Mary
Stuart's daughter.
The systematic analysis of these plays reveals GAIvez as a self-conscious and
skilful tragedian, able to fuse the conventions of ancient models of tragedy with the
devices of new dramatic and literary forms to create a body of tragic writing which is at
once experimental,innovative and essentiallyclassicising.
iii
CONTENTS
1
Introduction
6
Chapter One
GAIvez's Critical Fortunes
Chapter Two
G9vez and the Fortunes of Tragedy
24
Chapter Three
Aft-Bek
41
Chapter Four
Said
63
Chapter Five
Safo
80
Chapter Six
Florinda
93
ChapterSeven
Blanca de Rossi
110
ChapterEight
Amn6n
127
ChapterNine
Zinda
143
ChapterTen
La defirante
156
Conclusion
172
Bibliography
175
IV
ABBREVIATIONS
A.H.N.
Archivo lEst6rico Nacional,Madrid
A. H. P.M.
Archivo flistörico de Protocolos, Madrid
A.M.M.
Archivo Municipal,Madrid
B.N.M.
BibliotecaNacional,Madrid
B.M.M.
Bibhoteca-I-list6rica
Municipal,Madrid
Caftos
Teatrode los Caflosdel Peral,Madrid
Cruz
Teatrode la Cruz,Madrid
Principe
Teatro del Principe, Madrid
BIBLIOGRAPHIC
REFERENCES
Works are cited for the first time in full, and are referred to subsequentlyby short title.
SPELLING
Original spelling, accentuation and punctuation have been preserved.
V
INTRODUCTION
This thesis focuses on the eight original tragedies of the MAlaga-born poet and
playwright Maria Rosa Gilvez de Cabrera. These plays form part of an extensive and
varied literary oeuvre which establishedthe author's reputation as the most prominent
woman writer of her generation:
Sea qual se fuese el lugar que esta ilustre dama debe ocupar entre los demis
poetas de la nacion, no se la podri privar del m6rito de dar i su sexo un grande
exemplo, cultivando las nobles artes, y de ser, sino la finica poetisa espaftola,i lo
1
la
fecunda.
menos principal y mis
Gilvez composed a number of original poems and dramatic works in addition to
translating several French plays for the Spanish stage, and succeededin publishing most
of this body of writing before her untimely death in 1806.2The first works to appear in
print, an original tragedy, a short comic piece and two translations, were included in the
six-volume anthology of contemporary drama Teatro nuevo eSpai)01.3The subsequent
three-volume Obras pojticasý printed at the Imprenta Real, contained the most
substantial and significant corpus of Gilvez's writing and comprised thirteen original
poems, one translation and nine original plays; however it did not mark the culmination
4 Three further
her
literary
of
endeavours.
poems were printed during the author's
lifetime, two in contemporaryliteraryjournals andthe other as an occasionalpoemin a
separateedition,while two originalandtwo translatedcomediesexist only in manuscript
form.' A seriesof letters written by or on behalfof Gilvez to her patrons,the censors
andcontemporarycritics, in additionto documentaryevidencewhich confirmsthat ten of
her plays were performedin Madrid in 1801 and 1805, completethe picture of an
'
literary
her
day.
in
the
cultureof
energeticwriter who participatedactively
Chapter One traces GAlvez's critical fortunes from the first contemporary
responsesto her writing, through to the most recent modem scholarship,analysing
historians
have
in
that
the
and
critics
ways
understoodthe
changesand continuities
disdainful
by
her
I
tone
the
that
adopted
often
contemporary
author and
work. argue
commentatorsoriginatedin their consternationat the ambition and complexityof the
have
Although
tragic
modem
scholars
rediscoveredthe
author's corpus of
writing.
pertinenceof Gilvez's poetic and dramaticsubjectmatter, they have often overlooked
I
the significanceof her experimentsand innovationsin tragedy, a genre which her
contemporariesconsideredto be the noblestdramaticform, and one for which women
writers werethoughtill-suited.
ChapterTwo beginswith a brief considerationof documentaryevidenceand
other writings in which the author outlined a commitmentto revive the fortunes of
Spanishtragedy.I contendthat throughher work, Gilvez aimedto constructan identity
not asa woman,but asa writer and,aboveall, asa tragedian.In the rest of this section,I
Spain,and situateGilvez's engagement
explorenotionsof tragedyin eighteenth-century
with generic constantsboth ancientand modem in the context of the contemporary
debateon theatre.
Chapter Three examinesAfi-Bek, which triggered a venomousattack from a
contemporary critic and which continues to perplex scholars,who tend to regard it as the
author's least successfulplay. Using the specific criticisms of the contemporary reviewer
as a starting point, I argue that Gilvez's deliberate subversion of the concept of tragic
hero in this play has been consistently misinterpreted and undervalued. As such, this
tragedy might be regarded as one of the author's most richly experimentalworks.
Chapters Four and Five are dedicated to Safil and Safo respectively. My
in
draws
dismissed
dramas,
these
minor
pieces,
part
as
examinationof
one-act
often
inspirationfrom the author'streatmentof the act of suicidein each.To a certainextent
in musico-dramatic
both works engagedwith new developments
genres,while remaining
firmly anchoredin the conventionsof Greeklyric tragedy.
In Chapter Six I argue that Gilvez's determinationto experimentwith the
in
hero
her
the
the
to
tragedy
myth
of
national
overturn
conventionsof
prompted
Florinda. Although the legendaryaccount of the invasion of the Moors was firn-dy
first
Florinda
in
folklore,
Gilvez
to
Spanish
the
place
writer
at the centre
was
entrenched
fundamental
leads
This
to
of
the
a
narrativeof
reinterpretation
a novel
narrative.
of
Spanishnationalidentity.
ChapterSevenis dedicatedto Blanca de Rossi, which dramatisesthe virtuous
imagination
in
literary
be
Italy
figure
historical
the
of
can
whose place
suicideof an
in
injected
Gilvez
I
Spain.
the
Florinda.
which
that
consider
ways
and
of
comparedwith
dilemma
between
into
Gothic
tragic
the
ancient
public
the
style
emergent
elementsof
duty andpersonalhonourfacingthe patriotic heroine.
ChapterEight comparesGilvez's reworkingof the Biblical story of Amnon and
2
Tamar with earlier treatments by Pedro Calder6n de la Barca and Tirso de Molina. I
demonstrate that in her treatment of the subject matter, Gilvez reshapedthe nature and
role of the characters of Amn6n and Thamar to create a more human-centred view of
personal destiny than that of her predecessorsand to redefine Amn6n as a fully rounded
tragic protagonist.
Chapter Nine analyses Zinda. As in Afi-Bek, Gilvez's understanding of the
relationship between European and non-European cultures appears to have influenced
her choice of theme in this work. Zinda, unique in GAlvez's tragic oeuvre in terms of the
resolution of the plot, addressedissues of slavery, colonialism and nationhood and also
engagedwith new models of sentimentaldrama.
Chapter Ten explores La delirante, in which the historical account of the rivalry
betweenQueenElizabethI of England and Mary Stuart spurred Gilvez to create a
tragedyof unprecedented
power in her oeuvre.This disturbingportrayalof the demiseof
Leonor, Mary's innocent daughter,a shadowy historical characternever previously
dramatisedfor the Spanishstage,resonateswith a brandof passionandpathoswhich is a
hallmarkof the author'stragic writing andwhich is hereat its mostintense.
Where not otherwiseindicated,the analysesof these plays are basedon the
SaO,
Ah-Bek,
Although
texts.
there
copies
of
manuscript
original printed
are extant
Sa/b,Florinda andBlanca de Rossi,they are not known to presentsignificantvariations
7
from the definitiveprintededitions. The order of the chaptersfollows the order in which
the works first appearedin print. ThusAh-Bek, printed in the Teatronuevoespaholin
first and the remainingplaysare treatedaccordingto the sequencein
1801is exan-dried
"
Obraspo&icas
1804.
in
III
II
the
of
which theywereprinted volumes and of
3
' Minerva, o el revisor general, IL II (1806), pp.49-51, reproducedin Manuel Serranoy
Sanz, 'GAlvez', in Apuntes para una biblioteca de escritoras espailolas (desde 1401 al
1833), Madrid, 1975, vol. 269, p.455. This measured but apparently sincere praise of
Wvez's artistic achievementsformed the preambleto a critique of her 'Oda en elogio de la
],
Chapter
[Pedro
Olive?
Maria
by
Madrid,
1806,
see
author
espaftoW,
an
anonymous
marina
One note 13 below. Gidvez died on October 2 the same year and this was the last
contemporarycritical assessment
of her work.
2 The 'partida de defimci6n' is reproducedin Serranoy Sanz,Apuntes, p.445. Testamentode
Dofia Maria Rosa de GAlvez,mujer de Don JosephCabreraRamirez en 30 de setiembrede
1806,A. H.P.M., Sim6nRuiz, Protocolo21429,1805-1806,unpaginated.
3Ali-BelL Tragedia original en cinco actos, Catalina, o la bella labradora. Comediaen tres
actos. traducida delfrancis, Un loco hace ciento. Comediaen un acto enprosa para servir
de fin de fiesta, El califa de Bagdad 6pera c6mica en un acto in Yeatro nuevo espafiol,
Madrid, 1801, V. Although El califia de Bagdad is attributed to Wvez in Agustin Durin's,
Inventario de la libretia que fite del Excmo. Sr. Don Agustin Durdn comprada por el
gobierno de SM. con destinoa la Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, 1865, somescholarsbelieve
it was translatedby Eugenio de Tapia. See Ren6 Andioc and Mireille Coulon, Cartekra
teatral madrilefta del siglo XVIII (1708-1808),Toulouse, 1996,p.890 n.97, for a discussion
of extant archival evidencerelating to the translatorof the play, and Julia Bordiga,Grinstein,
Dramaturgas espaholasdefines del siglo Xkyffyprincipios del siglo NX. El caso de Maria
Rosa de G61vez,(unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania), 1996,
pp.123-126, for a summaryof bibliographicreferencesto the work and its Spanishtranslator.
In the absenceof any conclusivearchival evidence,and in the fight of the ironic Ousion to the
play in a letter to Wvez printed in the Memorial literario, instructivo y curloso de la Corte
de Madrid, IV. 35 (1805), pp.378-382, 'Nos acordamos de aqueHaletra del Califia de
Bagdad, (p.379), I considerthe play as part of Wvez's oeuvre.
4 Maria RosaGilvez, Obraspoglicas, Madrid, 1804.
5 'Viage al Teyde' in Variedadesde ciencias literatura y artes, H.17 (1805), pp.301-308;
'Oda en elogio de las f4migacionesde Morv6, establecidasen Espaffa a beneficio de la
humanidad,de orden del ExcelentisimoSeflor Principe de la Paz' in Minerva, IlL 52 (1806),
pp.3-10; Oda en elogio de la marina espafiola,Madrid, 1806. SeeFranciscoAguilar Pifial,
indice de las poeslaspublicadas en los peri6dicos espaftolesdel siglo Xk7II, Madrid, 1981,
la
familia
La
179,213;
B.
M.
M.,
Ms.
1-744,
a
moda, comedia en verso en Ires actos;
pp.
B.M. M., Ms. 1-28-14,Las esclavasamazonas,comediaen Ires aclos. Seenote 6 below for
detailsof manuscriptcopiesof the two translatedcomedies.
6 Many of these documentsare reproducedin fidl or in part in Serranoy Sanz,Apuntes,
information
below,
for
Five
See
Chapters
Three
443-456.
relating to the 1801
and
pp.
Safio
See
Coulon,
Andioc
Ali-Bek
Gilvez's
tragedies
respectively.
and
and
performancesof
Cartelera, for detailsof the performancesof Bi6n, Catalina o la bella labradora, El califia de
Bagdad,Las esclavasamazonas,Lafamilia a la moda, and Un loco hace ciento in 1801 and
1805.The important researchesof thesetheatrehistorianshave also revealedevidenceof two
by
been
Gilvez:
dama
known
have
La
translated
to
colifica o
performedplays not previously
Novia impaciente,comedia en prosa, en un acto, Barcelona,rLd., performed at the Caftos
30-31 May, 2 October 1806and at the Principe 15-16 November 1806 and 15-16 June 1807,
B.
M.
M..
Coulon,
Cartelera,
531-533,539,596
Andioc
rL22,679,896
rLI84;
pp.
see
and
Ms., 120-16,La intriga epistolar. Comediaen Ires aclos en verso. Traducida librementedel
4
ftancis y arreglada a nuestro Teatro, seeAndioc and Coulon, Cartekra, pp.495,745,907
n.352. La dama colifica, a translationof Charles-GuillaumeEtieme, Lajeunefemme co7jre,
Paris, 1804, is traditionally attributed to Luciano Francisco Comella, see Emilio Cotarelo y
Mori, Estudios sobre la historia del arte escinico en Espafia. Iff Isidoro MiNquez y el
leatro de su fiempo, Madrid, 1902,p.237. La intriga epistolar is thought to be an adaptation
of PHlipe-Frangois-Nazaire Fabre d'Eglanfine, Lintfigue epistolaire, Paris, 1792. See
Francisco Lafarga (ed.), El teatro europeo en la Espafia del siglo AWII, Lleida, 1997,
pp.248,263-264 for details of manuscriptand printed copiesof both plays. SeeChapterOne
note 24 below for a list of posthumouseditionsandperformancesof Gilvez's plays.
7 SeeGrinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.329-331,353.
9 Modem scholarshave speculatedon the date of compositionof Gilvez's poetry and plays.
In the absenceof any conclusivedocumentaryevidenceit is only possibleto establisha very
generalchronologicalframework for the creationof her oeuvre.On this, seeespeciallyJoseph
R. Jones,'Maria Rosa de G-,Uvez:Notes for a Biography', Dieciocho, 18 (1995), pp. 173-86
(p. 177-178),and Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.42-48,56-69.
5
CHAIqER
GALvEz's
ONE
CRITICAL
FORTUNES
GAIvez and her Contemporaries 1801-1806
Given the variety and extent of her literary output, the reactions of her contemporaries to
GAIvez's work are vital in revealing the way in which the author's writing
was first
received and judged. However, it is important to situate this critical attention in the
context of a general and persistent marginalisation of women's writing throughout the
eighteenth century in Spain! In commentaries on the author's poetry and drama, praise
was often tempered by an assumption of the limited creative talents of female authors. In
the review of Aft-Bek, the first contemporary assessment of one of GAlvez's original
compositions, the anonymous critic prefaced a cursory and disdainfýl examination of the
tragedy itself with a lengthy,. clichd-ridden
reviewers of Gilvez's
discourse on women and writing. 2 Other
work engaged more subtly with the debate, referring incidentally
and in more measured, less condemnatory tones, to the author's status as woman writer.
However, this difference of degree does not mask the shared belief among critics that
3
for
literary
higher forms of
women were essentiallyill-equipped
endeavour.
Like the reviewer of Ali-Bek, Manuel Jos6 Quintana introduced his analysis of
GOvez'sObraspoiticas by addressingthe questionof femaleparticipationin the literary
4
world. Quintana'sarticleis the more stylishandmoresubtlyarguedof the two, asmight
be expectedfrom an accomplishedman of letters.' Yet where the earlier article made
explicit the critic's opinions regarding female authors, Quintana's commentarywas
double-edged.
11issardonicremarksand equivocationin evaluatingthe statusof women
behind
designed
disguise
intrinsicafly
to
cynical
a smoke-screen
views
of
writers seem
contradictoryobservationsandobfuscation.
At the outset of the article, Quintanaappearedto favour the participationof
Ta
de
las
he
deben
termed,
the
cuesti6n
si
of
mujeres
and
currency
what
rejected
women
However,
in
las
letras'
both
dedicarse
superfluous.
and
a quick about
malicious
a
as
o no
turn, he reasonedthat womenwriters did not posea threatastherewere so few of them
'el
imagery
in
he
described
their
the
as
contagio,
evoking
numbers
potential
growth
and
disdain.
demonstrating
his
Pursuingthis metaphorand clearly
disease
thereby
and
of
fear:
he
to
that
there
the
them
nothing
was
women
addressing malereaders, reassured
6
were employed in 'tantas otras ocupaciones [ ... ] mis agradablesy mis anilogas a su
naturaleza y costumbres' and thus the contagion was unlikely to spread. This rationale
merely echoed the commonly-held opinion among men that women's talents were
naturally suited to the domestic not the public sphere.
Of greater subtlety was Quintana's subversion of the concept of the literary
republic, which would have resonatedin intellectual circles. His confidencein the
continuity of the male-dominated'imperio de la reputaci6nliteraria' strikes an elitist
6
betrays
deep-seated
chord and
a
reluctanceto acceptthe statusof women as writers.
However,havingdeclareddoubtfid the rise of the woman of letters, Quintanaabruptly
changedcourseonce more and paid tribute to those educatedwomenwho had defied
male expectations('los que les nieganla posibilidadde sobresalir')by excellingin the
arts and sciences.Perhapsalludingto the polerriicon women,fashionand luxury which
had featuredin the periodicalpressin recenttimes, Quintanasuggestedthat it was less
harmfulandridiculousfor womento cultivate'su raz6n' and 'su espiritu' than to spend
1
disipaciones
'en
frivolas'.
By equatingfemininity and frivolity Quintanacriticised
time
patternsof femaleconductandappearedto encouragewomento takeup the morenoble
pursuitof writing.
In this puzzlingintroductionto the review of Gilvez's work, Quintanarehearsed
core elementsof the debateon womenwriters in his own elusiveliterary style, creating
an ambiguouscontext in which to set an equally enigmatic analysisof the Obras
failure
his
discuss
blend
The
to
tortuous
and
specific
censure
of
approval
and
poiticas.
features of her writing in his review suggest that for Quintana, Gilvezs work
literary
fundamentally
limited
talents.He qualifiedand
the
of
women's
nature
exemplified
her
for
the
tentative
compositions,
of
example,
compliments
most
restricted even
distinguido,
in
'no pocosparajes'.
de
'sefiales
Gilvez
talento
that
un
showed
observing
The double negativehere is a fine illustration of his dogged determinationto avoid
he
her
technique
which
a
employedwith
worth,
making a clear, positive statementof
(male)
have
been
fulsome
His
that
poet
throughout.
any
would
praise,
most
consistency
happyto claim certainversesof 'La campaftade Portugal' as his own, merelyassumed
in
Thus
literary
the
arts.
while apparentlypraising
male
superiority
and reaffirmed
he soughtto remindthe readerthat this successcould not be
GMvez'sachievements,
measuredon the samescaleasthat of men.
7
There are further indicationsof the genderednature of Quintana's criticism.
Although he endorsedGAlvez's poetic style ('claro y puro'), versification ('fficil y
fluida') and choiceof metaphors('agradables'),he found her choiceof poetic conceits
though 'generalmentedulces, not always 'fuertes y escogidos. Thus Quintana
highlightedthe shortcomingsin Gilvez's poetic techniqueby opposingfluidity, purity,
charmand sweetnessto power andjudgement,therebyinsinuatingthat the absenceof
these masculine qualities was a significant flaw. In this observation and in the
presumptionthat Gilvez would be honouredby his cautiouscommendationof her lyrical
verse,Quintanaestablishedcertainboundariesof expectationfor women's writing and
markedout andclaimedareasof literaryterritory which correspondedsolelyto men.
The luke-warm assessmentof Gilvez's poetry was matched by a largely
unfavourableanalysisof her drama.Quintana'sdefinition of tragedyas a difficult genre
to masterimpliedthat Gilvez had underestimated
and thereforefailed the task shehad
set herself' Although he consideredit grosslypedanticto list defectsin the plays, he
deliveredsome damninggeneralcriticisms, pronouncingthe tragediescolourlessand
uninterestingand remarking that Gilvez had sometimestransgressed'las leyes que
[Aristotle, Luzin and Blair] han dictado'.9 While he concededthat severalscenesin
Amn6nandthe secondact of La delirantetestifiedto the author's 'ingenioy capacidad',
for Quintanatheseflashesof inspirationservedmerelyto illuminatethe overwhelming
10
her
in
mediocrityof
work this noble,circumscribedgenre.
In forgoing a detailed analysisof GMvez's drama, Quintanaimplied that the
compositions did not merit critical scrutiny. Throughout the article he portrayed the
Obraspoiticas
as no more than a literary oddity, the product of an unrestrained and
singular feminine ambition. For Quintana, GAlvez's unconventional energy and boldness
of approach to her writing had blinded her judgement and driven her to over-reach
herself. He concluded that she should have reduced her dramatic output in order to
but
disguised
her
this
the
the
comment
only
partially
of
quality
writing,
guarantee
have
final
insinuation
His
tragedy.
that
attempted
never
should
she
underlying
endorsement of Gilvez's oeuvre stressed the curiosity value which would inevitably
attach to her work:
De todos modosnuestraliteratura,que entrelas mujeresque se habiandedicado
de
coplas,puede desdeahora
escritoras
a componerversos,no contabasino
darseel parabiin de tenerun talentoqueal inter6squeIlainahaciasu sexo,reüne
8
el m6rito de haber producido un buen nfimero de rasgos verdaderamente
po6ticos, que no s6lo le harin respetablemientrasviva, sino que pasarin su
"
la
nombrea posteridad.
That he should consider respectabilityto representthe height of Gilvez's literary
aspirationsis further proof of Quintana'sdeterminationto demarcateand distinguish
masculineandfemininespheresof literary ambitionin this article.Ms stemreview of the
Obraspo&icas servedto diminishthe scaleof Gilvez's achievementand sidelinethe
significanceof her contribution.
Quintana'svoice may resonatewith authority now, but his criticism was only
12
highly
his
form
GMvez's
Although
opinions
one,
subjective,
on
work.
of commentary
offer an insight into the type of prýudice which threatenedto block the author's full
participationin the literary world, there is evidenceto suggestthat Gilvez was more
preoccupiedwith securingthe good opinion of the censorand her patronsthan that of
the critic. " Severalof the extantcensors'reportson Gilvez's playsare of significancein
that they representmorethan a routinerubber-stampof approvalandreveala glimpseof
a differentbrandof contemporarycritical responseto her writing.
SantosDiez Gonz.
Mez, catedrAticode podtica de los RealesEstudios de San
Isidro and official theatrecensor,praisedGilvezs dramatictalent in clear,unambiguous
terms:
he exarainadola adjuntatragediaoriginal, intituladaAli-Bek compuestapor la
SehoraMaria Rosa de Gälvez, cuyo distinguidoingenio se manifiestaen esta
composici6nquepuedecontarseentrelas dignas,asi originalescomo traducidas,
14
de
Corte
los
han
que se
representado
en teatrospübhcos esta
Furthermore, in his examination of the original plays which made up the Obraspoiticas
he offset a somewhat condescendingobservation of Govez's achievement among her
female contemporaries with an intimation of the sensitivity she had brought to bear on
the Biblical subject matter in Amn6n and Safil.
del
Romanas
discipulas
de
Matronas
de
trata
aquellas
ser
una mugerque sin
se
delicados
Geronimo,
San
de
la
Yglesia,
tan
Doctor
sobre
asuntos
escribe
miximo
de la Ifistoria sagrada"
9
Similarly, Juan Bautista de Ezpeleta, Vicario de Madrid, not only approved for
publication the same plays, but elaborated on his reasons for this decision. He
pronounced himself satisfied with the plays:
que son originales, que algunas se han representado en nuestros teatros con
aceptacion del publico, que son recomendables por su imbencion, lenguage,
decoro y magestad,que la autora hä sabido escoger los asuntos que hä puesto en
16
hä
scenay
conseguido manifestar su numen poitica
Although these fragmentsof opinion were never designedto reach a wider
public, the distinctly positive tone of Diez Gonzilez and Ezpeleta'sreports allows a
differentperspectiveon Gilvez's Obraspoiticas and suggestsalternativeways in which
her work was understood and appreciated by her contemporaries.Ezpeleta's
commendationof GAIvez'sstagecraftcontrastswith specificcriticismswhich Quintana
developed,while Diez Gonzilez's commentscan be read as an attempt, however
chauvinisticby modemstandards,to applaudwhat he regardedasa genuineachievement
ratherthanto sneerat the low expectationsof women'swriting.
There is a similar sincerityof tone in the surviving critical reviewsof GAlvez's
poetry. The anonymousauthor of the assessment
of the 'Oda en elogio de la marina
espafiola'did not hesitateto placeGilvez amongthe most illustriousmale poetsin the
SpanishParnassus
andstatedat the outsetof the piece:
No es poco lauro para las armas espailolas el que entre tantos ilustres poetas
como han cantado su honor y gloria, se halle una poetisa conocida ya en el
Parnaso espahol por otras muchas composiciones en los g6neros mäs sublimes de
la poesia. 17
Although Gilvez's work and successwas situated within a gender-specific context, the
intention here was not to diminish her achievement but to enhanceit. This critic, like
Diez GonzAlez, singled Gilvez out in order to applaud her successas a woman writer
demonstrate
la
de
'Oda
to
the feminine nature of
the
espafiola'
marina
en elogio
and used
her poetic talent in words which were reminiscent of Quintana's comments:
todos convendrintambien,i lo menosasi nos parece,en que reunei un talento
"
fuego,
facflidad,
graciaya vecesannonia.
naturalmentepo6tico,
10
In order to justify this high praise,the author included extracts from Gilvez's ode,
accompanyingeachwith detailedand positive commentary.The review containedno
negativecriticismand,with a flourish,concluded:
Por estas muestras podrin conocer nuestros lectores el mdrito de esta
composici6n: y si para algunos hemos.sido difusos, sirvanos para excusa el gusto
19
hemos
leydndola
leer.
que
sentido
y volvi6ndola a
An equallyapproving,while more restrainedassessment
of the samepoem had
appearedin theMemorial literario. The critic alsoprefacedthe analysisof Govez's ode
with a comment which placed her work in the context of that of her male
contemporaries.However, on this occasion,the comparisonwas justified. Mor de
Fuentes,mentionedin the article, had composedan ode on the Battle of Trafalgar"
tackling the samepoetic subjectas Gilvez, but from a different perspective,which led
the reviewerto remarkof Gilvez's ode:
Cadapoeta gira a su modo el plan de su obra, y asi cada cual tiene su m6rito
particular,esdecirque estaoda, si bien no estan sublimecomolas queya hemos
extractado,no por eso deja de merecerun buen lugar en el aprecio de los
literatos. Justo es tributar a cadauno el elogio que le corresponde,y nosotros
tomamoscon mäsgusto la plumapara notar las bellezasde una obra, que para
21
defectoS.
manifestarsus
This approach is unique among contemporary criticism of Gilvez's oeuvre. In focusing
on the ode, rather than its author and in refusing to waste ink by identifying the
shortcomings of the piece, the critic conveys a sense of literary merit while avoiding
excessiveunction.
Having consideredresponsesto Gilvezs printed drama and poetry it is important
to complement this survey of contemporary reactions to the author's work with an
22
Las
that
of
esclavas amazonas. While this
examination of a rare performance review,
article is unusual in that it did not use the gender of the author as a critical framework,
presumptions about the nature of woman were covertly expressedthrough the reviewer's
analysis of the female lead character, Hip6lita, whose resolve and behaviour the critic
found exaggerated and unbelievable. It is paradoxical that the reviewer found the plot
hackneyed and derivative, and yet fOed to recognise the originality of Gilvez's
unconventional heroine, thereby dismissing an innovative aspect of characterisation in
II
this comedy-23Of course, the assertion that many in the audiencehad also found Hip6lita
an unrealistic character may have been a rather obvious critical Ploy- Nevertheless, if
true, it suggests that the experimental nature of Gilvez's writing was conspicuous in
performance, and that her innovation was deliberate and self-conscious.
It is clear that Gilvez's work was neither entirely neglected nor roundly
In fact, critics engagedsubtlywith GAlvez'swriting,
condemnedby her contemporaries.
drawing on preconceivednotions about female literary ability to highlight perceived
strengthsand shortcomingsin GAlvez'scompositions,covertly prescribingthe limits of
her talent. Thus the poems were generally praised for their graceful, lyrical
expressiveness,
while the playswere criticisedfor containingdefectswhich revealedthe
author's allegedinability to mastera higherliterary form. Areasof experimentationand
innovationin Gilvez's dramaswere persistentlymisreadas examplesof her failure to
follow the exampleof othersand thus an important and exciting aspectof the author's
dramaturgywas underratedand eventually lost. Ultimately, the gender bias which
distorted critical commentarieson CTMvez'swork perpetuatedelitism in the arts,
remodellingprejudicesaboutwomen'swriting in generalandcolouringinterpretationsof
Gilvez's oeuvrefor generations.
'Vida azarosa y libertina':
Gilvez, Biography and Scandal 1807-1901
Despite the revival of several of GOvez's original dramatic compositions for publication
interest
in
death,
her
following
in
the author's work
the
scholarly
and performance
years
declined after 1806 and was replaced by a preoccupation with her biography and
24
her
life.
Questions of
details
about
particularly with the more (spurious) salacious
in
by
GMvez's
their criticisms of
contemporaries
gender, genre and participation raised
her work faded into the background and her plays and poems ceasedto be the principal
point of referencein considerationsof the author's significance.
There is no known
unorthodox,
documentary
evidence to suggest that GAIvez led an
libertine lifestyle and the original
source of the pernicious and highly
Antonio
her
point.
a
moot
remains
conduct
contentious account of
Alcali
Galiano,
Francisco Gufll6n Robles, Juan P. Criado y Dominguez and Padre Francisco Blanco
Garcia must bear equal responsibility for dwelling at length on entirely undocumented
25It is futile to point out the mistakes
Godoy.
Gilvez's
relationship with
anecdotes about
these historians made in cataloguing Gilvezs
bibliography and idle to contend with their
12
paltry and contemptuous assessmentsof her literary worth. Suffice it to say that barely
thirty years after her death, the prevailing caricature of GAlvez as scurrilous 'metre maid'
bore no resemblanceto the simple, dignified portrait of her as SpanishMuse conveyed in
the commemorative ode 'A la muerte de Dofia Rosa Gilvez, insigne y sola espaffola,
poetisa del tiempo presente":
A Ilanto y dolor nos mueve
la muerte de aquella sola
discreta Musa espafiola
26
las
nueve.
que valia por
Renewed Scholarly Interest in Gilvez as Woman Writer 1902-1958
Emphasis on a specious biography and a neglect of her work meant that by the turn of
the nineteenth century Gilvez scholarship was at a low ebb. Manuel Serrano y Sanz's
Apuntes para una biblioteca de escritoras espariolas (desde 1401 al 1833) not only
revived GOvez's critical fortunes, but also revealed evidence of an extraordinary
27
had
into
directly
catalogue of women writers whose work
mostly passed
oblivion.
Serrano y Sanz's thirteen-page entry on CT9vezcomprised an overview of the author's
biography and literary career, supported by primary and secondarysource material, and a
bibliography of her oeuvre. Although he cited some of the nineteenth-century historians
whose ill-informed work had tarnished Gilvez's literary reputation, Serrano y Sanz
distanced himself from their opinions and allowed his transcriptions of contemporary
documents and inventory of the author's oeuvre to testify to her achievement.Although
it is by no meansa complete account of Gilvez's life and work, Serrano y Sanz's study,
which contains few major inaccuracies,remains an impressive digest of information and
continues to serve scholars well. Although the variety and extent of GAlvez's
contribution to the literature of her day is not easily compared with that of her
contemporaries in this alphabetical listing, the approach situated Gilvez within a female
tradition in Spanish literature and the renewed interest in Ffispanic women writers was
due in no small measureto his important work.
Two early female historians clearly benefited from Serrano y Sanz's pioneering
feminism.
literature
Gilvez was a notable
in
their
and
own studies on women's
work
omission from Maria del Pilar Ofiate's study of the rise of feminism in Spanish
literature 28Despite describing the women writers who flourished after 1750 as 'por lo
.
general, feministas exaltadas' (p. 195), Ofiate probably excluded GMvez on the grounds
13
that there was no overt feminist agendain the author's work. However, had she read
Margarita Nelken's work, Ofiate might have been tempted to investigate Gilvez further.
Nelken rehearsedsomeof the most sensationalelementsof earlier accountsof
GAIvez'slife in a picturesquerecountingof the author's allegedamourswith Godoy.29
Althoughmuchof the evidencein this opinionatedanalysisof GAIvez'sliterary famewas
derivative,there emergeda new emphasison the parallelsbetweenthe author's life and
dramaticwork which continuesto influencethe direction of much modem scholarship.
Nelken suggesteda connectionbetweenGAIvez'slicentiousbehaviourand risqu6scenes
in her drama,pointingto this as a reasonfor the objectionsof the censorsandthe critics
"
to certain plays. Although this interpretationof GAIvez'scritical fortunes stretched
credibilityandreliedon partialdocumentaryevidence,it led the authorto concludethat a
certain hypocrisy among Gilvez's contemporarieshad contributed significantly to
thwarting her greatersuccess.In this, Nelken identifiedthe anti-womensentimentwhich
to Gilvezs work.
pervadedmanycontemporaryandnineteenth-century
responses
In differentways,the studiesof Emilio Cotareloy Mori, on Isidoro Malquezand
the theatre, and Jos6 Subiri, on Iriarte and the mel6logo, both of which footnoted
Gilvez's dramaticoeuvre,signalleda new departurein Spanishliterary history of the
"
eighteenthcentury. Subiri's in-depth analysisof the elusive mel6logo form is of
particularvaluein placingGAlvez'sSaO, escenatragica unipersonalin the evolutionof
this peculiarly eighteenth-century
tragic genre, which more than compensatesfor his
32
her
de
Gasca.
Maria
misattributionof
pieceto
It is also important to acknowledge the impact of Ada M. Coe's catalogue of
playsadvertisedin the Madrid periodicalpressbetween1661and 1819,which until very
recentlywas the standardreferencetool on this crucial aspectof theatre studies.The
informationcollatedby Coe,togetherwith the appendices
to Cotarelo'sMdiquezandthe
bibliographyin Serranoy Sanz'sApuntes,recoveredmuch lost information about the
33
Gilvez
While
scholarship,these studies
advancing
author's work.
not specifically
providedthe building blocks with which scholarsof the next generationcould begin to
of Glilvez'soeuvre.
constructa newunderstanding
Gilvez and Literary Criticism 1950-present day
The last fifty yearshave witnesseda proliferation of acadenk interestin all areasof
Spanish eighteenth-century studies. Seminal investigations into social, political and
14
cultural life in Spain in the early modem period have expandedthe field beyond
recognition.However,Gilvez hasnot alwaysfared well. The ground-breakingtext and
receptionbasedstudiesof the first generationof modem scholarstheoriseddrama in
34This approachnecessarilyinvolvedchartingthe indicatorsof significant
broad sweepS.
literary trends and differentiatingbetweenmajor and minor figures in the theatrical
world. Gilvez was not a significantlandmarkon theseimportantmapsof theatrehistory
and the often subjective,occasionallyopinionatednature of some of these accounts
tendedto solidifythe male-dominated
canon.
However, new bibliographies,cataloguesand dictionariesof eighteenth-century
writers and their works revealed the incredible diversity of cultural activity in the period
and launched the careers of a new generation of theatre historians keen to reassess the
35
dramatistS.
These indispensable reference works
contributions of previously neglected
placed mainstream and lesser known writers alongside one another, which in itself invited
a challenge to the prevailing notion of the author as either innovator or imitator. More
importantly, the burgeoning interest in feminist literary studies has stimulated a series of
bibliographies of the work of Ifispanic women writers and histories of Spanish women's
which have interrogated
writing
the myth of male innovation
and female imitation,
implicit in contemporary criticism of GAlvez's work and present in commentaries ever
since.
36
New Paradigms: Gilvez Scholarship since 1986
Advances in feminist literary history have informed the growing body of Gilvez
female
her
in
in
Yet
predecessorsand, perhaps
with
comparison
scholarship recent years.
more pertinently, her male peers, Gilvez's substantial corpus of writing, together with
her publishing and performance success belies a traditional feminist literary historical
interpretation of the invisible female author denied accessto the privileged, patriarchal
37
disappeared
from
literary
had
GAlvez
letters.
Nor
trace
the
the
without
of
man
world of
be
her
her
death,
to
in
following
re-evaluated rather than
needed
work
and
map the years
rediscovered.
"
Eva
Kahiluoto
Rudat.
In the first
The first scholar to recognisethis was
substantialarticleto be dedicatedto GAlvezasa playwrightconcernedwith the aesthetic
literary
her
Rudat
the
specific
and
time,
a
author
within
situated
preoccupationsof
with genreand
cultural contextand pointedto the ways in which Gilvez's engagement
15
the field of literary creationwas crucial to an understandingof the significanceof her
oeuvre.Followingthis lead,severalstudiesby DanielWhitaker,haveraisedthe profile of
Gilvez: as an enlightenedwriter. Joseph Jones adopted a similar approach in his
discussionof Satil, relating Gilvez's play to the complexdevelopmentof the mel6logo
form in Spainand Europe.39More recently,Whitaker has examinedthe ways in which
the author'swork engagedwith contemporarysocialconcerns,andhasprovideda series
40
interpretations
of stimulatingthematic
of severalplays.
ElizabethFranklinLewis hasfocusedon Gilvez as a womanwriter. Inspiredby
Foucault's theory of discourse and its relationship to power, Franklin Lewis's premise in
her unpublished doctoral thesis was that a dominant male discourse presented women
41
writers with obstacles. Her interpretation stressesthose aspectsof Gilvez's poems and
best
her
be
demonstrated.
discourse
In
in
the
this
can
struggle against
stifling
plays which
most recent work, Franklin Lewis extends this feminist literary historical approach to a
42
from
in
GAlvez's
a genderedperspective.
study of specific themes
plays approached
Other scholars have focused on biographical matters. Joseph Jones collated
previously known material in an attempt to create a chronology of Gilvez's artistic
43
been
have
in
However
this
the
area
of
studies
advances
endeavours.
most significant
doctoral
dissertation
by
Julia
Bordiga
Grinstein,
remains the
whose unpublished
made
44
date.
her
Grinstein
life
In
thesis,
to
treatment
the
and
work
most substantial
author's
of
used major archival discoveries to support new interpretations of some of Gilvez's
difficulties
drew
inspiration
from,
the
that
the
even
overcame,
suggesting
author
work,
which racked her personal life in the creation of her oeuvre.
One of the most obvious and immediate outcomes of this body of research is a
in
Gilvez
in
the
writers
general
about
and
women
opinion
climate
of
perceptible change
in particular.45It is no longer possible to think in terms of a fixed group of major and
in
is
literary
constant evolution whose
the
a concept
canon
minor writers since
Frequently
by
directed
the
of
present.
no more than
concerns
metamorphosesare always
has
Gilvez
finally
in
literature
in
footnote
the
past,
achieved a
token
surveys of
a
in
in
is
the most
subsection,
a
separate
canonical status of sorts and cited, occasionally
46
held
be
Gilvez
While
histories
Spain.
to
literary
critics
an
contemporary
of
recent
her
24),
her
('a
scholars
to
modem
regard
as a
ejemplo
grande
sex
su sexo un
example
less
her
the
celebrated eighteenthstill
regrettably
sex and
paradigm, an example of
century Spanishwomen dramatists.
16
This shift in emphasishas not always led to an accompanying focus on Gilvez as
an individual writer with a distinct body of work. For some scholars, champions of a
theorised version of theatre history, Gilvez remains an example of a dramatist whose
48
in
both
Romantic
Neoclassical
the
work sits uncomfortably
and
camps. Yet more
perplexing is the stance of those historians who, ignoring the revisionist line in women's
literary studies, have been disparaging about Gilvez's literary career, insisting that she
49
benefactors
in
the
to
to
court. Recent archival
used sexual charm gain access powerful
discoveries have laid to rest some of the more colourful fictions which have persistently
50
Gilvez's
contorted and obscured
artistic achievements. However, these same
documents have been used to forge a new set of assumptions about the relationship
between Gilvez's art and life. " It is to be hoped that the fascinating new insights into her
intimate affitirs will not overshadow the wider significance of Gilvez's work and eclipse
the study of her relationships with patrons and censors, theatre companies and actors,
writers and print culture in general.
Why Tragedy? Rethinking Gilvez the Tragedian
In modem scholarship, as the field of gendered literary history is redefined and notions of
a feminist canon give way to the concept of a series of female traditions in the history of
Western creative writing, so it seems appropriate to examine Gilvez's work from a more
nuanced feminist perspective which places greater emphasis on questions of genre and
which does not focus exclusively on the status and subjectivity of women. At a time
when eighteenth-century
Spanish women writers are enjoying unprecedented scholarly
life
it
important
is
to
at the centre of any new study of
and
not
attention,
place work
Gilvez. 52
In the absenceof any substantialarchival material, Gilvez's motivations for
fragmentary
However
the
evidence which
conjecture.
of
writing remain a matter
for
GAlvez,
that
writing tragedy was a personal aspiration and
suggests
survives,
It
literary
important
renewal.
appears that
and
even
national
of
act
challenge and an
GAlvez was aware of the problems facing any ambitious tragic voice, at a moment when
the genre was enjoying a mixed critical and public reception. Yet this did not deter her
from composing a significant number of tragic works and from seeking to establish a
high profile as a tragedian through acts of self promotion and self-defence.
17
Gilvez's identity and status as a tragedian, although crucial to her own
perception of herself as a dramatist has not been fully explored in modem scholarship.
The next chapter begins with a consideration of documentary evidence and other
writings in which the author outlined a commitment to revive the fortunes of Spanish
tragedy, revealing the nature of her poetic vision and the extent of her ambitions for the
genre. I explore notions of tragedy in eighteenth-century Spain, and situate Gilvez's
innovation and experimentation with generic constants both ancient and modem in the
context of the contemporary debate on theatre.
18
1 Manuel Garcia de Villanueva Hugalde y Parra's, Origen, ipocas y progresos del leatro
de
los
fiestas,
Discurso
Hist6fico.
Al
y
un
resumen
espeadculos,
espailoh
que acompaha
recreaciones que desde la inds remota antigaedad se usaron entre las naciones m6s
cilebres: y un compendio de la historia general de los teatros hasta la era presente,
Madrid, 1802, illustrated this tendency to marginalise women writers. He compiled an
extensive list of eighteenth-centurySpanish male authors, yet despite acknowledgingthe
successof their female counterpartsnamed only seven, of whom three were active in the
half-hearted
'
The
'etc.
this
attemptto pay
ended
rather
eighteenthcentury.
nonchalant
which
tribute to female authorship in Spain is indicative of a resistance to reconstruct the
predominantlymale canon of national writers (p.318). Modem bibliographiestestify to the
extraordinarynumber of Hispanic women poets and playwrights who, although present in
print and performance,were almost entirely absentfrom contemporarycritical literature. See
below note 36.
This review is discussedbelow in Chapter3.
3 In 1786,sixty years after the publicationof Feijoo's ' Defensade las mujeres', the debateon
de
Josefa
Gaspar
Melchor
intellect
Jovellanos,
in
the
papers
was
reopened
which
woman's
Amar y Borb6n and FranciscoCabarr6swrote on the subjectof the admissionof women as
members of the Economic Society of Madrid. These important treatises encapsulatedthe
Gilvez's
lifetime.
For modem
debate
throughout
principal argumentsof a
which resonated
scholarshipon this see, for example, Sally-Ann Kitts, The Debate on the Nature, Role and
Influence of Woman in Eighteenth-centurySpain, Lewiston, 1995; Elizabeth M. Franklin,
'Feijoo, Josefa Amar y Borb6n and the Feminist Debate in Eighteenth-centurySpain',
Dieciocho, 12 (1989), pp.183-203, Edward V. Coughlin, 'The Polemic on Feijoo's "Defensa
de las mujeres"', Dieciocho, 9 (1986), pp.74-85.
4 Variedades H, 1.3 (1805) pp.159-164, reproduced in Albert D6rozier, Manuel Josef
Quintana et la naissancedu hUralisme en Espagne,Paris, 1970,H, pp.560-562.
5 SeeD6rozier, Quintana.
6 See Joaquin Alvarez Barrientos, 'Sobre la edici6n de 1788 de la Reptiblica fiteraria de
Diego de SaavedraFajardo' in El siglo que Hamanilustrado. Homenajea Francisco Aguilar
Pifial, Joaquin Alvarez Barrientos and Jos6 ChecaBeltrAn (eds.), Madrid, 1996, pp.55-60,
for
Fajardo's
Saavedra
implications
discusses
text
59,
the
women's
of
especiallyp.
which
be
insinuation
the exception
his
Quintana's
the
In
that
writer
should
woman
review,
writing.
in
See
Saavedra
Fajardo's
ideas
text.
the
also
expressed
the
rule echoedsome of
and not
Alvarez
Alvarez
in
las
letras
Joaquin
de
Barrientos,Ta republica
Joaquin
y sus ciudadanos'
Barrientos,FrangoisLopez, ImnaculadaUrzainqui, La reptiblica de las letras en la Espaha
Alvarez
Barrientos, Tuando las letras
Joaquin
del siglo XHH, Madrid, 1995, pp.7-17, and
Regarona ser de cambio": sobre la rep6blica literaria espaftolaen el XVIR', in De misticos,
(ed.
Caldera,
),
Armando
Siciliano
Ermanno
Homenaje
a
m6gicos, chisicos, rominticos.
Messina, 1993,pp.3346.0
7 SeeKitts, Debateon WomanandCarmenMartin Gaite,Usosamorososdel dieciochoen
Espaha,Madrid,1972,for a discussion
attitudestowardseighteenth-century
of contemporary
Spanishwomen.
' 'Son grandessin dudaalguna,y m1sde to que se piensalas dificultadesque fiene que
',
D6rozier,
Quintana,
tragedias...
see
se ponea escribir
vencerel poetaque actualmente
p.562.
19
Y 4...el estilo de las tragediasno fiene bastantecolor, [ ] algunos de los asuntosque ha
...
escogidono se presentancomo muy interesantes...'. Ibid.
10'Varias
escenasdelAmn6n y el acto segundode La defirante, [ ... ] manifestandosu ingenio
y capacidad,hacen sentir que no haya empleadoexclusivarnenteen estasdos obras toda la
aplicaci6ny el trabajo que ha esparcidoen las demAs'.Ibid.
11Ibid.
12For example, the theatre
censor Casiano Pellicer, who found no evidence of GAlvez's
failure to comply with dramaticconventionsin Lafwnifia a la moda which he declaredto be
'arregladaa las leyesdel teatro'. SeeB.M. M., Ms. 1-744.
13 Ibe unfavourable performance
review by M[ariano de] C[amerero] of Las esclavas
amazonaswhich appearedin the Memotial literarlo, IV. 31 (1805) pp.177-178, elicited a
responsefrom Gilvez in the form of a letter addressedto the editors of the Variedades.
Gilvez explained her motives in publicly answering some of the criticisms levelled at her
play, offering a valuableinsight into her attitude towards literary critics, 'pensabano contestar
i su critica, pero porqueno crean,si callo, que fienenraz6n, dirijo i vmds. mi respuesta,para
que la insertenen su peri6dico, rezelosade que los SefloresMemorialistasno lo haganen el
suyo. [ ... ] Concluyopues suplicindoles que no hagannoticias criticas de mis obras mi6ntras
yo no se las envie,y si no obstantese empeflanen ello, sepandesdeahorapara ent6nces,que
tendrAnraz6n, pero yo callard, porque no me hari fuerza en tanto que no vea el titulo que
tienen de censores,de elogiadores', M[aria] R[osa de] G[Slvez] in Varledades, VII. 24
(1805), pp.359-361, (pp.359,361). See Inmaculada Urzainqui, 'Un nuevo instrumento
Alvarez
la
in
Barrientos,Lopez, UrzainquiýLa repfiblica de las
cultural: prensaperi6dica',
k1ras, pp.125-216, for a discussionof the identities of editors and critics in the periodical
press,(pp.172-181).
14Reproducedin Grinstein,Dramaturgas, p.330.
15A. H.N. Consejos,leg. 5566,
no. 8. Madrid, 30 August 1803.
16A. H.N. Consejos,leg. 5566,
no. 8. Madrid, 27 October 1803.
17Minerva, reproducedin Serrano,Apuntes,p.455.
18Ibid.
19Ibid.
20Jos6Mor de Fuentes,'EI cornbatenaval del 21 de octubre' in Mine)-va,I (1805), pp.193
199.
21Memorial literario, V. 2 (1806), pp.49-54, reproducedin Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.394396, (pp.394-395).
22Memorial literarlo, IV. 31 (1805) pp.177-178.
23The reviewer of Ali-Bek also misread as a fOure to conform to dramatic convention
G61vez's originality and innovation in characterisation.See Chapter Tluee below for a
discussionof this review.
24 Scholarshave identified several posthumouseditions of Safioand SaO. Safo, Valencia,
1813; Safioy Fa6n o el salto de Leucades,Cadiz, 1820; SaU, Palma, 1813; SaW,Valencia,
1813;SaO, Valencia, 1817.SeeDuaneRhoades,'Bibliografia anotadade un olvidado g6nero
lamentaci6n,
hispinico:
"escena
teatro
soliloquio,
sola,
mon6logo,
el
neoclisico en
declamaci6n,unipersonalidad,o Himese como quisiere"', ReWstade literatura, LI, (1989),
p.200. Seealso Serrano,Apuntes,p.453; Jos6Subiri, El compositorIfiarte (1750-1791)y el
20
Grinstein,
(melodrama),
1949,
366-367;
del
Barcelona,
pp.
cultivo espaftol
mel6logo
Dramaturgas, pp. 147-149,402. Both Antonio Palau y Dulcet, Manual del librero
hispanoamericano;bibliografia general espafiola e hispanoamericanadesde la invenci6n
de la imprenta hasta nuestros fiempos,Barcelona,1948-77, VI, p.30, and Juan P. Criado y
Dominguez, Literatas espafiolas del siglo A7X, Madrid, 1889, p. 102, cite an edition of
G-,Uvez's Un loco hace ciento, Cidiz, 1816, reworked as an opera by D. A. S.U and with
following
The
Criado
Dominguez).
(according
by
Estebki
Cristiani
to
y
music composed
la
death:
Lafamilia
for
the
a
moda,
author's
original plays were revived
performanceafter
Principe, 4 October 1807, see Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp. 541,718, A. M. Coe,
Caltilogo bibliogr6fico y critico de las comediasanunciadas en los peri6dicos de Madrid
desde1661 hasta 1819, Baltimore, 1935, p.95, and Cotarelo,Mdiquez, p.685; Las esclavas
Cartelera,
Coulon,
Andioc
14-18
October
1807,
Principe,
pp. 541,711,
and
see
amazonas,
May-I
June
May
31
hace
Principe,
25-29
loco
Cotarelo,
Mkiiquez,
685;
Un
and
ciento,
p.
and
1816, see Cotarelo, Miiiquez, p.793. Manuscript evidence suggests that Las esclavas
la
Apunte
Lafamilia
B
Ms.
1-28-14
in
M.
M.,
B.
1817,
a
and
see
amazonaswas performed
moda in 1824,seeB.M. M., Ms. 1-74-4, Apunte 1.
25 Antonio Alcali Galiano, Literatura espahola del siglo =,
Vicente Llorens (trans.),
Madrid, 1969 (original 1834),pp.30,89; FranciscoGuill6n Robles,Historia de M41agay su
33-35,102;
Literatas
Criado
Dominguez,
MAlaga,
1874,
681;
espaholas,
pp.
proWncia,
p.
y
FranciscoBlanco Garcia,La literatura espafiolaen el siglouy, Madrid, 1891, pp.43,60.
26Diatio de Madrid, 14 October 1806,reproducedin Serrano,Apuntes,p.445.
27Ibid., pp. 443456,
28Maria del Pilar Ofiate,Elfeminismo en la literatura espahola,Madrid, 1938. ChapterSix,
Josefa
Amar
Margarita
Ifickey,
discusses
the
the
y
of
work
covers
eighteenth
century,
which
Borb6n, In6s Joyesy Blake, Maria de Laborda, Maria de las Mercedes G6mez Castro de
Arag6n and Beatriz Cienfuegos,pp. 157-198.
29Margarita Nelken, Las
escritoras espaholas, Barcelona, 1930, pp. 182-183.
30Ibid,
p. 182.
31Cotarelo,Mdiquez, and Subird,Iriarte. Seeabovenote 24.
32Subirk Ifiarte, pp.366-367.
33Coe, Cattilogo. Seeabovenote 24.
34John A. Cook, Neo-Classic Drama in Spain. Theory and Practice, Dallas, 1959; Jorge
Campos, Teatro y sociedad en Espaila (1780-1820), Madrid, 1969; Ivy L. McClelland,
SpanishDrama ofPathos, 1750-1808,Liverpool, 1970; Ren6 Andioc, Teatroy sociedaden
Kosove,
Pataky
The
'Comedia
Lynne
Joan
1987;
del
Madrid,
XJ17II,
Madrid
siglo
el
Lacnmosa'and SpanishRomanticDrama, London, 1977; Maria Jesfis Garcia Garrosa,La
1751-1802,
Valladolid,
1990;
Itigrimas.
las
La
de
espafiola,
comedia sentimental
ret6rica
Jesfis Caftas Murillo, La comedia sentimental, ginero espahol del siglo XPUI, Ciceres,
1994.
35FranciscoAguilar Pifial, Bibliografla de autores espafiolesdel siglo XP71I,Madrid, 19811999; Francisco Lafarga, Las traducciones espafiolas del teatro ftancis (1700-1835), L
Bibliografia de impresos, Barcelona, 1983, and IT Cat6logo de manuscritos, Barcelona,
1988; JerommoHerrera Navarro, Cat6logo de autores teatrales del siglo XPYII, Madrid,
1993; Tornis Rodriguez SAnchez,Dramaturgos espaholesdel siglo MY, Madrid, 1994;
Ren6Andioc andMireille Coulon, Cartelera; Lafarga (ed.), Teatro europeo.
21
36ConstanceA. Sullivan, 'Las
escritorasdel siglo XVIII', La literatura escrita por mujer
desde la edad media hasta el siglo XP711,in Breve historia feminista de la literatura
espahola (en lengua castellana), in Iris M. Zavala (ed.), Madrid, 1997, IV, pp. 305-330;
Carolyn L. Galerstein, Women Writers of Spain: An Annotated Bio-bibliographical Guide,
Westport, (Connecticut), 1986; Katharina M. Wilson, An Encyclopaedia of Continental
Women Writers, Chicago and London, 1991; Cristina Ruiz Guerrero, Panorama de
escritoras espafiolas,Cadiz, 1997; FernandoDom6nech,'Barroco e ilustraci6n. Autoras en
el teatro espafiol, siglos;XVI-XVIU', in Autoras en la historia del teatro espafiol (15001994), JuanAntonio Hormig6n (ed.), Madrid, 1996,pp.389-604.
37On a numberof
occasionsin this thesis,I shall have recourseto the term 'patriarchy', often
usedin feminist discourseto denotea male-centredsocial systemorganisedand controlledin
such a way as to privilege men above women. See M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary
Terms, Fort Worth, 1993, pp.21,234, and KK Ruthven, Feminist Literary Studies: An
Introduction, Cambridge,1984.Seealsobelow note 52.
38Eva M. Kahiluoto Rudat, 'Maria Rosa Gilvez de Cabrera(1768-1806) la defensadel
y
teatroneoclAsico',Dieciocho, 9 (1986), pp.238-248.
39JosephR. Jones,'Maria Rosa de GAlvez,Rousseau,Iriarte
y el mel6logo en la Espanadel
siglo XVIR', Dieciocho, 19 (1996), pp. 165-179.
40Daniel S.Whitaker, 'Los figurones literarios of Maria Rosa Uvez
as an Enlightened
Responseto Moratin's La comedianueva', Dieciocho, 11 (1988), pp.3-14, idem., 'Darkness
in the Age of Light: Amn6n of Maria Rosa GMvez', Hispanic Review, 58 (1990), pp.439453; idem., 'A New Voice: The Rise of the Enlightened Woman in Eighteenth-Century
Spain', ContinentalLatin-American andFrancophone WomenWilters, 11 (1990), pp.31-40;
idem., 'Clarissa!s Sisters:The Consequences
of Rapein Three NeoclassicTragediesof Maria
Rosa Glilvez%Letras Peninsulares, 5 (1992), pp.239-251; idem., 'La mujer flustradacorno
dramaturga:El teatro de Maria Rosa CjMvez' in Actas del X Congresode la Asociaci6n de
Hispanistas, Antonio Vilanova (ed.), Barcelona, 1992,11, pp. 1551-1559; idem., 'Absent
Mother, Mad Daughter, and the Therapy of Love in La defirante of Maria Rosa Gidvez',
Dieciocho, 16 (1993), pp.167-76, idem., 'An EnlightenedPremiere:The Theater of Maria
Rosa Uvez', Letras Femeninas, 19 (1993), pp.21-32; idem., 'Introduction to Safo',
Dieciocho, 18 (1995), pp.189-210.
41Elizabeth McCoy Franklin Lewis, Feminine Discourse
and Subjectivity in the Works of
Josefa Amar y Borb6n, Maria Getirudis Hore and Maria Rosa G61vez,(unpublished
doctoraldissertation,University of Virginia), 1993.
42Elizabeth Franklin Lewis, 'Breaking the Chains: Languageand the Bonds Slavery in
of
Maria Rosa GWvez'sZinda (1804)', Dieciocho, 20 (1997), pp.263-375, idem., 'The Tearful
Reunion of Divided Femininity in Maria Rosa GWvez's Neoclassic Theater', Letras
Peninsulares,9 (1996-7), pp.205-216.
" Jones,'Maria Rosade Gilvez: Notesfor a Biography'.
44Grinstein,Dramalurgas.
45 The recent publication of a modem edition of three of Uvez's plays testifies to the
reassessment
of the author as a significant figure in Spanishliterary history. SeeMaria Rosa
Gilvez, Safo.Zinda. Lafamifia a la moda, FernandoDom6nech(ed.), Madrid, 1995.
46 Francisco Ruiz Ram6n, Histofia del tealro espafiol, Madrid, 1992; David Gies
and
Russell P. Sebold (eds.), Historia y crifica de la literatura espahola. flustraci6n y
neoclasicismo:pilmer suplemento,4.1, Barcelona,1992; Guillermo Camero (ed.), Historia
22
de la literatura espatIold.Siglo XVIII, Madrid, 1995, Emilio PalaciosFemAndez,'Teatro' in
Historia literapla de Espaild en el siglo AWII, FranciscoAguilar PM-al(ed.), Madrid, 1996,
pp.135-233.
47Minerva,11.11(1806), 49-51, in Serrano,Apuntes,p.455.
pp.
" Juan A. Rios, 'La pol6mica teatral dieciochesca corno, esquema dinknico',
leatro ckisico, 5 1990, pp. 65-75.
Cuadernos de
49 See Palorna Fenikidez-Quintanilla. La mujer dustrada en la Espafia del siglo XPUI,
Madrid, 1981, and Juan F. Femindez G6mez, Ca0logo de entremesesy sainetesdel siglo
XPWI, Oviedo, 1993, who both suggestthat the circumstancesin which the Obras pogficas
were printed derived from the unwholesomeinfluencewhich Gilvez exercisedover Godoy.
50Grinstein, Dramaturgas.
5' Grinstein usesthe documentaryevidenceshe has uncoveredto provide a fascinatingnew
drama.
However, such an approach
El
readingof
egoista as an essentiallyautobiographical
risks a kind of closure and limitation in the understandingof her work. I would argue that
drama, as a physical, highly public very collaborativeart form can never be reducedto first
personnarrative.
52In approachingGAlvez's corpus of tragedies,I have been inspired by one of the guiding
principles for JanetTodd in 77ieSign ofAngellica: WomenWriting and Fiction, 1660-1800,
London and New York, 1986, to endeavour'to let works speak as much as possible for
themselves', (p.8) by illuminating aesthetic,structural and thematic elementsof the plays.
However, in the fight of contemporary critical responsesto Gilvez's writing, I have
literary
historical
in
feminist
approach
order to
occasionally employed a more obviously
examinethe relationshipbetweengenderand genrein GAlvez'soeuvreand, more specifically,
to explorethe oppositionof male and femalerole modelsin the plays.
23
OUPTER Two
GALVEZ AND THE FoRTuNEs
OF TRAGEDY
Although she left no theoreticalwritings on tragedy, evidenceshowsthat Gilvez was
sensitiveto its placeand importancein Spanishliteratureand to the significanceof her
to CarlosIV, Gilvez mentionedwith
contributionto the genre.In a documentaddressed
evidentpride that two of the projectedthreevolumesof her Obraspoilicas consistedof
'
tragedies. Later, in the openingsection of the 'Advertencia' to the secondof these
volumes, the author made explicit her predilection for tragedy and hinted at a
determinationto reanimatewhat sheconsideredto be a lesspopulargenre:
Las tragedias que ofrezco al püblico son fruto de mi aficiön ä este ginero de
poesia, y de mi deseo de manifestar, que la escasezque en este ramo se advierte
ingenios
de
haberse
bien
literatura,
no
nuestros
en nuestra
nacida
es mäs
dedicado ä cultivarlo, que de su ineptitud para haber dado en 61pruebas de su
fecundidad. En efecto, hasta ahora casi se puede decir que no tenemos una
tragedia perfecta; pero tcömo las ha de haber en una nacion que recibe con poco
de
hace
huian
mucho
al
solo
nombre
no
gusto estos espectäculos,y cuyos actores
tragedia de exponer al püblico este genero dramätico que hace las delicias, y
la
A
de
la
del
teatro
cultas?
naciones
verdad en estos
otras
constituye mejor parte
ültimos tiempos parecia que iba mejorando la suerte de la tragedia en Espaiia: se
han representadoalgunas con aceptaciön, pero por desgraeiano podemos hacer
2
las
han
de
emrangeras.
gloria
aplaudido
ella, porque solo se
Gilvez demonstratedan awarenessboth of the theoretical pre-eminenceand the parlous
her
discrepancy
it
is
in
this
Spain
that
tragedy
of
explanation
significant
and
state of
dramatists,
lack
the
than
of
national
given that
part
skill on
of will rather
emphasiseda
Du Perron de Castera's controversial assertion that Spanish writers had not composed
3
in
de
Luyando.
However,
Montiano
by
Agustin
been
had
long
y
tragedy
refuted
since
insisting on the near absenceof 'tragedia perfecta' in Spain, Gilvez insinuated that the
literary
in
it
lacked
cultures.
the
other
prestige which enjoyed
genre
GAIvez's condemnation of the negative attitudes of actors and audiences to
tragedy was more direct and in recognising the vital contribution of committed theatre
in
fortunes
Spain,
the
the
the
to
of
genre
of
revival
any
companiesand a receptive public
fit
between
lack
theoretical models and
demonstrated
the
of
of
an understanding
author
the practicalities of the theatrical world. However, if Gilvez's assessmentof the state of
24
tragedy emphasiseda generalmalaise,her prognosiswas optimistic. In sensinga new
readinesson the part of performersand audiencesto embracethe genre,sheplacedthe
onus on dramatiststo rise to this challengeand to substituteindigenousfor imported
modelsof tragedy.
Using GAlvez'sreflectionsas a startingpoint, in this chapterI will explorethe
development of the theory, practice and reception of tragedy in Spain, which frames any
understanding of the author's engagementwith the genre.41 will investigate the origins
of GAlvez's esteemfor tragedy in the words and examplesof theorists and practitioners
in the first half of the eighteenth century, before going on to consider how later generic
innovations impacted on the successof tragedy and obliged versatile, classicisingwriters
Eke Gilvez to develop strategies for preserving the status while enhancing the popular
appeal of this privileged genre.
The Status of Tragedy: Defining a Noble Genre
There is good reasonto believe that in Gilvez's lifetime the ideas expressedin Ignacio de
LuzAn's La poitka
had been widely diffused and absorbed by writers and critics. 5
Although it is difficult to trace a direct line of influence between Luzin's theory and
Gilvez's practice, the continuing presenceand authority of La poetica in literary circles
throughout the period suggestthat Luzin's discussionof tragedy must have impacted on
Gilvez's understandingof the genre."
The boundariesof dramaticgenresin the GoldenAge in Spainhadbeenfluid and
ill-defined. LuzAn consciously broke with this tradition and in La pogtica establisheda
'
both
While
distinction
between
that
tragedy.
genres
acknowledging
and
comedy
clear
different
described
Luzin
the
the
techniques,
aims
of
each
and
emphasised
shared many
'
different qualities needed to achieve these. Although careful to avoid an explicit
definitions
LuzAn's
and explanations revealed
tragedy
comedy,
above
privileging of
between
interest
the
two
tragic
key
genres:
characters
status
and
of
certain
contrasts
dignidad'
(p.
displayed
433),
de
'reyes,
calidad
y
who
principes y personajes gran
were
4pasionesviolentas' (p. 530), whereas comic characters were 'personas particulares o
(p.
530),
'mis
(p.
528),
and while tragedy
moderadas'
whose passions were
plebeyas'
dramatised 'una gran mudanza de fortuna' and 'caidas y muertes, desgraciasy peligros'
(p.433), comedydramatised'un hechoparticulary[... ] un enredode poca importancia
la
by
'el
(p.
terror
530).
Extreme
the
y
audience
of,
experienced
emotions
parael piiblico'
25
compasi6n',were deemed'tan proprios de la tragediacomo impropriosde la comedia'
(p.529) and althoughboth genresshareda moralisingain,4 the lessonof tragedy was
9
consideredespeciallypertinent to the noble and the powerful. These unambiguous
definitionsof distinct genresled to the creation of discreteidentities for each which
inevitablyresultedin tragedybecomingassociatedwith a set of valueswhich elevatedit
abovecomedy.
In separatingthe genres,Luzin acknowledgedthat he was following the example
'O
Aristotle.
However, his determinationto proposea modem frameworkfor tragedy
of
led him to departin significantwaysfrom the ancientmodel." Aristotle hadidentifiedsix
qualitative elementsof tragedy: plot, mimesis of character,verbal expression,the
12
intellect,
mimesisof
spectacleand song-writing, In his definition, LuzAnpared down
thesecategories,focusingon the centralityof plot and characterto the structureof the
13
the
genreand observing powerful catharticand edifying effect of successfultragedy.
Luz,in's approachpinpointedthe essentials
of the genreandthereforecertainAristotelian
14
dismissed
elements,suchasmusic,were
assuperfluous.
In effect, LuzAn refashionedtragedy as a pure and rarefied form, the flexible
terms of La poitica concealinga refining tendencywhich was groundedin a fairly
inflexible notion of the essenceof the genre. However, Luzin's classicisingmodel
presentedpractitionerswith a problematicchoice,giventhat to aspireto this idealwould
involvethe re-educationof audiencesandactorsaccustomedto rich theatrical
necessarily
spectacle.This tension fuelled much of the debateon tragedy and promptedGilvez,
15
in
limits
amongothers,to test the
years.
of the genre subsequent
Contemporaryand modemcritics haveconcurredin their respectfor Montiano,
who drew on a range of models and followed the advice of ancient and modem
16
Alhaulpho.
He prefacedeachwith
Virginia
and
preceptiststo composetwo tragedies,
a substantialDiscurso in which he demonstratednot only a wide-rangingunderstanding
determination
but
in
Spain,
beyond
to complement
tragic
traditions
also
a
of
and
contemporaryprecept with practice. The ostensiblespur and point of departureto
Montiano'sfirst discoursewas a desireto counterDu Perron'scriticism,but the ultimate
aim of his tract was to promotetragedyas the principaldramatictype and to encourage
his peersto revivewhat he regardedasa genrewhich hadlost muchof its lustre.17
In his treatise,Montiano set out many aspectsof his dramaturgyand explained
the rationalefor the creationof Virginia, adoptinga confidentialand candidstylewhich
26
conveyed a sense of the dramatist at work. Montiano's understanding of tragedy, like
that of Luz&i, developed out of his reading of a range of commentators: Aristotle and
Horace, Pinciano and Cascales,Feij6o and Corneille and, naturally, LuzAn himself It is
therefore surprising that his emphaseswere significantly different from those of La
po&jca. Where Luzin had insisted that the essenceof the action in any tragedy lay in a
great change of fortune", Montiano made the nature rather than the progress of the
19
definition
to
the
action central
a
of
genre. Ultimately Luzin's model of tragedy was
both aristocratic and courtly, but in his Discurso, Montiano showed that his vision was
more obviously based on ancient civic models. LuzAn had insisted on elevated social
status as a prerequisite of tragic characters, but Montiano showed that protagonists
could achieve the necessary elevation through superior moral worth and virtuous
20
actions.
In the secondDiscurso Montiano proceededfrom his discussionsof the nature
and status of tragedy to consider how the essential nobility of the genre might be
conveyed in theatrical practice. This entailed a close analysisof those elementsof tragedy
but
the
the
of
author,
which were crucial to the
were
not
specific
preserve
which
successfultransformation of a written ideal into dramatic reality. The first Discurso was
principally aimed at the writer of tragedy, but the second, which reads more like a
be
directed
to
tract,
than
theoretical
at theatre companies.
seemed
manual
a
practical
Montiano touched on almost all aspects of the performance of a tragedy, including
location
for
for
decoration,
the
of the prompter and
stage
recommendations
guidelines
in
The
maintaining
concern
with
verisimilitude
advice on costume.
author's over-riding
be
by
how
his
derived
from
tragedy
could
of
undermined
awareness
performance
incompetent stage management,distractions of theatrical programming, but, above all,
lax acting.21Thus the greatest part of his advice and observations were designedto hone
22
the skills of actors.
In the sameway that Luzin had made tragedy and comedy distinct and separate
dramatic entities, so Montiano emphasisedthat each required a different approach to
2'
performance. In the case of tragedy, the acting style should always accentuate the
nobility of the genre and Montiano dedicated much of the tract to elaborating on aspects
24 There is
between
first
in
the
tone
and second
shift
a
perceptible
of an actor"s art.
Discursos which moves from an apologetic defenceof Spanishtragedy to a more
to
theatre
the
the
to
of
world
of
all
members
practical
exhortation
and
provocative
27
transform stage practice to meet the challenges posed by the elevation of the genre in
theory.
The State of Tragedy: Theory in Practice
By 1753, Luzin had produced a theoretical model for tragedy and Montiano had devised
guidelines to ensure that this could be translated into practice. However, nearly ten years
later it was clear that a revival of Spanishtragedy had not taken root. 'PensamientoIX',
which appearedin Elpensador in 1762, came to a gloomy conclusion about the state of
the genre 25The 'Pensamiento' took the form of a satirical comic dialogue between a
.
South American visitor to Madrid and the cynical host who has taken him to the theatre.
Using the familiar and effective trope of the bemused foreign spectator, the author
ridiculed sentimental comedy in order to drive home a more profound criticism of the
26
Spanish
the
confusion of genres on
contemporary
stage.
During the course of the piece, the author insisted on the distinctive natures of
tragedyandcomedyandadvocateda clearseparationof the genres.The observationthat
tragic charactersmust be 'personagesde la mis alta esfera'revealedthe full extent to
27
had
been
by
definition
Luzin's
this
tragedy
which
view of
shaped
of the genre. It is
evidentthat the authorbelievedtheatrecompanies,actorsand audiencesto be complicit
in the perpetuationof a state in which tragedy as conceivedby Luzin and Montiano
could never flourish. However, the author looked to dramatists,the ultimate object of
the criticism,to providethe initial impulsefor the revivalof the genre.
In 1763two playwrightsprintedtragedieson a classicisingmodel.In the preface
to Jahel, Juan Jos6 L6pez de Sedanodeclaredhis desire to reform Biblical tragedy
28
further
throughthe
refinementandpurificationof the genre. He stressedthe noveltyof
his omissionof any 'love-interest' from the plot, but this, together with the studied
had
jeopardised
the
that
the
the possibility
author
eloquenceof
versification,suggested
29
in
ideal
of tragedy. Contemporarycritics and satirists
of performance pursuit of an
had
de
but
Sedano
L6pez
the
alreadyanticipatedthat it could never
play,
mocked printed
"
be performed.
Nicolis Femindez de Moratin appearedmore modestin his ambition for the
revivalof the genre.In his prefaceto Lucrecia the authorstatedthat he hadfollowed the
advice of ancient and modem preceptistsand intendedhis play to serve both as a
practical illustration of these theoriesand as a stimulusto other dramatiststo write
28
"
tragedy. Modem critics have commentedon the well crafted verse and subtlepoetic
deviceswhich were Moratfn's hallmarkin this and other plays.32However, thesevery
qualitiessuggestthat the author'sprincipalaim in Lucrecia was poeticbeautyratherthan
dramaticfeasibility.It seemsthat for Moratin, the writing of tragedywas essentiallythe
fialfilmentof an idealaccordingto preordainedmodels.
The ambivalentcontemporarycritical reactionto Hormesinda,performedin 1770
might be seenasfurther proof that Moratin, like L6pez de Sedano,appearedto privilege
poetic over dramaticstructuresand adherenceto theoreticalpreceptover questionsof
33
in
his
stagecraft
approachto tragedY. The genre seemeddestinedto remainan ideal
communicatedonly in print ratherthan on stage.To counterthis possibility,writers had
to createtragedywhich appealedto audiences,but equallyimportantly,this commitment
to the genrehadto be sharedby performersandthe public.
Yet until the mid 1770s, theatre companies and audiences were as resolute in
their resistanceto what Thomis SebastiAny Latre termed 'novedades de los que afectan
erudici6n' as dramatists were determined in their refusal to compromise aesthetic
34
for
principle
stage spectacle. Sebastiin y Latre observed that new plays were often
lacking in dramatic punch, but also recognised that 'los actores no dan un caval
desempefto en su representaci6n' 35 His belief that a deliberate and co-ordinated
.
campaignof resistancewas being waged against new theatre and its advocatesled him to
fear that an unsuccessful performance could be mischievously used as proof of an
inherently misguided project.36
A Model of Success: Spanish National Tragedy
Sebastiin y Latre's fears appeared to have been allayed in 1778 with the successful
de
Ayala's
Numancia
destruida
Lopez
Ignacio
two
tragedies:
and
new
performancesof
Vicente Garcia de la Huerta's RaqueL37Both of these plays treated Spanish historical
it
is
likely
that their patriotic
theoretical
to
and
principles
new
narratives according
3'
However,
for
theatre
the
their
with
audienceS.
popularity
much
of
appeal accounted
fact that Moratin's G=mdn el Bueno printed the previous year was not performed and
heroic
Spanish
by
that
narratives did not of
critics suggests
apparently not well-received
39
themselves guarantee theatrical success. Both L6pez de Ayala and Huerta brought a
distinguished
dramatic
them
these
two
techniques
to
which
works
and poetic
range of
29
from other less successfultragediesand which must have contributedto their overall
40
impactin performance.
L6pez de Ayala andHuerta's successsignalleda new andpromisingdirectionfor
Spanishtragedy.Even though an immediateand sustainedrevival in the fortunesof the
genredid not ensue,the potentialof this dramaticblueprintdid not go unrecognised.In
1786,the Memorial literario addedits voice to the call for Spanishnationaltragedy,
articulatingin persuasivetonesthe merits of indigenousmodelswhich might break the
41
dependence
of the Madrid stageon Frenchworks. By ascribingthe public's antipathy
towards tragedy to the prevalenceof poorly executedand adaptedtranslations,the
author suggestedthat the dominanceof the Gallic modelwas wholly responsiblefor the
faure of the genrein Spain.42
The author argued that the characteristiccoldnessof French tragedy, which
produced only, 'razonamientos largos, pocos 6 ningun afecto, menos inter6s, languida
trama, episodios floxos, estilo vago y ratero, &c. ' undermined the powerful emotional
effect of the genre which he regarded as central to its privileged status and elevation
"
above comedy. This new emphasisrevealed a shift in understanding of the essenceof
tragedy. Luzin and Montiano, reviving the precepts of the ancients, had given preeminence to the nature and structure of the action in their ideal of tragedy, but the
Memorial literario praised 'la dulzura que causala comocion de los mAstiernos afectos
del corazon humano, el embeleso que produce la pintura y muestra de las mas fuertes
pasiones del hombre.'44 This emphasison the emotional intensity of tragedy would be
crucial to the engagementof the next generation of writers with the genre.
Although the main thrust of the criticism focused on the debilitating impact of the
numbersof Frenchtragedieson the Spanishstage,the authorunderscoredkey contrasts
betweentheatrical practice in France and Spain, establishingqualitative distinctions
betweenan austereinflexible French model and a more nuancedSpanishmodel of
tragedy.DespitegentlyreprovingSpanishdramatistsfor their lack of dynamism,Spanish
actors for their lack of sophisticationand Spanishtheatre audiencesfor their lack of
taste, the final rallying call to nationalplaywrights,performersand public revealedthe
full extentof the critic's reformingpatriotic agenda:
instruccion
ingenios,
docilidad
i
ä nuestros
falta
dar
änimo
ä
nuestros
solo
Actores, interis ä nuestros dramas, decoracion y aparato co respondiente ä las
45
ä
escenas,y actividad en todo todoS.
30
Tragedy under Threat: Generic Innovations in the 1790s
Yet the development of tragedy during the last decade of the eighteenth century took a
still more complex and less predictable path. The pure and rarefied model as defined by
LuzAn, which made tragedy the preserve of the noble, became increasingly difficult to
achieve and even anachronistic in the face of new experiments in dramatic genres which
made their fullest impact on the Spanish theatrical scene at this time. The successof
Jovellanos' El defincuente honrado establishedthe feasibility of comedia sentimental on
the Spanish stage and opened up new possibilities for national dramatists which would
inevitably impact on the writing of tragedy.46 This modem hybrid genre colonised
distinctions
blurred
the
to
tragedy
carefully
elaborated
and
elementsproper
comedy and
between these two ancient genres.47
Tragedy was most threatened by innovations in characterisation in this new
but
belonged
The
to
the
middle
classes,
were
genre.
protagonistsof comediasentimental
elevatedin staturein such as way as to make their dilemmas,actions and morals of
long-standing
interest.
did
Not
the
this
assertionthat tragic
challenge
only
universal
protagonistsmust be drawn from elite strataof society,but ultimatelyit questionedthe
by
tragedy
the
championed
preceptists
so
rigorously
of
models
validity andrelevanceof
andpractitionersthroughoutthe century.
A secondgenericinnovationprofoundlyaffectedthe developmentof tragedyin
Rousseau'sPygmalion in Spainin
Spainin the 1790s.The premi6reof Jean-Jacques
1788 inspired a seriesof SpanishescenasUricas or mel6logos.This musical genre
but
for
for
became
tragedy,
also
comedyand
only
not
a vehicle
evolved rapidly and
from
drew
the tragic repertoire,
However,
their
the
subjects
principally
prototypes
satire.
intense
historical
emotional rhetoric to powerful
with
narrative
combining national
48
dramatic
into
distillation
formula
the
The
of
pathos
allowed
uni-personalone-act
effect.
one highly emotionally charged scene and permitted an extended exploration of
doing
In
so this genrepurloinedsomeof the
turmoil
andconflict on stage.
psychological
hamartia,
devices
the
to createa
tragedy,
and
soliloquy
notably
of
most characteristic
fivethree
traditional
to
the
and
structuresassociatedwith
tragic scenewithout recourse
act tragedy.
The popularityof thesenew genrespresentedboth problemsand possibilitiesto
hand,
On
they testifiedto the appetite
the
this
time.
tragedy
one
at
prospectivewriters of
historically
drama,
intense
the
for
province of
emotional
audiences
of contemporary
31
tragedyandprovedthat the tragic could havebroad appealon the Spanishstage.On the
other hand, their nature and successthreatenedto eclipse and ultimately supersede
traditional modelsof tragedy.The debatebetweenold and new dramawas enteringa
Spanishand
new phase:the centraltensionwas no longer betweenseventeenth-century
revived Classicalmodels,and the idealsof Luzin and Montiano which had challenged
old preceptandpracticewere in their turn beingtestedby new conceptsandgenres.
Gilvez and the Spanish Tragic Tradition in the Eighteenth Century
Gilvez's tragedies engageboth with the relative certainties of eighteenth-century Spanish
theoretical precept and with the manifest uncertainties of contemporary theatrical
practice. The wide dissemination of Luzin's ideas, reinforced by the reprinting of an
augmented La poitica in 1789, leant an enduring authority to his judgements on the
qualities of good drama and his work remained a touchstone for critics and practitioners
throughout the period. Ifis emphasis on the elevated status of tragedy ensured that it
remained an aspiration for committed writers and a guaranteeof seriousnessand integrity
in elite literary circles which must have influenced Gilvez's concept of the nature and
importance of the genre.
Gilvez's surviving correspondence reveals her to be an ambitious author,
sensitiveto hierarchiesof literaryvalue,who regardedthe creationof tragedyas a means
of forging a reputationas a womanof letters.In her supplicationto the King, in which
she requested financial support for the printing of the Obras po&icas, GAlvez
both
distinguishedherselffrom predecessors
contemporaries
at homeand abroadby
and
insistingon her statusastragedian:
el deseo de hacer püblico un trabajo que en ninguna otra mujer, ni en naciön
francesas
las
han
tiene
mäs
celebradas
s61o
se
que
ejemplar,
puesto
alguna
linütado a traducir, o cuando mäs han dado a luz una composiciön dramätica;
de
la
ha
tragedias
originales
colecciön
como
mas ninguna
presentado una
49
exponente.
Tragedywas centralto Gilvez's senseof identity as a writer. In the letter to the Juez
Protector de Teatros in which she requesteda new censor'sreport on Un loco hace
licence,
GAlvez
had
been
explainedthat this onea
performance
not
granted
cientowhich
Aft-Bek,
defiesta
to
showingthat sheviewedthe tragedyas
support
was written
actfin
32
the more important of thesetwo piecesand as the work more likely to 'contribuir al
lustredel teatro espafiol'.'o
GAlvezwas acutelyawareof the ways in which tragedyelevatedboth the status
difficulties
She
the
the
the
that
conscious
of
of
writer and
of
nationalstage.
was equally
and challengeswhich continuedto facewould-betragedians.The first tragedieswritten
accordingto LuzAn'sprincipleswere often misunderstoodandundervaluedby critics and
Althoughthey servedasmodelsfrom which subsequent
generationsof writers
audiences.
could learn and againstwhich they could measuretheir own artistic endeavours,their
limited popularity sent a clear signalto Gilvez and her contemporariesthat the much
prizedpreceptswere not easilytranslatedinto dramaticreality. The ultimatelyfrustrated
ambitionsof Montiano andMoratin amongothersto createsuccessfultragedyaccording
to theoreticalprinciplesreaffirmedthe sensethat the genrewas asyet anunfulfilledideal.
GAIvezrecognisedthe ongoing tension betweentheory and practice and the
hostile atmospherein which tragedy was often received,and in the 'Advertencia' to
volumetwo of the Ohraspoeticasnotedwith obviousirony:
de
61!
i
Aunque
Espafiol
tragedia
itriste
escribir
se
atreve
una
el miserable
que
haya en ella primores que compensen sus defectos, aunque prometa para lo
sucesivo el. ingenio del autor alguna considerable mejoria; no hay remedio, se
critica, se satiriza; en.una palabra, se le hace escarmentar, 6 acaso maldecir la
"
de
negra tentacion en que cay6 escribir original, y no traduccion.
in this lengthy prologue, Gilvez not only alluded to the harsh criticisms and mockery
distinguished
but
between
blind
their
tragedians
pointedly
works,
and
which confronted
blanket
Spanish
tragedy
translated
rejection
and
of
original
servile
acceptance
of
and
works which prevailed:
los
defectos,
disculpan
de
las
indudable
y se exägerancon
otro pais se
que en
es
hay
la
las
indulgencia,
las
befiezas,
no
originales
menor
en
que
al paso
entusiasmo
Iloviendo criticas, y aun sätiras indecentes sobre qualquiera que se atreve ä
52
dificultosisima
caiTera.
emprenderesta
Gilvez's concernthat Spanishtragedy was being stifled by the pervasiveand
key
have
been
foreign
fashionable
the
to
influence
one of
modelsseems
of
pernicious
her
dramatic
but
for
for
her
tragedy,
project.
entire
writing of
motivations,not only
GAIvez'sdeterminationto producework which was self-consciously
new andoriginalled
33
her to engagewith someof the mostinnovativeandexperimentaldevelopments
in drama
in an effort to reclaimtragedyfor Spanishauthors.Giventhis clearpatriotic agendait is
unsurprisingthat G-Alvezshouldbe drawn to nationaltragedy.The regular revivals of
Numanciadestruidaduring the 1790sin Madrid demonstratednot only that successful
classicisingtragediesshouldadopt a more flexible approachto the applicationof theory
and makeextensiveuse of powerful dramaticsituations,but more significantly,proved
the potency of Spanishhistorical narrativesas vehicles for tragic drama. GAlvez's
Florinda, which drarnatisedone of the foundingnarrativesof Spanishnationhoodin a
strildng and unprecedented
way, might be viewed, in part, as the author's attempt to
associateherselfwith this patriotic current.
National tragedywas only one of severalpossibilitiesfor the animationof the
genre which Gilvez explored in her tragic oeuvre. Indeed the range and diversity of
subject matter, themes and structure in her tragedies testifies to Gilvez's willingness to
for
dramatic
forms
in
devices
the
successfulmodels. Perhaps
search
embrace new
and
the single most obvious example of this ability to absorb and learn from contemporary
theatrical innovation was Safil, in which GAlvezdrew on the popularity and potential of a
musical genre to produce a work whose combination of orchestral colour and rhetoric
lyric
Greek
framework
Aristotelian
tragedy.
was evocative of
within an
The equallypopular and successfulcomediasentimentalform providedGilvez
with more materialwith which to embellishtragedy.Much of the interestof Zinda is
explainedby the author's fusion of elementsof classicisingtragedy with featuresof
devices
de
drew
Rossi
drama.
Blanca
Likewise,
on
of the Gothic literary
sentimental
definitions
later
its
to
to
of tragedyas evidenced
central
style enhance emotionalappeal,
by the Memorial literario in 1786. Neverthelessas Amn6n, La defirante and Safio
with the
proved,older,moretraditionalmodelsremainedcentralto Gilvez's engagement
genre and ensuredthat her work was alwaysrecognisableas tragedy. Although the
from
innovations
the
the rarefiedvisionsof
away
genre
moved
author'sexperimentsand
Luz&4 her knowledgeof andrespectfor ancientpreceptandpracticeaswell as Spain's
her
tradition
tragic
commitmentto the continuationof a noblegenre.
out
marked
own
Gilvez's Tragedy and the Challenge to Patriarchy
Gilvez adopted an orthodox self-deprecatorytone in announcing her tragic oeuvre and
"
in
far
from
her
in
fame.
disinterest
in
literary
Yet
truth
modest
she
was
professed
34
appraisal of the novelty of her achievementin writing two volumes of tragedy. Far from
eschewing all referencesto her sex, GAlvez consistently referred to it and at the heart of
her assertion of her literary worth lay an awarenessof her unique status and privileged
position as a female tragedian.
Gilvez underplayed her erudition and instead foregrounded the spontaneousand
54
her
natural qualities of
work. Although in adopting this strategy GAlvezmight appearto
have pandered to male assumptionsof the limits of feminine creativity, it might also be
interpreted as a pragmatic and even disingenuous technique to disarm her readership
ahead of a series of tragedies which in many ways were structurally and thematically
unorthodox. In fact GOvez's persistent references to her sex seem to represent a
calculated challengeto contemporary notions about women and about tragedy.
Moreover each work contained experiments and innovations which interrogated
the essentiallymasculineframeworks on which tragedy had been built and ultimately led
to a questioning of wider patriarchal values. For example, the de-centring and
remodelling of the tragic hero in Afi-Bek, was not only a significant experiment in
dramatic characterisationbut also probed the nature of heroism itself Similarly, Florinda
offered much more than a sympatheticreappraisal of a much maligned legendary figure.
In this tragedy, Gilvez defamiliariseda staple narrative and in doing so challengedmany
of the assumptions about guilt and responsibility which underlay accepted readings of
this powerful national myth.
Gilvez's work developed out of a theoretical tradition which sought to emulate
ancient models in order to elevate tragedy and re-establishthe genre in Spain. However,
G,Uvez's practical involvement with tragedy coincided with a moment when the
classicising literary project, as apparently previously embraced by government and
enlightened intellectuals, appearedto have lost momentum and was increasingly under
pressure from new dramatic currents. One of the most fascinating aspects of Gilvez's
corpus of tragediesis her apparently self-consciousaim to bridge the gap between tragic
tradition and dramatic modernity, while never abandoninga commitment to the essential
utility and nobility of the genre. In subsequentchapters,I analysethe particular aesthetic
qualities and dramatic innovations of each of the eight tragic works and argue that
Gilvez's contribution to the practice of tragedy was both highly experimental and
essentiallyclassicising.
35
16*" expone:que ha
compuestotres tomos de poesias,entreeflos dos de tragediasoriginales',
documentof 21 November 1803,reproducedin Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.356-357.
2 'Advertencia' in Gilvez, Obras
poiticas, H, pp.3-8, (p.3).
3 'Pour des trag6dies espagnols,
n'en font point', Louis-Adrien Du Perron de Castera,
Extraits de plusieurs pikes du thidtre espagnol; avec des riflexions el la traduction des
endroits les plus remarquables, Amsterdam and Paris, 1738, p.4, quoted in Agustin de
Montiano y Luyando,Discurso sobre las tragedias espafiolas. Virginia. Tragedia, Madrid,
1750,p.6.
4 Whereasother studiesof the developmentof tragedyin this period have centredon thematic
issues, this chapter focuses on aesthetic and generic innovations and continuities. Ren6
Andioc's ground-breakingwork has donemuch to illuminatethe relationshipbetweentragedy
and the socio-polificalsphere,see 'La tragedianeoclisica' in Tealro, pp.381418. Although
my emphasesdiffer from those which frame his work, I will have recourseto Andioc's
insights on the broader significanceof several key tragedies.See also, Rinaldo Froldi, 'La
tradici6n trigica espaftolaseg6n los tratadistas del siglo dieciocho', Critic6n 23 (1983),
pp.133-151; idem., 'La tragedia.El Numa de Juan Gonzilez del Castillo', Dieciocho 22
(1999), pp.385-395;idem., 'La tragedia"Polixena" de Jos6Marchena', in Teatro espafioldel
siglo XUH, Josep Maria Sala VaUdaura(ed.), Lleida, 1996, pp.397415; Carnero (ed.),
Hisforia de la literatura. 6., pp.430-446,510-541; Jos6 ChecaBeltrin, 'Teoria literaria' in
Aguilar Pifial (ed.), Hisforia literaria, pp.428-511.
5 In his edition of La poilica Russell Sebold assertsthat Luzin's theories had become
'diseminadohastael punto de convertirseen propiedadp6blica'. SeeIgnacio de Luzki, La
de
Sebold
de
la
Russell
P.
especies,
y
sus
principales
o
en
general
poilica
reglas
poesia
(ed.), Barcelona,1977,p.55. All further citationsfrom Luzbn's work are from this edition.
6 Sebold,Lapoitica, suggeststhat LeandroFemAndezde Moratin and Quintanadoubtedthe
impact and influence of LuzAn's La poilica on writers of their generation,p.55. This
Gies,
has
Thatcher
'Creation and Re-creation:Leandro
been
by
David
contention
answered
Fernindez de Moratin's Version of his Father's Life and Works', Dieciocho, 3.2 (1980),
pp.115-123. In his review of GOvez's Obras poilicas, Quintana insisted on the author's
failure to comply with LuzAn's principles as evidenceof a lack of dramatic competence,'4Y
nosotrosnos permitiriamosla pedanteriagroserade citarla ante el tribunal de Arist6teles,de
Luzin y de Blair, y denunciarlarigurosamentepor las faltas cometidascontra las leyes que
if
he
La
han
dictado?
',
that
as
a
critical
even
regarded
poifica
yardstick,
suggests
ellos
which
he underratedthe value of the text as a practical and creativeinfluence.For a complementary
'LuzAn
los
los
Deacon,
Moratin
Philip
LuzAn's
text,
the
y
en
see
significanceof
view of
Alvarez
Checa
(eds.
),
in
Barrientos
BeltrAn
del
El
XVIII',
and
programasescolares siglo
siglo que Hanianilustrado, pp.237-244.
7 In the third book of La poilica, LuzAn divided poetry into three classes;epic, lyric and
dramatic,splitting this last categoryinto,'... dos importantisimasespeciesde poesia,que son
la tragedia,y la comedia,cuyasreglas,calidadesy diferenciasexplicaremosen este libro... '.
Luzki, La poilica, pp. 429-430.
8 'Convienela comediacon la tragediaen muchascosas,aunqueen otras es diversa.' Luzin,
Lapoilica, p.528.
99sirviendode ejernploy escarmientoa todos,pero especialmentea los reyesya las personas
de mayor autoridady poder.' Luzki, Lapoilica, p.433.
36
10'El m6rito la
y autoridadde Arist6teles, [ ... I requiere,conjusta raz6n, que no ornitamosla
idea que nos dej6 de la tragediaen su definici6n.' LuzAn,Lapoilica, p.432.
114en gracia de los
que no entendierenbien la definici6n de Arist6teles, que es algo obscura,
s6ame permitido proponer aqui otra mis clara, a mi entender,y mis inteligible, corno
ii
asiMismo
mis adaptadaa los dramasmodemos.'Luz* Lapoilica, p.433.
12Aristotle, Poetics, M. E. Hubbard (trans.) in D.A. Russell
and M. Winterbottom (eds.),
Classical Literary Criticism, Oxford, 1989, p.58. Further citations from Aristotle's Poetics
are from this edition.
13&se puede venir
de la suma ufihdad que al p6blico podria resultar de la
en conocimýiento
representaci6nde buenastragedias,en las cualespodria todo g6nerode personasaprehender
insensiblementela moderaci6nde sus pasionesy deseos,logrando en el teatro una oculta
ensefianzay una deleitosaescuelade moral'. LuzAn,La poitica, p.492.
14It is typical of Luzfin's
non-dogmatic,persuasivestyle that he did not reject outright the use
of music in tragedy. Nevertheless,he suggestedthat in comparisonwith ancient practice,
music had a limited function on the modem stageand arguedthat it was entirely dispensable
in contemporarytragedy.LuzAn,La poitica, pp.514,53 7.
15See Guillermo Camero, 'Los dogmas
neoclisicos en el Ambito teatral', in Camero (ed.),
Historia de Ja fiteratura. 7., pp.489-510. Carneroprovidesa provocativeinterpretationof the
developmentand practice of Spanishdramatic theory in the period, attributing the rise of
domestictragedy and sentimentalcomedy in Spain to what he terms 'la rigidez neoclisica'
(p.5 10).
16 Taking his lead from Leandro Moratin's
assessmentof Monfiano's tragedies, John
Dowling notes that the author's poetic talent was somewhatlacking but that 'sabia, como
buen mentor, explicar la lecci6n y dar el modelo acad6mico.' See John Dowling,
'Planteamientode la pol6mica teatral desde las exigenciasneoclisicas', in Camero (ed.),
Historia de la fiteratura. 6., p.427. Andioc points to more political reasonsfor the failure of
thesetragediesto reachthe Spanishstage.'tal vez no se debatanto al temor de someterlasal
juicio del piiblico como a la presencia de ciertos elementos tenidos; por dificilmente
compatiblesa la autoridad del gobiemo, pues en ambas se da muerte a un monarca, se
amotinanparte de los sfibditos'. seeAndioc, Teatro, p.387.
17Montiano,Discurso, p.79.
18'Con decir una gran mudanzadefortuna, me pareceque toco lo esencialdel argumentode
la tragediay evito las disputasy obscuridades,pues todos convienenen que la fibula trigica
ha de conteneruna gran mudanzade fortuna.' Luzki, La poetica, p.433.
19aes la in-ýitaci&de una acci6nheroicacompleta'.Montiano,Discurso, p.85,
20 LuzAn claimed that his definition of tragic protagonists, like that of
many other
commentatorsandtheorists,derivedfrom Aristotle, 'que las personasde la tragediadebanser
flustres y grandes,como reyes, h6roes etc., es conforme a la doctrina de Arist6teles y al
de
'
fact,
de
los
int6rpretes
In
Aristotle's definition
todos
podfica.
autores
comýn parecer
y
imposedno such restrictionand emphasisedonly the moral superiorityof tragic protagonists,
'First and foremost, the charactersrepresentedshould be morally good', see Aristotle,
Poetics,p.69. Montiano's thoughtson the subjectapparentlyunconsciouslyechothis ancient
advice, although the author recognisedthat his creation of the characterof Virginia was
atypical.Montiano,Discurso, pp. 86-87.
37
21Montiano favoured the
removal of the sainete, entremJsand baile betweenthe acts of a
tragedy, but recognisedthat the public would strongly resist such a move. See Agustin de
Montiano y Luyando, Discurso II sobre las tragedias espaholas.Athaulpho. Tragedia,
Madrid, 1753,p.41.
22Montiano
recognisedthat actors might not be receptiveto this instruction. See Montiano,
Discurso II, p. 18.
23Ibid., pp.66-67.
24 Montiano gave advice
on: the actors' familiarity with their own and all other roles,
(DiscursoII, pp.63,65); the useof gesture,including arms,hands,head,eyes,mouth (pp.6993); intonationand diction (pp. 94-112).
2' El pensador matritense, Barcelona, d., L pp.191-222. See Urzainqui, 'Un
n.
nuevo
instrumentocultural', pp.159-160,for referenceto the uncertainauthorshipof Elpensador,
(pp.159-160).
26Tensamiento IX',
pp. 193-194.
27ibid.
29Juan Jos6 L46pezde Sedano,JaheL Tragedia sacada de la Sagrada Escritura, Madrid,
1763.
29See Cook, Neo-Uassic Drama,
pp.209-210, and McClelland, Spanish Drama, pp.119122.
30 In his La naci6n espaRoladefendida de los insultos del Pensador y sus secuaces.
Discurso III, Madrid, 1764,p. 198, FranciscoMariano Nipho singledout Jahel for particular
criticism. TomAsde Iriarte fin-therlambastedthe tragedyin the self-styledDi6logojoco-serio
entitledDonde las dan las toman, Madrid, 1778, remarkingon the inconvenienceof lengthy
speechesfor actors.In the prefaceto the 1763edition of the play, L6pez de Sedanosuggested
that Jahel would not be to the taste of contemporaryaudiences:'en Espafiano se escriben
tales obras para representarse,no son compatibles con las monstruosidadesque fienen
tomada,la posesi6nde sus teatros,en dondese abomina,y del todo se ignora lo que es arte,
regularidady buen gusto, y s6lo reina la confusi6n,la indecenciael pedantismoy la 61tima
barbarie, sostenidos;de una antigua, vergonzosay mal tolerada costurnbre.' p. xlv. See
McClelland,SpanishDrama, pp.119-122,330,n.8; Cook,Neo-ClassicDrama, pp.209-210.
31Nicolis Femindez de Moratin, Lucrecia. Tragedia,Madrid, 1763,p.7.
32 See, for example, Nigel Glendinning, A Literary History of Spain. 7he Eighteenth
Century,London, 1972,p.97.
33Modem critics tend to balanceRam6nde la Cruz's renowneddescriptionof 'la monstruosa,
y detestadaHormesinda', seeRam6n de la Cruz, En casa de nadie no se meta nadie, o el
buen marido, Madrid, 1770, with LeandroMoratin's observationof the far-reachingimpact
of his father's first performedtragedy:'tl desminti6la opini6n absurda.de que los espaftoles
no gustabande tragedias,confirndi6 a los ignorantes,que suponianimposible que una obra
de
introdujo
Madrid,
buen
al
p6blico
agradase
esteg6neroen
gusto
escritacon regularidady
que le opusieron.' See'Vida del autor' in Nicolis FemAndez
el teatroa pesarde la resistencia.
de Moratin, Obras p6stumas, Barcelona, 1821. Ihere is reasonto suspectthat each was
in
in
Both
their
assessments.
quotationsare reproduced John Dowling, Ta batalla
partial
contra el teatro barroco,profanoy religioso', in Camero (ed.), Historia de la literatura. 6.,
p.445. Hormesinda ran from 12-17 February 1770 at the Principe, the successive
38
performancesrealising 6109,5049,1675,3117,2035,877 reales. SeeAndioc and Coulon,
Cartelera, p.93.
34Thomis Sebasfib Latre, Ensayo
sobre el teatro espafiol.Progne. Filomena, Zaragoza,
y
1772,(unpaginated).
35
ibid.
36
ibid.
37IgnacioL6pez de Ayala, Numancia destruida, Madrid, 1775,Vicente Garcia de la Huerta,
Raquel in ObraspoMcas, Madrid, 1778.Andioc views Ayala's play as 'un llarnamientoa la
concordiaya la unidad,que corresponde,en las esferasdel poder, a la voluntad de Ilegar a la
uni6n nacional,a la centralizaci6ny homogeneidadpoliticosocial', seeAndioc, Yeatro,p.390.
Seealso his important interpretationof the immediateliterary and political context and wider
social and political significanceof Huerta's play, Ta Raquel de Huerta y el antiabsolutismo',
Ibid., pp.259-344.
38Numancia destruida
ran from 9-15 February 1778 at the Cruz, eachperformancerealising
6849,5006,4186,4335,3750,2498,7147
reales respectively;Raquel ran from 14-18
December 1778 at the Principe, eachperformancerealising 2899,2926,2976,2522,1715
realesrespectively.SeeAndioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp. 344 and 347.
39Dowling refers to 'la hermosatragediaGuzmdnel bueno', citing Moratin's resignationthat
the play would not be performed:' Bien s6 que estatragediano es para los teatrosde hoy dia,
donde s6lo reina la abominaci6ny la barbarie', pp.445-446. Although Semperey Guarinos
regardedthe play as inferior in quality to Hormesinda he commendedthe resolutionof the
plot, in which vice was not punishedandvirtue not rewarded,as appropriateto tragedy,since
it arousedterror and compassionin the spectators,Ensayo de una biblioteca de los mejores
escritoresdel reynadode Carlos Iff, Madrid, 1969,IV, pp.125-126.
40Numancia destruida
in
for
in
1791
1793
and
and
revived
performance
reprinted
was
Madrid in 1790,1793,1798,1800 and 1801. See Aguilar Pifial, Bibliogra fla, and Andioc
.
and Coulon, Cartelera, p.798. Although never re-stagedin Madrid during the period, Raquel
was revived for performance in Barcelona in 1790 and 1793. See Josep Maria Sala
Valldaura, Cartellera del leatre de Barcelona (1790-1799),Barcelona,1999,pp.48,49,77,
195. The more enduringpopularity of both theseplays after their initial performancesuccess
testifiesto the renewedinterestin patriotic subjectmatter for audiencesand playwrights alike
during theseyears. See Andioc, Teatro, pp.393-396, McClelland, SpanishDrama, pp.185188,196-216, and Cook,Neo-ClassicDrama, pp.280-289.
41Memorial jilerario, V111.30(1786), pp. 245-250.
42&si hemosde medir el gusto de las tragediaspor las traduccionesfrancesasque nos suelen
', Ibid,
dar de cuando en cuando,Lc6mo nos convenceremosde cukito aqui celebramos?
p.249.
43Jbid
248-249.
pp.
'
441bid., 248.
p.
.
45
bid., p.250.
46La raz6n contra la moda,Madrid, 1751, Lu7An'stranslationof Pieffe-ClaudeNivefle de la
Chauss6e'sLe prijugi a la mode, Paris, 1735, is often regardedas the first exampleof the
las
higrimas,
de
51-53,92
in
See
Garcia
Garrosa,
La
Spain.
and
pp.
ret6rica
new genre
CaflasMurillo, Comediasentimental,pp.3140. The first original Spanishmodel was that of
39
Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos,El defincuentehonrado, Madrid, 1787. The play first ran
from 8-15 August 1791 at the Principe, eachperformancerealising4174,3275,3005,3153,
2174,1727,2597,2652 reales respectively.See Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp. 685,
426.
47Garcia Garrosa,La
See
de
las
16grimas,
254-255.
p.
also Maria Jes4s Garcia
ret6rica
Garrosa,'Algunos observacionessobrela evoluci6nde la comedia.sentimentalen Espafta',in
SalaVaUdaura,Teatro espafiol, pp.427-446, for a provocativediscussionof what she terms
gunsincrefismogen6ricoen el panoramateatral espafiola' (p.428) in the first decadesof the
nineteenthcentury, in which the rise of comedia sentimentalcoincideswith 'la deformaci6n
del canonneoclisico de la tragedia' (p.428) and the influenceof new foreign dramatictypes,
'el teatro alembin,el melodramafranc6sy la novela g6fica inglesa' (p.428). Garcia Garrosa
cites GAlvezas an exampleof a numberof authorswhoseworks revealthem to be 'poniendo
de manifiesto que la tragedia concebidaal mis puro estilo neoclisico es inoperantey no
puede cuajar en estos aftos en los que demasiadasinfluencias teatrales han venido a
congregarsepara dar lugar a una f6rmula que, partiendo del drama serio, pasandopor la
comedia seria, y el drama sentimental, Ilegaria al drama tr6gico y desde 61, al drama
romeintico.'(p.445). I would arguethat Gilvez's tragic oeuvre might better be understoodas
testamentto her determinationto preserveand strengthentragedyon a classicisingmodel by
recourseto the devicesof new literary genres.
48SeeChapterFour below for a discussionof the progressof this new musical genrein Spain
and its impact on the writing of Gilvez's Safil.
49
Seeabovenote 1.
50SeeSeffano,Apuntes,p.451.
51CTMvez,Obraspogficas, E4 p.4.
52ibid.
53 'Atrevimiento es en mi sexo y en estas desgraciadascircunstanciasde nuestro teatro
]
de
[
Ni
la
tragedias
ambiciono
gloria
una
censura
colecci6n
ofrecer a
püblica
una
...
extraordinaria',Ibid., p.7.
54«talcual seasu m6rito, es mäsbien debidoa la naturalezaque al arte', Ibid.
40
CHAlyrER
TTME
AH-BEK
This chapter examinesAli-Bek, a tragedy which was explicitly associatedwith the 1799
Plan for theatrical reform; it was one of the exemplary new plays approved for
'
Tealro
in
Government-sponsored
nuevo espafiol. Given her
performance and printed the
declared commitment to Spanishtragedy, it is unsurprising that Gilvez should contribute
to this initiative to encouragenative dramatic talent. The reform project thus provides an
important context for any understanding of the composition and reception of Gilvez's
first printed tragedy. The general prologue, 'Al lector' to the six-volume Teatro nuevo
espcthof, Gilvez's brief 'Advertencia' to Afi-Bek3 and a contemporary review of the
printed play4will frame my analysisof this tragedy.
Theatrical Reform and the Teatro nuevo espafiol
The Teatro nuevo espahol has been described as the 'empresa editorial complementaria'
by
in
Orden
21
Real
Madrid,
the
theatres
the
to
on
approved
plan
reform
public
of
November
1799.5 The prohibition
of plays 'que puedan influir
en la corrupcion
de
feature
key
Espafiola'
de
la
Dramdtica
descr6dito
Poesia
of this
was
a
costumbres, y en el
6 However, this
by
be
the sponsorship of exemplary
to
offset
purge was
regulatory act.
Spanish
drama
the
stage.
might
reinvigorate
new
which
There were two major ways in which the composition of plays was to be
in
determined
it
Firstly,
that
two
annual
prizes,
each of
was
encouraged and promoted.
three classes, should be awarded to dramatists who wrote, 'Comedias y Tragedias,
7
los
Pfiblicos.
Teatros
The
de
dignas
terms of the
en
representarse
arregladas, y
Gazeta
de
de
Madrid
Madrid!
This
Diario
in
known
the
and
competition were made
boost
designed
to
the reputation of the playwrights
conspicuous official approbation was
hoped
It
that the new plays
by
the
the
was
enterprise.
reform
successof
extension,
and,
for
both
loss,
formation
to
the
theatrical
compensate
the
canon
of a new
might assist
perceived and real, of bannedmaterial.
Secondly, and arguably more importantly in terms of the long-term successof the
incentives
financial
dramatists
relating to the
were afforded practical,
project, the
41
performance and printing of their plays, as the notices which appearedin the Diario and
Gazetaoutlined:
Previenese tambien que ademas de las respectivas medallas, se concede ä los
Autores de las piezas prenüadasel privilegio de exigir un tres por ciento del total
de las entradasque produzcan, asi en los Coliseos de la Corte, como en todos los
teatros fixos de Espafta, las veces que se repita su representacionpor espacio de
diez aflos; quedando ä beneficio de los Teatros de Madrid el privilegio de
imprimirlas, formando una coleccion de ellas, que se publicarä ä costa de los
mismos Teatros con el titulo de Teatro Espai)o1.9
As a further inducement, it was determined that the author of any play approved for
financial
be
but
deemed
to
the
entitled
same
performance,
not
prize-worthy, should
form
'otra
These
to
theatre
ticket
coleccion
would
works
sales.
privileges relating
impresa i costa de los Teatros de Madrid i cuyo beneficio deben quedar, como una
"O
first
de
fondos.
Although
the
collection
awarded
and
never
prizes were
propiedad
sus
first
hundred
five
drama
the
copies
of
volume of this
of prize-winning
was never printed,
'other collection', entitled Teatro nuevo espahol, were printed, and subsequently
"
12
in
Gazela
reales each.
advertised the
on 12 December 1800 at the cost of
'Al lector': Introducing the Teatro nuevo espafiol
Each of the first five volumes of the Teatro nuevo espailol was prefaced by a list of the
by
Spain
banned
the newly appointed
throughout
plays whose public performance was
Mesa Censoria of the Junta de Direcci6n y Refonna de Teatros.12The general prologue
to the series, 'Al lector, which appearedin volume one, made explicit the nature of the
link between the anthology and the reform project, emphasisingthe integral role of the
demonstrating
Spanish
in
the origins of the
theatre
the
and
renovation of
plays
intellectual impetus of the reform enterprise in the Enlightenment emphasis on
didacticism in drama: 'Las composiciones dramiticas arregladas son el objeto principal
de la reforma, como que de ellas pende el que el pueblo se instruya al mismo tiempo que
03
honestamente.
se recrea,
However, by effectively juxtaposing condemnation of the old and praise of new
drama, one might argue that the Junta discouraged critical approval of the works in
14
ideological
thrust of the reform. Irrespective of any
literary quarters hostile to the
in
implied
layout
intent,
the
that the
the
series
of
each
volume
claims or statementsof
dramas.
The
for
the
anonymous
prohibited
new plays were considered as replacements
42
author of 'Al lector' appeared to sense the tension which might result from this
opposition between old and new, prohibited and approved drama, although the content
15
did
little
In fact insistenceon the necessityand validity
the
to
this.
of
prologue
pre-empt
of the reform project reaffirmed antagonism between old and new theatre. Efforts to
emphasisepositive aspects of the changes seem lacklustre, as the writer was obliged to
acknowledge that hostility to the enterprise was an inevitable consequence of the
16
reform.
An air of uncertainty, perceptible throughout the prologue, is particularly in
evidence when the author contemplated the manner in which the plays in the collection
would be assessed:
Es de esperar que el püblico seräjusto en la graduacion que hiciere del m6rito de
las piezas que formen el Teatro nuevo espaiiol. No ignoran muchos que en toda
Europa no hay una nacion que pueda jactarse de presentar seis tragedias, o seis
comedias perfectas en todas sus partes y sin defecto notable para el teatro. Con
tal que las bellezas sean en mayor nümero que las fealdades, es muy suficiente
para que las composiciones dramäticas den gloria y esplendor al teatro de
17
cualquiera nacion.
This thinly veiled entreatyfor a moderatecritical responsewas mademore explicit later.
However,if the writer was fearfulthat the playswould bejudged harshly,the expression
of theseconcernsin authoritarianterms with a hint of cynicism,appeareddestinedto
provokeratherthanplacate:'No deben,pues,oirselas sitiras de criticos mordaces,y tal
vez mal intencionados,cuyo fi-uto no es otro que el de infundir en los ingeniosuna
cobardiapedudicial'(p.xvi).
The author's subsequentassertionthat sceptical critics would be progressively won
over by the appearanceof further volumes in the series, must have seemedunconvincing
in the light of the tacit admission that the plays in this initial tome were less than
impressive, 'si las piezas que se incluyan en la colecci6n no tuvieran todo el m6rito que
se desea,a lo menos no serin mostruosas' (p.xvii). The result was a cautious prologue
which lacked the confident tone necessaryto trumpet the appearanceof an anthology of
drama which was intended to revive the splendour and glory of the Spanishstage.
Gfilvez Addresses the Critics
Given the perplexinglack of ambition or enthusiasmfor the plays expressedin "Al
lector', it is surprisingthat relatively few playwrightswho contributedto the Teatro
43
nuevo espail'ol, accepted the invitation to 'hacer alguna advertencia,6 discurso
preliminarsobresus composiciones,con tal que seamuy breve' (p.xxv) as a meansof
18
indifTerent
in
the
countering seemingly
note struck the generalprologue. Gilvez, one of
only five authors who elected to preface their works, perhapsrecognisedthat the
'Advertencia' afforded her an opportunity to discloseher priorities in writing Afi-Bek
and to prepareher public for the innovationsand experimentationin the tragedy. In
markedcontrastto the generalprologue,her pieceboasteda forthright, confidenttone
which was evidentfrom the openingsentencewhere G61vezparalleledher own unique
statusas Spanishdramatistwith the originality of the tragedy,insistingon the novelty
and dramaticeffect of her adaptationof an historical source:Ta novedadde ser esta
composicionobra de una seftoraespaftola,la del asuntomismo,no tratado hastaahora
por otro' (p.117). Signalling her Aristotelian credentials,Gilvez claimed that her
fact with fiction in order to transform'lo est6rildel
additionsto the narrativeembellished
19
(p.
into
lively
117)
asunto'
an engagingand
pieceof theatre.
From this self-consciousstatementof her competenceas an author,it is clearthat
Gilvez's preface was directed primarily at the critic rather than the general reader. She
adopted a lively, combative stance in the face of the likely reception of her tragedy,
which she hoped would be 'juiciosa y urbana' (p. 118), and remarked, with ironic
humility, that she would welcome constructive comments and responsesto her work,
'admitiri
gustosa qualquiera advertencia razonable; y ofirece, con tal que lo sea,
aprovecharsede ella para corregirse en otras composicionesen que actualmentetrabaja'
(p. 118).
To a certain extent thesewords echoedthe sentimentsexpressedin the general
between
Gilvez
Yet
the
to
anonymous
author
wavered
provoke,
aimed
prologue.
where
pleadingandpreaching:
Un prudente disimulo, 6 una adverteneiaatenta y juiciosa anima ä los poetas, les
abre los ojos, y no los intinüda, y retrae como una sätira avinagrada, mordaz, y
del
Teatro
las
Critiquense
piezas
nuevo, pero hägasela
enhorabuena
aun maligna.
justicia
los
ä
de
juicio,
son
acreedores
que
atencion
y
urbanidad
critica con aquel
'0
del
de
la
Rey
hacen
y
patria.
cuanto puedenen obsequio
que por su parte
Thus,althoughdifferentin tone, both Gilvezs 'Advertencia'and 'Al lector' testifiedto
if
However,
Teatro
the
to
the
espaiiol.
nuevo
a sharedconcernwith critical reaction
intentionwas to circumventadversecriticism,the effect fell short of this. The curious
44
blend of supplication and exhortation in the general prologue establishedan awkward,
confrontational relationship between writer and reader which must have deepened
existing antipathy towards the plays in the collection suggested by unprecedented low
ticket sales on their performance.21 Although the tenor of GAIvez's.prologue differed
significantly from the dominant hectoring tone in 'Al lector', the tragedy was nonetheless
ruthlessly criticised.
A Contemporary Reaction to Gilvez and Ali-Bek
Setting a precedent which Quintana and others followed in subsequent years, the
contemporary review of Aft-Bek opened with a lengthy discussion of the aptitude of
22
for
de
las
'el
letras'
(p.
10).
From the outset, the tone of the piece was
women
cultivo
heavy-handedand sardonic. The author did not attempt to disguise his gender, but rather
23
his
founded.
It
emphasisedthe male assumptionsand attitudes on which
opinions were
is clear that despite his protestations to the contrary, the brief analysis of GAlvez's
tragedy in the final four paragraphs,merely served to justify the rehearsalof 'la qiiestion
de si las mugeres son 6 no aptas para las ciencias' (p. 10) which formed the central plank
of the piece.
The critic proclaimedthe mediocrityof muchfemalewriting, althoughhe conceded
that women surpassedthat which might be expectedof their sex in the compositionof
epistolary narrative, novels, short stories and light verse which 'requieren viveza,
sensibilidad,imaginaciony gracia' (p.11). In damningwith faint praise,the reviewer
vauntedhis credentialsas literary critic, and more significantly,bolsteredhis primary
contentionthat womenwere incapableof writing tragic drama.Finding it impossibleto
arguethat therewere no femaleplaywrights,he observedthat their successwas limited
to a narrow sphereof theatricalproduction,'sencillosdramas'written 'en prosafisa y
Ilana'(p.12), a clear allusion to sentimentalcomedy.By accordingwomen writers a
degreeof eminencein a literary field consideredto be lessintellectuallydemanding,he
subtly affirmed the hierarchyof genre in which male writers occupied an exclusive
drama.
tragedians
of
serious
positionas
andauthors
Thesesneersandjibes, which servedas a preludeto the critical assessment
of AftBek, dissuadethe modemreaderfrom acceptingthe reviewer'sopinionof the tragedyat
facevalue.Beyondthe relentlessattemptto colour with cynicismthe tone of the piece,
the author raised few expectations,either in respect of GAIvez'splay, or his own
45
examination of it. He implied that a drama written by a woman did not merit scrutiny,
disguising his contempt with feigned courtesy towards 'el beHo sexo'. In prefacing his
analysis of Afi-Bek
with a sarcastic tribute to GOvez's achievement, he mocked her
evident pride both in the originality of her work and her own status as female Spanish
24
tragedian.
Yet despite the prejudice against women's writing inherent in the review, the critic
raised a number of issues relating to GAlvez's experiments and innovations in Ali-Bek
which provide a useful starting point for any analysisof the tragedy. He focused on the
alleged absenceof realistic charactersin the play, perhaps a veiled reference to Gilvez's
perceived failure either to follow Aristotelian precept or to fulfil one of the implicit
prerequisites for new Spanish drama as outlined in the general prologue of the Teatro
nuevo espai)01.25The short, ironic character sketches on which he based the piece
suggested that he regarded poor characterisation as the principal shortcoming of
Gilvez's tragedy.
Significantly, the critic did not begin with the eponymous protagonist, but Amalia,
accordingher the dual statusof victim andheroineof the drama.Ali-Bek, ostensiblythe
tragic hero, was dismissedas a bloodthirsty'rebelde' (p.12), while his main adversary,
Morad, earneda descriptionbefittingthe mainprotagonist,'un buenmusulman,h6roede
profesion,noble y valeroso hasta el extremo.' (p.12). Hassanwas written off as 'el
monstruomas horrendo' (p.13) and Mahomadfared little better as 'un mamelucotan
malo y tan infame que todos le aborrecenyi todos aborrece' (p.13). By way of
conclusion,Ismael,the leastsignificantcharacter,receivedthe sympathyof the reviewer,
who referredto him as 'un pobre diablo' and used this to incorporatea final critical
flourish,declaringthe tragedya 'deshechaborrasca'(p.13).
The avowedlyhostilereviewerdid not concealthe fact that he found little to praise
in the composition of Gilvezs tragedy. His criticism pivoted on a pointed refusal to treat
Afi-Bek as the eponymous tragic protagonist, most evident in the wry observation that
Amalia 'es la heroina del drama de AR-Bek, Hassam, Mahomad y comparsa' (p. 12).
However, though crudely articulated and necessarilyexaggerated,the sarcastic portraits
were curiously perceptive, since that which the critic identified as technical inadequacyis
precisely what I contend is Gilvez's conscious innovation. In pouring scorn on the
construction of character, the critic revealed, surely unintentionally, a major aspect of
experimentation,which will serve as a framework for my interpretation of this tragedy.
46
Characterisation and Experimentation in Ali-Bek
The de-centring of the tragic protagonist in Afi-Bek, so apparent to the contemporary
critic of the Memorial literario, might be viewed as a deliberate strategy on Gilvez's
part to remodel the parameters of characterisation in tragedy. In effect, there are five
important characters in Ali-Bek rather than the single principal character we might
26
expect. The inter-relationships of these characters and the fluctuations in their
respective fortunes are central to the exposition, development and resolution of the
27
plot. Thus rather than regard Ali-Bek as a tragedy without a tragic hero, one might
better understand the work as an ensemblepiece in which Ali-Bek's demise takes place
in the wider context of a complex series of relationships and dramatic conflicts which
arise out of contrasts in status, values and desires between the characters. These are
predominantly psychological in nature and evolve primarily through dialogue, although
physical confrontation features through minor on-stage and reported action.
a) Ali-Bek: A New Model of Tragic Hero
In creating Ali-Bek, Gilvez embraced both antique models and contemporary Spanish
theories of tragedy. As Bey of Egypt he possessesthe title and authority which make him
a suitably elevated figure in Luzin's terms. Furthermore, in accordancewith Aristotle's
concept of the importance of moral goodnessas a prerequisite for any tragic protagonist,
Ali-Bek's integrity is apparent both in virtuous acts and a desire for self-improvement
and Gilvez makes him both more aware and more proud of his military and civic
achievementsthan of his powerful position. Rebuking Mahomad's observation that 'La
fortuna al nacer nos hizo iguales' (IIIJv), Ali-Bek's stressesthe distinct moral code by
which each now lives:
Iguales al nacer, iquän diferentes
hemos sido en vivir! Yo en nü carrera
logr6 por mis hazaiiasque vivieran
los
Ebertad
oprimidos;
y
en paz
donde
tu
tü
quiera
y por avaricia,
viviendoaborrecido
quemandabas,
contrati alzabael grito la inocencia(III, iv)
Ali-Bek's virtue and lack of greed are contrastedwith Mahomad'sunscrupulousand
iv)
in
(Ill,
del
Ali-Bek
'la
the man he elevatedto
oro'
recognises sed
graspingnature.
prosperityand who rewardedthis act of faith with treachery,but he is dignified in the
47
face of his corrupt adversaryand offers Mahomadthe opportunity to repent his past
actions.
In this scene,GOvezappearsto attributeto Ali-Bek the necessarymoral integrity
and social standingfor a tragic protagonistand yet in the courseof the tragedy, she
consistentlyand deliberatelyunderminesthis statureand hints that these qualitiesare
superficialandtransient.The striking featureof the creationof Ali-Bek is that from the
beginningof the action his power and moral worth fail to convince.Prior to his first
appearanceon stage(II, iii), Ali-Bek is depictedby his enemiesas 'rebelde', 'tirano'
'infame' (11,iii) and it is only later that his moral regenerationand renunciationof
becomeclear. Thus at the outset,Ali-Bek's past brutality is
violenceand licentiousness
foregrounded,prefiguringthe violent resolutionof the tragedy,but, more significantly,
contributing to the sensethat his character and morality are not immutable, but
contingent.Furthermore,his temporalpower andstatusasleaderare compromised,since
throughout the action he is effectively a prisoner. Gilvez presentsa surprisingand
ultimatelyfragile eponymousprotagonistwhosedilemmais not centralto the action and
whosetragic statusis neverfully established.
This precariousness
of statusis accentuatedby Gilvez's depictionof Ali-Bek as
frail,
first
dependent
from
his
physically
passive and
on others,
appearance on stage
(II, iii) to his undignified death by poison. He enters bearing wounds to the head sustained
in combat with Morad. Although willing to continue fighting, Ali-Bek's breathlessness,
conveyed through his heavily punctuated dialogue testifies to his weakened and
exhausted state. Seconds later, 'Desfallecido' he raises his hand to his forehead, a
fainting
the
of
and collapses into Amalia's
verge
gesture reminiscent of a woman on
(II,
before
being
helped
the
v).
stage
arms,
off
In this remarkable and inauspicious first appearance,Gilvez reverses stereotypes
is
heroic
Ali-Bek
behaviour
that
tragic
to
not
a
conventional
clearly
signal
of gendered
protagonist. His physical weakness is thrown into relief by Amalia's superior fortitude
lack
dynamism
inner
Ali-Bek
to
throughout
the
appears
and
action,
remaining
and
idea
insecure
is
deeply
He
the
toys
troubled
and
of suicide, However,
with
and
strength.
implied,
he
the
tragedy
the
somewhat
sarcastically,
seems
of
contemporary
reviewer
as
to lack the necessaryresolve to undertake such an action and instead, dies an inglorious
28
death
hands
lingering
Hassan.
at the
of
and
48
Gilvez's treatment of the manner of Ali-Bek's death and of three important
29
hamartia,
structural elementsof ancient tragedy,
peripety and anagnoriSiS, corresponds
to the ambivalent tragic status accorded to his character. The vindictive poisoning of
Hassan, which must constitute Ali-Bek's
error (hamartia) is unsurprising, even
predictable, given the frequent allusions to his latent barbarity. His repressed violent
nature finally and inevitably emerges from beneath the veneer of civility. However,
Gilvez difflusesmuch of the dramatic impact of this action by presenting it as no more
than an angry and vengeful reaction in the face of his own humiliation, loss of power and
imminent death. The discovery that Hassan has poisoned him (IVvi),
is the act of
recognition (anagnorisis) which prompts Ali-Bek to determine to avenge himself
However, the absenceof any deep meditation on the appropriate course of action (Vi)
betrays the lack of tragic resonanceafforded to his character.
The tragic dimensionof Ali-Bek's life also seemsto be lessenedby Gilvez's
alterationof the traditional causalrelationshipbetweenerror, and reversalof fortune
(peripety). Ali-Bek's killing of Hassandoes not precede,but rather follows his own
defeatand capture,ostensiblythe startingpoint of his demise.In fact, from this unusual
the downfall
exploitationof the classicalconventionsof the genre,Gilvez de-emphasises
of Ali-Bek the warrior hero in order to refocus the tragic interest of the play on the
natureandfortune of his relationshipwith Amaliaandthe wider repercussions
of this for
the other charactersasevidencedin the climacticpenultimatesceneof the tragedy,
b) Amalia: Heroic Virtue
One of the surprising features of the characterisation of Ali-Bek is the extent of his
physical and emotional dependenceon Amalia, his wife. It indicates the importance of
their relationship to the progress, rhythm and final resolution of the tragedy and
contributes to the de-centring of Ali-Bek's character and the corresponding focusing on
that of Amalia. The ambiguities and contradictions which serve to define Afi-Bek's
from
Amalia,
that
of
who, as the critic of the Memorial
are
entirely
absent
character
literario review somewhat ironically observed, might be regarded as the heroine of this
tragedy. However, where the reviewer presentedher as a passive victim 'oveja timida 6
inocente, cercada de tigres feroces' (p. 12), using familiar animal imagery to perpetuate
her
belies
dynamic
her
this
characterisation
received notions of gender,
simplification of
role in the play.
49
At the outset, GAlvez shows that their relationship is founded on mutuality.
However, it is made clear that this has been achieved through a transformation of AliBek's personal morality and behaviour, effected by Amalia, as she acknowledges with
obvious pride:
Si f66 esclavo Ali-Bek, ya solo es h6roe:
su bondad, sus victorias y sus lauros
le hici6ron digno de mandar el pueblo,
que de un infame yugo ha libertado.
Si 61me nombrasu esposa;si en mi obsequio
lastirinicas leyesdel serrallo
parasiemprerompi6, si compasivo
concedelibertadi los Christianos,
contratantasvirtudesmal pudiera
negarleun corazon,queha conquistado
amantey generoso.(II, viii)
Virtue andconstancyarethe hallmarksof her nature,althoughthey arenot signsof
meekness
andcompliancebut of an innerstrengthwhich rendersher braveandbold. She
is perspicacious,as evidencedin her dealingswith Mahomad(1,vii), and her repeated
heroicactionsandassertionsof her beliefsconfoundaudienceexpectationsof a modelof
feminine modesty on stage. Morad is disarmedwhen Amalia places herself bodily
betweenhis sabreandAli-Bek's chestin order to preserveher husband'sfife (11,iv). It is
an act of interventionwhich foreshadowsthat which takesplacein the closingscenesof
the play whensheis emotionallyandphysicallytrappedbetweenthe conflictingdemands
of her dying father and husband(Viii). Similarly,Mahomadis dismayedby Amalia's
rejectionof his offer of 'rescue' (IViii), and Hassancannotaccepthis daughter'sblank
refusalto regardherselfasthe victim of a tyrannicalandunworthyspouse(IVH).
In fact, Amaliais shownto havea greateragencyover her actionsthan the passive
Afi-Bek and in this GAlvezseemsto placeher characterat the centreof the moral and
the equalityof their marriage,Gilvez
emotionalinterestin the tragedy.In emphasising
invitesthe audienceto comparethe two charactersandAmaliais seento be the equalof
Ali-Bek, but in somesensesalsohis oppositeandsuperior:wherehe faints, shesupports
him physicafly(H,iv), wherehe weepsandis afraid,shesupportshim emotionally(III, ii).
GAlvezinvestsin Amaliaa set of qualitieswhich beliestraditionalnotionsof submissive,
subservientwomanhoodandremodelsfemininevirtue asessentiallyheroicanddynamic.
so
c) Morad: An Altruistic Hero
The other character to whom G61vezascribes heroic traits in this tragedy is Morad,
whose altruistic heroism also serves to displace Ali-Bek as the centre of interest. In his
altercation with Mahomad (1,H), Morad is revealed as a principled warrior, who abhors
duplicity and who insists on a strict honour code. Mahomad attempts to excite less noble
aspirations in him, suggesting that the exhilaration achieved in the heat of battle is
superior to the pleasuresof love which he defines as:
Una sornbrafugaz, una voz vaga,
que en el Harem gozamos sin peligro,
sin susto, ni temor; (Iji)
HoweverMorad is incensedby this outmodedconfusionof sexualgratification,love and
politics and in this Gilvez marks him out as an admirer of Europeanvalues and
civilisation:
iTü comparas
ei tiemo amor con ei brutal deleyte,
ei ainor, que en Europa ofrece ei alma
en voluntario don ä quien adora
con las cariciastristesy forzadas
quehacela esclavitudä sustiranos!(I,ii)
In privileging sensitivity over brutality and equality over tyranny, Morad exhibits a
sophisticatedand enlightenedconceptof mutualityin love which is testedin respectof
his own feelingsfor Amaliawhich sheis unableand unwilling to reciprocate.When she
convinceshim that sheis devotedto Ali-Bek of her own free will (11,
viii), he abandons
his questto win her affection.Although he canneverdenythe love he feelsfor Amalia,
he endeavoursto overcomeit, showingrespectfor her constancyto her husbandand
compassionfor her sufferingand loss at the end of the play. He pursuesa courseof
be
he
knows
is
his
but
to
which
right, observingthe
not
of
choosing,
action which
paradoxof his situationin an asidewhich makesplain the extent of his compromise:
'Amalia, por tu llanto, por tus quejas/ defiendoi mi enemigo'(IVvi).
Throughout the tragedy, Morad undertakesa seriesof wise and moray good
it
he
is
legitimate
is
d6nouement
that
the
the
that
and
clear
worthy
at
actions, so
iii);
he
battle
(1,
in
he
insists
Ali-Bek:
Egypt
tactics
to
abandonshis
on
noble
successor
ignoble
from
himself
Mahomad's
he
disassociates
(IIviii);
Amalia
cause
selfishpursuitof
51
(IV, v); he warns Ali-Bek of Hassan's plot to poison him (IV, vi); and ultimately he
undertakes to see Amalia's safe return to France after the death of her husband (Viv).
This virtuous trajectory ensures that Morad, like Amalia, is the object of audience
admiration, but more tellingly, his integrity casts Ali-Bek's uncertain moral status in an
increasingly grey fight. He is almost too worthy and perhaps represents an idealised
figure, the imaginary fusion of enlightened European wisdom and indigenous pride,
heroism and bravery.
d) Hassan and Failed Fatherhood
If the key to understandingGilvezs portrayal of Morad is his moral integrity and respect
for enlightened attitudes towards love and good leadership, then Hassan might best be
interpreted as a character who has abandoned ethical principles and whose morality is
suspect.The act of selling his daughter into slavery is a betrayal of enlightenmentvalues
of freedom and more crucially of paternal love and in the course of the play he continues
to be motivated by selfish and barbarousinstincts. More than this, though, he deliberately
his
Ali-Bek,
doctor
his
knowledge
to
on
revenge
revealing
secure
abuses
and power as a
his calculated rejection of civilised values.
Yet despite depicting Hassan's malevolent and vindictive behaviour in this play,
GAlvez allows his character to repent past actions and to express bitter regret. He
frequently betrays awarenessof his own moral slide and in this way Gilvez seems to
is
introspection
deep
Hassan
that
self-scrutiny
and
which
normally
some
of
accord
is
laden
hero.
first
His
to
the
tragic
with guilt, self-loathing and
substantial speech
proper
Christian contrition:
pero el alma
hija
de
una
me penetra el peligro
dia
ser tu esclava.
en
este
que puede
Este nombre afrentoso, que ha sufrido
desdelos tiernos aftos de su infancia,
he
le
fix6
profanado
siempre:
por
yo
de la naturalezalas sagradas
leyesconsoladoras:
(I,iv)
Although a profoundly unappealingcharacter,Hassan'ssoul-searchingand remorse
has
become
figure
he
by
the
tragedy
the
a
of
of
resolution
arouseaudiencesympathyand
52
pathos. In this lies further evidence of Gilvez's dispersal of attributes normally centred
on the tragic protagonist among other charactersin this play.
Ultimately Hassan may be regarded as a symbol of enfeebled patriarchy. He is an
ineffectual and self-confessedfailed father, deprived of much of his power and abusing
that which remains to him. Gilvez shows that since fleeing the French court he has
persistently succumbed to the forces of circumstance and been unable and frequently
unwilling to act with integrity, preferring to regard himself as a victim (I, iv, IVii, Viii).
He is one of a number of complex, but somehow inadequate father figures in Gilvez's
tragic oeuvre who often contrast with principled and dynamic younger women.
e) Mahomad: Manipulation and Brutality
One of the functions of this character is to ren-ýindaudiencesof Ali-Bek's past barbarism.
His cynical conflation of love and sexual gratification, his ruthless and dishonourable
battle tactics, his brutal treatment of enemiesseem designedto reveal Mahomad to be a
savagewho exists outside the codes of civility, honour and virtue. Amalia describeshim
as 'un monstruo, / formado por la c6lera del cielo, / para sembrar el crimen en la tierra. '
(IV, iii). However, far from being ignorant and bestial, Gilvez depicts him as cunning and
manipulative. His vaunting ambitions for power have prompted him to betray Ali-Bek
and infiltrate his former master's troops in order to usurp the position of Bey at the start
of the action. He is shown to possessthe necessarypolitical acumen to plot and secure
his personal advancement and his accompanying skills of oratory aid his duplicitous
designs(III. iv).
In the early stagesof the play, Mahomad's schemesare important mechanismsfor
driving the plot. However,with Amalia'srefusalto regardMahomadasher 'libertador',
but ratheras 'un traidor infame' (IViii), and,more importantlywith the loss of Morad's
support,Mahomad'sfortunesbeginto wane(IVv). The resistanceof AmaliaandMorad
to his rhetoricandmachinations
not only servesto contrastvirtue andvice, but alsohalts
the momentumof Mahomad'sself-servingcause.It is indicative of the extent of his
dwindling importancethat he does not appearin the last act. In the final scenehis
is
left
is
flight
to ponderthe significanceof a man
the
reported,
and
audience
cowardly
whoseunscrupulousnatureandcorrupt behaviourgo unpunished.
53
Dramatic Structure: Convention and Innovation
The Memorial literario reviewer recognised in Ali-Bek 'una tragedia enteramente
original, en cinco actos, en versos corrientes, y en donde estin guardadas las tres
30
(p.
12).
It is true that Gilvez adheres to the conventions of classicising
unidades'
tragedy and this might be interpreted as evidence both of her determination to maintain
structural constants which guaranteedthe elevated status of the genre and of her desire
to prove herself as a tragedian ' Given that Ali-Bek was the first of her tragedies to be
ý3
performed and printed, it would have been important for Gilvez, as for any aspiring
tragedian, to demonstrate her knowledge of precept and her ability to translate this into
practice. Moreover, in addition to legitirnising her as a writer, Gilvez's a0herence to
norms also helped to sanction the more radically innovative aspects of her dramaturgy.
Paradoxically though, the conventional structure of Ali-Bek threw into sharp relief
GAlvez's experimentationwith character. It was precisely this juxtaposition of innovation
and conformity which seemsto have perplexed her contemporaries.
Even thoughthe overarchingstructureof the tragedyconformsto genericnorms
and audienceexpectations,Gilvez's experimentationwith characterimpactson some
aspectsof the overallshapeof the work. The majorityof the scenesin eachact consistof
rhetoricaldialoguesbetweentwo of the five major characterswhich enablesGilvez to
developtheir stagepersonalitiesandhistories.Afi-Bek's appearances
on stagemusttake
their placeamongthesedialoguesandarethuslargelyconfinedto the third andfifth acts.
This quantitativeaccountof his physicalpresenceoffers further proof that Gilvez does
not makehim centralto the developmentof the plot.
The actionin Afi-Bek unfoldsgradually:incidentis limited and occursmainly offstage and rhetorical exchanges provide the framework for each scene. This pattern,
familiar from much classical tragedy, is conspicuously ruptured by the two penultimate
scenesof the play which mark the dramatic climax (Viii-iv).
In the first of these scenes
Amalia, alerted to the cries of Hassan, enters and learns that her father and her husband
have poisoned each other (Viii). In an attempt to justify his actions, Ali-Bek produces
by
hands
Amalia
the
to
she
sold
as
contract
which
was
a
slave
paper
a piece of
and
Ibrahim. Morad and the remainder of the cast enter into this heightened emotional
situation shortly before Amalia faints (Viv).
Prior to her regaining consciousness,
Hassan, barely alive, is taken off stage and Morad reads the piece of paper which fell
54
from Amalia's hand. With Ali-Bek close to death, Amalia implores Morad's help to
secureher freedomandhevows to seeher safereturnto Europe.
In contrastwith the measured,rhetorical exchangeswhich dominatethe action
prior to this moment,the dialogue in this pair of scenesis characterisedby brevity,
intensityandurgency:Ali-Bek, Hassanand Amalia's words are heavilypunctuatedwith
suspensionpoints, questions and exclamations.The frequently broken speech is
accompaniedby an increasedemphasison gesture and non verbal communication:
kneeling,weeping,fainting,trembling,the eloquentuseof the handandarm to physically
support,restrainand implore another.The incorporationof a significantobject, in this
casean importantdocument,is a furthernotablefeatureof thesescenes.
This combination of elements, so obviously inspired by plays with a strong appeal
to sentiment, is an unexpected departure which breaks with the rhythm establishedin the
is
in
likely that Gilvez,
It
the
tragedy.
these
preceding action and marks
scenes out
experienced in the writing of comedia sentimental, deliberately exploited some of the
32
devices
techniques and
associatedwith this new and popular genre. One of the most
striking effects of this surprising and innovative borrowing is to dispersethe spectator's
interests and sympathies among the four main characters on stage by the penultimate
scene.The closing moments of this tragedy echo those of many sentimental comedies in
which a number of family members gather for revelations and reunifications and where
Amalia's
Thus,
becomes
focus
the
attention.
suffering,
of
audience
no character
single
Hassan's agony and Morad's rational and restorative interventions all serve to deintegrate
Gilvez's
death
belittle
Ali-Bek's
to
throes.
apparent
readiness
emphasise,even
into tragedy devices and conventions proper to another genre is a sign of a flexibility and
is
form
dramatic
to
and
structure
which
even more
experiment with
a willingness
33
in
tragedies.
conspicuous other
Ali-Bek and Orientalism
The de-centring of Ali-Bek's character, particularly in evidence in these two penultimate
in
Gilvezs
discourse
dominant
be
this
tragedy.
choice
scenes,might
viewed as part of a
focuses
her
invites
the
the
treatment
of
play
which
on
a reading
of
subject matter
and
is
Afi-Bek
Egypt.
between
Europe
the
undoubtedly a
and
relationship
construction of
defined
'orientalist'
been
has
be
to
as
what
categorised according
work which might
discourse, in which non-European civilisation was presented as cruel, despotic,
55
undeveloped and intellectually passive, and contrasted with the Enlightenment
34
conceptionof itself astolerant,liberal,progressiveandintellectuallyfertile.
On a superficiallevel, the fashionableEgyptian setting of Gilvez's tragedy must
have appealedto the taste of an audiencewho enjoyedvisually impressivetheatrical
35
decor and who were accustomedto Oriental travesties in comic plays. Mahoma&s tent
'magnificamente adornada al uso oriental' (p. 116), is the setting for all five acts of the
play. Gilvez complements this luxurious setting with thrilling plot incidents such as
French courtly intrigue, emigrds, pirates and captivity, drawing on travel narratives which
contributed to and perpetuated the simultaneously exotic and barbaric image of the
East.36 However, where much comic drama was both geographically and temporally
vague, GAlvez's tragedy was both geographically and historically specific. At the time of
the performance and printing of Ali-Bek, Egypt was the focus of Napoleon's plans to
37
consolidate revolutionary gainS. News of the French Egyptian campaignswas relayed
to Spain" and the reading and theatre-going public must have been aware that Ali-Bek
dramatised a series of events whose consequenceswere reverberating in their own
39
time.
Yet the Orientalismgoesbeyondthe evocationof local colour andtopicality in this
Although his capture
tragedy,andis embeddedin Gilvezs approachto characterisation.
andwoundingat the start of the action renderhim weak and devoid of agency,Ali-Bek
is portrayedas fundamentallybarbarian,a leaderwhoselatent violencealwaysthreatens
to surfaceand finally does break through the fagadeof his reformed nature. In the
constructionof his characterGilvez fusesthe barbarityandpassivitycentralto European
Ali-Bek
Furthermore,
Oriental
the
since
revealsno
man.
of
nature
of
understandings
is
he
for
internal
debate
unfavourablycontrasted
or stoic altruism
propensity reasoned
G;
Uvez
these
presentsthe paradox of a
qualities.
very
with characterswho possess
tragedywhoseeponymousprotagonistlacks a full tragic rangeand whoseundermined
statusservesasa foil for a different,arguablysuperiorethicalcode.
This goessomeway to explainingthe centralityof Amalia's characterwhosesolid
inner core of goodness,virtue and fortitude seem representativeof the values of
Enlightenmentculture.Arnaliaadvocatesmutualityof feelingin marriage,sheexercisesa
filial
demonstrates
influence
Ali-Bek
piety and
and she
on
powerful civilising
Europe
Amalia's
Perhaps
with
self-identification
at the
most
significantly,
compassion.
56
feminine
demonstrates
GAIvez's
the
resolution of
plot
superiority to ethnic
opposition of
inferiority in this tragedy.
At first sight the figure of Morad might seemto contradict this opposition. In fact
the constructionof his characterrepresentsa more subtlepieceof colonialprejudice,in
that his valuesystemhasbeenacquiredpreciselythroughcontactwith Europe,a debt he
explicitly acknowledges.Similarly Hassan,the 'EasternisedWesterner' possessesa
capacityfor self-consciousanalysiswhich is an outward manifestationof his European
roots andaccountsfor muchof the audience'ssympathyfor his character.The deathsof
Ali-Bek andHassan,which constitutethe resolutionof the plot, mark the end of cultural
intermixture and it is significantthat Gilvez excludesthe future possibility of union
between the apparentlywell-suited Morad and Amalia. Their voluntary separation
symbolisesthe separationof worlds and the return of a status quo in which Europe
retains cultural superiority and dominance.The albeit clich6d view of Egypt in the
Memorial literario review suggeststhat audienceswould haveconcurredwith Gilvez's
40
in
colonialvision this tragedy.
Conclusions
The disparaging contemporary critical reaction to Ali-Bek in the Memorial fiterario set
the tone for much modem criticism. My analysisin part attempts to redress the balance
by focusing on GOvez's experimentation and innovation within the recognised
be
Afi-Bek
traditions
tragedy.
regarded as a response to a
might
conventions and
of
it
history
in
literary,
appearedon stage and
since
political
and
moment
cultural
particular
in print during a period of intense activity and change in the theatrical world. By
Gilvez
inclusion
in
Tealro
for
the
espaitol,
not only signalled a
nuevo
submitting a play
but
tragedy,
to
the
also aligned herself with those
writing of
personal commitment
intellectuals who championedthe project to renovate the theatre in Spain.
Of her eighttragedies,the actionin Aft-Bek drew on the most contemporaryevents
interest
have
is
likely
history
the
focus
Egyptian
to
stimulated
of a
the
on recent
and
in
North
Affica
informed
taking
the
turbulent
place
events
of
public who were regularly
have
It
its
appealedto contemporary
time
the
would
and
publication.
of performance
at
taste and sensibilityand in its way, was as Orientalisingas Vivant Denon's celebrated
Voyage which appeared in French the following year. Although Gilvez's
interest
for
be
the
of
a modem
source
chief
with charactermight seenas
experimentation
57
in
Afi-Bek
the
underpinningcolonial vision
audience,the wider cultural significanceof
ignored.
be
nor
shouldneither underestimated
58
1Maria Rosade G.4vezAh-Bek Tragedia
in
Teatro nuevo espahol,
aclos
original en cinco
Madrid, 1801, V, pp.113-192. The play was performed at the Principe from 3 to 10 August
1801and realised6125,2865,1736,1747,820,607,2337 and 997 reales at eachrespective
performance.See Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.486-487,594 n.5,617. It is interesting
to notethat the printed play was advertisedmid-way throughthe thirteenday performancerun
in August 1801. SeeGazetade Madrid, 7 August 1801, p.840.
2 'Al lector', Teatro
nuevoespafiol,Madrid, 1800,L pp.iii-xxv.
3 'Advertencia', in Qilvez, Afi-Bek,
pp.117-118
4Memorial literario, 11.10(1802),
pp-10-13.
5 Campos,Teatro, 79. The
is
Gonzilez,
by
Diez
Santos
reproduced
p.
plan of reform, written
in CharlesE. Kany, 'Plan de reforma de los teatrosde Madrid aprobadoen 1799', RcWstade
la Biblioteca, Archivo y Museo, VL (1929), pp.245-284. See p.273 for a referenceto the
anticipatedcreationof the Teatro nuevoespafiol.
6 Diafio, 14 January 1800, 53. See Andioc, Teatro,
description
for
541-553,
of the
a
pp.
p.
legislativecontentof the plan of reform and an accountof the potential impact of the changes
on theatricallife. Seealso Campos,Teatro, pp.70-90.
7 The
first,
Wionzas,
to
3,2
corresponding
prizes consistedof gold medals weighing
and
secondand third classesrespectively.Diario, p.53
Ibid. The samenotice appearedin the Gazelade Madfid, 14 Jan 1800.
Ibid.
10Ibid., 54.
p.
11Andioc, Teatro,
data
fascinating
113-115,
pertinent to the publication of
pp.
revealssome
the six volumes which comprise the Teatro nuevo espailol to draw conclusionsabout the
likely nature of the readershipffue un p6blico bastanteacomodado,y relativamenteculto',
Out
individual
114)
the
a
of
as
whole.
series
the
and
single
volumes
plays,
p.
and
popularity of
GdIvez's.
4fi-Bek
V,
Volume
500
112
containing
copiesof
a print run of
copiesper volume,
in
individual
Andioc
the anthologywere also sold as sueltas at
that
plays
sold.
observes
were
in
Serrano,
(reproduced
May
1801
21
letter
Junta,
In
the cost of three reales each. a
to the
Apuntes, p.45 1), CT9vezmentionedthat Afi-Bek was 'absolutamentevendida', but although
been
have
known
is
to
her
retragedy
not
second editions of several plays were printed,
edited.
12The titles of approximately 615 prohibited plays appearedin each Tista de las piezas
drarnificas que conforme a la RO. de 14 de enero de 1800 se han recogidoprohibiendo su
At
Reino
the end of
de
de
los
Madrid
todo
espafiol'.
el
teatrospfiblicos
y
representaci6nen
la
'Se
final
following
por
ahora
suspende
the sixth and
note was printed:
volume, the
hasta
tenga
tanto
deben
de
la
lista
de
se
un n6mero
que
recogerse,
continuaci6n
piezas que
de
las
falta
la
las
anfiguas,que
de
suplir
traducidas,
con que
suficiente
nuevas,originaleso
de
las
de
'una
interprets
79,
desecharse.
this
confesiones
'
Campos,
Teatro,
as
p.
merezcan
fracasodel plan de la Junta.'
13'Al lector', p.
xii.
14Andioc, Teatro, pp.548-549 outlines some of the hostilities to the reform and alludes to
others.
59
15Critics have
speculatedon the identity of the author: Emilio PalaciosFemindez favoured
Leandro Femindez de Moratfn, in J.M. Diez Borque (ed.), Histofia del leatro espahol,
Madrid, 1988, H, pp. 189-90, while Jos6 Checa.Beltrin favoured SantosDiez Gonzilez, in
'Ideas po6ticas de SantosDiez GonzA]ez',ReWstade Literatura, LI (1989), 427. More
p.
', Dieciocho, 22 (1999), pp.351-371,
recently in 'El Teatro nuevo espahol, Zantiespafiol?
Ren6Andioc has presenteda new argumentto support his personalinclination towards Diez
GonzAlez,pp.354-355.
16'Al Lector',
pp.vii-xii.
17Ibid.,
pp.xiv-xv.
18In 'Una
colecci6n dramitica entre dos siglos: el Teatro Nuevo Espafiol (1800-1801)',
EntreSiglos, Bulzoni, 1993, pp. 183-194, Francisco Lafarga observes that only six of the
twenty-eightdramaswhich comprisethe collection featureda prologue, p. 185. Gblvez wrote
two of these.Seepp.183-194,for a fuller descriptionof the dramatistswho contributedto the
collectionand a discussionof the contentand natureof their works. Seealso Campos,Teatro,
pp.113-116,for generalobservationson the plays in the anthology.
19Consideringthe
evidence of a number of tragedies and taking into account a range of
theoretical advice, but principally that of Aristotle, Luzin agreedthat the most successful
tragedieswere those based on historical subject matter and above all 'historias y acciones
de nuestraedad.' Luz6n noted that Muratori, amongothers had advised
antiguasy apartadas,
againstthe selectionof 'los argumentosde historias muy modemas' principally becausethey
would be so familiar to many in the audiencethat it would be difficult for the playwright to
'variar las circunstanciasy los nombres y adaptar el hecho al teatro ya lo verisimil.'
Nevertheless with characteristic even-handedness,LuzAn acknowledged the example of
Racine who 'juzga no sin raz6n que tambi6n puede el poeta servirse de casosmodernosy
recientes,como seande paisesmuy distantes,porque para el vulgo lo mismo es la distancia
de mil leguasque la antigaedadde mil afios'. Luzin, La PoJtica, pp.453-455.
20'Al Lector',
p.xvi.
21With the
exception of Elpadre defamilia which premiered at the Cafios on 16 April 1803,
the plays which comprise the collection were first performed and printed between 1800 and
1802. Campos, Teatro, p. 75, presents a picture of unmitigated box-office failure. However
although Lafarga, 'Una colecci6n dramitica entre dos siglos', accepts that the performances
were not 'clamorosos 6xitos', he suggests that six plays, translated rather than original, were
more successful than the others and were revived for performance after their initial run, They
were: El abate de I'Epie, El califia de Bagdad, Cecilia y Dors6n, La 6pera c6mica, La
prueba caprichosa and El solter6n y su criada.
22Memorial literario,
p. 10. The anonymous review was probably written by Pedro Maria
Oliv6 who directed the periodical between 1801 and 1804. See Inmaculada Urzainqui,
Tritica teatral y secularizaci6n: El Memorial literario (1784-1979)', Bulletin Hispanique,
94, (1992), pp. 203-243 (p. 207) and Urzainqui, 'Un nuevo instrumento cultural', pp. 176-177.
23In the first
boasted,
his
the
might
argue
one
masculinity.
revealed,
sentence,
critic openly
Alluding to the debate on woman, he observed '[Ia cuest16n] viene a ser la misma que la de si
nos igualan o nos son inferiores en talentos. '
24 t
no conocemos alguna que haya tenido &-ýmo para calzarse el coturno trigico, gloria que
parece estaba reservada i nuestra nacion. Asi pues podemos alabar el ingenio natural, el
entusiasmo, y sobre todo la noble arrogancia de la autora de Ali-Bek, pues todo esto es
necesario para componer una tragedia enteramente original, en cinco actos, en versos
60
corrientes,y en donde estin guardadaslas tres unidades', Memorial literario, p. 12. The
reviewer clearly intended to mock Gilvez's own declaration, 'La presente tragedia es
enteramenteoriginal', Gilvez, 'Advertencia', p. 117.
25The importanceof the depiction of protagonistswho were true to fife was mentionedin 'Al
Lector', pp.xviii-xix. Campos,Yeatro,p.90, observesthat 'en el espiritu de la renovaci6nhay
tarnbi6nalgo que afecta al sentido de la comedia:el afin de representarun cierto realismo',
suggestingthat this explainsthe condemnationof comediasdefigur6n in the generalprologue
from
decision
dramas
to
the Teatro nuevo espailol.
the
such
exclude
and
26The Ali-Bek of Ggvez's tragedy correspondsto the historical figure of Ali Bey, (b. 1728,
Abkhasia, Caucasus[now Abkhaziya, Georgia]- d. May 8,1773, near Salihiyya,Egypt). Ali
Bey was the slave of Ibrahim Katkhuda.,the emir of Egypt, from whom he was freed and
Having
Ottoman
(bey)
Egypt
district
to
the
suzerainty.
of
under
promoted
rank of
governor
in
high
Ali
Bey was
his
by
them
positions,
strengthened position obtaining slavesand placing
mademayor (shaykhal-balad) of Cairo, and worked to overthrow OttomanTurkish rule. He
Mecca
Egypt,
independent
in
becoming
and
the
control
of
gaining
of
ruler
succeeded
virtually
then Syria, to where he fled in 1772 after being betrayedby his army commander.He was
defeatedand captured,dying of the wounds he suffered in battle. Summarisedfrom 'Egypt:
Mameluke power under the Ottomans', Britannica CD, Version 99 (D 1994-1999.
Encyclopwdia.Britannica, Inc. Grinstein lists three pieces of contemporaryFrench travel
identifies
in
Of
Egypt.
Ali
Bey
these,
the
she
actionsof
writing, which provided accountsof
the Frenchtranslationof [SauveurLusignan],A History of the Revolt ofAly Bey against the
OttomanPorte, London, 1783, as the principal sourceof Gilvez's tragedy,Dramaturgas, pp.
161-162. Preliminary researcheshave failed to locate a referenceto this work in French
translation.
ý7At the openingof the tragedy,Ali-Bek, bom a Caucasianslave,is now Mameluke Bey of
Egypt. He owes his past military successand the respectof the peoplehe governsto the good
Roberto, Conde de Bassancurand
influenceof his wife, Amalia, daughterof French en-ýigr6s
Adelaida,de Vandorna, who were captured by pirates and enslavedto Ali-Bek's master
Ibrahim. Amalia barely remembers her parents or childhood sweetheart,Morad, Bey of
Alexandria and is ignorantof her true identity and family history, believing herself abandoned
by her father after the,deathof her motherbeforebeing marriedto Ali-Bek. In fact, in order to
buy his own freedom, Roberto sold Amalia, renouncedChristianity and took the Muslim
faith, assumingthe nameHassanand becominga herbal doctor. He claims he was dupedinto
by
Ali-Bek's
Mahomad,
is
Amalia
slave, who, motivated
and thus the natural ally of
selling
his
At
into
the
the
has
inveigled
Morad
action
start
of
master.
overthrowing
greed and envy,
Amalia has been capturedto draw Ali-Bek into combat.Morad and Ali-Bek battle off-stage
while Mahomad and Hassan wait their victory. In the closing scenesof Act 1, Amalia is
brought before Mahomad before being imprisoned. Act H opens with reports from the
battlefield, swiftly followed by the appearanceof Morad and Ali-Bek, wounded, defiant yet
her
Morad's
intervention
but
defeated.
Amalia's
cutlass
and
preserves
stays
physical
all
husband's life. Although now a prisoner, he is escortedoff stage to be treated by Hassan,
between
Morad
The
becomes
to
identity
and
meeting
all.
this
obvious
point
at
whose true
Amalia which closesthis act, is dominatednot only by her concernsfor Ali-Bek but also by
her desireto be reunitedwith her father. In Act III, Amalia dissuadesher anguishedhusband
from committing suicide. There follows a lengthy debatebetweenAli-Bek and Mahomad in
justify
his
in
At
to
former
treachery.
tyrant
latter
order
the
a
to
as
attempts expose
which the
Act
In
IV
Hassan
Morad.
loyalty
to
troops
Ismael
and
the
of
the close of the act
reaffirms
Arnalia meet and in addition to forgiving his past actionsshe attemptsto convincehim of her
61
love for Ali-Bek before rebuffing Mahomad's offer to free her from a tyrannical husband.
There follows a seriesof revelations:Amalia learnsthat Morad plotted with Mahomad to kill
Ali-Bek and own her as his wife; Morad learnsthat Hassanhas poisonedAli-Bek and by turn
informs Afi-Bek of this samepiece of news bringing the penultimateact to a close. In Act V
Ali-Bek poisonsHassanand in order to justify his action shows Amalia the contractin which
her father sold her to Ibrahim. Amid scenesof heightenedemotion, Hassanis escorted
off
stagein the final throesof deathand Ali-Bek dies beforeAmalia and assembledcast.
28Memorial literario, 12
p.
29See Aristotle, Poetics, 64-65,70-74,
pp.
and S.H. Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry
andFine Art, London, 1907,pp.278-279,317-325,329-331.
30Seeabove
note 24.
31CTMvez
usesthe customaryromance heroico verse form. the assonanceis a-a in Act One;
a-o in Act Two; e-a in Act Three; e-o in Act Four; i-o in Act Five. The unity of place is
observedrigorously while the unifies of time and action are less self-consciouslyobserved.
32Gilvez's El
egoista is an exampleof this new genre.
33Notably Zinda
andLa delirante, seebelow chaptersnine and ten respectively.
34SeeEdward W. Said, Orientalism: WesternConceptions the Orient, London, 1995,
of
and
idem, Culture and Imperialism, London, 1993 especiallyhis analysisof Verdi's Aida,
35Cygvezs
own comedyLas esclavasamazonasmight be seenas an exampleof such a play.
Although set in Siam, the plot centreson the reconciliationof four self-evidently European
characters:the FrenchgeneralsCarlosDorval and Alberto Dumeril and their long-lost sisters,
the two friends Hip6lita (Amelia Dumeril) and Adelaida (Elisa Dorval), who have been
capturedby pirates and now form part of the elite band of amazonwarriors who guard the
King of Siam.
36Perhapsthe
most well-known of thesetravel narratives,then as now, is that of Dominique
Vivant Denon, Voyagedans la basseet la haute Egyptependant les campagnesdu Giniral
Bonaparte, Paris, II, An X [18021.Vivant Denon's work was extensively anthologisedby
Quintanain the Variedades.SeeDdrozier, Quintana, pp.484-489.
37Napoleon landed his famous 'Army
of the Orient' on Aboukir Bay on July 2 1798. The
French were defeatedby Nelson in the Battle of the Nile on August 1 1798 and, after they
failed to take Acre in 1799, Napoleon withdrew to France, although his army continuedto
occupyEgypt until their defeat by the British in 1801.
39 See, for example, Gazela, 25 September 1801, 993,
p.
which reported news from
Constantinople,Cairo and Alexandria for the month of July.
391would agreewith FernandoDom6nechthat Afi-Bek's final
speech,in which he looks to
Europe for the future salvation of Egypt, 'Quizi, corriendo el fiernpo
/
en
estos
climas
...
ser6nlos Mamelucosmaldecidos... / QuizA de Europa... una naci6n guerrera/A exterminar
vendri su poderio... ', (V, v), appearsto be a covert referenceto Napoleon's expansionist
campaigns,seeDom6nech,Autoras, pp.477-478.
40'Algunos espiritustimidos,
espantadosde tan sangrientay atroz camiceria,clamarsnContra
el plan y disposicion del drama, como horroroso 6 inverosimil, pero los que estAn bien
instruidos en la historia moderna,del Egipto, lo hallarAn muy conforme a efla y muy
exfictamentepintadaslas costurnbresde aquellasgentes',Memorial literarlo, p. 13.
62
CA4WER
FOUR
SA &L
SaO, escenatr6gica unipersonalcon intermediosde mfisica was printed as the first
'
known
have
been
in
is
Obraspoiticas
to
performed. In
work volumetwo of the
and not
creatingthis one-actdrama,Gilvez engagedwith a modish,new genreanda narrativeof
enduringappealto writers and audiencesin Europe. The author's manipulationof the
demonstrate
dramatic
the
type
the
this
matter,
of
subject
nuances
possibilitiesof
and of
her skills as tragedianand lend contemporaryresonanceto a familiar Scriptural story.
Through her vivid, passionateand sympatheticportrayal of the tragic demiseof the
Biblical King Saul,GMvezquestionsthe ethicalsignificanceof the act of suicideandthe
for
interrogations
harnesses
the
to
these
the
a
new
vehicle
moral authorityof
churchand
explorationof the genreof tragedy.
The Origins and Development of the Mel6logo
GMvez's escena lr6gica unipersonal belongs to a branch of innovative drama, more
in
both
form
developed
described
and
subtly
than named, which
rapidly and
readily
function during the entre siglos period in Spain. In his pioneering study, Josd Subiri
denomination
theatre,
this
type
such
to
a
although
of
applied the umbrella term mel6logo
2
fact,
In
by
the
critics
of
period.
or
authors
was used neither widely nor systematically
diversity of nomenclature was a prominent feature of the genre and of its critical
these
to
has
been
It
ascribed
that
the
appellations
varied
and
many
argued
reception.
dramatic
this
to
the
testifies
of
novelty
they
plays when
were performed and printed
form. 3 Yet a more profound explanation of the range of titles maý He in the fact that the
As
by
treatise
a result, writers
precept.
or
any aesthetic
genre was not circumscribed
enjoyed a certain freedom to experiment with combinations of speech,music and gesture
label
in
dramas
to
they
focus
the
their
ascribed
generic
the
to
of
particular
and
reflect
their work.
The flexibility which the new dramatic type offered to authors posed a challenge
to some literary commentators, many of whom feigned perplexity and claimed that the
ill-defined nature of the genre, not quite opera, neither poetry nor drama, rendered it
4 However,the
unsatisfactory.
form.
Speech,
from
far
rootless
arbitrary,
an
mel6logowas
63
musicand gesturehad beencombinedin variousproportionsin severaltheatricalgenres
in Spainin the eighteenthcentury.5 Of particularimportancein tracing the origins of the
mel6logo is the rise in fortunes of the native tonadilla esc9nica,a literary-musical
production which featured song and versified speechand which achievedgreatest
6
in
last
the
popularacclaim
quarterof the century.
7 but
The popularityof the tonadilla, facilitatedthe developmentof the mel6logo,,
the impetus for its emergenceon the Spanishstage was provided by Jean Jacques
Rousseau'sexperimentsin the fusion of music and drama, which culminatedin the
ground-breaking1ýgmafion! Rousseau'sarticlesfor the Encyclop9die(1751-1780)and
his Dictionnaire de Musique (1768) stressedthe latent potential of music to inject
emotional intensity into the performanceof the actors and the experienceof the
9
audience. In the past, instrumentalmusic in dramahad frequentlyservedto describe,
accompanyor underlineexternalaction.The originalityof Rousseau'sproject centredon
the desire to make music expressinternal, psychologicalaction. In Pygmalion, he
presentedhis innovative ideas for the combinationof music, mime and speechin
theatricalform.
The impromptuMadrid premi6reof Pygmalionin Frenchmet with extraordinary
public approbation.Rousseau'sdramawas rapidly translated,performedand printed in
Spanish,first in prose and later in verse.10 This successstimulated the creative
imaginationand practical experimentationof playwrightsin Spain who exploited the
emotionalintensityinherentin the genreto exploretragic themes.Although Tomis de
Iriarte was not the first to pursueRousseau'snovel conceptof the synthesisof music,
mime and speechon the stage, his Guzmdnel bueno, soliloquio o escenatrdgica
unipersonal,con miisica en sus intervalos is generallydeemedto be the most notable
Spanishsuccessorto Pygmalion."
There is some evidenceto suggestthat Iriarte's work was inspired by Juan
Ignacio Gonaez del Castillo'sHannibal.12Yet, althoughGonzilez del Castillo was an
literary
Iriarte's
and
established
reputationas
experiencedsainelista,
greaterprominence
fabulist may, in part, account for the unequivocalpopular endorsementof Guzm6n.
LucianoFranciscoComella'slnu-oducci6nto the performanceof Iriarte's play may also
have assistedin its enthusiasticreception,by pre-emptingand therefore diffusing any
"
hostility
to the new,unformulatedgenre.
audience
64
Iriarte's choiceof a familiar national-historicalnarrative,praisedby SantosDiez
Gonzilez, suggeststhat the patriotic subject matter contributed to the enduring
fascinationof his mel6logo with audiencesin Spain.14However, a more profound
explanationfor the continuingpopularappealof Guzmdnandfor the statusit acquiredas
literary benchmarkfor the genrein Spain,lies in Iriarte's enviablecombinationof skills
and talentsas dramatist,musician,composerand musicaltheorist which affordedhim a
considerableadvantageover other writers of the new form. Unlike many of his
contemporaries,he was an experiencedplaywright who also possesseda sophisticated
technical understanding of the form and function of music. These practical
in the
accomplishments
ensuredthat he enjoyedan unparalleleddegreeof independence
compositionof the three basic elementsof the mel6logo;music,gestureand verse.He
may havebeeninspiredby the experimentsof other practitioners,but he did not rely on
externalcollaborationin orderto realizehis artisticvisions.
Notwithstandingthe resoundingapprovalof theatreaudiences,both Guzmdnand
the mel6logo as a theatrical form earned detractors amongst critics and writers. In the
years before the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the genre evolved in an increasingly tense
literary atmosphere characterised by authorial experiment, substantial critical hostility
15
from
diverse
Playwrights
subject
matter,
adapted
and extensive popular approval.
legend
history,
Spanish
Scripture,
and contemporary politics,
classical antiquity,
ancient
16
form.
Furthermore, their innovations induced a spate of parodies which
to the new
17 These literary
themselvesachieveda measureof successin performanceand print.
incursionsformed part of a growing debateon the form and function of musicaldrarna
and its placein Spanishtheatrewhich prolongedthe interestof writers and the public
into the seconddecadeof the nineteenthcentury.
Gilvez's instinct for theatricalinnovationprobablyspurredher engagementwith
this relatively uncharted, experimental dramatic genre with an inherent potential for the
exploration of tragic narratives. However, at the turn of the century, the prevailing
direction of the mel6logo was towards a more diverse range of subject matter and tone,
increasingly
dominant
in
in
form
role.
an
played
mime
which music and
presented a
Gilvez's drama runs counter to this current and it is ironic that a major aspect of the
innovation of Satil fies in its revival of the original tragic purpose of the mel6logo.
Gilvez exploits the possibilities of the new genre to refocus attention intensely and
65
uniquely on the Biblical characterof Saul in order to reinterpret and reanimatethis
ancientnarrativeandrecastthe story of Saulasa tragedy.
The Tragedy of Saul: Sources and Antecedents
The Bible (I Samuel 8-3 1), charts the rise and fall in fortunes of Saul, from his anointing
as the first King of the Israelites, to his suicide on Mount Gilboa, in often moving human
terms. The onset of Saul's downfall is recounted in Chapter Xv. 11isbenevolent decision
to spare the life of Agag, King of the Amalekites, contravenesGod's orders to annihilate
the race and consequently he falls from favour. In vain he attempts to exculpate himself
and even when he proves his desire to atone by killing Agag, it is clear that he has
committed a grave and costly error.
In subsequent chapters, Saul's demise is conversely paralleled by the rise of
David, who flourishes under God's protection. Jealous and suspicious of the younger
man's prowess on the battlefield, Saul attempts to harnessDavid's influence by bringing
him into the family fold through marriage to his youngest daughter, Michal. When this
does not diminish David's stature, Saul makes several increasingly desperateattempts to
kill David which forces him to flee.
The final four chapters detail Saul's last battle with the Philistines when the fatal
consequences
of his earlier disobediencebecomeapparent.Frustratedby God's refusal
to hearor advisehim, he seeksthe assistance
of a necromancer(pitonisa) at Endor who
summonsthe ghost of Samuel.The prophetinforms Saul that God has abandonedhim
andintendsthe Israelitesto be defeatedby the Philistinesand Saulandhis sonsto die on
the battlefield.
As predicted, the Israelites are routed on Mount Gilboa and Saul's sons
Jonathan,AbinadabandMalchishuaare killed. After he is woundedwith an arrow in the
stomach,Saul asks his armour-bearerto run him through and, faced with the man's
refusal, he is forced to fall on his own sword. I Samuelconcludeswith the grim
descriptionof the Philistinestreatmentof Saul'sbody which is strippedof weaponsand
armour, decapitatedand displayedon the wall of Beth-shan.Later the corpse is
buried.
before
being
by
Israelites
the
recovered
andanointedwith spices
The Old Testamentaccountof the life of Saul presentsa puzzling, equivocal
assessment
of the first King of the Israelites.Biblical scholarshavenotedthat the pro and
anti-monarchicalpositionsof the narratorsof the early chaptersof I Samuelare evident
66
in their contrastingreactionsto Saul's acclamationas King. As the Biblical narrative
is
by
his
biographers.
He
is
increasingly
Saul
progresses,
marginalisedand stigmatised
unfavourablycomparedto David and losesany vestigesof his early heroic stature.The
in
is
Saul's
the
towards
obviously
represented
status
most
overarchingambivalence
describes
Samuel
his
death.
Although
I
the
plainly
conflicting accountsof
mannerof
Saul's desperateand definitive suicide,in II Samuelan Amalekitetells how he dealt a
fatal blow to Saulashe sufferedthe final throesof death.
Despite the obvious contradictionsand prejudicesin the Biblical biography,
eighteenth-centuryEuropean tragedians clearly recognised that which modern
hero,
displayed
[who]
'a
Saul
have
tragic
as
emerges
since
acknowledged:
commentators
in
him
high
followers
his
in
battle
inspire
the ranks
that
to
place
and an ability
a strength
"'
of the life of Saulattestto the potency
of the military great. The manydramatisations
in
Europe,
Old
Testament
the
and althoughnone
audiences
and
account
of
with writers
during
Madrid
into
the
dramas
Spanish
the
stage
these
translated
on
or
performed
of
was
'9
Alfieri's
it
is
likely
them,
that
the
acclaimed
of
most well-known
eighteenthcentury,
tragedy Saul, circulated in Spain in the original Italian (and also possibly a French
20
Saul,
Barbero's
Sinchez
inspired
two-act
is
his
drama
Francisco
known
It
that
edition).
Melo-Drama sacro original, which appearedon the Madrid stagein 1805.21
It is nonethelesssignificant that Gilvez was the first playwright to make a
dramatic version of the narrative of Saul availableto the reading public in Spain.
Althoughit hasbeenarguedthat shederivedcreativeinspirationfrom specificsectionsof
Alfieri's celebratedwork, complex networks of literary influencelink many theatrical
for
dominant
the
single,
search
a
the
this
treatmentsof
rendersproblematic
story and
dramaticsourceof Safil.22Indeed,the evidenceof the text itself revealsthat the familiar,
for
Gilvez's
Biblical
the
rendition
reference
major
narrativewas
complexand powerful
of the tragedyof Saul.
From Scripture to Tragedy - The Figure of Saul
Safil is firmly based on events recounted in Scripture. As in other plays, and in
details
Gilvez
LuzAn's
removes
certain
or
modifies, suppresses
advice,
accordancewith
in the original accountin order to realizetheir dramaticand, more significantly,their
SaAl
by
his
begins
troops
the
of
In
abandonment
with
tragic potential. this play, which
in
Samuel,
I
Gilvez
textual
the
defiant
his
ambiguities
exploits
suicide,
and endswith
67
selectingand amplifying detailswhich accentuatethe tragic turn of eventsand which
revealSaill asa complex,emotionallyengagingfigure.
Gilvez's SaWrecuperatesthe nobleandheroictraits attributedto the characterin
the early Biblical accounts.Theseare vital to his establishmentas a tragic protagonist.
His elevatedstatusis in evidenceat the outsetand sustainedthroughoutthe monologue
in the valuesand attitudeshe possesses
and the rhetoricalmannerin which he expresses
these.At the beginningof the play, GAlvezjuxtaposesthe cowardlyflight of the Israelites
with Sa6l's dignified reaction to the imminent triumph of the Philistinesand Stoic
attitude to the prospectof death.He regardsretreat as dishonourableand is quick to
pronouncehis preferencefor 'la ilustre muerte' above'la afrentosavida' (14-15) in the
face of military defeat.The questionof how to achievean illustrious death remainsa
powerfulundercurrentthroughoutthe drama.
23In
At the outset, Gilvez alludesto Safil's pomposity,a feature of I Samuel.
regalfashion,he refersto himselfin the third personaspart of a futile attemptto reassert
his sovereignauthority and regain commandover his troops (1-3).24However, Gilvez
quickly qualifies this tendency towards the grandiose by showing that layers of
uncertainty and self-doubt lie beneath the superficial arrogance and self-delusion.
Although ostensiblyaddressingGod, Said'srhetoricalquestionsunderscorehis struggle
to definehis position:
decreto
Saul
tu
por
LNo soyyo aquel
DestinadoAlograr la regiapompa
Y entre millares de varonesjustos
Buscado en Israel? INO soy quien goza
De ungido del Seffor el sacro nombre? (23-26)
SaTdl'sacknowledgementof the loss of his stature and power (28-32) is indicative
Sa6l's
Later,
his
testifies
to
of
character.
subtle
nobility
a
more
of
sincerity which
concerns for the welfare of his people demonstrate a virtuous absence of self-interest
(101-146). This same characteristic is in evidence yet again when he articulates fears for
the ignominious future of his relations (167-186). Ironically, the cumulative effect of
Sa6l's insistence on his lapsed status as leader and protector of his people and family is
to bestow a new dignity upon him as his honesty and integrity emerge.
In parallel to her emphasison Sa6l's virtues, which posit his nobility and arouse
judgement
GAIvez
the
error
of
the sympathy of the audience,
which
presentsevidence of
has brought SaW to his present state. Early in the speech, SaW lists aspects of his
68
characterwhich he believesto haveprovokedDivine wrath: 'audacia';'soberbiaaltivez';
'ambicion loca' (33-42). However, these human failings are not responsiblefor his
demiseand although on two separateoccasionshe refers to the true cause of his
downfall, as yet he appearsoblivious to it. He first mentionsa specific action, the
transgressionof holy law (43) and later identifiesa decision,pardoningthe Amalekites
(188). However, it is not until the final phaseof the monologue,when he recallsthe
encounterwith the spirit of the prophet Samuel(291-299),that Sa6l acknowledgesthe
connectionbetweenthe decisionand the action, therebyrecognisingthe full nature and
extentof his error, the hamartiacentralto the Aristotelianconceptof tragedy.
SaW's meeting with the necromancerat Endor, who summonsthe spirit of
Samuelon the eve of the battle, is a striking detail in the Biblical accountwhich GAlvez
elaboratesin her drama. Having recounted aloud Samuel's prophetic words, Safil
appearsto seethe spirit for a secondtime and,asif in a trance,dialogueswith the vision
who seemsto urge him to suicide (317-328). Gilvez's exploitation of the original
Scripturalstory rendersthe ghost centralto the climax and resolution of the play and
signals her engagementwith both ancient and modem dramatic traditions. Saill's
dialoguewith the ghost is designedto fulfil the remit of the mel6logo to disturb and
dramaticpracticethe
affect the spectators,althoughin keepingwith eighteenth-century
25
is
tradition, in Safil an
spectre neither visible nor audible. As in the Shakespearean
encounterwith a ghost is a dramaticdeviceusedto signify extremeintrospectionand to
26
inner
amplify the
anguishof the protagonist. Moreover, Gilvez's deploymentof the
ghost in this play also draws on an Aristotelianmode of tragedy in which recognition
(anagnorisis)playsa majorpart. The ghostbecomesthe vehiclefor Sa6l'srecognitionof
the error which hasbroughtabouthis changein fortunes.
Gilvez affordsSafil a tragic statuswhich an audiencefamiliarwith the aesthetics
of classicising tragedy would have appreciated. This status is accentuatedin the manner
of his death which is far removed from the ambiguities and ambivalence of the Biblical
desperation
is
Sa6l's
the
nor cowardice, but is in fact a
of
narrative.
suicide
result neither
positive assertion of his free will. In a dignified action, which is in direct contrast to the
humiliating stripping of Sa6l's corpse at the end of I Samuel, Gilvez's protagonist
removes his cloak and crown, the symbolic accoutrements of Monarchy and makes a
final defiant and heroic pronouncementbefore falling on his sword.
69
Dramatic Innovation in Sa4l: Fusing Elements of Metilogo and Tragedy
GAlvez's characterisation of Sa6l as a noble, virtuous and heroic individual is reinforced
by aspects of her dramatic technique. GAlvez privileges words over actions, thereby
according with the emphasison introspection and the externalisation of emotion which
in
is
key
features
Physical
to
the
a minimum
action on-stage reduced
are
of
mel6logo.
inner
the
to
to
action
which
reveals
workings of the
order give precedence psychological
mind. Language and, more specifically, the emotionally charged rhetorical speech
patterns so often a feature of classical tragedy, contribute significantly to the
construction of a sympathetic and dramatically convincing tragic protagonist.
In SaU, the romance heroico verse form common to all Gilvezs tragedies serves
into
incorporates
for
linguistic
foil
the
the
author
which
richness and poetic power
as a
the fabric of the text in order to create a heightened emotional atmosphere. Vivid,
Saul's
intensity
language
depth
throughout
the
circumstances
of
and
conveys
passionate
the monologue.Graphicandrepulsivedescriptionsof the deadandthe dying (88-89) are
(119-122)
by
harrowing
terror
which convey the
of
evocations
powerful,
matched
his
Safil's
the
of
emotionalresponse.
appropriateness
situationand
gravity of
It is possibleto trace a crescendoeffect in the movementanddevelopmentof the
language.Out of the silenceandthe darknessdescribedearly in the play (64-69), SaAl's
by
language,
dominated
His
fervour.
speechevokessound and vision with mounting
imageryof the sensesandthe elements,allowsthe audienceto hear and seethe pictures
in
his
is
indelibly
imprinted
battlefield
he
forth.
For
Safil,
the
the
sight of
andnoises calls
his
bloodied,
he
describes
the
(72-74).
However,
of
mutilated
corpses
when
memory
final
death,
(97-100)
in
throes
the
those
(87-89),
of
the
cries and groansof
and
people
freezing,
burning
horror.
Images
becomes
and
of
the
to
the audience
experienceof
party
bleeding,cold, fire andblood, presentat variouspointsthroughoutthe text, finally come
togetherto signalhis imminentend.
This gatheringintensityof imagesis mirroredin the rhetoric of the drama,as SaW
injustice
irrationality
the
by
and
the
himself
and, extension, audienceof
seeksto convince
Satil,
kin
himself
In
decision
his
to
logic
him
own
of
and the
of God's punishmentof
but
her
tragic
of
protagonist,
status
the
deploys
Gilvez
rhetoricnot only to reveal noble,
Safil's
his
for
controlled and measured
the
suffering.
of
expression
as a vehicle
urgent
introspectionat the start of the play is graduallyreplacedby a more spontaneous,
andintensequestioning.
70
The 328 fines of text are divided into six segmentsof speechof approximately
equal lengths.Although eachphasemarks the progressiontowards a more instinctive
and emotionallychargedeloquence,there are highsand lows within eachsectionwhich
correspondto Safil's varyingmoodsas he extemalisesand rationaliseshis thoughts.The
languageof the first phaseis dominatedby questionswhich reveal the paradoxical
behaviourof the Almighty (17-19). However Safil is not oblivious to his own human
failings, nor does he attemptto excuseor justify them. Indeed,he catalogueshis own
n-ýisdemeanours
and foibles, showing by the very listing of them that they are
commonplaceand contrastingthis ordinarinesswith the extremenature of the Divine
response(3443). Safil's suggestionthat he alone shouldbe a scapegoatis an implicit
challengeto the wisdom of permitting all the Israelitesto suffer for one man's human
frailty (44-50).
The sound of trumpetswhich signify the victory of the Philistinesduring the
openingsix fines of the secondphase,also signalsa changein Sa6l's mood from the
confrontationalto the melancholic.Yet evenas Sa6lbeginsto realisethe implicationsof
his isolation and abandonment,as the exclamation'1Qu6 espantososilencio!' (69)
demonstrates,
dejectionrapidly givesway to fear. Sa6lis grippedwith terror and this is
revealedin his morbid detailing of the dying posturesof his comrades(83-100). This
sequencerepresentsat once Sa6l's emotional nadir and a turning point in his
developmentas a tragic protagonist. I-fis extensiveand graphic description of the
battlefieldis the meansby which he recognisesand acceptshis own military defeatand
personallossof power.
In the next two sequencesSaW widens his ruminations to consider the
implications of the victory of the Philistines for his people and for his family and
contrasts his own powerlessnesswith the omnipotence of God. It is not an abdication of
his responsibility, but rather an observation of his own din-dnutive status in comparison
with God's supremacy.At the opening of the third phase, Safil's lament at the gravity of
the situation of his countrymen serves as a pretext for the expression of his Apocalyptic
is
initialised
description
future.
harrowing
This
their
with an 'I AW (I 11), then
vision of
sustained across twenty-two lines of unbroken speech before a second exclamatory
41AW (134) which mirrors the first and brings the passageto an abrupt halt. A brief yet
emphatic pause offsets the rhetorical question implicit throughout, 'LY qui6n los
ocasiona / Sino mi culpa?' (134-135). The accumulation of grim predictions and Sa6l's
71
readinessto take the blameis a subtlemeansof questioningthe authorityof a Deity who
permitssuchhumansuffering.Thereis a rueful irony in the confidencehe assertsin the
ability of the Divine to restoreorderto chaos(144-146).
In the fourth section Safil's escalatinganxiety for the welfare of his family is
reflectedin the numberandvariety of repeatedwords and phrases.Blood, frequentlythe
metaphorfor life, is linked herewith death.Safil comparesthe bloodiedbattlefieldswith
the subjugationof his peopleandthe lossof his own regalstatus:
Vi en tu giro el estragode mi pueblo;
Vi desaparecer
rni augustapompa(151-152)
Another emphatic repetition in the lament 'Hasta mis hijos, mis amados hijos' (155)
reveals Sadl's growing bewilderment at the impenetrable nature of Divine justice and
points up the gulf between the nature of the crime and the punishment:
Y 1por qu6,si Saulfue delinclOente
Perdonandoi Amalec,su culpasola
Participaros hacedel castigo(187-189)
Later, the expression'M aqui ' is uttered twice to drive home Sa6l's senseof
...
frustrationat the unexpectedand unfair outcomeof events(178-182).In the next phase
this confusionanddisappointment
mutatesinto bitterness.Safil's reiterationof the words
'M aqui' in the fifth sectionrevealshis movementtowards angerand resentmentin the
face of David's victory (230-231) and also foreshadowsthe final pronouncementhe
makesbeforehis death.Thereis only one questionin this sectionwhich is characterised
by a pervasiverighteoustone. Sa6l'srapid physicaldeterioration,evidentin the pauses
which begin to punctuatehis speech,is paralleledby his increasinglyvocal animosity
towardsDavid.
In the final segment the audience recognises that Sa6l has reached a
determinationto asserthis freewill andto achievedignity in death.It is ironic that Sa6l's
fragmenteddialogue with the ghost and use of broken speechpatterns expressan
heightened
language
The
emotionally
of
of
will.
unprecedented
clarity of mind andpower
the final sectionwith its acceleratingrhythmof pauses,questionsandexclamations,leads
the dramato a poetic and climactic resolution.However, this passionaterhetoric does
highlight
but
broken
the ultimatelynoble
frenetic
to
the
serves
man,
not signal
end of a
andrationalact of a tragic hero,
72
The Structure of Sauh Time, Tension and Atmosphere
Gilvez narrowsthe focus of her dramato the final few hoursof Saul'slife. Thus,
the performance time of the play appears to correspond to the temporal progress and
development of the monologue. However, at a key narrative juncture, Gilvez artificially
accelerates the tempo to impel the drama forward. The victory of the Philistines,
observed at a distance by Sa6l, is made to coincide with nightfall and the onset of his
demise (61-68). This technique, which may be adapted from Iriarte's Guzmdn el Bueno,
demonstratesGAIvez's sophisticatedhandling of the passageof time.27The description of
nightfall gives a decisive impulse to the existing gradual, almost imperceptible, increase
in tension and Saul himself sensesand articulates this changein pace (69-70).
The fixed temporal parametersof the play, which focus attention on the final
hoursof Saul'slife andthe tragic inevitabilityof his death,are punctuatedby the use of
narrativeflashback.This technique,frequentlycriticisedby Gilvez's contemporariesas
precludingverisimilitude,is deployedto good dramatic effect. The author chronicles
aspectsof the former life of her protagonist,incorporatingdetailsculledfrom the Biblical
account, which lend authenticity to this memory narrative. Furthermore, Safil's
recollectionsof eventsservea specificstructuralpurposeas they testify to his changing
attitude to the past, which forms an integral part of the process of recognition he
experiencesthroughoutthe play. SaWis able to identify the impact of the past on his
presentsufferingandfuture destinywhich reinforcehis tragic status.
Theseexperimentswith the temporalframeworkof the dramaare matchedby an
innovative approach to the setting. The atmosphereof emotional tension is heightenedby
the ever more threatening and ominous darkness on stage which provides the backdrop
for Safil's increasingly vivid expression of emotion. Initially it evokes a contemplative
and melancholic atmosphere. Later, paralleling the escalating passion of Sa6l's rhetoric
into
is
demise,
landscape
transformed
the
a macabre vision of violent
and progressive
death which magnifies Safil's senseof isolation and abandonment.
The Structure of Safil. Music and Mime
Given that languageis the most powerful dramaticelementin SWI, the roles of music
less
features
distinguishing
the
significantlyto the
contribute
mel6logo,
and mime,
of
mechanicsof the work. S491openswith an orchestraloverture and each of the six
spokensegmentswhich comprisethe text is separatedby a short musicalinterlude,the
73
2'
is
indicated
in
directions.
tone
This aspectof Safil is
colour and
the stage
of which
perhapsthe most obvious evidenceof Gilvez's engagementwith the achievementsof
Iriarte's seminalmel6logo. Perhapsdue to a lack of expertisein the compositionof
music, or possibly becauseof the continuing successof Guzm6n, Gilvez generally
follows Iriarte's example.
As the curtain risesin Safil, the music,which the author prescribesas 'marcialy
estrepitosa',establishes
a rousing,defiantand belligerenttone which providesa suitably
thrilling openingto the drama,heraldingSaul's entry on stage.The colour and tone of
the musicwhich GAIvezenvisageshereis describedin termswhich appearto derivefrom
the overtureto Iriarte's play.29 However,after the overture,the role of orchestralmusic
diminishesin importancethroughout the drama as the rhythms and rhymesof poetic
speechandrhetoric createa more powerful inner music.Thus Gilvez's play breakswith
the traditional reliance on instrumentalmusic in the mel6logo and Safil contains a
30
interludes
defined.
relativelysmallnumberof musical
which areonly vaguely
Gestureis integratedin a similar fashionin Safil. The play openswith a mimed
battle scene between the Israelites and the Philistines. However, after this initial
the dramaticsettingandpreparesthe audiencefor the entry
pantomimewhich establishes
of Sa6l,there is an ever decreasingemphasison large-scalemimedaction. In the same
in order to makemore prominentthe rhetoricaland poetic
way that musicis suppressed
facets of the text, so too mime plays a correspondinglysmall part. This allows the
energiesof the actorto be directedtowardsa more subtleandlesshistrionicperformance
in which characteris establishedthrough the power of words rather than elaborate
gesture.
Safil: The Act of Suicide and the Challenge to Religious Authority
Throughout the play, GOvez's experimentswith genre and her adaptation and alterations
inevitable
An
Biblical
tragic
to
the
protagonist.
aim
create
a
sympathetic
of
narrative
have
intended,
GOvez
is the
this
may
well
consequenceof
portrayal, and one which
between
At
there
tension
points
emerges
a
questioning of religious authority.
various
human virtue and religious law which prompts the audience to contemplate the act of
humanity
between
to
the
through
this
and the Divine.
relationship
examine
suicide and
GAlvez's drama engages, albeit covertly, with the established Enlightenment topic of
Stoic suicide. It can be argued that GMvez's version of the story of Saul echoesconcepts
74
of noble,self-authoreddeathmore readily associatedwith narrativesdrawn from Greek
"
history
Roman
in
becomes
behaviour.
and
which suicide
a paradigmof virtuous
In three stages, Gilvez sHfully marshals the responsesof the audience towards
an acceptanceof Safil's suicideas a noble, evenheroic act. The seedsof this idea are
plantedin the first phasewith Safil's derisionof his troops for their cowardlyandignoble
flight (14-15). However, it is not until the penultimatesectionof the speechthat Safil
exploresthe moral and ethical dilemmaof suicide(203-205). Finally, challengingthe
superiorauthority of God, Saulexercisesthe freedomto determinethe time and manner
of his own death (324-328). This bold and defiant action is not that of a deranged,
defeatedand desperateman. Safil makesa rational, moral choice. The anguishof the
progresstowards this choiceis calculatedto elicit the sympathyof the audienceand to
draw theminto a moreprofound,more compassionate
understandingof his action.
In a countryin which the institutionof the churchwas so powerful andyet where
a growing numberof intellectualsand writers were seekingto questionthe nature of
God, the moral andtheologicalissuesraisedin this dramacould not havefailed to have
provokeda reaction.GAlvez'sapproachis cautiousrather than overtly challenging,but
her play probes the mysterious ways of a wrathful and unforgiving Deity. A
by
his
Sa6l's
have
that
reinforced
virtue,
contemporaryaudiencewould surely
concluded
light.
in
Divine
the
the
even
unfavourable
an
unclear,
noblesuicide,casts actionsof
Conclusions
The mel6logo was a locus for theatrical experiment in Spain in the latter years of the
interest
in
dramatic
GMvez,
it
is
that
whose
no
surprise
eighteenth century and
experiment is evident throughout her tragic oeuvre, should engage with this new genre.
It has been argued that the innovative combination of music, mime and verse represented
32
Spanish
public. However, the
an attempt to make tragedy acceptable to a sceptical
fashionable
disguise
tragedy
than
this
text
that
as
a
merely
suggests
rather
evidence of
both
dramatic
Gilvez
the
of
to
possibilities
old and new
mel6logo,
sought
explore
generic models.
In SaW,Gilvez experimentswith aestheticconventionandaudienceexpectations,
exploiting the familiar Biblical narrative and the three structural constants of the
The
tragedy.
author's overt sympathy
these
of
mel6logo,overlaying
with stock elements
her
feature
his
is
Saul
figure
Biblical
of
rendition
of
a striking
towardsthe problematic
of
75
tragic demise,and the way in which she arousesthe sympathyof the audienceis the
in this work. In her innovativetreatmentof the subjectmatter,GAlvez
majorachievement
fusesthe emotionalintensityof the mel6logowith the depthandresonanceof tragedyto
offer a new understandingof the act of suicide.
GAlvez'sexaminationof this powerful theme is not confined to SaO. Indeed,
Safo, Florinda and Blanca de Rossi, the protagonistsof the other tragedieswhich
comprisevolume two of the Obraspo&icas, all commit suicide.However, it is Safo,
which can most productively be comparedwith SatW Both works sharethe one-act
form, but the particularcircumstances
which prompt Safoto endher life allow Gilvez to
explore a range of emotionsand dramaticpossibilitieswhich both contrast with and
complementthosepresentedin SatiL
76
1 Maria Rosa Gilvez de Cabrera, S46L Escena
Irdgica unipersonal con intermedios de
m6sica, in Obraspoiticas, H, pp.9-22. SeeCriado y Dominguez,Literalas espaholas,p. 102;
Julio Cejador y Frauca, Historia de la lengua y fiteratura castellana, Madrid, 1915-1927,
VI, p.312 and Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.147,353 for details of the manuscriptcopy of the
play and Cotarelo, Mkiiquez, p. 123, for brief mention of the approval of the play for
performance.
2 See Subiri, Ifiarte, for discussion the
a
of
many and various terms used to describethis
genre.
3 DuaneRhoades,'The SpanishUnipersonalPlays: 1788-1835', Gestos,IV, 7 (1989), 95pp.
113.
4McClelland, SpanishDrama,
p.35 1,
5Rhoades,'SpanishUnipersonalPlays',
pp. 98-100.
6 Alberto Gonzilez Troyano, 'En torno la tonadilla
Alvarez
in
Barrientos and
a
esc6nica',
ChecaBeltnin (eds.), El siglo que Hamanflustrado, pp.487-491.
7 Rhoades,'SpanishUnipersonalPlays',
pp. 98-100.
' Although the libretto datesto 1762,Pygmalion,
scýnelyrique was first performed in Lyon
in 1770.The text was not printed until 1771.
9 See Cinta Canterla, Ta teoria de los
Alvarez
de
la
S.
in
XVIH',
efectos
m6sica en el
Barrientosand ChecaBeltrbn (eds.) El siglo que Hamanilustrado, pp. 153-157.
1015Wmalionwas
premiered on the 25 January 1788 at the Caftos del Peral. For details of
subsequentperformancesand editions of the play in Spanish, see Lafarga (ed.), Teatro
europeo,pp.278-279; Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.813,918, n.507; Subiri, Iriarte, pp.
21-26; Rhoades,'Spanish UnipersonalPlays', p. I 10, note 10; Duane Rhoades,'Bibliografia
de un olvidado g6neroneocl6sicoen el teatro hispan1co:escenasola, mon6logo, soliloquoio,
lamentaci6n,declamaci6n,unipersonalidado Ilamasecomo quisiere', Revista de fiteratura,
LI (1989), pp. 191-216, (p.205-206); JeffersonRea Spell, Rousseauin the Spanish World
before 1833:A Study in Franco-SpanishLiterary Relations, New York, 1969,pp.292-293.
11Tomis de Iriarte, Guzmdn el Bueno, escena tr6gica unipersonal, con
mfisica en sus
intervalos, Cidiz, 1790. Written in 1789, the play was first performed by Luis Navarro in
Cadiz in 1790 and subsequentlyby Antonio Roblesin Madrid: at the Principe, 26 Februaryto
8 March 1791; at the Cruz 4-9 February 1794; at the Principe 21-23 July 1797. SeeAndioc
and Coulon, Cartelera, pp. 421,441 and 458. The text has recently been re-edited with an
introduction:Tomis de Iriarte, Guzmdnel Bueno, escenatr6gica unipersonal con mfisica en
sus intervalos, in Antologia del teatro breve espaftol del siglo XPUI, FernandoDom6nech
Rico (ed.), Madrid, 1997,pp.389-406. All ftirther referencesare to this edition. Seealso Josd
Pallar6sMoreno, 'Una apuestateatral de Tomis de Iriarte: Guzm6n el Bueno', El mundo
hisp6nico en el siglo de las luces, Madrid, 1994, H, pp.1001-1014, for a further recent
interpretationof the text.
12 Juan Ignacio GonzAlez del Castillo, Hannibal. Scena lifica, original en metro
endecasilabocastellano, CAdiz, [1788]. The work was performed by Luis Navarro first in
Cidiz, 3 December 1788 and subsequentlyin Madrid at the Cruz, 9-12 May 1795. See
McClelland, SpanishDrama, p. 359, note 23; Andioc and Coulon, Carlelera, p.450. Seealso
JosepMaria Sala Valldaura, 'Hanibal de GonzAlez;del Castillo en los inicios del mel6logo',
Anuario defilologia, XIV, (1991), pp.49-76.
77
13Introducci6n para la scenaheroico tr6gica intitulada 'EI Guzindn'Por LE Comella. See
McClelland, Spanish Drama, pp.369-370,569, and Jones, 'Gilvez, Rousseau, Iriarte',
pp.167-168.
14cy representbndose
la
la.
ilustre,
trae
arnor
a
patria
a
mernoria.
el
que
nos
en ella una acci6n
en que se distinguieronnuestrosmayores,la hallo digna de nuestroteatro nacional', cited in
McClelland, SpanishDrama, p.354, note 11. For a discussionof the enduring appealof the
de
funciones
Guzrnin
SAnchez
'Transformaciones
F.
Blanco,
un mito nacional:
y
myth of
see
GuzmAnel Bueno', Revistade Literatura, L (1988), pp.387-422.
15SeeMcClelland, SpanishDrama, pp.349-396.
16 Rhoades, 'Spanish Unipersonal Plays', pp.100-104 and pp.106-108; Jones, 'Uvez,
Rousseau,Iriarte', p. 168. For detailed analysis of sixty-six mel6logos written in Spanish,
including Gilvez's Said (p.366-367) and a synoptictable of the repertoireof the mel6logo in
Spainbetween 1788 and 1833, see SubirA,Marte, pp.135-396,421-429. See also Rhoades,
'Bibliografia', pp.191-216.
17Rhoades,'SpanishUnipersonalPlays', pp.104-106.
18 The Rise and Fall of Saul' Britannica CD, Version 99 0 1994-1999. Encyclopwdia
Britannica,Inc.
19SeeE.D. Coleman, The Bible in English Drama: an annotated list ofplays, New York
1931; Mireille Herr, Les Tragidies bibliques en France au dix-huitiýme sijc1e, Paris, 1988;
Muff ay Roston, Biblical Drama in England from the Middle Ages to the Present Day,
London, 1968; M. A. Thiel, La figure de Said et sa reprisentation dans la littirature
dramatiquefrangaise, Amsterdam, 1926; Massimo Baldini, La genesi del 'Saul'di Vittorio
Affieri, Florence,1934;Lafarga (ed.), Teatro europeo;Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera.
20Vittorio Alfieri, Saul, in Tragedie, Siema, 1783-5.The play was reprinted in Paris in 1789
by
Charles
Lloyd,
London,
in
Tragedies,
in
Tragedy
Saul,
trans.
English
a
as
and appeared
1815, pp.60-126. For a discussionof the impact of Italian literature in Spain see, Joaquin
Arce, 'El conocimientode la literatura italiana en la Espafia de la segundamitad del siglo
XVII1', in La literatura espahola del siglo XJ17IIy susfuentes extranjeras: conferencias
del
XTIU1,
Literatura
de
Lengua
la
Reuni6n
siglo
espafiola
y
primera
pronunciadas en
Oviedo, 1968.
21Francisco SfinchezBarbero, Saýl. Melo-Drama sacro original en verso, en dos actos,
Madrid, [1805]. EstebanCristiani composedthe music and the work was performed at the
Caftosdel Peral 6-7,9-10,14,17,19,27-28 March 1805; 3-6,8-9,13,27 March 1806. See
Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.519,526-527. The dramais closer to sacredoratorio than
indeed
Subirk
by
GAlvez's
influenced
been
have
is
work,
to
thought
me/616goand not
Iriarte, p.434, notes that the 'Advertencia' to the 1805 edition stated, 'varios trozos de las
de
Alfieri'.
del
Saul,
de
las
tragedia
fuera
arias,estin sacados
primerasescenas,
22 Grinstein, Dramaturgas, p. 146. However, as Baldini, 'Saul' observes,Alfieri's drama
draws heavily on two Frenchplays: Pierre Duryer, Saul. Tragidie en cinq actes el en prose,
de
in
7hidtre
Monsieur
Saul
Nadal,
Augustin
first
1639/40
Paris, 1642,
and
performed
I Abbj Nadal de I Acadjmie des Inscriptions et Belles-Letres,Paris, 1738, first performed
27 February 1705.
23 1
Samuel,15.12-18.
24Althoughnot includedin the 1804printedtext,I includelinenumbersto referto thiswork.
78
25Baldini, 'Saul'
notes that pre-eighteenth-centurydramatic versions of the Biblical story
incorporateda physical representationof the ghost.However, Nadal, whose tragedy was the
principal sourceof Alfieri's play, was the first to recogniseand exploit the dramaticpotential
of removing the physical presenceof the spectre from the stage, thus adding a valuable
psychologicaldimension.He cites Nadal's reasons,'Fai derob6 I'apparition de I'ombre de
Samuel au spectateur,non seulementpar la difficult6 de I'ex6cution sur le Th6itre, mais
encoreparcequ'il m'a sembl6que l'ombre en paroissant,n'ajouteroit rien a le terreur quej'ai
cru qu'exciteroit la reconnoissancedu roi, de la mani&e qu'elle est amen6e.', p.46.
26Sa6l's words 'es
este acero el que sefialas', (32) are reminiscentof Macbeth's anguished
soliloquy, 'Is this a daggerwhich I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?' (2.1.3334), see William Shakespeare,Macbeth, A. R. Braunmufler (ed.), Cambridge, 1997, p. 139.
Jean-FrangoisDucis' adaptationof Shakespeare'sMacbeth was performed in the Cailos del
Peral 25-28 November and 8 December 1803,25 January 1804. See Andioc and Coulon,
Cartelera, pp.508-509,759.
27The ostensiblefunction the techniqueis to incorporate
of
off-stage action into the body of
the monologue.Thus, Guzm;bi observesfrom the castlewall the murder of his son in the field
below (381-390). His words describerather than react to the sight, a dramatic device which
enablesthe audienceto 'see' throughhis eyes.Iriarte, Guzmdn,pp.405-406.
28There is
no known musical score correspondingto Uvez's play. Subiri, Ifiane, p.366,
introducesthe idea that the musical accompanimentmay never have beencomposed,whereas
Jones, 'GAIvez, Rousseau, Iriarte', p. 168, speculates that Blas de Laserna,must have
collaboratedwith Uvez for Satil.
29 Iriarte called for 'm6sica marcial.y ruidosa' and that 'el estr6pito de la orquesta va
disminuyendo...'. Iriarte, Guzm6n,p.389.
30Satil has five musical interludesin its 328 lines
whereasGuzmdncontainsnine in 396. 'The
have
for
interludes
become
included
by
Iriarte
to
standard
most of the
number of
seems
seriouspieces, although as the genre evolved and music was occasionallyrelegatedto less
from
be
determined
interludes
total
the
the
with
precision
cannot
significant roles,
number of
evidencein the publishedtexts.' Rhoades,'SpanishUnipersonalPlays', p. 101.
31See,for example,Pedro Estala'sEdipo firano, tragedia de S6focles,traducida del gfiego
en verso castellano, con un discurso prehminar sobre la tragedia antigua y modema,
Madrid, 1793and NicolAsMoratin's Lucrecia, Madrid, 1763.
32McClelland, SpanishDrama, pp.349-396.
79
CHAPTER FIVE
SAFO
In Safo, Gdlvez dramatised the legendary amours of Sappho and Phaon which although
familiar in European literature had never before been adapted for the Spanish stage.' As
in Safil, Gilvez exploited the possibilities of the one-act form to intensify the pathos and
emotional appeal of the narrative. GMvezs self-consciouschoice of Greek subject matter
might be viewed as a superficial concessionto intellectually fashionableHellenism, but it
is clear from the evidence of the text that the author's engagement with the figure of
2 For Gilvez, Safo
Sapphois deep
the
and complex.
embodies morally unconventional
creativeartist, who rebelsagainstpatriarchy,is isolatedand abandoned,and who takes
her own life, an act of suicidevery differentin motivationandmannerfrom that of Sa6l.
However,like S441,this short work givesevidenceof GAlvez'sconsciousdesireboth to
respectdramatictradition andto embracetheatricaland cultural modernityin the search
for a contemporarymodelof successfultragedy.
The Figure of Sappho: Sources and Antecedents
The fifteenth letter in Ovid's Heroides (Letters of the Heroines) comprises an imaginary
letter from Sappho to Phaon, the point of departure for many subsequent treatments of
the subject matter? The figure of Sappho had fascinated European writers, principally
4 However, during the 1790s, following the
for
publication of
poets,
generations.
Barth6lemy's celebrated Voyage du jeune Anarcharsis en Gr&e in 1788, there was a
Greek
inspired
life
intensification
interest
in
legendary
the
the
poet
a
of
which
marked
of
5
in
Spain.
is
Perhapsthe
Safo
dramas
GAIvez's
the unique example
number of
of which
Sapho,
Constance
Pipelet's
dramatic
tragidie
these
was
most significant of
precursors
m9lee de chants, first performed in Paris in December 1794 and printed the following
6
in
literary
France
the
The
and
tragedy
public
critics
year.
was extremely popular with
7
its
in
many revivalS. Yet while the
and ran to over a hundred performances the course of
Sappho
French
to
the
the
the
this
currency
of
renewed
stage points
successof
work on
direct
for
in
it
is
drama,
Pipelet's
tragedy
that
as
a
served
source
narrative
unlikely
GAlvez's Salb.8 It is not known to have been performed or printed in Spain and, more
80
significantly,Gilvez's treatmentof the subjectmatter differs substantiallyfrom that of
Pipelet.9
Safo in Performance
Recent archival investigations have confirmed that Safo was performed in Madrid in
November 1801, the second of Gilvez's two tragic works to be staged." Although
apparently well-attended, there is no known evidence of the nature of the play's
reception. However, in the Archivo Municipal in Madrid a small cache of documents
relating to Va pieza heroica la Safo' illuminates certain aspects of the staging of
Gilvez's play. " The records indicate that quantities of gunpowder and flaming torches
were used, ensuring that the powerful visual effects envisagedby Gilvez were translated
into dramatic practice.12 Furthermore, it is clear that this short drama featured a
comparatively large chorus in the non-speaking roles of fishermen, islanders and
ministers, whose brief early appearances(ii, iii, viii) are replaced by a more continued
13
during
final
four
the
stage presence
scenes. The contrast between this multi-figure oneact work and the essentially uni-personal Safil could not be more marked, In fact, the
new archival evidence reveals that the stage would have been even fuller than the printed
text suggests,with a full cast totalling thirty-eight. 14
Tragedy and the Emotional Affectiveness of Music Drama
In his introduction to one of two modem editions of Safo, Fernando Domdnech has
commented on the 'acumulaci6n excesiva de personajesy situaciones no resueltas', the
principal effect of the 'rapidez fren6tica' which, he contends, characterises the
development of the action in the play. Dom6nech's observation leads him to conclude
that the one-act format is not appropriate for tragedy on a classical model, in which
dramatic incidents 'necesitanun tiempo psicol6gico para que el espectador los encuentre
15
in
it
is
However,
I
that
precisely
attempting to accommodate
would argue
verosimiles'.
the norms of classicising tragedy into the short and intense span of a one-act dramatic
form that Gilvez's innovation is evident. Even in the 618 lines which constitute the
twelve scenesin the play, Gilvez exploits certain literary devices and qualities associated
with classicaltragedy, as interpreted by Spanishtheoretical commentators: the unities of
time, place and action are observed and, in common with all her three and five-act
81
tragedies, Gilvez uses hendecasyllabic Romance heroico, the recommendedverse form
for the genre.16
Perhapsmore significantlythough,Gilvez chartsthe demiseof her protagonistin
accordancewith the tragic conventionsof pride (hubris), hamartiaand peripety.As in
Afi-Bek, the reversalof fortune operatesin two stages.Gilvez makesit clearthat prior
to the start of the action, Saforeadily sacrificedher poetic successandleft her homeland
in order to follow her passionfor Fa6n (vi, 330-350). Safo has lost 'el honor', but
is
Safo
(vii,
96).
During
'la
395-3
the
action
offered
perhapsmore significantly esperanza'
two opportunitiesto reverse her demiseand in rejecting both, her death becomes
inevitable.Neither Nicandro's professionof love, admirationand constancy(vi, 361366), nor Aristipo's optimism(vii, 397-398)andshrewdappealsto her literary glory (vii,
454-457),dissuadesSafo from her intendedcourseof action. Gilvez showsthat Safo's
her
deliberately
by
Cricias,
these
constitutes
refusalsand
underlies
pride
manipulated
her
but
her
(ii,
59-60),
her
He
to
that
two
persuades
still
open
choicesare
error.
reminds
that in leapingfrom the rock shewill regainher lost statusandwin public admiration:
el ansioso pueblo
que ser testigo de tu gloria espera.
Todo a cumplir te obliga el juramento
de renovar la fama de Leucadia
los
siglosvenideros.
el
orbe
y
en
Pero si dudas,si el peligrotemes... (ii, 66-71)
Although the pace of events which led to Safb's death is necessarilyrapid, it is coherent
in
the
this short
Moreover,
the
the
of
action
compression
principal effect of
and unified.
drama is to emphasisethe accompanyingfocus on emotional intensity and poetic lyricism
in Safo. Thus, the traditional tragic framework remains sublimated and would surely not
have been the most striking aspect of the play in performance. The intermingling of
have
had
Safb's
a more
rhetoric
would
passionate
visual and aural stage effects with
immediate and powerful impact on the spectators. The first scene, which comprises
Safb's impassioned soliloquy, opens in serni-darknessto the sound of thunder and the
17
legacy
hint
is
the
There
than
lightning
of
of mel6logo
a
more
and a stormy sea.
sight of
in this particular combination, used to such compelling and original effect in two
contemporary musical dramas whose tragic protagonists were also spurned and
Brandes'
Dido
Durin's
and
multi-figure
abandonada
uni-personal
abandoned women:
82
Ariadne auf Naxos, adaptedfor the Spanishstage by an anonymousauthor via the
Frenchtranslation."
GAlvez'sincorporationof music in Sa/b, althoughnot on the samescaleas in
theseworks, nonethelessservesa specificemotionalpurpose.At the end of Sceneix,
musicemanatesfrom the Templeof Apollo, andNicandrointerpretsits significance,'ya
anuncianestostristesinstrumentos/ el instantefatal... '(ix, 504-505).In the next scene,
Safo leaps from the rock, but the music continuesto resonate,perhapsliterally and
certainlyfigurativelyinto the final scene,in which Fa6n exclaims:'El templo resonaba/
' (Xii, 563con himnosclamorosos,y aunquequiero / indagarel motivo, me detienen,
565). The interventionof musicat this emotionallyheightenedjuncture in the play subtly
intensifiesthe pathos, linking Safo, Nicandro and Fa6n, and illustrating not only her
abandonmentby one man which marks her reversalof fortune, but her rejection of
anotherwhich constitutesher error, both of which are centralto the tragic denouement.
The Creation of Safo as Tragic Protagonist
GAlvez's creation of the character of Safo is remarkably complex given the restricted
canvason which this work is drawn. In fact, the one-act formula obliges the author to do
no more than sketch the four male characters in order to represent the protagonist in
greater detail. Thus by contrast, Safo's distinctiveness as well as her elevation are
accentuated. Her intellectual and creative gifts, in addition to her unconventional
approach to love, distinguish and isolate her from orthodoxy, as representedin this play
by the Temple of Apollo and its priests, Gilvez makes this isolation primarily emotional
and metaphysical, emphasising that the depth and complexity of Safo's passions are
beyond the comprehension of those around her. Cricias refers with
manifest
incomprehension and loathing to that 'insensato y amoroso fuego' (ii, 84) and those
'delirios' (ii, 87), while Aristipo refers to her passions as a kind of blindness (x, 516517).
One of the most powerfial ways in which the character of Safo is exalted above
that of the others is through the distinct voice which Gilvez creates for her. Throughout
the work, the tone of Safo's dialogue is fervent and impassioned, her speeches are
'9
imminent
to
catastrophe. GAlvez
replete with metaphysical vocabulary and references
lyrical
is
language
for
Safo
and which contrasts with the more
creates a
which overtly
Cricias
(ii)
interlocutors
dialogue
her
that
of
and Nicandro
and notably
prosaic
male
of
83
(vi). Safo uses the tropes and figures of rhetoric: invocation, self-questioningand
exclamationwhich not only heightenthe registerof her language,but also point to her
20
status as poet. Thesefeaturesare particularly in evidencein the opening soliloquy,
when her emotionsare linked to naturalphenomena.Safo invokesthe storm, explicitly
associatingits energyand capacityfor destructionwith her own rage and despair(i, I24).
Safb's close self-identificationwith nature in this first scene shadesinto a
yearning for ultimate incorporation into nature sustained throughout the rest of the
action. Her desire transcends a simple wish to commune with nature and becomes a
longingfor oblivion, signifiedby the depthsof the sea:
i0jalä queesteabismocristalino,
que baiia de la roca el fondo intnenso,
me sepulte, ya ver la luz no vuelva,
si estäel olvido en su profundoseno!(fi, 79-82)
Safo doesnot fear death,but rather cravesit sinceit offers a releasefrom torment (vi,
379-381).More importantlythough,the ecstaticanticipationwhich characterisesSafb's
view of deathsuggeststhat for her it is an act of almosterotic self-fulfilment:
Si W, Aristipo, enjuvenilesaftos
haslogradoa gozarlos embelesos
de amarcoffespondido,si haslogrado
las deliciasquelogra quienviviendo
s6lo en su amante,en 61sevivifica,
Uenode amor,y de deleitesIleno,
no extrafiaris que yo asi me he visto,
piense morir cuando gozar no espero. (vii, 445-452)
Thus she scornsNicandro's avowal of his affection and attempt to save her life and
regardshis unwelcomedeclarationsasan obstacleto the consummationof her desirefor
death (vi, 377-381).
Safb's heightenedsensitivities,her identification with nature, her elevated
languageand complexrhetoric, her sufferingand her powerful death-wishsuggestthat
Gilvez's recreationof Safo the Greek poet drew on new literary currents and new
imagesof the creative artist as representedin contemporaryEuropeanliterature and
Gilvez's
is
Safo as a
to
textual
there
of
support
a
view
culture and
evidence
some
Romanticheroine21However,suchan interpretationoverlooksmanyof the subtletiesof
.
84
the author's characterisation.On repeatedoccasionsin this short work Safo refers
nostalgically to her former fame and glory as an acclaimedpoet and part of a
philosophicalschool:
En otro tiempo
s6lo al nombrede Saforesonaba
con vivasrepetidosel Liceo,
de la c6lebreAtenas,ya mi vista
aplausostributabatodo un pueblo(x, 520-524)
These serve as constant reminders of a classical model of the creative artist and their
place in the world, diametrically opposed to the isolated and self-absorbedfigure of the
Romantic imagination.22 This opposition illustrates a central tension in this play,
expressedin many aspects of its staging, characterisation and language, which derives
from Gilvez's negotiation between classical aesthetic values and more modem artistic
and philosophical preoccupations.
This tension is most obvious in the visual appearanceof the stage, as far as it can
be reconstructedfrom archivalinformationand from the descriptionof the settinggiven
in the printed text. On stagethe tempestuousnaturalworld, representedby the rock of
Leucadiaandthe stormysea,is juxtaposedwith the Templeof Apollo, which symbolises
the ordered classicalworld. 3 This contrast betweenthe modem and the ancient is
paralleled in aspects of the characterisationof the play. Thus, Nicandro whose
infatuation with Safo has been fuelled by his readingof her verse (v, 275-280), and
be
threatens
whosepassion
violenceandself-destruction,might viewedas a modelof the
24
both
in
is
hypersensitive
feeling
Werther.
By
Fa6n
contrast
new
man of
exemplified
Olympicathlete(vii, 433-436)and dutifiil sonwho ultimatelyplacesfilial piety andcivic
virtue abovepersonalpassion(iii, 150-155,162-164).
GAlvezshowshow Safobelongsto both theseworlds and the tensionsbetween
them are apparentin her actionsand words. At the start of the play she seeksisolation
her
final
in
However,
individual
take
the
moments
place
elements.
and
communionwith
the contextof a highly ritualisedpublic ceremonyin which her leap from the rock takes
between
despair
Safo
just
Furthermore,
solitary
and
wavers
as
on exemplarystatus.
her
her
Stoic
to
abandonment, vocabularyand expression
calculated,even
resignation
throughout the course of the action also alternatebetweenpassionateand intimate
lyricismandgrandiose,declamatoryrhetoric.
85
One of the more fascinatingeffects of this ongoing duality is the questionsit
raisesconcerningthe significanceand implicationsof the act of suicidecentral to the
25
in
this
action
work. The nature of Safb's yearningfor death during the initial scenes
the egoismwhich seemsto motivateher intendedcourseof action.However,
emphasises
irrational act,
evenat this early stagethere is an indicationthat far from a spontaneous,
inspiredby unbridledpassion,it is deliberateand pre-meditated(i, 28-29). Safb's sense
of powerlessness,frustration and alienation, emblematicof the Romantic suicide,
diminishesthroughoutand is entirelyabsentby the closing scenes,when it is clear that,
urged by Cricias, Safo intends her suicide to be exemplaryand ennobling.Aristipo
observesthe effect of Cricias's manipulationof Safb's rage, 'Cricias da a su rencor
nombrede gloria' (iv, 231). More significantlythough, eventhrough the bitter tones of
her final passionatespeech,which testify to her enduring sense of betrayal and
there is evidenceof a transformationof Safb's own perceptionof the act
abandonment,
ironic:
however
from
to
of suicide
oneof self-fulfilment one of example,
i0h mujeresde Leucadia!
Vosotrasquemiräisen mi el ejemplo
de la negraperfidiade los hombres,
abominadsu amor,aborrecedlos;
pagadsusrendimientoscon engaiios,
pagadsuinfameorgullo con desprecios,
gimana vuestrospies;vengadmetodas,
humilladparasiempreesossoberbios.(x, 531-538)
SAFO AND THE ACT OF SUICIDE
In Safil Gilvez recuperated the much-maligned Biblical figure of Saul, representing his
in
doing
Stoic
so engagedthe sympathy of the
and
suicide as noble,
and even virtuous,
irrational
Safo,
Gilvez
In
tragic
the
transforms
overwrought,
protagonist's
audience.
dignified.
In
death
her
depicts
to
re-establishingthe
and
reasoned
as
attitude
passionsand
by
Gilvez
Greek
the
the
her
the
end
of
play,
society
customs of
character within
place of
desolate,
isolated
lost
The
Safo's
and
outsider,
apparent
status.
reinstates much of
death
in
dies
accordance
ceremonial
the
and
the
a ritualised
action,
start of
abandonedat
in
Temple
Human
the
Leucadia.
are
made
of
sacrifices
the
codes and practices of
with
Apollo in preparation for her leap from the rock (viii, 467471) and Safo herself makes
(viii,
/
la
474-475).
la
ley
'para
y
el
uso'
religi6n
que
establecieron
an offering
cumplir
86
Immediatelyprior to her suicide,Safois sereneand removesher laurel with a senseof
decorumandan appealto posterity:
Laurel glorioso,quela sabiaAtenas,
concedi6a lastareasde mi genio,
dejanü frente,y quedadondesirvas
(x, 511-514)
a ini nombrey mi amorde monumento.
Thus, whereas in Safil, the act of suicide was a defiant gesture, and an
unambiguous challenge to religious authority, Gilvez's depiction of the manner and
meaning of Safo's death is more ambiguous. At the start of the action, Safo appears
strong-willed, even rebellious and it seemsthat her suicide will mark the culmination of a
transgressiveand individualistic path through life. However, when it comes, her death is
shrouded in the ritual of the temple and presided over by Cricias and Aristipo, whose
words point to the didactic value of Safo's action, 'y que le sirva /a los demis amantes
de escarmiento' (viii, 481-482), while also suggesting that Safo is effectively being
punished publicly for her failure to comply with society's moral codes. Perhaps
ironically, through her death Safo is recuperated for the patriarchal order and made to
serve its purposes.
Safo could be regarded as compliant in this process. While Gilvez highlights the
sincerityand strengthof Safo'spassion,shedoesnot allow her a deathwhich transcends
the socialorder andthus thereis somethinganticlimactic,almostbathetic,aboutthe final
scenewhen sheis brought to the shore.In the closing speechin faltering voice, Safo's
recognitionof her inability to overcomeher intenselove for Fa6ncomesto representher
in the faceof society'snorms:
powerlessness
jOh tü... sea, quien fueres...
que has visto de mi muerte el triste ejemplo,
publica que es ... supersticioso engailo ...
buscar aqui el olvido
pues
muero
yo
...
...
adorando a Fa6n ... y hasta el sepulcro...
(xii,
Ilevo!
613-618)
imagen
conrnigo
i su
y ini amor
An EnlightenmentmoralityunderpinsG;Uvez'sattitudeto Safo'sactions.In Safil suicide
is portrayedas a legitimatechallengeto the authority of God, but in this play Gilvez
it
fully
Safo's
to
constitutesan act of defianceby
since
appearsreluctant
suicide,
endorse
an individualagainstsociety.
87
Conclusions
Some of the ambiguities and tensions embodied in the complex character of Safo are also
visible on the broader level of Gilvez's dramaturgy. The language, rhetoric and tone of
this play must have appealed to contemporary taste for highly emotionally charged
dramatic scenesand Gilvez's choice of the term Drama tr6gico to classify her play, may
be interpreted as evidence of this concession to the popularity of many of these new
dramatic forms. However, the structures of tragedy and its moral and didactic purpose
conspicuously remain the framework for this one-act play. There is an evident tension
between old and new dramatic forms, but the passion and colour of the language is
always contained within the discipline of tragedy.
For modemscholarsthe primaryinterestof GAIvez'sSafohastendedto lie in the
author's allegedself-identificationwith the Greekpoet andwith the associatedthemeof
immoral love. Yet G-jIvezs attitude to Safo cannot be viewed in unambiguously
sympatheticterms, a feature which rendersproblematicthe desire to read this play
through the lens of autobiography.I would arguethat Gilvez's experimentswith form
and her treatmentof the act of suicidelend this work a wider significanceand enduring
interest. Safo is animatedby a seriesof tensionsat the level of structure, setting,
languageandprincipallycharacterisation,
be
seento reflect the concernsof
might
which
a writer sensitiveto modem sensibilitywhose work is nonethelessanchoredin the
traditionsof AristotelianaestheticsandEnlightenmentthought.
88
1 Maria Rosa GAlvez de Cabrera, Safo. Drama tnigico
en un acto, in Obras poilicas, 111,
pp.23-56. The text has recently appearedin two modem editions: Dom6nech, ed.cit., and
Whitaker, 'Introduction to Safo'. See Criado y Dominguez, Literatas espafiolas, p. 102;
CeJadory Frauca,Historia, p.312 and Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp. 148-149,353 for details
of the manuscriptcopy of the play.
2 See'Sappho' in Wilson, Encyclopaedia,pp.1104-1106,for a bio-bibliographyof Sappho.
3 'Sappho to Phaon' in Ovid, Heroides, Harold C. Cannon(trans.), London, 1972, pp.100106. Classicalscholarshave questionedOvid's authorshipof this letter, for a summaryof the
debateseepp. 11-12.
4 For a discussion of the treatment of the figure of Sappho in Western Literature see
especially Joan DeJean,Fictions of Sappho 1546-1937, Chicago, 1989, and also Jerome
McGann, 'Mary Robinson and the Myth of Sappho'. Modem Language Quarterly, 56
(1995), pp.55-76. Among severalsignificant eighteenth-centuryliterary engagementswith the
theme are: Claude-Louis-Michel de Sacy,Les amours de Sapho et de Phaon, Amsterdam,
1769; Jean du Casatred'Auvigny, LHistoire et les amours de Sapho de Mytiline, Paris,
1724;Mary Robinson's sequenceof sonnetswritten in Sappho'svoice, Sapphoand Phaon in
described
Sappho
legitimate
in
1796,
London,
she
as 'enlightened
which
a series of
sonnets,
by the most exquisite talents, yet yielding to the destructive controul of ungovernable
became
known
Robinson
is
interesting
Mary
It
17.
that
to
as 'the English
note
passions', p.
Sappho', see Judith Pascoe,Romantic Yheatricafity.ý Gender, poetry and Spectatorship,
London, 1999,pp.25-26.
5 Abb6 Jean-Jacques
Barth6l6my,Voyagedujeune Anacharsis en Gr&e, Paris, 4 vols, 1788.
Sografl, Saffo o sia i riti d'apollo leucadio, dramma per musica, Venice, 1794; Franz
Grillparzer, Sappho: Trauerspiel infunfAufizugen, Vienna, 1790;Franz von Kleist, Sappho.
fascinating
Grinstein
Bordiga
dramadsches
Julia
Gedicht,
Berlin,
1793.
offers
a
ein
ttienne
in
Frangois
Lantier's
Safo
in
GAIvez's
between
and
comparison
certain passages
3
1797,
Asie,
Paris,
Gr&e
dAntenor
Voyages
vols,
which are
en
et
en
pseudo chronicles,
known to be basedon Barth6l6my's, Voyage.Grinsteinarguesthat GAlvezappropriatedmany
ideasfrom ChapterXXXH, 'L'Histoire des Amours de Saphoet de Phaon' of Lantier's text
dialogue
for
her
See
Safo.
to
this
translated
that
create
chapter
sheeven
and
whole sectionsof
Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.149-154(p. 151).
6 ConstanceMarie de Ib6is, princessede Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck,ak. a.ConstancePipelet,
Sapho, tragidie mMe de chants, en trois actes et en vers, Paris, 1794. See Wilson,
Encyclopaedia,pp.357-358, for bio-bibliographicdetailsof this little studiedFrenchwriter.
7 Pipelet transformed the Sappho and Phaon legend into a tragedy of jealous love. Initial
is
believed
have
founded.
Sappho
for
to
the
which
women
ancientacademy
scenesare set at
An enviousfemale academiciancastsdoubt on Phaon's fidelity while he is away at sea and
Sappho,already suspicious,is easily duped. Believing herself abandonedshe jumps to her
deathfrom the rock of LeucasbeforePhaoncanreturn to undeceiveher of the error.
8 In addition to severalFrenchtranslationsof Sappho'sverse, there was at least one Spanish
translation,that of Bernabe Canga.Argiielles, Obras de Sapho, Efinna, Alcman, Stesicoro,
Alceo, Ibico, Simonides,Bachilides,Archiloco, Alpheo, Pratino, Menalipides, Madrid, 1797.
Although GAlvez's dramatisationof the subject matter was unique on the Spanish stage
during the period, legendsof the Greek poet inspired the verse of at least one of her Spanish
'Zagal
(1742-1801),
Hore
Gertrudis
Maria
whose
unpublished,
el
contemporaries,the poet
89
mis bello', contained a reference to Sappho and Phaon. See Franklin Lewis, Feminine
Discourse andSubjeciii4ty, pp.101-107, for a discussionof the figure of Sapphoin Hore's
verse.
" Gilvez's tragedy begins where Ovid's fifteenth epistle ended:
with Sappho's threat to
commit suicide unlessPhaonreturns to her. At the openingof the play, Safo appearsto be on
the verge of carrying out her threat. Caught in a storm, she expressesher anger and
disillusionment at Fa6n's desertion of her. Sceneii marks the arrival of Cricias,
priest of
Apollo and Fa6n's father, and Aristipo his second in command. Cricias, alanned for the
safety of his son urges Aristipo to muster a band of islanders to search the coastline for
survivors of a shipwreck causedby the storm. Left alonewith Safo he encouragesher plan to
leap from the rock of Leucadia.In sceneiii Cricias is reunited with Fa6n, althoughhis joy is
temperedby the realisationthat, having lost his wife Teagenes,his son might rediscoverhis
buried passion for Safo. In scene iv, Cricias explains to Aristipo his reasonsfor keeping
Safo's existence and feelings secret from Fa6n. In scene v, Nicandro declares his
determination to leap from the rock of Leucadia should his love for Safo prove to be
unrequited.Later, when Aristipo discoversthat Safo is the object of Nicandro's desire, he
determinesto save two lives. Although he must not break the vow he made to Cricias to
ensureFa6n and Safo remain ignorant of each other's survival, Aristipo urges Nicandro to
persuadeSafo to abandonher plan for suicide. The bid fails, since in scenevi, Safo and
Nicandro meet and she scoms,his love for her. Aristipo himself then unsuccessfullyattempts
to cajole Safo into changing her mind. In scene viii, Safo declares her readinessfor her
suicidal act and in sceneix, Nicandro and Aristipo lament her decision.In scenex, Safo, in
front of the assembledislanders, leaps from the rock and in the penultimate scene,Fa6n
learns of her action. In scenexii Safo is brought to shore and dies proclaiming her love for
Fa6n.
10La Safo, performed the Cruz from 4-5 November 1801,
at
realised9214 and 6792 reales
respectively.SeeAndioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.489,839,922 n.561b. Seealso Cotarelo,
Mdjquez, p.631, and below notes 11,14 and 17.
11A. M. M., Ms. 1-337-2. Four documents
out of the total forty-two in this dossierdetail the
production costs of the two night performance.They include:- items of scenery,signed and
dated 5 November 1801; paymentsto the copyist for the month of November 1801, which
included two copiesof the 'pieza heroica La Safo'; paymentfor costumes;production costs
during the two days on which the play was staged, including stage explosive to recreate
lightning in the storm sceneand flammablespirit and spongesfor 8 torches.
12Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, 922 561b,
p.
n.
note that the stage sets were designedand
painted by Antonio Maria Tadei, one of two brothers, both paintersýwho were heavily
involved in theatricaldesignand decor.Angel, the more celebratedof the two, becamea court
painter in 1814. At the time of the performance of G61vez's Safo Antonio Maria was
employed as theatre designerat both the Cruz and the Principe. Although little is known
about his movements,he appearsto have been active at the Principe during the 1818-19
cornic year and some sourcesstate until 1828. See Cotarelo,M6iquez, pp. 132,423,453;
Ulrich Thierneand Felix Becker,AllgemeinesKfinstlerlexicon, XXXH, Leipzig, 1926,p.398.
" Having
referred to the stem recommendationof Horace that no more than four characters
with speakingparts should be present on stage at any one time, Luzin observed that the
incorporationof large numbersof charactersin a play, as Lope de Vega frequentlyhad in his
dramas, was a serious error. He advised that the dramatist should 'arreglar con juicio el
niunero de los actores;y reducirlosa los menosque se pueda,para facilitar la representaci6n',
90
and warned that more than ten, 'seri excesoy confusi6n'. However, where appropriate,he
did not precludethe use of a non-speakingchorus, 'levas de farsantescomo de soldados', as
GAlvezseemsto have envisagedin this play. Luzin, La poitica, pp.514-515.
14A. M. M., Ms. 1-337-2
shows that payments were made to twenty-three male and five
femalemembersof the comparsa.
15Dom6nech,
ed.cit., p.28. All citations from Safioin this chapter follow the line numbers,
spelling and punctuation conventions adopted in this modem edition. It should be noted
however, that althoughbasedon the 1804 printed edition, Dom6nechhas not correctedthe
typographicalerror in lines 292-293, which should read, 'Sin duda considerael monumento
de su amor infeliz'. See,'Effatas del torno segundo'in Obraspoilicas, 11,p.236.
16The assonanceis
e-o throughout. Estala observed,'Nuestro romance,ya el endecasilabo
para la tragediaya el octosilabopara la comedia,fiene una armoniasiemprevaria y muy grata
a] oido, no ofende con el artificio manifiesto de la rima, no obliga a violentar o estropearlos
conceptos,y admitetodas las graciasy sublimidad de la poesiamfis artificiosa.' Pedro Estala,
Edipo Tirano, Madrid, 1793,p.47.
17A. M. M., Ms. 1-337-2,
showsthat the stormy seawas representedby paintedcloths.
18Francisco Dur6n, Dido
abandonada. Pieza heroica. Soliloquio tr6gico dispuesto con
verso de la traducci6n que hizo D. Toinds de Marie de los cuatro primeros libros de la
Eneida, de Virgilio, Madrid, 1792. Although the work did not reachthe Madrid stage,it was
performed in ValenciavNithsome successin 1792 and againin the 1812-1813theatricalyear.
Two separateeditions of the libretto were printed in Valencia in 1817. See Subiri, Marie
pp.202-203. See also Rhoades, 'Bibliografia'. [Anon] Ariadne abandonada en Naxos.
Melodrama en un acto, con periodos de m6sica, n.p., n.d., was a translationof Pieffe-Louis
Moline's, Atiane dans I'lle de Naxos, Paris, 1782, itself an adaptationof JohannChristian
Brandes,Arladne aufNaxos, ein duodrama mit musik, Stuttgart, 1778,with music composed
by Georg Benda. The Spanishversion was performed with some successin 1793 and 1799.
See Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.437-438,476,627; Lafarga (ed.) Teatro europeo,
p.238; Subiri, Iriarle, pp.27,167-177.
19She speaksof her own 'mortal angustia' (viý 303) and 'odiosa existencia' (vi, 306) to cite
but two examples.
20 Unaware of Nicandro's presence, Safo invokes Venus, 'iOh Venus! / Desciende del
lira'
/
de
(vi, 298-301).
los,
dulces
/
ecos
mi
suave
olimpo, cual solias complacidaa escuchar
21The view of GAlvez'sSafo as a prototypeRomantic drama has beenadvancedin the work
of Rios, Ta pol6micateatral', p.72, and implied by Russell P. Sebold, 'EI incesto,el suicidio
del
Trayectoria
romanticismo espahol, Barcelona, 1983,
el
y primer romanticismoespaftol',
pp.109-136 (p. 135).
22Dom6nechnotesthe anachronismof the referenceto Aristotle's Lyceum and, believesit to
be G-,
Uvez's deliberateattemptto identify herselfthroughthe characterof Safo as a disciple of
Aristotle, ed. cit., p.73, However I would contendthat this aspectof the characterisationof
Safo is principally designedto give the protagonistan aestheticand poetic pedigree which
her
Romantic
Classical
to
the
artistic creativity.
the
nature
of
as opposed
emphasises
23The stagedirectionsread, Ta escenaes en la isla de Leucadia.A la derechase ve la roca
del mismo nombre, desde donde se precipita Safo. Al lado opuesto, Vista del templo de
', ed. cit., p. 50.
Apolo, con puertaspracticables.En el foro el mar tempestuoso.
91
24He
vows to end his own life, (xi, 490,505-506) and challengesFa6n to a duel (xi, 590591).
25SeeLester G. Crocker, 'The Discussion Suicide in the EighteenthCentury', Journal of
of
the History ofIdeas, 13 (1952), pp.47-72, for some insights into the debateon suicide, with
specialreferenceto Franceand England,during the period.
92
CHAPTER SIX
FLORINDA
Florinda, Gilvez's experimentwith tragedyon a nationaltheme,printed in volumetwo
'
Obras
is
known
been
have
the
to
of
pogticas
not
performed. It received little
2
has
been
focus
detailed
the
contemporarycritical attentionand
not
of any
modernstudy.
In this work, GAIvezengagedwith a familiar, evenmythical,Spanishnarrativein a novel
and ultimately critical way. In placingFlorinda rather than Rodrigo at the centreof the
tragedy, Gilvez challengedthe prevailing understandingof the legend of the Fall of
Spain and the Moorish Conquest and establishedthe character as a complex and
unambiguouslytragic protagonist.By fusingelementsof classicalpreceptandfeaturesof
comediasentimental,Gilvez createda nationaltragedyrooted in the dynamicsof family
drama.As such,Florinda providesfurther evidenceof Gilvez's exploitationof certain
new trendsin dramain orderto breathelife into ancientnarrativesanddramaticforms.
The Legend of 'La Cabal and the 'Pirdida de Espafia'
Gilvez's protagonist is based on the allegedly historical figure bearing the same name,
has
known
Caba'.
'La
The
this
occasionally been
woman
originally
as
existence of
questioned, an issue linked to the greater controversy concerning her responsibility for
'
de
in
'p6rdida
Espafia'.
Although
invasion
Moorish
711
the
the
of
which resulted
fable
in
detail,
basic
degree
the
the
remain constant: the beautiful
of
elements
varying
and
'La Caba', whose real name was Florinda, was seducedby King Rodrigo and, as he was
married to Queen Egilona, remained the object of his fiustrated desire. Count JuMn,
Florinda's father, determined to exact revenge for her disgrace by assisting the Arab
invasion of Spain. Subsequently, his daughter was labelled a traitor and made to bear
responsibility for the Moorish Conquest.
Attitudes to Florinda compoundedtraditionalnotions of Eve's responsibilityfor
the expulsionfrom the Gardenof Eden and reinforcedthe perceptionof woman as a
4
interventions
in
influence.
Male
destructive
disruptive
philosophical
and
potentially
his
Caba's
Ta
few.
In
examination
to
these
critical
of
opposition
assumptionswere
culpabilityin the 'Defensade las mujeres'of 1726,Feij6o's thoughtson the apportioning
'
'Ilustraci6n
1729,
blame
However,
apolog6tica'
the
of
subsequent
of
were ambiguous.
93
clarified his position and Feij6o arguedthat Ta Caba' was 'the sufficientcauseof the
ruin of Spainbecauseof her incidentalbeautyratherthan the necessarycause,with all its
moralandpolitical implications.ý6
Literary Antecedents and Sources for Florinda
Initial accounts of the part of 'La Caba' in the so-called p6rdida de Espafia
were fleshed
out and absorbed into historical
narratives and folklore.
After
the Arab Conquest,
historical fact merged with anecdote and apocryphal tales to create historical fictions
which disguised truth from myth to such an extent that it was difficult either to verify or
dispute their content. However, the dubious accuracy of these ostensibly factual
accounts
did not impede their serving to fuel subsequent literary
inventions,
each new text
embellishing and adding further details to earlier works and thus transforming
7 The first historical
into
historical
myth .
and pseudo
history
accounts of the Arab colonisation of
Spain fed into literature through early romances and epic poetry, Golden Age and early
eighteenth-century plays, poetry and philosophical discussions and finally to later
eighteenth-century musical and prose dramas. Gilvezs tragedy forms part of a complex
network of literary influence which spannedtemporal, generic and national boundaries
and which continued to stimulate creative writing in the nineteenth century.'
During the seventeenth century, serious dramatic treatments of the legend of
Rodrigo and 'La Caba' were outnumbered by parodies.9 However, by the second half of
the eighteenth century, perhaps prompted by the renewed interest in patriotic themes,
playwrights began to treat the narrative with renewed gravitas. Josd Concha's Perder el
reino y poder por querer a una muger, La Pirdida de Espaha was designed as a six
character dramatic piece for private viewing and therefore would not have reached a
wide audience. Eusebio Vela's Lapgrdida de Espaha, had a similarly limited impact on
the Spanish theatrical scene, since although it was performed in Murcia in 1768, it was
banned from subsequentrepresentation two years later. 'O The performance successof
Juan Hernanz DAvila's Rodrigo, scena Irdgica con intermisiones musicales printed in
Cadiz in 1789 must owe as much to the fashionablemel6logo format as to the popularity
of the subject matter. Hemanz Divila referred obliquely to Rodrigo's 'crimen', but did
not re-examine Florinda's legendary role in the parallel fall of the King and that of
Spain."
94
Gilvez drew on existing literary and historical treatmentsof the seductionof
Florinda and the subsequentinvasion of the Moors as the basis of her tragedy.12
However, althoughnot without precedent,Gilvez's dramatisationof the eventswhich
gaverise to Rodrigo's defeatand the assumptionof power by the Moors in Spainwas
both innovative and in its way unique." Her alterationsto the familiar narrative in
in
instrumental
aspectsof plot, themeand characterisation,
recastingFlorinda as a
were
14
heroine.
As such Gilvez's tragedy constituteda thorough-goingrevision of
tragic
prevailingattitudesto this legendaryfigure, which representeda direct challengeto the
myth.
Dramatic Structure
Gilvez's use of the fundamental structural elementsof Aristotelian tragedy underpins the
dramatic action in Florinda. As in Aft-Bek and Safo, a pre-existing reversal of fortune is
is
in
Although
Florinda
instance
Act
1.
by
raped
accentuated a second
of peripety early
by Rodrigo prior to the start of the action, her abduction from the safety of Pelayo's tent,
(1,v) might be interpreted as an echo, even a symbolic re-enactment, of the original
crime. As a result, the hatred of the Visigoths who remain loyal to their king is
for
betray
Conversely
deeply
those
subjects
who
exacerbated and more
entrenched.
Rodrigo and become allied to the Moors, the abduction refuels their desire for vengeance
from
desired
detested
have
long
to
they
remove
power. Thus an
and
upon a sovereign
highly
begins
to
trauma
public, even political significance.
assume
a
ostensibly private
Florinda's error which Gilvez shows to be rooted in pride (hubris) and which
also pre-dates the start of the action, is one of the more complex aspects of the
construction of the tragedy. Tulga reminds Florinda of her excessivevanity and pride and
her
between
these
of
nature and Rodrigo's
aspects
makes an explicit connection
behaviour:
eraMonarca,
Tfl j6ven y orguflosa;desayrarlo
Fueirritar su poder;tu resistencia
Oponeri susgustosera en vano:
Si humi116
tu altivez,obr6, Florinda,
(II, iii)
ComoRey, comoamantedespreciado.
95
This insistence on Florinda's own part in her rape might seem
unacceptable and
distasteful to modem audiences.Yet by emphasisingher
pride, Gilvez accords Florinda
the complexity and agency of the tragic protagonist rather than the one-dimensional
15
the
virtue of
Victim. Furthermore there is great dignity in Florinda's recognition of her
own error and culpability, 'De mi vanidad los extravios / No puedo disculpar' (II, iii)
which takes on renewed significance by the end of the play. In the penultimate scene,
Pelayo's condemnation of Florinda's desire for revenge serves as an act of discovery,
since she comes to recognise the extent of her father's self-interest and manipulation of
her causefor his own political ends.
Characterisation
Within this classicising framework, Gilvez experiments with dramatic structure in order
to strengthen the perception of Florinda as tragic protagonist. Ebbs and flows in the
action are interwoven with the oscillating fortunes of war. The rhythm of the battle
serves as a temporal framework for the unfolding plot so that the skirmishes, truces and
alliances not only mark stages in Rodrigo's descent from victory to defeat, but, more
importantly serve as a metaphor for the parallel passagefrom shame to honour which
marks Florinda's tragic progress.16 Thus at the start of the play, Rodrigo appears
triumphant over the Moors, but it is clear that the victory is a sham and that his position
as monarch is threatened. With the progress of the battle, Gilvez shows the gradual
undermining of Rodrigo's power and influence, and his last speech (Ill, iv) ironically
foreshadows his own unheroic death, reported in the final sceneof the play. Throughout
the action, Rodrigo's descentto ignominy is paralleled by Florinda's ascent to eminence
and a brave, defiant suicide in which her reputation is restored and her infamy banished.
Gilvez reverses expectations of both Rodrigo and Florinda: he is stripped of any of the
qualities and complexities associated with the tragic hero, while she is elevated and
transformed from the barely sketched Eve-like figure of myth into a complex, tragic
protagonist.
One of the most obvious ways in which Gilvez signals her intention to revise the
traditionalrepresentationof Florindais throughher rejectionof the more colloquialand
pejorativename Ta Caba"and her choiceof the more poetic and sonorousFlorinda.
Miguel de Luna's spurious'translation' of the 1589 Historia verdaderadel rey don
Rodrigo, compuestapor A bulcdcim Tarif, first featuredthe alternativenameFlorinda
96
"
and also provided an etymologicalexplanationof the coexistenceof two names. The
ongoingpopularity of his accountensuredthat in subsequenttreatmentsof the subject
matter,an author's sympathytowardsthe legendaryfigure could be measuredaccording
to their choiceof 'La Caba'or Florinda." In the namingof her protagonistGilvez makes
clearher intentionto restoredignity to her literary creation.
Florindafirst appearson stagewhen sheis forcibly broughtbeforeRodrigo (l, vi).
In this scene, not only does she remind the King of the devastating effect of her loss of
cpatria', 'riquezas', 'estado' and 'decoro', but she also establishesher resistance and
defiance in the face of his insidious offer that she become his mistress, She regards
herself as universally 'abominada', 'odiada' and 'aborrecida' and describesthe sweeping
changesin her life as if they constituted a rite of passagefrom adolescenceto adulthood,
distinguishing her youth and naivetd prior to the rape from her newly discovered
knowledge of 'pompa fisonjera', tirania' and 'envidia'. Florinda's dignified rejection of
Rodrigo's renewed sexual advancesin this scenebelies a certain vulnerability which is a
major aspect of her appeal as a character.
However, Gilvez avoids depicting a persecuted innocent, indeed she stresses
Florinda's awarenessof the maturity which her traumahas occasionedand the senseof
bringing
decision
her
life.
later
In
in
her
is
key
to
end
responsibilitywhich a
element
in
Gilvez
juxtaposes
into
this
scene,
rapist and victim
a powerful confrontation
Florinda'smoral integrity andRodrigo'sweaknessandmoral laxity, therebyemphasising
from the outset a contrastwhich is sustainedthroughoutand revealingwhere her own
"'
be
directed.
lie
sympathies andwherethe sympathiesof the audiencemight
GAlvez accentuatesthe focus of the audience's sympathies on Florinda, the only
female character in the play, by presenting her as an isolated figure at the start of the
20
is
family
from
is
held
She
and
supporters,
she
captive, physically separated
action.
her
bereft
by
is
isolated
ignominy
by
and
abandoned
the
emotionally
of rape, she
morally
lover, Pelayo, and she must live with the irrevocable consequencesof her mother's curse
(I'Vi). 2' This isolation tends to intensify the dramatic representation of Florinda's
troubled emotional state. As in Safo, this is manifest in a series of fraught monologues, in
her
her
to
the
Florinda's
sense
of
separatenesscontributes
consciousness of
which
distinctness and elevation above the other characters, pointing to the particular way in
which Gilvez seeksto establishher tragic status.
97
Oneof the more significantaspectsof the constructionof the tragic protagonistis
Gilvez's handling of Florinda's urgent and violent desire for revenge,which further
distancesher from a modelof femininevirtue.22The trope of femalevengeance,familiar
from Golden-Agedrama,is deployedhereto accorda senseof agencyto Florinda,who
might otherwisebe confinedto a rather passiverole. To a certainextent,however,this
desirefor revengearisesout of Florinda's pride and forms part of her error. Florinda
comesto recognisenot only the futility of revengeas a meansof personalredemption
and, more specifically,its potentialfor unscrupulousexploitation,but also its disastrous
for the nation:
consequences
iPadre cruel! Lograron vuestras iras
M orgullo despertarpor un momento,
Llegu6 i vanagloriarme del estrago
Causadopor mi afrenta. iQu6 horror, cielos!
LY lo hab6isconsentido?Ya Pelayo
Del atormentador remordimiento
Dispert6 en mi las implacablesfinias....
Aniquilad piadoso, Dios eterno,
M vida criminal, lanzad el.rayo,
Queen vuestrajusta diestraesti suspenso,
Sobremi delinq0entevil orgullo,
Quecon loco tesonpudo ofenderos; (III'viii)
The desire for revengeis replacedby a desire for death, one might also say
in
for
Florinda's
foreshadowed
the
the
act
wish
oblivion:
second
absolution,
at
start of
Ven, Pelayo,
Ven i esconderi la infeliz Florinda
De todo el universo; ven, en tanto
QueRodrigo celebratu victoria,
A ocultarmi existencia,dondeel astro
Queiluminala tierra aunno penetre
M pavorosoasilocon susrayos.
However, suicide emergesas a possiblecourse of action only after Florinda's latent
future
Spain
Moorish
dystopic
is
by
the
Pelayo's
of
of
under
vision
senseof guilt stirred
for
Tarif
her
this.
his
(III,
s triumphantand
responsibility
of
accusation
control
viii) and
is
Pelayo's
ix)
truth
(III,
the
to
of
predictions
confirm
aggressiverhetoric
which appears
the extent to
the final spur to Florinda's self-authoreddeath and seemsto epiton-ýise
98
which sheis subjectto malecoercionin this tragedy.Yet althoughdespairing,the act of
suicideis alsodefiantandit is clearthat Florindais neitheractingon maleinstructionnor
motivatedby cowardice.Indeedonemight readher suicideasa patriotic act in which her
refusalto submit to Moorish rule demonstratesher honour and couragein the face of
defeat.Gilvez makesFlorinda's resistanceemblematicof that of Spainand in doing so,
transformsher character,traditionally associatedwith ignominy and treachery,into a
symbolof heroicpatriotism.
is
The novelty of Gilvezs characterisation
Florinda
supportedby her equally
of
innovative approach to the character of Rodrigo, who is accorded a role in this tragedy
is
which at odds with his status in historical accounts. Modem critics have assertedthat
Gilvez mitigates Rodrigo's criminal nature through alluding to his fiustrated wish to
have been able to crown Florinda his queen in a long meditation (I'V). 2' However, in this
same soliloquy, Gilvez exposes the selfish and despotic desires of a weak, ineffectual
favour
duties
in
invested
in
him,
the
and
civic
neglecting military
ruler who abuses
power
24In
Rodrigo is shownto
of sexualconquest. manywaysthis is a daringcharacterisation.
be devoid of any personalvirtue or heroismand the unconditionalloyalty he inspiresin
his
his
his
to
title
to
actions and
and
nothing
some of
subjectsowes everything
judgements.
By contrast with this model of tyrannical and inadequatekingship, Pelayo is
depictedas a shrewdand intelligent military and civic figurehead.He is createdas a
be
his
is
loyalty
to
the
sovereign paramountand presencemight
steadfastpatriot whose
legendary
Reconquest.
the
the
the
to
account
of
of
construedas a concession
popularity
The associationof Pelayo and Florinda as lovers has been interpreted as the most
innovativeaspectof this tragedy,sinceit allows GAlvezto elevatethe statusof her tragic
25
it
Comelian
device
dramatic
the
Moreover
establishment
enables
of
a
as a
protagoniSt.
dichotomy in which Pelayo places his civic and patriotic duty before his love of
Florinda.26More than this, it is Pelayowho acts as the instrumentby which Florinda
ignominy
life
her
futility
the
of
after the
and
the
to
vengeance
of
comes recognise
Moorish Conquest.
In the same way that Pelayo finds himself in an invidious position, caught
betweenpersonalinterestandpublic duty, so Tulga's loyaltiesare divided.Both menally
is
Tulga's
the
for
different
but
Rodrigo,
of
monarch
also
endorsement
reasons.
with
foundedon notionsof patriotismwhich leadhim to set asidehis familial bondswith his
99
niece, Florinda and his brother, Count Juliin. However, his patriotism is also a critique of
the King, whose reprehensible personal behaviour has set Spain on a course towards
certain disaster. Assuming the role of elder statesman,Tulga dispensesfrank, honest and
unpalatable wisdom, revealing himself to possess those qualities of perspicacity and
judgement so lacking in the King. It is perhaps ironic that upon hearing the news of her
uncle's banishment, it should be Florinda, whose suffering is intensified by his cruel
rejection of her, who recogniseshis integrity and valour:
Ya comprendo,
Que en vano por salvar la triste Espafia
Los valerosos Godos sus esfuerzos
Oponen a Tarif, les falta el brazo
Del inveneibleTulga;ya perdieron
Con el a los leales;y aunyo misma
De sujusto rigor perdi el consuelo.
(III, v)
Where Tulga is the candid,loyal subject,even to a bad King, Egerico is the
equivocating, disloyal turncoat and opportunist. He is a sycophant whose flattery serves
to represent the debasementof the Court and Rodrigo"s own pomposity and vanity. His
machinations aid the plot to overthrow Rodrigo which is central to the alliance between
Count Juhin and Tarif, two characterswho remainlargely undevelopedthroughoutthe
action. Far from the vengefulfather who seeksto restore his daughter'slost honour,
Count JuMn is portrayedas a cynicalparentwhosemanipulationof Florinda'sdistressis
in evidenceon those infrequentoccasionsthroughout the action when they converse.
WhenFlorinda questionsthe loss of life occasionedin her name,her father attemptsto
erodeher senseof patriotismby alludingto her sulliedreputationamongthe peopleand
it is clearthat 'el botin de lastiendas',ratherthan his daughter'sanguish,is uppermostin
his mind (III, vii). By the end of the play, Florinda'seyesare openedand sherealisesher
belovedfather, 'Amado padre' (III, vii) is no more than a cruel traitor '11'adrecrueW,
`iAy traydoW (III, ix). Gilvez's representationof a denaturedfather figure who is
is
instance
in
intrigue
treachery
a
striking
embroiled
of the failure of
and political
patriarchy,which in this tragedyis also representedby the weak and corrupt king, and
which is a recurrenttopos in the author'soeuvre.
Despitethe insistenceof the Visigoths on the barbariannature and uncivilised
behaviourof the Moors, GAlvezdepictsTarif, as an ablemilitary leader,whosequalities
and skills cast Rodrigo in an increasinglyunfavourablelight. This opposition is most
100
obviouswhen the two meetto discussa possibletruce; Rodrigo is arrogantand brash
where Tarif speakswith measuredauthority and highlightsthe King's feebleauthority
(II, viii). This contrastis re-emphasised
at the end of the play when, with obviousirony,
Gilvez permitsTarif the final sentencia:
EI crimen, la trayci6n y la venganza
Siempre tal recompensamerecWon.
ix)
(111,
Crime, Treachery and Vengeance: Rape and its Repercussions in Flolinda
The rape of Florinda, which modem commentators regard as the primary source of
interest in the play, forms part of what I would contend is the author's
searching
27
issues
reflection on
of patriarchy and the abuse of male power and authority. The rape
occurs prior to the start of the action and although Gilvez charts its devastating
psychological effect on Florinda, this is not the exclusive focus. In this tragedy, the
author's concern with the wider implications of the act of rape and its repercussionson
family and nation are evident: dishonour, vengeanceand political treachery are explored
through a complex web of relationships dominated by conflicting private and public
loyalties and duties.
Tulga and Pelayo profess loyalty to the King and trumpet this virtue in
explanationof their oppositionto Florinda, Count JuliAnand those who seekto usurp
Rodrigo in order to avengeher rape.In this way, both men suppresspersonalfeelingsin
favour of public duty. Tulga is Florinda'suncle and as suchmight be expectedto share
his brother's determinationto avengethe loss of his niece's honour. Yet he ignores
Florinda'ssufferingand diminishesthe magnitudeof the crime of his sovereign.For him
it is a questionof proportion, rape is a lessercrime than treason.Furthermorehe is
convinced that Florinda knowingly seducedthe King and that Rodrigo responded
naturally to her advances.However, his belief in her duplicity is incidental to his
justification for remainingloyal to Rodrigo which is basedon fervent nationalismand
beliefin Spainasa sovereignnation.Pelayois placedin a more difficult position sincehe
intended
he
had
in
defend
Florinda,
the
to
the
to
woman
marry,
must sublimate urge
he
Rodrigo's
institutions
defend
the
to
the
rape of Florinda
upholds.
order
monarchand
compelsPelayoto honour and protect in battle the man whose violent sexualassault
brink
impossible
Spanish
his
brought
to
the
the
nation
of civil war.
made
marriageand
101
Count Juhin and his wife react to the rape of their daughterin different ways.
PubliclyCount Julidn doesnot hesitateto defendhis daughter'slost honourby seeking
to exactrevengeon the King, althoughthe privatepolitical motiveswhich underscorehis
action are thinly disguised.In contrast to her husband'sapparent support of their
daughter,the CountesscursesFlorindafrom her deathbed,expressingher bitter regret at
the stain on the family's honour causednot only by the rape, but principally by her
husband'streacherousresponseto this. Throughoutthe play, Florindavividly recallsher
love,
Florindaplaces
her.
Bereft
and
mother'scruel condemnationof
of maternalsupport
her trust in her father.Yet Count Juliin's selfishpursuit of Rodrigo, far from redeen-dng
her
his daughterin the eyesof society,actuallyaggravatesher situationand exacerbates
infamy.At the end of the play, Florinda realisesthis cruel irony and the extent of her
father'sbetrayalof his paternalduty to avengeher lost honour.
Gilvez showsa family in crisis: the 'padre flustre' has proved treacherous;the
'madretierna' brutal; the lover inconstant;the uncle heartlessand unforgiving. Family
bonds are ruptured by powerful forces of self-interestand misplacedhonour. Gilvez
from
from
destroyed
broken
family
without,
corrupted
this
and
within
makes
unit,
tragedy
the
the
end
of
at
the
turmoil
the
explicit
made
connection
a
represent
of
nation,
Count
defiant
her
Spain
Florinda
act
of
suicide.
through
to
comes personify
when
Juliin's dishonestdefenceof his daughteris an imageof the treacheryof those subjects
The
bid
tyrant
in
rejectionof
their
Moors
ruler.
to
the
overthrow
who conspirewith
a
Florinda's sufferingby Tulga, the Countessand Pelayorepresentsthe patriotic attitude
kin
in
kith
fight
to
their
to
order
and
the
the
are
prepared
populationwho
of
remainderof
be
believe
to
they
superior.
upholdconceptsof nationhoodandmonarchywhich
If this broken family comesto symbolisea divided and crumblingnation, then
Gilvez also ensuresthat private and public morality are intertwined symbolically.
Rodrigo personifiesthe origin of this civil war. I-Iis recklessand selfish abuseof the
Florinda's
in
him
invested
not
only
as sovereignprecipitates
power and authority
downfall, but also the Moorish invasion.Pelayois his naturaladversaryand personifies
G61vez
just
the
loyalty
to
shows
honesty
cause.
heroic
bravery,
a
the
and
virtues of
devastatingnationalconsequences
of a tyrannicalmonarchwhose social statusaffords
his
to
lusts
he
sacrifice
and
him the power to rapethe woman
after without compunction
is
His
tyranny
not
his
the
without
for
in
cause.
are
actions
own
civil
which
subjects a
war
bleak
Florinda
a
human
note with
on
dreadful
ends
is
it
but
cost, and
end,
nor
without a
102
both villain and victim dead. However, Florinda is elevatedto the level of national
heroinewhose personaltragedy servesas a reminderof the perniciouseffects of the
abuseof power andauthority.By connectingfamily andnation,private andpublic in the
minds of the spectators,Gilvez ensuresthat the tyrannical oppressionand abuseof
womenby menis viewedin its broadestcontextandassumes
nationalsignificance.
It is clear that Gilvez drew on traditional modelsof tragedy in the writing of
Florinda. Her creation of a tragic protagonist and situation modelled on Aristotelian
conventions matched with dilemmas between civic duty and personal feeling, as found in
Corneille, testify to her engagement with classical theories of tragedy. However, the
complex web of familial relations central to this work also owes something to the
sentimental dramas of Gffivezs own age. New models of drama, including Gilvez's El
egoista, placed family conflict at the heart of their dynamic and their didacticism. In this
tragedy, Gilvez exploits the trope of the disintegration of the family as a metaphor for
civil discord and national catastrophe. Florinda is a national tragedy, but it is also a
family drama. Gilvez's interweaving of these dramatic strands is indicative of her
experimental dramaturgy which seeksto engagewith both establishedand novel models
of tragic drama.
Floyinda and the work of Gilvez's Contemporaries and Successors
Although Gilvez's engagement
with this subjectmatterwasuniqueamongcontemporary
dramatists,a comparisonbetweenFlorinda and two contemporarypoetic treatmentsof
the narrativeis illuminating.Leandro Fernindez de Moratin's sonnet'Rodrigo', while
death
ignominious
Rodrigo,
describes
figure
Florinda,
the
of
the
not engagingwith
of
28
de
Cadalso's
'Carta
Gilvez's
interesting
tragedy.
parallel with
which suggestsan
Florindaa su padreel condedon JuliAn,despudsde su desgracia',quite differentin spirit
29
Florinda.
has
been
It
further
interesting
from Gilvezs work, offers a
with
comparison
noted that the poem:
bears an obvious relationship, in form and feminine sentimentality,to the
Eke
heroines
Clarissa
its
languid
and
eighteenth-century
epistolary novel with
Julie. Florinda, Eke these figures, prefers tearfid affliction to action, and
3Q
is
Cadalso'sRodrigo a perfectLovelace.
However the agency which Gilvez accords to Florinda distinguishesher tragic
is
the
heroine.
Each
from
power which
Cadalso's
of
aware
character
protagonist
poetic
103
not only permits the King to rape, but also protectshim from his avengersand which
ensureshe will go unpunishedfor the original crime and will be able to repeatit with
impunity. Like Gilvez's tragic protagonist,Cadalso'sFlorinda cravesrevengeon the
manwho rapedher, 'Venganza,si, venganzarepetia,/y al cielo ya la tierra la pedia'
(170-171).She confessesshe wantedto kill Rodrigo herself, 'Quise matar al Rey con
estasmanos'(178). Later the extentof her brutalisationby him and her subsequent
need
to be avengedare madeobvious.Sheplansto bait him to his deathby arousinghis sexual
interest,'Se flegaseimpaciente/ al pechoa quiencreiaconquistado,/ con un pufial lavar
en sutorpeza/ la manchaderramadaen mi flaqueza'(187-190).Yet sheknowsthis to be
impossiblebecause,'solo puedecastigarcoronas/ quienmanejalos astrosy las zonas'
(195-196).That given,shehaslittle choicebut to turn the daggeron herself
The desperationandresignationwhich characterises
Cadalso'sFlorindaprovides
the clearest distinction between his literary creation and that of Gilvez, whose
protagonistultimatelyregardssuicideas an honourablealternativeto revenge,and as an
activechoice.Cadalso,perhapstaking inspirationmore directly from the Spanishballads,
which more readily dealt with the historical topic of the loss of Spain, points up
Florinda's innocenceand the sensein which she should be regardedas a victim by
stressingthe role of fate or HeaverL31Cadalso,it has been observed,ensuresthat
Florinda, 'resulta la victima no s6lo de las perversasintencionesde Rodrigo, sino
3'
1
de
los
desmaye
tambi6n
cuandoquiereresistir. However,
cielosque permitenque se
Gilvez representsFlorinda as a tragic heroine, accordedagencyand choice, whose
partial responsibilityfor her reversalof fortune,pride, vengeanceandultimatepatriotism
constitutethe elementsof a complextragic trajectory.
Gilvez's innovations in Florinda themselvesformed part of the ongoing
modulation and transformationof this powerful national myth, and there is some
evidenceto suggestthat Gilvez's revisionsand nuancesin the narrativeimpactedon
did
been
has
dramatists.
It
that
they
the
asserted
although
severalof
next generationof
Antonio
Gil
Florinda
for
their
subject
matter,
their
with
not cite
engagement
asa source
y Zirate and the Duque de Rivas were directly influencedby the originality of her
dramatic
invention
historical
incident
elementswhich
of
certain
perspectiveon
and
Pelayo,
Rodrigo
her
bring
Florinda,
to the
than
that
tragedy
or
to
the
of
rather
enabled
of
Spanishtheatrefor the first time.33In neglectingto acknowledgeany debt to Gdlvez,the
104
significanceof her contributionto this major Spanishliterary themehasbeenpersistently
underestimated,
evenignored.
Conclusions
Gilvez exploited the literary heritageof which Florinda formed part, fleshingout the
bare bones of historical and literary accountsand thereby challengingthe received
understandingof the nature and significanceof the Moorish Conquest.In creatingher
tragedy, Gilvez manipulatedthe familiarity of the audience,both with the historical
eventsshe dramatisedand the personalitieswhich had providedthe inspirationfor her
characters,to challengethe primacy of Rodrigo, denyinghim the role of tragic hero,
utilising insteadthe disintegrationof his characterto elevateFlorinda to the statusof
tragic heroine.
However, Gilvez's uncompromisingcharacterisationof Rodrigo's cruelty and
depiction of his misrule suggest that the author was not merely interested in countering
perceptions of sexual difference and revising myths. The condemnation of courtly
corruption, the association of the fall of Spain with the depravity of the monarch and the
transformation of Florinda's act of suicide from the consequenceof disgrace to an act of
patriotic virtue combine to suggest that this work was intended to serve as a powerful
family
drama.
GAIvez's
it
is
but
is
Florinda
tragedy
a
also
political critique.
a national
interweaving of these dramatic strandsis indicative of her commitment to experiment and
drama.
both
tragic
to
ability
engagewith
establishedand novel models of
105
1 Maria Rosa Gilvez de Cabrera,Florinda. Tragedia
en tres actos, in Obras poiticas, U,
pp.57-130. See Criado y Dominguez, Literatas espafiolas, p. 102; Cejador y Frauca,
Historia, p.312, and Grinstein,Dramaturgas, pp.353 for detailsof the manuscriptcopy of the
play. No performanceof Florinda is recordedin Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera. However,
Grinsteincontendsthat manuscriptevidence(the frontispiecebearsthe words 'afto de 1802'
and the initials 'T' and 'C') suggestthat the play was performed in the Cruz in 1802, see
Grinstein, Dramaturgas, p.353. In their Cartelera, Andioc and Coulon refer to the lack of
archival material correspondingto certain dates during the 1802-1803 theatrical year and
acknowledgethe possibility that a number of plays performed during this period will go
unrecordedin their catalogue.Contemporarycritical reactionto the play is restrictedto a sole
observationthat Florinda andBlanca de Rossi, 'honran por si solasmis que suficientemente
nuestroPamaso', seeMemorial literatio, IV. 35 (1805), p.381. This complimentaryremark
may well be ironic given that this article appearedas a responseto Wvez's criticism of the
unfavourableperformancereview of Las esclavasamazonas.
2 Ram6nMen6ndezPidal, El ReyRodrigo la literatura, Madrid, 1924, discussesGilvezs
en
tragedy in comparisonwith other literary treatmentsof the history of Rodrigo in Spain and
Europe. Whitaker treatsFlorinda in comparisonwith GAlvez's other writing in two studies,
Grinstein,
See
Premiere'.
"taker,
Sisters',
'An
Enlightened
'Clarissa's
also
and
see
Dramaturgas, pp. 173-190, and Lewis, Feminine Discourse and Subjectivity, pp.195-205,
for brief analysisof the play.
3 Men6ndezPidal, El ReyRodrigo,
historical
date
discussion
fullest
the
to
and
the
of
provides
literary accountsof the 'p6rdida de Espafta' and the legend of Rodrigo and, by extension,
Florinda.
4 SeeKitts, Debate on Woman.
5Ibid., pp.17-18.
6Ibid.
7 SeeMen6ndezPidal, El ReyRodrigo, pp.120-136.
8Ibid. Men6ndezPidal identifies French,Italian, Germanand English poetry and plays which
treat this subjectmatter. SeealsoLuis F. Diaz Larios, 'De la 6pica clAsica.al poemanarrativo
),
Guillermo
(ed.
Carnero,
MY,
Siglo
8.
la
literatura
de
in
Histotia
espailola.
rominfico'
Madridý 1996,pp.509-523 (pp.516-519).
9 MendndezPidal, El ReyRodrigo, p. 144.
10As Andioc notes, the depiction of a king whose tyrannical behaviour contributed to the
del
la
idea
been
'poco
have
invasion
con
monarcaque
Moorish
compatible
and conquestmust
386.
Teatro,
Andioc,
borb6nico'.
de
p.
trataba acreditarel absolutismo
" Ibid.
dramatic
legend
12LuzAnhadcommented
familiar
Rodrigo
as
subject
on thesuitabilityof the
matter.Luzin, Lapoitica, p.455.
13Thework of her mostprominentmalecontemporaries
tendedto focuson the themeof the
Reconquest:GasparMelchor de Jovellanos,Munuza, Madrid, 1792; GasparZavala y
Zamora,Arag6n restauradopor el valor de sus hUos,n.p. n.d. [1790]; Manuel Jos6
Quintana,Pelayo,Madrid,1805.
106
14The action opens on the battlefield by the River Guadalete
with the presumedvictory of
King Rodrigo and the Visigoths over GeneralTarif and the Moors. His loyal warriors Pelayo
and Tulga suspect that Bishop Opas of Toledo and Count Juliin, Florinda's Father, have
aided the Moors in order to avengeRodrigo's rape of Florinda. Egerico, secret confidant of
the Bishop, gains Rodrigo's confidenceand urgesthe King to pursue his lustful desire.Thus
Florinda is taken ftom Pelayo'stent and brought beforeRodrigo. When sherejectshis offer to
becomehis mistress,he ordersher imprisonmentin the Royal tent. Egerico informs Florinda
that Bishop Opas and his supporters plan to usurp Rodrigo in revenge for her rape and
demonstrateshis own loyalty to her causeby arrangingfor her to seePelayo,a meetingwhich
opens Act H. Although reluctant to renew their relationship as lovers, Pelayo pledges to
he
in
her
kill
his
Florinda's
Tulga's
the
to
chances
secure
upon
release.
niece when
attempt
Royal tent is prevented by Rodrigo's timely intervention. Rodrigo subsequentlyagrees to
Tulga's advice to releaseFlorinda, but this is halted by news that the Visigoth troops have
mutinied against Rodrigo, followed by Pelayo's announcementthat Tarif has proposed a
ceasefire.Egerico seizes the opportunity to persuadeRodrigo that with the enemy clearly
defeatedand the Visigoths victorious, he need not abandonhis passionfor Florinda. Having
beenpersuadedby Egerico that the battle is effectively won, Rodrigo rejectsTarif's offer of a
peacetreaty and the call to arms is renewed.In the first sceneof Act III Rodrigo learnsof the
Bishop's treachery and the ongoing mutiny of his troops, but resolvesto continue fighting
his
have
been
by
loyal.
Believing
to
the
those
prompted
revolt
alongside
soldiers who remain
lives
longer
ftee
he
her
Florinda,
to
caring
she
whether
refusal
release,apparentlyno
permits
it
is
her
fate
dies.
Florinda
this
only when
stage
and
at
or
appearsequally ambivalentabout
her
forget
is
her
father
is
the
to
that
of
compatriots
sufferings
she reunitedwith
she persuaded
harbours
is
for
her
the
desire
Her
she
to
although
and remember
vengeance renewed,
own.
knowledgethat Pelayoand his men will perish before the Moorish victory and hers is certain.
In the eighth scene the pair meet and Pelayo's passionatedefence of his country and
is
defeat
impending
Spanish
in
be
he
believes
Florinda's
the
to
part
condemnationof what
from
death,
him
Pelayo
desire
herself
both
by
her
to
to
protect
and
matched
ability exculpate
her
before
Rodrigo
believe
ignorant
to
and
quitting
refusesto
of the plot overthrow
she was
By
down
he
hatred
her
the
centuries.
echoing the
the
arouse
name will
presence, predicts
dying words of the Countess,Pelayo's cruel prophecyacts as a brake to Florinda's vengeance
by
her
her.
Overwhelmed
her
father
has
deceived
senseof guilt and need to
and she realises
be both punished and releasedfrom further torment, she contemplatessuicide. With the
Moors' victory and the reports of Rodrigo's death, she kills herself and as she dies declares
her father a traitor to his country.
15Julia Bordiga Grinstein has argued that Florinda's actions and ideas are manipulatedby
here
is
It
164.
(men)
her.
Grinstein,
Dramaturgas
contention
p.
my
espailolas,
those
around
that, on the contrary, GWvez accords Florinda a sense of agency, self-reflection and
independenceof will which contrastmarkedlywith her physical confinementand constriction.
"5 71beunifies of time and place are also observed.Gilvez states, 'La acci6n empieza al
Act
One
57.
the
takes
Florinda,
GAlvez,
place
on
p.
amanecery conduye a media noche',
battlefield, Act Two in the Royal Tent and Act Three in the Visigoth Camp, As before,
Uvez employsthe romanceheroico verseform throughout:the assonanceis e-a in Act One;
a-o in Act Two; e-o in Act Three.
17The authentic name Florinda was replacedby a hispanicisedversion of the Arabic, 'La
Caba', which translatedinto Spanishas 'mala muier'. For a discussionof the importanceof
Luna's text in the developmentof the Rodrigo legend,seeMen6ndezPidal, El Rey Rodrigo,
pp. 126-129.
107
18Abulc6cim
was later discredited as a reliable historical source and many authors of later
generationscited Luna's text only to denigrateit. Nonetheless,their own writings reveal they
were influencedby the contentsof a work consideredto be more fiction than fact. Men6ndez
Pidal suggeststhat any writer intending to engagewith this subject matter would not have
failed to consult this text which by the eighteenthcentury had reachedits seventhedition, a
fact he usesto prove its enduringpopularity and appeal.Ibid., p. 129.
19 Men6ndez Pidal has
contended that GOvez's dramatic achievement in Florinda is
diminishedthrough the lack of sympathyshedemonstratestowards the character,Ta tragedia
la
forma
6xito
fuerza
le
duda
Pero
tanto
el
estA sentida con
sin
aminoraron
y novedad.
impopular neoclLica como el no haber sabido mirar a su heroina con cjos de compasiva
temura. Florinda, victima de espantosasinjusticias ajenas,no es de nadie comprendida;hasta
su madre muri6 maldici6ndola.Asi que el espectadorde la tragedia de Maria Rosa GAlvez
compadecea la hija de don Juli6n muchisimo mis que la autora,que en estedramada una de
tantaspruebasde la sequedadafectivacaracteristicade tantaspoetisas.' Ibid., p. 167.
20SeeWhitaker, 'Clarissa's sisters', for discussionof the topos of the isolatedfemalefigure
a
in GAlvez'stheatre.
21 See Whitaker, 'Absent Mother, Mad Daughter, for a discussion of the distinctive
deathbed
invention
in
Gilvez's
Ile
the
prediction
of
representationsof motherhood
oeuvre.
in Florinda may derive from earlier pseudo-historiesand the subsequentdramasinspired by
them which implicated the Countessin the courseof events.Chroniclesdating from before
the thirteenth century describedhow both mother and daughterwere raped by the King. In
PedroBobn's, Historla de don Servandro,obispo de Orense,of 1153,Rodrigo seducedboth
the CountessFandina, Florinda's Mother, and Florinda, who bore him a son, Alterico. The
in
Pellicer
but
Jos6
first,
fabrication
from
the
text
the
copied
chronicle was clearly a
when
1646, he ensuredthat the descriptionof the 'double seduction' enjoyedrenewedcirculation.
Certain later histories, such as JuMn. del Castillo's Historla de los reyes Godos of 1582,
de
Britto
it
Fray
Bernardo
However,
'double
who
to
to
the
was
continued refer
seduction'.
fully developedthe idea in his Segundaparle da Monarchia Lusytana, Lisbon, 1609. He
being
in
love
Countess
blamed
instead
both
the
Rodrigo
Florinda
with
who,
absolved
and
and
the King herself, createdan elaborateplan to seduceRodrigo by trickery. Having ensuredthe
King was informed of Florinda's desire for him, the Countessintended to substitute her
daughterin the royal bed. Florinda,remainedignorant of the entire schemeand innocent of
himself
forced
Florinda.
frustrated
Rodrigo
lust.
The
on
spontaneously
plans were
when
any
The Countessthen urged her daughterto solicit her father's help to avengeher honour. In
Crist6bal Lozano's DaWd perseguido of 1661, the Countesssuccessfully substituted her
daughterfor a rendezvouswith the King before Florinda was eventually raped by him. See
Men6ndez Pidal, El Rey Rodfigo, Chapters 11-14 for a fuller account of the literary
developmentof the rape of Florinda and her mother and the possibleinfluence of thesetexts
on G;Uvez's tragedy.
22 See Chapter Seven below for a discussionof Gilvez's engagementwith the theme of
revengein Amn6n.
23 Men6ndez Pidal, El Rey Rodfigo, notes 'El rey, se& Maria Rosa Uvez, aparece
bastante despreciable; victima de su traidor conseJeroEgerico, no cesa de perseguir
fiene
favor
S61o
jamds
6sta
en
su
Florinda,
un
su
amor.
consinti6
aunque
violentamentea
buen deseoirrealizable, "iAh si hubiesepodido mi diadema/ De Florinda ceffir la hermosa
frente"', p. 166. He also suggeststhat early nineteenth-centuryplaywrights and poets who
last
Visigoth
King
In
GAIvez.
the
from
that
historical
order
this
cue
adaptedthese
eventstook
108
be rehabilitated,they embracedthe idea of the marriagebetweenRodrigo and Florinda and he
was permitted a divorce from his wife, "Los rominficos ingleses,con m6s simpatiapor el rey,
harAnposible el divorcio de Egilona que Maria Rosa GAlvezpens6por primera vez. Para la
poefisa espafiola,Rodrigo no merece disponer de esa noble reparaci6n. Esti envilecido.'
Ibid., p. 166.
24Men6ndezPidal has traced the depiction Rodrigo's lascivious
nature back to Miguel de
of
Luna's Abulcdcim. In this version of events, 'el heroico Rodrigo ideado,por Corral se
convierteahora en un sanguinario,miedoso,entregadoa toda clase de vicios, mayormentea
los camales' (p. 126), a description which closely resembles Gilvez's dramatic creation.
Furthermore,echoingthe attitude which Tulga and, to a certainextent,Pelayoexýibit towards
the king, Men6ndez Pidal observes that in Luna's account, Ia conducta de Rodrigo es
juzgada pero no condenada,pues actu6 dentro de las prerrogativasreales' (pp.181-182), a
belief echoedin Tulga's words inNorinda
25'Pero Maria Rosa CAvez dignifica ademis por su cuentaa Florinda, haci6ndolaarnadade
Pelayo.' Men6ndezPidal, El ReyRodrigo, p. 167.
26On Comelian tension in
Glendinnirig,
A Literary
tragedy,
see
eighteenth-centurynational
History of Spain, p.97.
27 See Whitaker, 'Clarissa's Sisters'; idem., 'An Enlightened Prerniere', Grinstein,
Dramaturgas, pp.173-190; Lewis, FeminineDiscourse and SubjectiWty,pp. 195-205.
28 'Rodrigo',
de
Fermindez
Moratin,
Leandro
in
de
D.
Obras
D.
Nicoltis
y
reproduced
Madrid, 1918, p. 597. Men6ndez Pidal has suggestedthat Moratin's depiction of the
destruction of the Visigoth camp by fire may derive from the plot of Gilvez's play, 'Ese
incendiono recuerdohaberlovisto en nadie antesque en la obra de Ggvez. ' Men6ndezPidal,
El ReyRodrigo, p. 168.
29joS6 Cadalso,'Carta de Florinda su padre el CondeD. Juliin despu6sde su desgracia',
a
0brapoitica, Rogelio ReyesCano(ed.), Cadiz, 1993,pp.45-51.
30RussellP. Sebold,Colonel Don Josj Cadalso,New York, 1971, p. 66.
31SeeRam6nMen6ndezPidal, Flor nuevade romancesviejos, BuenosAires, 1938.
32SeeN. Glendinning,Viday
obra de Cadalso,Madrid, 1962,pp.36,180 note 20.
33Men6ndezPidal assertsthat Antonio Gil y Zaratein his five act tragedyRodrigo, 1825, and
the Duque de Rivas in his poem 'Florinda', Paris, 1834, deliberatelyfOed to attribute the
believes
He
Gilvez's
that rather than associate
their
to
play.
genesisof
works a reading of
their writings with the work of a female dramatist of little repute, they preferred to
be
Jovellanos
literary
debts
to
such
and
their
to
as
prestigious
perceived
acknowledge
writers
Quintana, despitethe fact that the dramatic focus of the plays written by these dramatists,
fall
Spain.
Consequently,
GSIvez,
Reconquest
the
of
the
not
and
contemporariesof
was
Gilvez! s play was not acknowledgedas the legitimate source either of the writings of Gil y
Zarate and the Duque de Rivas, or of the many Spanish,English and German works which
it
is
link
documentary
them,
in
inspired.
to
In
only through
they turn
evidence
the absenceof
fol.lowing Men6ndezPidal's comparisonof plot details and charactertraits in works which
depicted Rodrigo and Florinda after 1804 and Gilveis play that the similarities between
T76finda and subsequentworks becomeobvious.SeealsoDiaz Larios, 'De la 6pica clisica al
poemanarrativo rominfico', pp.517-518.
109
CHAFrER
SEVEN
BLANc, 4 DE Rossi
In formal and generic terms there are continuities between Blanca de Rossi and
Florinda, the work which preceded it in volume two of the Obras poilicas. 1
Experiments in characterisation and the exploitation of classical models and new literary
idioms are central to the construction of this five-act tragedy, the longest in Gilvezs
tragic oeuvre. In Blanca de Rossi there are also echoes of certain thematic
preoccupations which the author explores in Florinda: the act of rape, the act of suicide
2
in
differs
GAlvez's
However,
these
themes
treatment
the
threat
to
of
and
civic society.
subtleand significantwaysin this tragedy,sincerapeexistsonly asa threat andthere are
two suicideswhich are accordedvery differentmotivationsandmeanings.
The Figure of Bianca de' Rossi: Historical Sources and Literary Antecedents
Blanca de Rossi is set in the time of the Crusades in Bassano, Italy. Given Gilvez's
literary cosmopolitanism, it is unsurprising that she should turn to Medieval subject
importance
the
highlighted
LuzAn
the
in
of
this
tragedy.
ongoing
the
creation of
matter
likewise
1751
de
Paris
literarias
in
his
in
Memorias
Spain
and
of
values of chivalry
Jovellanos' speech of entry to the Real Academia de la Historia of February 1780 was
3
More
there
for
was a revival
that
generally,
the
period.
of
replete with admiration
values
in
Europe
literature
the
the
history,
interest
in
Medieval
of
at
rest
and
art, architecture
of
turn of the century.4
However, GOvez's interest in the Bianca narrative must surely have been
I
Volume
XVI
Discurso
Mujeres',
las
de
in
his
of
'Defensa
by
of
Feij6o,
stimulated
who,
'mujeres
had
(1726),
Critico
Universal
of
valerosas':
Teatro
examples
the
cited among
de
despuds
Porta,
de
capitin paduano,que
Una Blanca de Rossi,mujer Bautista
la
de
Marca
Bassano,
la
en.
defendervalerosamente,
puestasobreel.muro, plaza
Trevisana,siendoluego cogidala plazapor traici6n,y presoy muerto su.marido
brutales
los
impetus
por el tirano Ezelino,no teniendootro arbitrio para resistir
de estefurioso, enamoradode subelleza,searrqJ6por unaventana;pero despuds
de curada, y convalecida(acaso contra su. intenci6n) del golpe, padeciendo
la
fuerza,
la
de
bArbaro
satisfizo
de
debaJode la. opresi6n aquel
el oprobrio
la
fe
de
el
en
la
quitindose
vida
de
dolor
conjugal,
su.
constancia
y
amargura su.
5
habia
de
abierto.
efecto
este
para
mismosepulcro su.marido,que
110
The most striking features of Gilvez's tragedy are present in kernel in this short
historical sketch: the setting in the main squareof Bassano,a city under siegeby a
political and sexualtyrant; Blanca'sbeauty,virtue and fidelity; her heroic defenceof the
6
her
death.
the
city and mannerof
self-authored
In much the sameway that the legend of Florinda and Rodrigo occupiedan
important place in the Spanish literary canon, so Bianca's heroic defence of Bassano
captured the Italian literary imagination and fuelled a series of fictional narratives, not
least because of the unusual and virtuous manner of her suicide.7 Pierantonio
Meneghelli's five-act tragedy, Bianca de'Rossi of 1798, has been identified as one of the
most significant treatments of the Bianca narrative in late eighteenth-century Italian
drama.8 Although significantly different in plot and characterisation, Meneghelli's work
offers an interesting comparison with Gilvez's tragedy in respect of the visual
appearanceof the theatre: the single stage setting, 'a palace courtyard in which a temple
is situated, its doors open to reveal a sepulcher', is echoed in the 'Templo magnifico a la
derecha con entrada practicable' which provides the stage set for Act I in Blanca de
Rossi.9 As in Gilvez's tragedy, the action in Meneghelli's play moves into the temple and
finally alongside the tombs.
A further significant comparison might be drawn between another Italian
treatment of the narrative, a five act ballo tragico, performed at the Teatro San
Benedetto,Venicein 1793.'o Although this work is not known to havebeenperformed
in Madrid during Gilvez's lifetime, there are someremarkablecoincidencesin the visual
in
details
tellingly,
the
of the plots and action
conceptionof
stageset,and,perhapsmore
betweenthis unusualtragic pieceand Gilvez's tragedy:Act I is set within the city walls
in
Act
IV
Blanca's
in
in
III
in
Act
Bazano;
Act
II
the
gallery;
great
of
a room a palace;
during
helmet
Bianca's
dislodges
in
Act
V
Ezzelino
a sword-fight;
the
room;
cemetery;
Ezzelino offers to exchangethe freedom of Bassanofor Bianca's hand in marriage;
Ezzelino'srape of Biancais avertedthrough Battista's surprisearrival through a secret
door in her room; Bianca'ssuicidetakesplaceon stage;a vision of the ghost of Battista
final
is
This
fife
his
the
Ezzelino
the
act
of
suicide
piece.
to take
end of
at
prompts
own
Ezzelino
torment,
in
Meneghelli's
remorse
and
suffered
although
play,
significant,since
he did not die."
Although Gilvez may have mined a rich seam of dramatic precedentin her
III
the first Spanishwriter to
engagement
with the figure of Bianca,shewas, nevertheless,
dramatisethis particularnarrative.The themesof the play were recognisablypart of the
tragic repertoire.Femalevirtue persecutedby male sexualtyranny, and civic society
threatenedby despotism,were two often intertwinedthematicconstantsof classicising
tragedyin Spain, asexemplifiedby Montiano's Virginia andMoratin's Lucrecia, among
others.The historicalaccountof Blancawas well suitedto the explorationof this theme:
tragic ingredients,in a medieval
cited asan exampleby Feij6o, it containedthe necessary
setting,which allowed for imaginativemise en scMe and the inclusion of elementsof
currentlyfashionableliterary genres.
Visual Appeal: Incident, Tableaux and the Gothic
Blanca de Rossi is more replete with incident than many of Gilvez's other tragedies.12
However, on-stage activity is not spread evenly throughout the play, but is concentrated
in the first and final acts. In Act 1, in which the resistance of the citizens of Bazano is
finally overcome, the accent is on military manoeuvres. These feature in all but the first
scene, and are supplementedby offstage skirmishes, as indicated by the sound effects.
The strong visual appeal of Act I fies in the historicising colour of the co-ordinated
display of military armour and weaponry. However, it is significant that the only military
combat enacted on stage during Act I is the sword fight between Blanca and Leopoldo
(l, viii). Thus at the outset Blanca's active participation in the defence of Bazano and her
heroic bravery are foregrounded.
Blanca's active intervention to save the fife of her father (l, iii), is echoed in her
later intervention on behalf of the nobles of Bazano when Acciolino threatens to execute
13
incident
in
(III,
the middle
This
them
of
visual
V).
scene marks a significant moment
three acts, which are otherwise based on a series of dialogues. However, stage tableaux
take on renewed importance in the final act, in which plans to entrap Acciolino reach
fruition, while Blanca takes her own life in a visually arresting fashion, The balance
between spectacle and rhetoric in this tragedy is part of the complex fusion of modem
is
feature
dramatic
devices
a
marked
of
structures which
aesthetic
and traditional
Gffivez's tragic dramaturgy.
Such experimental fusions are also apparent in the stage setting and decor of
Blanca de Rossi. In that all five acts take place in the city of Bazano, Gilvez; fulfils the
for
the
but
the
convention
visual
of
parameters
stretches
requirement of unity of place,
112
impact and symbolic purposes. The comparatively detailed stage directions and
instructionsfor Blanca de Rossi indicate GAlvez'sambitiousconceptionof the visual
appearanceof the tragedy, and may reflect the influence of operatic and balletic
14
in
imaginative
her
Bianca
representations
of the
narrativeon
vision the play.
The stage set for Act I, the main squarein Bazano,with the temple in the
foregroundand the burning city walls in the background,servesnot only to establisha
civic identity but also a sense of imminent threat. However, during this act and
throughout the tragedy, Gilvez uses the temple to create a symbolic link between
Blancaand Bazano.The Temple,the sceneof Blanca'smarriageto Bautista,becomes
the site of Acciolino's revengefor her rejectionof his offer of marriage,prior to the start
of the action,and, at the outset,he refusesto respectthe right of the citizensof Bazano
to seekasylumthere.His vow to razethe building to the ground,an attemptto weaken
the will of the surviving citizens,is also a metaphoricalthreat to the sacredbonds of
Blanca'smarriageandher spirit. In the final act of the play, the Templetakeson its full
symbolicmeaning,whenboth BlancaandAcciolino comn-ýtsuicidethere.
Act II is locatedin Blanca'sprivate room in Genaro'spalace.Directionsfor the
back.
the
indicating
doors
and
one
at
off at either side
stageset are very simple,merely
Theseprove crucial in aiding understandingof the geographyof the palacebeyond,
is
door
the
to the
is
Perhaps
the
most significant
which alludedto on severaloccasions.
left which leadsdown to the RossiPantheonbeneaththe Temple,Initially this servesto
he
husband
her
in
to
Blanca,
seeks
terms,
when
connect
physical and psychological
loyal
ftiends
Bautista's
is
door
it
Later,
are
through
the
tombs.
which
refugeamongstthe
brought to meetwith him and through which he himselfmakesa surpriseentry in order
to defendBlancafrom Acciolino's lustful advances.
It becomesclear in the secondact that Genaro also perceivesa strong fink
betweenthe invasionof his spaceandthe threatto his personandthe city's civic values.
Thus the plansto overthrowAcciolino (II, v) are spurredby the victor's colonisationof
Genaro'spalacehome:
Estenüsmopalacioseräel sitio
Quele sirvade tumba;61por albergue
Lo ha elegidoen nÜoprobio:en il perezca(II, v)
The settingfor Act III makethis symbolicresonanceof the decortransparent.The action
is
'fluminado,
de
Genaro'
la
de
y adornado
in
'un
which
takesplace
casa
salonmagnifico
113
de variostrofeos, paracelebrarla victoria de Acciolino', thus symbolisinghis invasionof
the city in the domesticarchitectureitself More importantly,in Act IV the audienceis
aware that Acciolino's threateningpresenceis in close proximity to the ostensibly
intimate and secureprivate spaceof Blanca's room, which he ultimately transgresses
(IV, iii).
The manyreferencesandallusionsto death,vaultsandtombsthroughoutthe play
might suggest a certain inevitability about the location of Act V in the Rossi Pantheon.
Nevertheless,the stage setting is powerful in imaginative conception. Gilve; es directions
are substantialand details point to the tragic denouement.The lighting is dim, 'La escena
no tiene mis luz que la de una limpara', creating a hushed, deathly atmosphere.
Bautista's arms and cloak are placed at the foot of his tomb, a poignant reminder for the
audience of his heroic last battle and death, and a visual and tactile connection between
dead husband and grieving wife. All around, tombs bearing inscriptions of the Rossi
name serve as a reminder of Blanca and Bautista's illustrious past, but it is in death that
Gilvez accords Blanca a renewed elevation. The striking and unusual manner of the
suicide comes as a surprise, and to allow the moment maximum visual and emotional
resonance, Gilvez indicates in the stage directions that Blanca's posture in death,
Felicia's horror and Acciolino's confusion are suspendedas a tableau at the end of the
scene(V, vi).
This final scene is the clearest indication of how much GAlvez's scenography
"
dungeonThe
Gothic.
known
literary
the
to
the
arched,
as
owed
emergent
mode now
like architecture of the vault, the gloomy atmosphere illuminated by a single light, the
bloodstained armour and the open tomb, are all recognisable props in the imaginative
in
Spanish
fiction.
Gothic
Although
poetry, the
present
obviously
perhaps most
worlds of
Gothic had made an impression on Spanish drama in translations from celebrated French
16
de
Rossi,
indigenous
Blanca
Gilvez's
Furthermore,
to
the
of
appearance
works.
prior
Spanish dramatic models of Gothic had been developed, most notably Gaspar Zavala y
Zamora's, El amor constante, o la holandesa, and El Duque de Viseo, Quintana's
17
Blanca's
S
Castle
7he
Lewis'
Matthew
suicide, which constitutes
PeCtre.
adaptation of
the heart of the action and interest, and her measured, heightened discourse as she
been
have
designed
death,
for
her
in
also
may
own
approachesthe tomb order to prepare
in
Spanish
1790s
the
the
Juliet,
Romeo
stage
reached
which
as a conscious echo of
and
18
by
Ducis.
Jean-Frangois
via the adaptation
114
However,the closureandintensitycharacteristicof the Gothic doesnot dominate
in this tragedy.Gilvez's depictionof the vault makesan impact primarily becauseof its
contrastwith the open, civic spacesevokedin Act I. Even in Act V, Gilvez makesthe
subterranean
settinga spaceof civic action, as the citizensof Bazanoenterto challenge
Acciolino,andultimatelyto witnesshis suicide.The variety and diversityof setting,from
grandvista to private room and undergroundvault, all of which are both symbolically
testify to Gilvez's expansiveconceptof the unity of place,
andphysicallyinterconnected,
to be emphasised
which allowsthe connectionsbetweencivic andprivatepreoccupations
in physicalterms.
The Gothic flavour of the dramais not confinedto scenography,and is most
intense in Act V, in which death is a powerful and all pervasive presence.The language
of this act is permeated with poetic referencesto light and darkness, as Genaro evokes
'las b6vedas immensas/ De este l6brego sitio' (V, ii). The imagery of death and cadaver,
language
is
frequently
deployed,
Blanca's
also evokes the coldness
and of spirits also
and
does
Gothic
iv-v).
(V,
However,
this
not eclipse the
tombs
register
and silence of
essentiallytragic vocabulary and tone of the speeches,which invoke abstract concepts of
in
final
the
heroism,
act
and
root
to
virtue and
allude classicalmythology and symbolism,
the gravitas of tragedy rather than the sensationalismoften associatedwith the Gothic
the
tragic
tenor
Gothic,
The
the
of
the
essentially
obliterates
never
mode.
colour of
language, and Gilvez's skill in fusing these registers is testament to her ability to expand
the tragic framework to embraceelementsof modem theatrical and literary genres.
Blanca and Acciolino: Tragedy and Conflict
Perhaps the most complex example of this fusion is Gilvez's
characterisation,
The
Acciolino.
Blanca
that
opposition of virtuous and persecuted
and
of
particularly
female protagonist and agressive, sexually predatory male villain was one of the
distinguishing features not only of Gothic fiction, but also of the theatrical genre of
drama
de
Pix6r6court,
type
Guilbert
by
Rend
in
a
of
France
melodrama, as pioneered
'9
In
1800s.
in
the
of
the
Spanish
portrayal
early
the
stage
which enjoyed some successon
20
between
virtue and vice.
Acciolino and Blanca, GMvez presents a similar opposition
Blanca is established at the outset as an exemplum virtutis in her father's soliloquy, in
i).
(1,
I-Iis
/
Hermosura
eulogising
he
her
'virtudes,
y valor'
trumpets
gracias,
which
illustrious
her
the
to
marriage
speech also emphasisesthat she gained status through
115
Bautista:
i0h qudntasveces de mi edad anciana
Apoyo fbiste, gloria, y alegria!
i0h con qubmtoplacer te vi enlacada
Al illustre Bautista, eseguerrero,
Que con su exemplo y su invencible espada
Defiende en estos muros nuestrasvidas! (Ij)
These qualities, bome out in Blanca's actions and epitomised in her fidelity to her
husband,make her a paradigm of the virtuous woman. Earlier dramatic models of female
virtue in Spanishtragedy, most notably Virginia and Hormesinda, had been portrayed as
passive victims whose ultimate fate depended on the agency of men. Gilvez's heroine
breaks this mould, since her beauty, virtue and grace are complementedby valour, which
is shown in action as well as reflected in the admiration of others. By demonstrating her
bravery and military prowess, Gilvez overlays virtue with the heroic and active qualities
more usually associatedwith the male tragic protagonist,
This is accentuated in Acciolino's comparison of Blanca with the mythological
figure of Pallas Athene: 2'
adrniracomoyo de su semblante
La hermosamagestadqueexcedeä Palas(I,viii)
This comparisonis illuminating of Gilvezs projection of her heroine, Athene, the
goddessof wisdom,skiffsand warfarewas generallyrepresentedas 'a womanof severe
beauty,in armour,with the Gorgon'sheadon her shield'22andthus a modelof a female
,
betweenBlancaandthe wider community,and of her heroism
warrior. The associations
and the struggleto defendBazano,are strengthenedby the comparisonwith the patron
goddessof Athens, the protector and championof the city, and of Greek cities in
general.
However, this striking characterisationof Blanca as virtuous warrior heroine
throws into relief the fact that this protagonist,although she possessesthe necessary
elevation,and suffersa reversalof fortune, makesno wrong choice,and thus her tragic
demise is not causedby any recognisableerror. Extreme virtue was the essential
but
in
Aristotelian
fiction
heroines
Gothic
the
and
melodrama,
characteristicof
of
precept,good tragedyshouldnot showabsolutelyvirtuous people'passingfrom good to
bad fortune' since this would not inspire fear or pity, but only outrage.23 Gilvez's
116
in
her
departure
like
in
defirante,
Blanca,
La
Leonora
that
portrayalof
marksa new
of
tragicoeuvreand distinguishesthesetragic heroinesfrom the modelsdefinedin classical
theory.
In order to accordBlancathe full complexityof tragic status,and in someway
the absenceof any personalerror, Gilvez ensuresthat Blanca's moral
counterbalance
goodnessis underconstantthreat from Acciolino andmakesclearhis intentionto force
her to cedeto his sexualdesires,(1,ix). Blanca enduresgreat emotionalsufferingand
loss.From Act I, sceneix through to Act H, sceneii, she suffersin the belief that her
husbandhas been killed, and in Act IV scenevi, she must endurethe actual loss of
Bautistaashe is takenoff to be killed. The pitch andintensityof her anguishreachesnew
heightsin Act IV, sceneviii, when she faints. On recoveringconsciousness
she seems
heroic
dynan-dsm
her
of the
contrast
with
physicallyweakenedwhich makesa poignant
first four acts.Yet her speechis markedwith a new intensityin Act V and thus, evenin
her final speeches,Gilvez ensuresnot only that Blanca speaksin an elevated,idiom,
by
is
her
but
that
eclipsed
never
reason
exploitinga complexabstractvocabulary, also
her distress,evenat the point of her death.24
Gilvez developsBlanca's characterpartly in opposition to the vices and the
aggressionsof Acciolino. To a certain extent, he representsan extreme of violent
despotism,a villain motivatedby a lust for power and for sexualgratification, parallel
desireswhich feed and stimulateeach other. His inherentcapacityfor violenceis first
Roman
Holy
Frederick,
the
from
free
his
Bazano
the
to
of
control
revealedwhen
offer
Emperor,in exchangefor Blanca'shandin marriage,is rejectedby the citizensof the city
he
be
killed.
Later
threatens
he
to
by
herself,
Blanca
the
nobles
and
whereupon orders
Blanca's life and finally has Bautista killed (IVvi). In these scenes,he appearsas
ingeniousandunscrupulousasanyvillain of a melodramaor a Gothicnovel.
However,Gilvez is carefulto ascribemotivationandcomplexityto his character,
his
hints
to
tragic
a
quality
at
the
plot and
which contributesto the verisimilitudeof
long
A
his
in
soliloquy
is
in
suicide.
remorseful
characterwhich most clearly evidence
(III, ii) revealsthe originsnot only of his presentlustful infatuationwith Blanca,but also
his need for military conquest.Earlier in the action it emergesthat, in the past,
Acciolino's more noblerequestfor Blanca'shandwas rejected.He recallsthe impact of
this refusal:
117
Y aunquepor ellaent6ncesdespreciado,
Mas queel amorseresinti6el orgullo,
Puesla d6biIternezaabandonando,
Vol6 i buscarla gloria en.los combates.
I I
...
Suvalor, su fiereza,el aparato
Del aceradoarnes,y hastael cabello
De polvo,y sangrey de sudorbaftado,
Nfi corazonrindidron,no de amores,
Sino de un nuevo ardor en que me abraso,
Que mitigar no puedo, que consume
Nfi pecho de furor desesperado.
Pero yo apagar6su horrible llama,
" pesar del teson con que insensatos
" mi poder se oponen;
This emphasison reversalof fortune, recognitionof and remorsefor personal
error and his final act of suicide indicate that GAlvez'scharacterisationof Acciolino
into
In
these
cannotbe dismissedasa one-dimensional
glimpses
portrait of a villain.
very
a former fife and status,sheattributesa significanceto his characterwhich goesbeyond
that accordedto the other characters.Acciolino's twin desiresfor political and sexual
dominationimpact most obviouslyon Blanca,whoseresistancecreatesthe dynamicat
the centre of the action in this tragedy. Yet Acciolino is more than the instigator of
vicious action, he is himself caught in an emotionaldilemmaand makes a seriesof
choices,and,by extension,errors,which contributenot only to Blanca'sdemisebut also
to his own.
Acciolino's progress and that of Blanca are thus profoundly interconnected, and
in many ways his downfall is a reaction to hers. This is most clear in the final scene,
he
in
deeply
death,
by
Blanca's
the
thrall
traurnatised
the
of
and
visions,
when,
effect of
commits suicide. Where Blanca dies serene,steadfast, courageous and reasoning to the
end, Acciolino turns to death impetuously, desperately and in mental and emotional
turmoil, but expressing deep remorse. In this final scene he is revealed to possessmany
his
downfall
have
features
Gilvez
the
envisaged
as
the
tragic
may
of
of
protagonist, and
a dramatic compensationfor Blanca's lack of error, a sublimated counter-tragedy.
Blanca de Rossi and the Act of Suicide
The double suicide which ends this play is visually and dramaticallyarresting, and
handling
However,
the
fates
of the
the
emphasises parallel
of the two centralcharacters.
118
deathsis of interestgiventhat the act of suicideappearsto be a preoccupationof
volume
11of the Obraspoiticas. In manyways this marks a climax of GAlvez'sexplorationof
this themein her tragic oeuvre. Of the two suicides,it is Blanca's which is the most
complexand significant,and it might be arguedthat in her portrayalof the mannerand
motivationof Blanca's death, GAlvezdraws inspirationfrom her experimentsin other
works. Thus Blanca'sdeathcan be interpretedat onceas defiance,as releaseand as an
act of heroicvirtue, echoingthe suicidesof Sa6l,SafoandFlorinda:it is defiantin that it
prevents Blanca from falling victim to rape by Acciolino and, moreover, it is an act
undertaken in defiance of church doctrine, as formulated with great lucidity by Felicia
(V, v); it is a release from the misery of solitude, inspired by a powerful love; it is
virtuous in that Blanca ensures her fidelity remains unbroken; it is heroic in that it
provokes the self-authored death of the tyrant. In all these ways Blanca's suicide is seen
to be elevated and exemplary, characteristics emphasisedthrough the juxtaposition of
Blanca's death with that of Acciolino the most unexpected, least reasoned, and most
tormented suicide in Gilvez's oeuvre.2'
Minor Characters
The conflict between Acciolino and Blanca lends the play its central tension and dynamic,
since their
relationship
determines the unfolding
action.
Nevertheless,
minor
and
supporting characters are drawn in convincing ways and in some instances are unusual in
GAlvez's tragic writing. Most notable is the character of Genaro, Blanca's father. He is
modelled as a compassionate and concerned father, whose love of and pride in his
daughter is made explicit at the start of the play (Ij).
Gilvez's
This in itself is unusual since
plays often feature inadequate, failed fathers as symbols of enfeebled or corrupt
26 However, Gilvez
patriarchy.
also attributes to this medieval patriarch enlightened
views on the right of children to choose their partners, in remarks which echo debates
which were more often explored in contemporary serious comedy, and which GAIvez
herself tackles in Lafamilia a la moda:27
sabequei mi arbitiro
No esti su coraz6nparaentregarlo:
La voluntad,la inclinacionde Blanca
Sonlibres;si consienteen estelazo,
No seopondri supadre.
119
Another notable feature of this tragedy is that Blanca is not a lone female
character.She benefitsfrom the close friendshipof her maid, Felicia, whose physical
supportis crucial in aiding Blancato commit suicidein Act V. However, her function
within the dramamight bestbe regardedasthat of a foil. Her commonsensediscourseis
a deviceusedto set off the elevationand passionof her mistress,aboveall during the
final act.
Bautista is shown to be a noble, loving husband, who is also heroic and brave.
The citizens of Bazano place their hope in him to overcome Acciolino. However, after
his simulated death in the first act, he is relatively invisible until Act IV, scene
vi, when
he is forced to make an invidious choice between delivering Blanca into Acciolino's
hands, effectively with his blessing, and watching her die. In this scene, his choice
of
abandonmentis testament to his love, but, as Blanca observes,this effectively constitutes
a betrayal of their love and, more crucially, of their duty to defy the tyrant. This not only
serves to further highlight Blanca's singular constancy and valour, but might also be
construed as a deliberate questioning of the nature of male heroism.
Blanca and Bazano
From the opening of the play, Gilvez establishesa series of subtle connections between
Blanca and Bazano which are developed and extended throughout the action. In doing
so, GAlvez emphasisesthat this tragedy is not simply private or domestic, but also
concerns the resistanceof a civic society to the threat of political tyranny. In the first two
scenesof the play, in which both Genaro and Bautista discussthe resistanceof Bazano to
siege, a number of words and images ostensibly used to describe the city, could also
apply to the threat to Blanca's virtue. In Genaro's opening speech,in which he describes
his anxiety for the future of the city in the face of Acciolino's inevitable, imminent
triumph, he speaks of the 'duelo' and 'desgracia' which will be born out of 'tan tristes
circunstancias' (IJ). Furthermore his evocation of 'el valor y la constancia' of the city
(1,H), might be read as an evocation of Blanca's qualities. In this sequenceof speeches,
Genaro prefigures the close metaphorical association of Blanca and Bazano which
remains a constant throughout the drama. Threats to her integrity and virtue are evoked
in parallel with, or as a metaphor for, the integrity of the city:
120
Si humillada
Estaciudad,despojomiserable
Llega i serde un tirano, si de Blanca
La suerteignoro
Acciolino's threatsdeliberatelyuse his desirefor possessionin this metaphorical
sense.In his speech,Bautistainvokesthe personalheroismof Blancain order to rouse
the valour of the citizensof Bazanofor the salvationof the Patria. This is a different
device,metonymy,in which Blanca standsas a figurehead,leading and spurring the
whole of the city, and her physicalinterventionsand willingnessto die for the city in
whichshewasborn reinforcethis association.
Blanca is also placed in the position of token in the struggle for the city.
Acciolinoregardsher asthe mainspoil of war:
Si el que vence,
No logra conseguir con la victoria
EI reposo fefiz de los placeres,
(ii, viii)
ZDe qu6 le sirve el triunfo?
SubsequentlyAcciolino also placesBlanca in the position of ransomfor the besieged
city:
Resuelveen esteinstantesernü esposa,
0 entregode la guerraä los estragos
(III, v)
Estaodiosaciudad.
This multifaceted association of Blanca with the city allows Gilvez to convey a senseof
the importance of civic unity, associating the heroine with the people, and the physical
threat to her virtue to represent a threat to civil society. If any wider political significance
can be drawn from this human tragedy, it is the value of civic unity in the face of
aggression and the spread of Empire. Acciolino has taken advantage of the civil strife
and discord in Bazano to besiegethe city, and it is the threat to Blanca that finally unites
the people to reject the colonising ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperor whose
ambition Acciolino is fulfilling:
NEamadaBlanca
Cumplecon su deber;lidia animosa,
Infundiendoä lastropassu constancia.
A irnitarlavolemos,compaiieros,
Este es el dia de salvar la patria.
121
Conclusions
Blanca de Rossi provides further evidenceof Galvez's awarenessof the possibilities
offeredby new literary and dramatictrendsfor the explorationof tragedy.In this work,
Gilvez examinesthe seeminglyirreconcilableconceptsof female heroism and virtue.
Throughher exploitationof certainfeaturesof Gothic fiction and melodramawithin the
frameworkof a classicisingtragedy, Gilvez depicts Blanca's efforts to preserveher
threatenedchastity in an active and dignified fashion.By stretchingbut not breaking
tragic constants,Gilvez not only createda work with strong visual appeal,but one in
to the gravitasand resonance
whichthe energyof new literary forms could be harnessed
of tragedy, suggestingways in which the portrayal of familiar tragic themes,such as
sexualandpolitical tyranny,might be mademoreimmediateandapposite.
122
' Maria Rosa Gilvez de Cabrera, Blanca de Rossi. Tragedia en cinco actos, in Obras
poiticas, H, pp.131-234. See Criado y Dominguez, Literatas espafiolas, P.102; CeJadory
Frauca,Historia, p.312, and Grinstein, Dramaturgas, p.353, for details of the manuscript
copyof the play.
2 Daniel Whitaker
comparesGilvez's treatment of the theme of rape in Blanca de Rossi,
Horinda andAmn6n, seeWhitaker, 'Clarissa's Sisters', pp.240-248.
' 'la inclinaci6n las
a
armas,el valor, la intrepidez,la buenafe, el suffirniento y el preferir la
muertea la infarnia, virtudes que harin siempre mucha falta a la naci6n que las perdiere',
Ignacio de L=ki, Memorias literarlas de Paris, Madrid, 1751, (pp.303-304) quoted in
Guillermo Camero, Estudios sobre teatro espafiol del siglo XJ1771,
Zaragoza, 1997, p. 141.
'Discurso acad6micopronunciadopor D. GasparMelchor de Jove-Llanosen su recepci6na
la Real Academia de la lEstoria [sobre la necesidadde unir al estudio de la legislaci6nel de
nuestrohistoria]', in Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos,Obras en prosa, Jos6 Caso Gonzilez
(ed.), Madrid, 1969,pp.71-102.
4 Marita Petzoldt McClymonds, 'Bianca deRossi
Contours
Opera:
Ballet,
Play,
of
as
"Modem" I-listorical Tragedy in the 1790s', Comparative Drama, 31 (1997), pp.158-177,
fists a number of the most significant eighteenth-centuryEuropean tragedies based on
Medieval subjectmatter.
5Benito J. Feij6o, Defensade JaMujer. Discurso XP7 del Teatro Critico, Victoria Sau (ed.),
Barcelona,1997,p.32.
6 Ezzelino, (b. April 25 1194-d. Oct 1 1259, Soncino,Lombardy), Italian noble and soldier
(1236-59),
Vicenza
(1226-30,1232-59),
(feudal
Verona
and
who was podestii
mayor) of
Padua (1237-56). A skilled commander and successful intriguer, he expanded and
Roman
Emperor
Holy
by
Italy
his
the
aiding
consolidated power over almost all north-east
Frederick H and the pro-imperial Ghibellines in their struggle againstthe papist party, the
Guelfs. His legendary cruelty is dealt with in Dante's Inferno. ' See 'Ezzelino', Britannica
CD, Version 99 0 1994-1999.EncyclopwdiaBritannica, Inc. See Grinstein, Dramaturgas,
GAlvez's
for
tragedy.
historical
164-165,
the
of
sources
pp.
speculationson
7 Petzoldt McClymonds, 'Bianca deRossi', provides a fascinating account of literary
in
Italy and translatesa piece of
during
1790s
Bianca
the
the
representationsof
narrative
in
'a
described
the
is
death
in
Bianca's
example
as
unique
contemporarycriticism
which
annalsof virtue', (p. 159).
8 Ibid., pp. 164-167. Pierantonio Meneghelli, Bianca de' Rossi. Teatro Moderno, Venice,
1798,XXH.
9Ibid., p. 164
10Bianca de'Rossi ballo tragico. GuiseppeTrafieri designedthe set, GuiseppeFoppa wrote
is
Trafieri's
Of
libretto
scenario
these,
only
the
and Angela Tarchi composedthe music.
into
insight
the
visual appearanceand
Petzoldt
McClymonds'
an
extant and
summaryallows
action in this work. Ibid., pp.168-169.
11The tragedy was criticised on this precisepoint: 'After word of Bianca's death disperses,
in
having
fas,
is
tragedy
Here
the
not
where
everyoneexpectsthe punishmentof Ezzelino.
does
the
story
or one
stage
not
one
the
that
either
observed
principle
with a man so wicked,
concludeswith somestrongvendetta.' Ibid., p. 166.
123
12plot Summary:Act I is
set in the main squarein Bazano,a city under siegefrom Acciolino,
Leopoldo and Germanic troops allied to Frederick, the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite the
optimismof Alberto, a senator,Genaro,Blanca's father andBautista, her husband,the city is
on the verge of defeat.In sceneviii, after a brief non-sPeakingappearancein sceneiii, Blanca
entersin full armour and in the midst of a sword-fight with Leopoldo. A blow dislodgesher
helmetand visor and Acciolino immediatelyrecognisesthe woman he loves and who rejected
him. He sparesher life, but threatensto kill the citizens of Bazano. Alberto's announcement
of the heroic death of Bautista, assuagesAcciolino's bloodlust and he immediately asks
Blancato marry hirn. Her refusal prompts a soliloquy in which he determinesto seduceher
by forceful meansif necessary.In Act IL in her private room, Blanca grieves over her dead
husband and confessesto Felicia, her maid, that she is gravely concerned for her own
personalsafety and honour. However Genaro tells her that Bautista is alive and well and
hiding in the family Pantheon.Husband and wife are reunitedand subsequentlyjoined by the
noblesof Bazano, who begin to plan how to overthrow the tyrant. Acrimonious discussions
betweenAcciolino and Genarofail to establishhow to bring peaceto Bazano. When alone,
the full extent of Acciolino's vengeful, despoticand lustful intent becomesapparent.In Act
III, the nobles of Bazano come before Acciolino in the state room in Genaro's palace which
he has made his own and he offers to guaranteepeace in exchangefor Blanca's hand in
by
her
decision
her
However
to
this
staunchlysupported
marriage.
refusal accept
exchange,a
father and the nobles, triggers Acciolino's anger and he orders his guards to slay the men.
Blanca intervenesphysically and Leopoldo dissuadesAcciolino, from this bloody course of
bring
desires
but
lustful
his
frustrated
his
ever closer the
and
action,
plans merely galvanise
prospectof Blanca's rape. Act IV is set in Blanca's room. Acciolino entersunexpectedlyand
attemptsto persuadeher to consentto his offer of marriage,before approachingher with the
kill
dagger
draws
to
intention
forcing
her.
himself
Blanca
threatens
and
a
obvious
of
upon
herself, but is quickly overpowered by him, at which point Bautista enters brandishing a
hold
Acciolino,
to
take
Bautista,
Acciolino's
of
enabling
sword.
guards enter and apprehend
Blanca and issue an ultimatum: Blanca will be killed unlessBautista surrendersher to him.
Bautista reluctantly agrees and is led away. Blanca prostrates herself before Acciolino
late
is
but
it
her
husband,
her
fife
for
too
and the guards re-enter
to
that
offering exchange
of
to announcehis deathwhereuponBlanca faints. On recoveringconsciousness,and apparently
in deeptrauma,sheresolvesto descendto the Pantheon,which providesthe settingfor Act V.
At the opening,the noblesresolveto continuethe plan to overthrow Acciolino and prepareto
Upon
him.
Bautista's
Blanca
tomb
purposefiffly.
and
slowly
ambush
arrives and approaches
bar.
At
it,
is
the sound
hd
a
metal
with
the
reaching she embraces stone which proppedopen
in
body
her
fall
fid
the ensuing
Acciolino's
and,
to
on
of
arrival, she allows the stone
Acciolino
in
flee.
Acciolino
However,
appearsto
the
to
moments,
closing
confusion,
attempts
dagger.
himself
Blanca's
he
Bautista's
with
ghostand, overcomewith remorse, stabs
witness
13Theseinterventionsare themselvesan echoof the scenein Ali-Bek in which Amalia places
herself bodily betweenher father and her husband.SeeChapterThree above.
14In
Trento's
is
Vittorio
ballo
opera
Trafieri's
Meneghelfi's
tragico,
tragedyand
addition to
Bianca de 'Rossi, Venice, 1797, performed at the Teatro de SanBenedettoin Venice in the
same year. Mattia Botturini wrote the libretto. Petzoldt McClymonds' summary offers an
insight into the visual appearanceand action in this work. Ibid., pp.169-175.
15On the Gothic in Europe and Spain, see Nigel Glendinning, 'Lo g6tico, lo funeral y lo
de
fiteratura
10,
Anales
del
XVH',
la
espahold,
macabroen cultura espaftolay europea siglo
1994, pp. 101-115, and, Guillermo Camero,'La Holandesa de GasparZavalay Zamora y la
literatura G6tica del XVIII espaftol',in Estudios,pp.135-162.
124
16The French
playwright, poet and novelist Franpis; ThomasMarie de Baculard d'Amaud
populariseda dramatic vision of the Gothic in the 1770s in France, although none of these
works is known to have beenperformed in Spain.His dramasenjoyedrenewedpopularity in
Francein the 1790sand this might accountfor the
new wave of translationsof severalof his
mostsignificant dramasin Spain in the 1790s:Eqfemia o el triunfo de la Refigi6n, C6rdoba,
Madrid, 1775, [Pedro G6mezPrieto or JuanNavarro trans.]
seeLafarga (ed.), Yeatro,p.308;
Los amantes desgraciados o el Conde de Cominge, Manuel Bellosartes (trans.), Madrid,
1791,seeLafarga (ed.), Teatro europeo,p.298.
17Gaspar Zavala Zamora, El
y
amor constante, o la holandesa, [Madrid], [1790], was
performedin 1787,1788,1793,1797,1800 and 1805. See Camero, 'La Holandesa', and
Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.623; Manuel Jos6 Quintana,El duque de riseo, Madrid,
1802, performed in 1801,1803,1804. See D6rozier, Quintana,
and Andioc and Coulon,
Cartelera, p.701.
Is Julia Romeo, Cruz, 9-13 December 1803,
y
see Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp.512,
750, who record that Dionisio Solis translatedthis work from the
adaptationof Shakespeare
by Jean-FrangoisDucis or Louis SebastienMercier Neuchatel.
or
19The following
plays were performed in Madrid: Celina o el mudo incognito, 1803,1804,
1807 and 1808, see Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.657; Hombre de las tres caras o el
proscrito de Venezia,1802,1807 and 1808, see Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p-740; Las
Minas de Polonia, 1805 and 1807, see Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.780; El molino de
Kebeny aventuras de Tekeli, 1805 and 1808, seeAndioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.781; La
mujer de dos maridos, 1804,1805 and 1807,seeAndioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.78520 In the
context of Blanca's overarching characteristicof virtue, her name assumesan
obvioussymbolic resonanceof purity.
21It
was sometimescontendedthat Pallas was 'a beautifid daughterof Triton and associate
of Athena', who was 'accidentallykilled by the goddess'.Out of 'grief for her friend, Athena
took the name Pallas and placed it before her own.' See J.E, Zimmerman, Dictionary of
Classical Mythology, New York, 1964, p. 189. See also Paul Harvey, The Oxford
Companionto Classical Literature, Oxford, 1984,p.303.
22 Harvey, Oxford Companion
to Classical Literature, p.55. Sandro Boticelli's panel
painting, 'Pallas and the Centaur' (c. 1485, Florence:Uffizi), while not representinga known
myth, has been interpreted by modem scholarship as an allegorical illustration of the
subjugationof male lust by female chastity,an appropriatesymbol for Blanca's strugglehere.
SeeYheDictionary ofArt, London, 1996,,IV, pp.493-504 (P.501).
23Aristotle, Poetics, 66.
p.
24Some scholarshave interpretedthis heightened
rhetoric as an outward manifestationof a
loss of reason, even of madness. See Whitaker, 'Clarissa's sisters', and Grinstein,
Dramaturgas, p. 185.
25At the
end of his catalogueof virtuous heroic women Feii6o noted: 'En las mujeres que se
mataron a si mismas, no se propone esta resoluci6n, como ejemplo de virtud, sino como
excesovicioso de la forteleza, que es lo que basta para el intento'. The characterisationof
Blanca suggeststhat G;Uvez's understandingof the act of suicide is at variancewith that of
Feij6o. SeeSau,ed. cit., p.35.
26The
enfeebledpatriarch is not restrictedto GiIvez's tragic oeuvre.In both Lafamilia a la
moda andEl egoista Gilvez portraysthe threat to the stability of the family occasionedby the
125
maleheadof thehousehold.
27SeeGAlvez,Lafamilia la
a moda, Dom6nech(ed.). For a brief discussionof the debateon
de
in
in
Leandro
Femindez
Deacon
Spain,
Philip
marriageand women eighteenth-century
see
Moratin,El s! de las nifias, London, 1995,pp.xii-xx.
126
CHAffEREIGHT
AMN6N
Amn6n, printed in volume three of the Obras po&icas, is not known to have been
'
performed.Although contemporarycritical reactionconsistedof a sole cursoryremark
2 The
by Quintana,the play hasrecentlybeenthe subjectof a detailed,scholarlyanalySiS.
tragedywas basedon a Biblical narrative which had stimulatedcreative writings for
in
during
the
century
eighteenth
centuriesand which enjoyed renewed popularity
Europe.3 However, the earlier dramatictreatmentsof the subjectmatter by Tirso de
Molina and Calder6n de la Barca must be regardedas the most direct source of
inspirationfor Gilvez. As sheremodelledtheir versions,shechangedthe dynamicof the
narrative,makingAmn6n'stragedycentral,andrecastingThamarasvirtuous ratherthan
Gilvez's
Amn6n
in
language
However,
signals
the
vengeful.
and rhetoric
use of
in
her
debt
skill
of
tragedy
to
the
this
evidence
offers
conscious
earlier works, and
engagingwith dramatictradition.
Historical Sources
As in Safil, Old Testament Scripture is the earliest source for the narrative of Amn6n .4 11
Samuelis concerned with various aspects of David's reign after the death of King Saul.
Domestic problems, particularly those involving his children, are recounted in II Samuel
9-20 and concluded in I Kings 1-2. The framework of GMvez's,plot follows the events
describedin 11Samuel 13, which concentrate on Amnon's seduction and subsequentrape
by
Absalom
brother
her
his
for
half-sister
revenge
Tamar, an action
exacts
which
of
having Amnon killed at a feast.' Perhapsreflecting the focus of the Biblical source on the
domestic rather than the political sphere, GAIvez's play centres on David's family,
damagedfrom within by conflicting loyalties and rivalries.
Spanish Literary Sources
The Biblical
account is blunt and sober. However,
Gilveis
dramatisation is one of
to
tragic
expression
Spanish
more
several
works which gave more animated, ultimately
from
stem
growth
literary
tradition whose origins and
the story, thereby contributing to a
6
Prior to the first
AD
first
during
Scripture
the
early embellishmentsof
written
century
.
127
theatricaladaptationsin Spain,this compellingBiblical story of incestand fratricidehad
beenreadily absorbedinto the romancero.The narrativewas further impressedon the
Spanishmentalitythroughthe sermonsof preacherswho seizedupon the tale, exploiting
7
theambiguitiesof its moralmessage.
However,the most significantprecursorsto Gilveis tragedyin SpainwereTirso
de Molina's La venganzade Tamar, first printed in 1634 and Calder6n de la Barca's Los
cabellos de Absal6n, the second act of which was copied almost entirely verbatim from
the third act of Tirso's play.8 Although La venganza de Tamar is not known to have
beenstaged during Gilvez's lifetime, recent research has confirmed that Los cabellos de
Absal6n was revived periodically for the Madrid theatres until 1764.9Nevertheless,both
plays were reprinted as sueltas in the eighteenth century, testifying to their ongoing
interest for the reading public. 'OThere is evidence to suggestthat Gilvez knew GoldenAge drama and that Amn6n might be read as a creative engagementwith Tirso's and
Calder6n's plays, and through them with an earlier dramatic tradition. "
The nature and extent of the influence of Golden-Age drama on the Spanishstage
in GMvez's time continues to prompt much scholarly debate.12 Following Luzin's
criticism of the stylistic excessesof the works of Calder6n, Lope de Vega and others, the
critique of seventeenth-century plays was central to the debate on theatre in the
"
eighteenth century. It has been proved that there was a marked decline in popularity of
Golden-Age drama with eighteenth-century Spanish theatre audiences.14However, after
1750, growing critical concern about the number of plays translated from foreign, usually
French, originals was in part responsible for a renewal of interest in Spain's dramatic
inheritance and a shift in intellectual attitudes towards the utility of seventeenth-century
drama in the rejuvenation of Spanish theatre. Theorists and playwrights recognised that
the themes and situations of certain Golden-Age plays could be refined for the
contemporary stage. This inspired the concept of the theatrical refundid6n, which
involved adapting and reshaping the raw material of selected Golden-Age dramas in the
light of new aesthetic, moral and political imperatives." This was, in effect, a reform
from within, a radical ideological realignment of theatre.16
By the late eighteenth-century, refundiciones were well-established in dramatic
de
Tamar
Los
La
Amn6n,
between
and
However,
venganza
the relationship
practice.
fundici6n.
the
in
de
Absal6n
be
re:
the
art of
terms of
Cabellos
cannot
understood
Gilvez's tragedy is a more subtle engagementwith Tirso's and Calder6n's plays, which
128
revealsher determinationto recuperateand exploit the power of Golden-Agedramato
enrichand enliventragedyon a classicalmodel.In rethinicingthe moral dilemmasat the
heart of this narrative for a new sensibility, Gilvez clarifies some of the ethical
uncertainties
of the Golden-Agedramasbut leavesotherstantalisinglyunresolved.
The Biblical Narrative as Tragedy
The establishment of the framework for the plot is the most obvious indicator of
GAlvez's creative interaction with the earlier works, and particularly with Tirso's drama.
The progress of the action in La venganza de Tamar begins with the onset of Am6n's
desirefor and rape of Tamar, and ends with his death. Los cabellos de Absal6n extends
the narrative beyond the murder of Am6n to include the death of Absal6n. GAIvez's
tragedy starts and finishes at the same points in the Biblical narrative as Tirso's drama.
This must be regarded as a deliberate choice, and one which reflects Gilvez's recognition
of the powerful tragic trajectory established in La venganza de Tamar. However, this
important parallel, which testifies to Gilvez's self-conscious engagement with Tirso's
work, also serves to highlight the distinctiveness of her approach to the tragic
protagonist,andto the wider significanceof the narrative.
The title of Tirso's play belies its dramatic focus on the fall from grace and
in
dark
is
tale
Am6n.
It
tragic
which the author's
subsequentredemptionof
and
a
contemplationof the psychologyof evil andits varioushumanmanifestations,servesasa
fbil for an examinationof the centralconflict betweenjustice and mercy.At the outset,
his
Tamar,
impulse
Am6n's
to
deep
rape
the play stressesthe
motivationsunderpinning
half sister.Later, the wider effectsof the violation becomeapparent.GraduallyTamar
shedsthe passiverole of victim as she seeksto avengethe violent crime committed
againsther. Through this shift, the author directs the sympathyof the audienceaway
from Tamar towards Am6n, thereby questioningthe nature and extent of his original
into
draws
her
desire
for
Tirso
a complex moral
the
spectator
crime and
vengeance.
debate,the final irony of which is that Tamar's revengeis not the 'reward of suffering
Am6n's
crime and
but
hatred,
expiates
an actionwhich
virtue,
a triumph of maliceand
leads
17
to
the
Tirso
the
audience
in
him.
In
the
the
title
this
play,
of
redeems
sense,
very
between
law
the
human
chasm
in
reconcile
central question addressed the play: can
temporalandDivinejustice andmercy?
Calder6n'sdramacondensesdetailsof the dilemmafacing Am6n and dedicates
129
the final act to portraying events which occur after his death. Thus, despite the
substantialtextual overlapbetweenhis play and that of Tirso, Calder6n'sadditionsand
alterationsto the narrativecreatea work which reflectshis thematicinterests.Absal6n's
's
impulse
focus
dramatic
Am6n's
incest
is
ambition,rather than
to
the
action.
of the
Consequently,the play more closely reflects the spirit of the Biblical narrative by
depictinga chain of eventswhich beginswith Am6n's incestuousrape of Tamar and
continueswith Absal6n's murder of his half brother and challengeof his father's
kingship,an act of ambitioustreacherywhich leadsto his own bizarre death.19In his
versionof events,Calder6nhints more stronglythan Tirso that David's former adultery
andcomplicityin the murderof Uriah hasgivenrise to the aberrantbehaviour,suffering
and deathsof his children. In this respect,his play engageswith religious polemic,
depictinga completecycleof temptation,sin andretribution.
The more compactscaleandthe more unified actionof Tirso's dramamusthave
appealedto Gilvez, sinceit providedthe opportunityfor the developmentof a tragedy
on a classicalmodel,focusingon the demiseof Amn6n.However,in the very title of her
tragedy, GOvez signalsthe extent to which her conceptionof the significanceof the
narrativediffers from that of Tirso. For her, Amn6n's reversalof fortune stemsfrom his
his
Thus
his
death
his
lend
tragic
resonance.
own error, and
suffering and remorse
downfall doesnot dependon a vengefulTamar,and his elevationis not contingenton
her paralleldemise.This is the most fundamentalof the ways in which Gilvez rethinks
the charactersandrecaststheir relationshipsin Amn6n.
Amn6n
Unlike Tirso and Calder6n,who mitigate his criminal action and exoneratehim from
much of the blame for its consequences,Gilvez attributes to Amn6n primary
de
La
follow.
In
both
for
itself,
for
venganza
the
the
responsibility
eventswhich
rape
and
Tamar the role of fate is emphasised.
Am6n falls in love with his sisterunawareof her
identity, after hearing her sing in the garden of David's seragliointo which he has
trespassed.In Los cabellos de Absal6n Calder6nhighlightsthe encouragementgiven
Am6n by his advisor Jonadab,who urges him to gratify his sexual desireswithout
diminished
is
incestuous
impact
when
the
rape
the
compunctionand, subsequently,
of
in
Thamar's
in
family
David's
complicity
adultery,
placed the context of other
crimes:
father.
his
Absal6n's
killing
his
brother
of
murder,
andattemptedassassination
of
130
By constrast,at the openingof Gilvez's tragedy,Amn6n is fully awareof the
identityof the object of his lustful desire,describinghis passionas a raging fire. He
"plains to Jonadabthat he hasharbouredintensefeelingsfor his sistersincetheir shared
childhood(I,iii) and in this Gilvez exposesAmn6n's inability to replace adolescent
passionswith the sanguinereason of adulthood. Later he manipulateshis father's
affections,persuadingDavid to permit him to enjoyThamar'scompany.Whenhe proves
unableto moderatehis physicaldesires,he presentshimself as the victim of his own
his awareness
tormentanddelirium(II, v), but evenat this point, GAlvezdemonstrates
of
themoralchoicewhich faceshim:
iDios etemo!
La virtud, que sostienemi flaqueza,
Comouna luz sombriaqueflumina
El senodel sepulcro,brilla incierta
En mi angustiadopechoen esteinstante,
Paraque el fondo del abismovea.(Il, v)
Amn6n choosessexual gratification, which he knows to be unnatural, unlawfW and
immoral. Thus, unlike Tirso and Calder6n,in her tragedy, Gilvez is unequivocalin
into
he
Amn6n's
error
steps
transgressionand the moment at which
emphasising
but
fortune,
does
he
because
of
suffer a reversal
acquiresaddedsignificance
not only
Thamar,Absal6n,andDavid are also drawninto conflict as a direct consequence
of his
incestuousaction. Gilvez shows that Amn6n's rape of Thamar provokes a seriesof
further errors of judgement,and his demiseis placedat the centreof a wider collapsein
the dynamic of the family.
Linked to Amn6n's prior consciousnessof his fundamental error is the profound
dramatic
in
is
terms
This
he
conveyed
sense of guilt which
experiences afterwards.
Absal6n
fails
He
behaviour
to
and
his
recognise
through
patterns.
changed speech and
then proceeds to baffle his brother and Achitofel with phraseswhich appear to them as a
his
guilt
but
sense
of
derangement
overwhelming
clarity
great
convey
of
with
sign
which
delito
del
/
agobia'
me
'EI
his
enorme
the
peso
the
crime:
and
recognition of
enormity of
(III, iii), and his recognition of the suffering he caused his sister: 'LAcaso sus favores /
is
he
first
for
that
time
indicates
aware
the
ArrebatV... y su Ilanto ella lloraba' (III, iii),
...
bitter
family:
his
the
and
implications
his
sorrow
of the wider
of
action on the rest of
delitos:
/
de
tus
Ilanto
/
El
tu
disappointment of his loving father, 'no redoblen
padre
Basta que yo con mi maldad destroce / su corazon piadoso' (III, iii) and the rejection and
131
betrayalof his brother.He feelsguilt, shame,remorse,but aboveall fear for the future,
'los hoffores de mi destino'(III, iii) which showshim awareof his impendingdownfall:
iAh! quandoel alba
Estoslugarescon su luz colore,
David me habri perdidoparasiernpre,
Parasiernpre....
Amn6n's tragic statusderivesfrom the clarity of his awarenessof his error, but
also from the natureof his crime.WhereasTirso andCalder6nplaceno specialemphasis
on the incestuousnature of the rape, in Gilvez's enlightenmenttragedy, with its
emphasison the dynamicof the family and on law, incestis the worst of crimes,whose
victim is not simply Thamar, but the whole structure of the tribe, and whose
20
breakdown
but
family
the
the
consequences
arenot only
of self,
also corrosionof
unity.
The magnitudeof this crime,asAmn6nhimselfrecognises,mustleadto his death:
Amor, yo te abonüno:
De tu infame placer detesto el goce,
EI momento maldigo del deleyte;
Y huyendode mi mismoy de los hombres,
Errante,despechado
enfurecido,
EI objeto de escändaloy horrores
Sere del universo, hasta que un rayo
Hundaen la nadarni exkrable nombre. (III, iii)
Thamar
It is in the characterisation of Thamar that Gilvez's tragedy differs most markedly from
the earlier works. Tirso and Calder6n create a character whose essential goodness is
compronfised from the start of the action by her worldliness. In their dramas, Tamar
enjoys freedom of movement and, it is inferred, the possibility of a measure of sexual
freedom. Her participation in the game of charades,in which she acts a role as Am6n's
lover, is foolish, as it gives false hope to Am6n. More importantly though, Tamar's
knowledge of the art of seduction raises questions about her innocence which later
colour the depiction of her demise and Am6n's redemption. After being raped, she rages
body
dead
her
in
brother
for
before
finally
the
of
and clamours
over
presiding
vengeance,
further,
brutal,
Calder6n's
In
the
triumph.
extends
play,
action
which
an attitude of
cold
Tamar then conspireswith Absa]6n in his attempt to usurp David as King and at the end
of the play retires from the world in disgrace.
132
By contrast,GAlvez'sThamaris virtuous at the start of the play, protectedby her
cloisteredsurroundingsboth physicallyand emotionally.Her trusting naturemakesher
vulnerableto the sexualadvancesof her brother and it is a cruel irony that Amn6n's
entrapmentof his sisterderivesfrom her obediencein carryingout David's ordersto lift
Amn6n's spirits and to discoverthe sourceof his depression(II, ii). Immediatelyafter
beingraped,Thamarexpresses
a vehementdesirefor revenge,'Venganza,si, venganza./
Yo la invoco' (IH,v). However,it is clearthat her pleais for justice within the law, not
personalvengeance,and this emergesstrongly in her audienceswith David in Act V
scenesiii and v: 'No os imploro, / Sino como monarcajusticiero' (Viii). Gffivez's
profound rewriting of Thamar's motivation, from a furious desire for revengeto an
impassionedbut reasonedplea for justice, is crucial to an understandingof her
transformationof a seventeenth-century
view of Thamar to one more in tune with
enlightenmentidealsof femalevirtue.
These rhetorical exchanges between Thamar and David ultimately serve to
reinforcethe innategoodness,selflessness
and senseof duty which G61vezmakescentral
to her character.David's tearful pleasandThamar'sloyalty to family eventuallyleadher
not only to abandonher demandfor Amn6n'spunishment,but alsoto forgive him (V,V).
This virtuous choiceinvestsher characterwith a dignity which is absentin the earlier
works. For Tirso and Calder6n,Tamar's revengeservesto demonstratethe faure of
temporaljustice sincevindicationdoesnot redeemher and she is shown to be further
corrupted by her act of personal retribution. By contrast, GAIvez accords Thamar
exemplarystatusandjuxtaposesher reasonedbehaviourwith the irrational impulsesof
her fatherandbrothers.
Absal6n
Amn6n's unnatural behaviour prompts further perversions of rational action, the gravest
of which is the murder of Amn6n by his ambitious brother. Amn6n's criminal action
leads to and legitimises that of Absal6n, who justifies his self-serving fratricide by
involdng the code of honour. G61vez portrays the rape as the origin of a profound
rupture in what had been a close, albeit tense, fraternal relationship:
Amnon, intes que yo, naci6 en mi dafto,
Y esta casualidad,feliz al hombre
Destinado a reynar, secretamente
133
El respetomeinfunde
(Ill, i)
For Tirso and Calder6n,Absal6n's innate ambition, combinedwith Tamar's bloody
revenge,mitigatesAm6n's responsibilityfor the consequences
of his action. However,
GAlvez emphasisesthat the incestuousrape is the catalyst for the mobilisation of
Absal6n's previously suppressedambition. Thus, Amn6n's incestuous action will
precipitatea further gravecrimeagainstthe naturalorder of the family,that of fratricide.
David
In all three plays, the aftermath of the incestuous rape seesDavid torn between the desire
as a father to forgive Amn6n and his duty as a King to administer temporal justice. In the
because
he
his
forgive
by
Tirso
Calder6n,
David
to
son
primarily
works
and
chooses
believes he must repeat the act of mercy shown to him by God after his own murder of
Uriah. By contrast, Gilvez makes no direct reference to David's past, and her character
faces a much starker choice between punishment and clemency. 11isdilemma mirrors that
his
figure
Brutus
is
but
his
decision
that
sends
a
who
tragic
of
not
of many
patriarchs
21
fact
he
In
integrity
law
the
die
in
the
republiC.
to
of
to
the
sons
and
order
civic
uphold
does exactly the opposite, placing family above the law, in this case both civic and
invocations
divine
his
Furthermore,
do
Thamar
of
the
to
same.
natural, and urging
justice, so important in the earlier works, have a hollow ring in Amn6n and GAlvez hints
but
God
is
an
man,
of
over
that this appeal not a recognition of the ultimate superiority
abnegation of civic duty, a sign of his own lack of moral stature,
Patriarchy and Morality
In the context of the characterisation and significance of David, the scene of his tearful
in
interesting
is
It
terms,
is
forgive
as
Amn6n
Thamar
structural
to
to
striking.
entreaty
devices
the
draws
how
the
of
repertoire of
and
the
gestures
on
an example of
author
22
deeper
On
tragedy.
drama
heighten
a
classicising
the emotional appeal of
to
sentimental
level though, its representation of patriarchy is disturbing. At first sight, David appears
fragile and emotional and Thamar Stoic and stem, an apparent reversal of expected
in
Thamar,
prostrating
However,
this enfeebled patriarch succeeds
gender roles.
ironically invoking the need for family loyalty: 'LY contra qui6n la invocas? 10h hija mial
/ Contra tu misma sangre' (Viii). Gilvez shows that Thamar has right and reason on her
134
side,but by the endof the play shehasbeenpersuadedto acceptnot only thatjustice will
not be done,but that shemust also forgive her brother's crime in order to maintainthe
stability of the family andcivic society,asDavid remindsher:
Amn6n naci6 para regir el cetro
De Judi, y hasta ahora sus virtudes
Gracia encontriron ante Dios etemo:
Lo aman las tribus, y gozosascuentan
El bien que de su mano recibidron,
Y el castigocruel de su delito
Contrami sublevaralos Hebreos.
(viii)
Thus the ramifications of Thamar's non-vengeance in GAlvez's tragedy are
disquieting. Although her sacrifice undoubtedly testifies to and indeed
reaffirms her
inherent virtue, it neverthelessremains true that, the
at
end of the play, Thamar has lost
everything and, despite the death of Amn6n, the patriarchal order is dominant.
Furthermore, Amn6n's dying words are a bizarre and sinister twist of the truth, almost a
revindication of his criminal action in which he casts himself as the virtuous victim:
iTü aqui odiosa muger! jAh! tu presencia
Emponzoiia mis ültimos momentos....
Por ti he perdido la virtud.... Aparta...
Padre, por mi perdon clamad al cielo....
Arrepentido.... victima infelice....
De wnor, de odio, y de venganzamuero.(Vv)
In redefining the conflicts between her main characters, GAlvez explores key
topics of enlightenment debate in Spain: familial duty, natural justice, virtue, and
personal morality. For Tirso and Calder6n, the Biblical story is a vehicle for the
exploration of ostensibly religious truths. In their dramas, the essential superiority of
Divine justice and mercy is reasserted. Gilvez reworks their treatments of the Biblical
narrative, creating her tragedy in accordance with the aesthetic, moral and political
preoccupations of her generation, and as such Amn6n conveys a less overtly religious,
more humanist message.As she explores a series of conflicts between the forces of law,
duty, and virtue, and those of instinct, 'unnatural' love and dishonour, Gilvez engages
with morality based not on seventeenth-century religious dogma, but on eighteenthcentury concepts of reasonwhich gave primacy to human virtue and not revealed truths.
However,her characterisation
and someof the unresolvedconflicts of the action
135
suggest that for Gilvez the system of human morality and justice is open to
interrogation. Ultimately, rather like Tirso, Gilvez does not present an exemplary
resolution, despitethe virtuous elevationof Thamar.Perhapsone of the most striking
and unexpectedresonancesof Golden-Agedramain Gffivezs tragedy is preciselythis
opennessandabsenceof a clearmoral didacticism.
Imagery and The Chorus
In the sameway that GAlvez'smoral and socialvision engageswith and renewsthat of
Tirso and Calder6n,shedrew muchinspirationfrom their imaginativeconceptionof the
Biblical story and from their linguistic conceits, and transposed these into the idiom of
classicizing tragedy. GAlvezs use of floral and botanical imagery recalls passagesin
which Tirso and Calder6n harness the ironic, tragic and pathetic significance of the
language of flowers and trees.2' At the opening of Amn6n, the chorus of Israelite
justice
hold
horticultural
branches
laurel,
and
traditional
symbols
of
maidens
of palmand
victory respectively.Soon afterwards,Jonadabcomparesthe tormented Amn6n to a
fi).
(l,
hot
desert
by
dust
the
has
become
bent
into
tree
wind
the
palm
andwithered
which
It is an imageof fadedglory which ironically prefiguresAmn6n's demiseand Absal6n's
vengefulmurderof his brother.
Later, Amn6n compares Thamar to a cedar, a tree usually associated with
iii).
(I,
The
beauty
less
frequently,
symbolism of
pride
strength and
with unbending
and,
the comparison points to key aspects of her character: the beauty, which impels Amn6n
to rape, the pride and determination which drives her quest for justice, and the
forgive.
GAIvez
her
to
also uses nonunderlying strength of character, which enables
Describing
loss
imagery
the
floral
in
Thamar's
to
of
virginity.
specific
an allusion
preparations to celebrate her father's victory, Thamar exclaims with enthusiastic
innocence:
Seguidme,amigas,festejad mi gozo;
Y sembrandode flores el camino
Quedebehollar suplanta,nuestrasvoces
Celebrensuvalor y suheroismo
(Ij)
The image of trampledflowers, a familiar allusionto rape, is here used with specific
ironic intent.
in
Amn6n
imagery
the
are
fight,
sun,
of
Poetic referencesto
and particularly
136
reminiscentof metaphorsusedin Los cabellosde Absal6n.In Calder6n'sdrama,Thamar
comparesAbsal6n to a new sun, thereby referring to his vaunting ambition. It is
therefore appropriate,after her brother's failure to replaceDavid on the throne, that
Tamar seeksthe protection and safety of darkness.Conversely,in GAlvezs tragedy,
Thamaris seenas the sourcerather thanthe beneficiaryof solarlight. Amn6n compares
her to 'la rosadaaurora' (Ijii), explaininghow the brillianceof her beautydazzledhim.
Subsequently,during the period when he strugglesto reconcilethe implicationsof the
lustful desirehe feelsfor his sister,Amn6nlinks the comparisonbetweenThamar' s sunlike brilliancewith the burningfire of his passion,in an attemptto mitigateresponsibility
for his incestuousfeelings.
Gilvez's incorporationof a chorusinto her tragedyrepresentsa further point of
comparisonand contrast betweenthe three works. There are parallelsbetween the
function of the spokenchorusin Amn6nandthat of the musicalelementsin Los cabellos
de 4bsal6n and La vengam-ade Tamar, despite obvious differencesbetween their
.
24
formation.
In Calder6n'sdrama,music accompaniesAm6n's disclosureto
structural
Tamarof his desirefor her. The words of the songappearto urge him to articulatehis
'love', usingphraseswhich foreshadowTamar'srevengeandhis death.The pastoraland
folk tunes incorporatedthroughout Tirso's drama, and by default appearingin the
secondact of that of Calder6n,add local colour, contrastingthe rustic pastimesand
simplepleasuresof the lower classeswith the brutal passionsof the mainprotagonists.in
this way, the peasantsact asa foil, 'a type of commonhumanitybesidethe heroicfigures
doesnot bear the
oflegend.'25Thus,in both dramas,althoughmusicalaccompaniment
outward form of Greekchorus,it functionsas such,providinglyrical relief of the tragic
tension and bridging the gap between stage and public. The musiciansare both a
representationon-stageof the spectatorsanda mouthpieceby which the dramatistdraws
26
the attentionof the audienceto subtletiesof plot andtheme.
Ironically then, it may be through her engagement
with Golden-Agedramathat
Gilvez was inspiredto incorporatethe deviceof the Greek chorusinto Amn6n. At the
a jubilant tone which later
openingof the play,the chorusof Israelitemaidensestablishes
contrastswith Amn6n's melancholymood. In a similar way throughout the tragedy,
Gilvez continuesto make the words of the chorus parallel the changesin emotional
intensity.Their words bring the first four actsto a close,reiteratingthrough reprise,the
significanceof eventswhich havejust occurredand subtly alludingto those which will
137
take placein the next sequence.Furthermore,by indicatingin the stagedirectionsthat
the chorusremainspresenton stageat the endof eachact andthe beginningof the next,
Gilvez providescontinuity in the developmentof the argument,ensuringthat the unity
of action is preserved.More importantlythough, the physicalpresenceof the chorusat
these emotionallyheightenedjunctures in the play reinforcesthe unique role of the
choruswhich mediatesbetweenthat of omniscientinterpreterof eventsand symboliconstagepresenceof the on-lookingaudience.
Conclusions
If GAlvez's Amn6n can be regarded as a reworking of La venganza de Tamar or Los
cabellos de Absal6n, then it is on a very subtle, nuanced model. GAlvez transforms the
Golden-Age works in complex ways, not simply to discipline and purify them, but also to
establish a clear tragic trajectory. Her debt to Tirso and Calder6n emerges in the
structural and linguistic fabric of the tragedy, but her transformations and recreations are
significant and are most apparent in characterisation.
Amn6n's demise, which GAlvez places at the centre of the dramatic interest, is
charted in accordance with the terms of classicising tragedy. However, in contrast with
Blanca de Rossi and Florinda, in which the wider civic and national implications of
individual crimes are stressed, Amn6n's incestuous rape and its consequences are
family
intensifies
focus
in
intense
domestic
This
the
the
worked out
on
an
setting.
significance of Amn6n's crime, not simply as a transgressionof a code of honour, but of
a fundamental moral and natural law.
Perhaps because of the unspeakablenature of the crime, this tragedy, which in
other respects appearsto express the ideological preoccupations of its time, ends on an
unresolved, ambiguous note. Through their engagement with this powerful Biblical
narrative, Tirso and Calder6n raised important questions about the relationship between
human morality and Divine justice. In her turn, Gilvez's creative interaction with these
but
interrogates
the
treatments
also
the
morality,
earlier
affirms
values of enlightenment
values of patriarchy.
138
' Maria Rosa GAlvez de Cabrera, Amn6n. Tragedia original en cinco actos, in Obras
poilicas, I[I, pp.3-99.
2 Daniel Whitaker has discussedthe Aristotelian featuresof the tragedy, while hinting that
Crgvez may have deployedsomeof the devicesassociatedwith sentimentaldrama,and most
notably the rhetoric of tears.SeeWhitaker, 'Darknessin the Age of Light'.
' On English and French eighteenth-centuryplays based on the Scriptural narrative, see
Coleman, The Bible in English Drama; Herr, Les Tragidies bibliques en France; Roston,
Biblical Drama in England. Original spellings of the names of the Biblical personalities
in
discussed
in
historical
literary
this chapter are retained.
the
texts
mentioned
various
and
Unless otherwisestated,all anglicisedspellingscorrespondto the New English Bible, Oxford,
1970.
4 The Bible was translatedinto the Castilian vernacular by Casiodoro de Reina, printed in
1569 and reprinted in 1622. This edition was known colloquially as the Bear Bible. The
Castilian translationof 2 Samuel 13 is quoted in Tirso de Molina, La venganzade Tamar,
A. K. G. Paterson(ed.), Cambridge, 1969, pp. 147-149. All further referencesto Tirso's play
correspondto this edition.
5 Plot summary:The
Jerusalem
is
in
the
city
of
the
of
walled
sight
countrysidewithin
play set
and in the wake of King David's victory over the Ammonites. Act I openswith Jonadaband
Joab speculatingon the melancholymood of Amn6n, David's first born son and heir. Later,
love
feels
he
Amn6n
Amn6n
his
the
Jonadab,
passionate
explains
when
and
confidant,meet,
for Thamar, his sister, 'hermana' in Qdvez's tragedy. JonadabadvisesAmn6n to seek his
he
Amn6n
David,
his
in
diffuse
thus,
meets
when
passion and
sister's company order to
is
in
his
David
Act
11,
him.
In
be
Thamar
to
that
unsuccessful
requests
permitted cheer
Thamar
discover
to try to elicit the
Amn6n's
asks
to
the
and
malaise
evident
attempt
sourceof
information. Thamar deducesthat Amn6n is in love, but does not discover with whom. As
from
David
Amn6n's
falls,
disguise
Joab
and the act
the
anguish
to
of
extent
night
she urges
At
Act
III,
brother
her
truth.
the
the
Thamar
to
start
to
of
to
uncover
closesas
resolves return
it is clear that the rape of Thamar has occurred. Amn6n appearsmore deeply troubled than
before and Absal6n, his ambitiousyoungerbrother, is unableto make senseof much of their
her
informs
Absal6n
Thamar
the
against
committed
and asks
crime
of
extendedconversation.
him to avengeher loss of honour.Act IV opensin the middle of the festivities to celebratethe
has
learned
Amn6n's
David
Israelites
Ammonites.
of
criminal action,
the
the
of
over
victory
but he determinesto disguisethis knowledgefrom Absal6n, who also dissimulatesand urges
David to allow Amn6n to attend a victory feast in honour of their father. David succeedsin
be
forgiven
him
from
that
the
Amn6n
crime
will
and reassures
extractinga tearfal confession
by God if a sacrifice is made. The act closeswith Amn6n's agreementto join the banquet.
Act V is largely given over to "Ibamar's pleas to David that Amn6n be punished for his
her
for
just
Thamar
in
to
However,
David
calls
abandon
a
action.
succeeds persuading
is
final
brother.
The
her
forgive
swifUy concluded when
act
punishment and to agree to
Amn6n stumbleson stageto announcethat Absal6n has dealt him a fatal blow before fleeing
death.
bitter
Amn6n's
kingdom.
The
and
of
regret
tragedyendswith
the
words
6 The Antiquitates Judaicae (The.Antiquities of the Jews), completedby the Jewish historian
Flavius Josephus in AD 93, was an important historico-literary predecessorto certain
flexible
in
Spain.
Josephus'
Amnon
Tamar
more
renderingof
the
episode
and
adaptationsof
Scripture is thought to have influenced in spirit, if not substantiallyin content, the work of
later writers SeeJ.C.J. Metford for a discussionof the impact and influenceof a 1616 edition
139
of Josephus' Antiquities on Tirso's La venganza de Tamar in 'Tirso de Molina's Old
Testament Plays', Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 27 (1950), pp.149-163 (pp.162-163). See
also Paterson,e&cit., p. 13, for a discussionof the various treatmentsof the Tamar narrative
in Spanishliterature.
7 Paterson,ibid,
notes,'[preachers] usedthe story as an admonishmentto women againstthe
perils of intimacy-,or they would relate the family tragedyto the cumulative punishmentthat
David suffered for the murder of Uriah and seductionof Bathsheba.'
gFor an extensive
analysisof the difficulties associatedwith the sourcesand date of Tirso's
drama, see Alan KG. Paterson,'The Textual History of Tirso's La venganzade Tamar',
Modern Language ReWew,63 (1968), pp.381-391. Five volumes of Calder6n's plays were
printed, without the author's consent,the first four in Madrid, the last in Barcelona,between
1636 and 1677. After Calderon's death Juan de Vera Tassis y Villarroel prepared the
dramatist's plays for publication.Los cabellos de Absal6n was printed in the eighth volume
in Madrid in 1684 by FranciscoSanz.The play has appearedin two modem editions:Pedro
Calder6n de la Barca, Los cabellos de Absal6n, Gwynne Edwards (ed.), Oxford, 1973 and
Los cabellos de Absal6n, Evangelina Rodriguez Cuadros (ed.), Madrid, 1989. The
relationship between the two plays has prompted much critical debate concerning the
aesthetic quality of each work and the artistic integrity of their respective authors. See
Paterson, 'The Textual History of Tirso's La venganzade Tamar', and Albert E. Sloman,
Yhe Dramatic Crafismanship of Calder6n. His Use of Earlier Plays, Oxford, 1958, pp.94127, for opposingviews.
9 Calder6n's
play was performedon the Madrid stagein 1710,1712,1719,1722,1728,1735
and 1764, seeAndioc and Coulon, Carrelera, p.646.
10The suelta
correspondingto Tirso's play, held in the Biblioteca Nacional, is thought to date
from between 1701 and 1730, the year during which the printer, Leefdael, was operating in
Sevilla. See Paterson,'The Textual History of Tirso's La venganzade Tamar' and Everett
W. Hesse, 'The Publication of Calder6n's Plays in the SeventeenthCentury', Philological
Quarterly, 27 (1948), pp.37-51.
11In an
eloquent and spirited defenceof Las esclavasamazonas,the 1805 performanceof
which had received a hostile review in the Memorial literario, Gilvez; provided an insight
into the creation of her comedy and suggestedthat in order to pleasefirstly the actors and
secondlythe public: "yo me vi en la precisi6npara no alarmara los primeros, de ponerle a mi
comediatraducida,del franc6s;y para complacer,o "placer" al segundo,de imitar las bellas
escenasdel Desdin, aunque en otras costumbres,y la inimitable versificacion de nuestros
poetasantiguos'. VariedadesIV. 24 (1805), pp.359-61, (P.360).
12Following on from the important
studiesof Ren6Andioc, scholarscontinueto questionthe
de
drama.
'El
Calder6ncomo arma
In
influence
Golden-Age
teatro
the
nature and extentof
of
ideol6gica en el origen del romanticismo conservadorespafiol', in Estudios, pp.215-250,
Guillermo Camero presentsand later summariseskey argumentsadvancedby some of the
major detractorsand supportersof Golden-Age drama, in order to examine the nature and
developmentof theatrical polemics in the later period and demonstratethe way in which an
He
how
by
ideological
literary
debate
theorists.
the
shows
essentially
was appropriated
French Revolution galvanised the beliefs of each camp, polarising existing opinion and
by
He
literary
debate
further
into
that
the first decade
the
the
argues
pushing
political sphere.
it
inspired,
literature
liberal
the
the
was associated
and
of
nineteenthcentury,
neo-classicism
with social and moral change,and literature of the Golden Age, with the conservativevalues
of the Anciýn R6gime.
140
13 See Jos6 Checa Beltr4n, 'Los
clisicos en ]a preceptiva, dramitica. del siglo XVIH',
Cuadernos de teatro chisico, 5 (1990), pp. 13 1.
-3
14See Andioc, Yeatro,
pp. 13-12 1.
15See Francisco Aguilar Pifial, 'Las
refimdiciones en el siglo XVHI', Cuadernos de teatro
ckisico, 5 (1990), pp. 3341.
16 See Emilio PalaciosFernindez, 'El teatro barroco,
espaflol en una carta de Bernardo de
Iriarte al Condede Aranda.(1767)', Cuadernosde leatro ckisico, 5 (1990), pp.43
-64.
17SeePatersonin Tirso, La
venganzade Tamar, ed.cit.
18'llie title Calder6n's
of
play suggeststhat its unity is to be soughtin the personof Absal6n.
He supplantsAm6n as protagonist.' Sloman,Dramatic Cratfismanshipof Calder6n, p. I 11.
19Tirso
alluded to Absalom's ambition, thereby 'transferring the audience'ssympathy from
avengerto avenged',but neither developednor resolvedthis issuein his drarna.In this sense,
according to some critics, 'Tirso's play invited recasting' and thus Calder6n's play can be
regardedas a 'sequel' to Tirso's narrative.]hid., p. 100.
20See Everett W. Hesse, 'The Incest Motif in Tirso's "La
venganzade Tarnar"', Hispania,
47 (1964), pp.268-76, for a provocativediscussionof incest as a metaphorfor power lust in
Tirso's play. See also Otto Rank's important survey of incest as a motif in world literature,
Das Inzest-Motiv in Dichtung und Sage,Leipzig and Vienna, 1926.
21Voltaire's Brutus,
althoughnot known to have been performed on the Spanishstage,was
translated:Bruto. Tragedia de Mr. de Voltaire, B. Garcia (trans.), Amsterdam, 1758, see
Lafarga (ed), Teatro, p.21 1. The play was also translatedby J. Viera y Clavijo, but was not
known to have beenprinted, seeLafarga.(ed.) Yeatro europeo,p.222. Jovellanosreferred to
the figure of Guzmfin el buenoas 'segundoBruto', seeAndioc, Teatro. p.389,
22Daniel Whitaker has
'Gilvez
in
David
to
gently amplifies the
that
cry,
allowing
argued
audience'scompassionfor David and at the sametime demonstratesher own thorough grasp
of the Enlightenedtheaterof her day', seeWhitaker, 'Darknessin the Age of Light', pp.446447,45 1. However, I would arguethat CYUvez
did not intend the audienceto feel compassion
for David in his sorrow, but rather to identify him both as a failing father and enfeebled
patriarch. Moreover, the incorporation of a tearful scene in this tragedy might be better
understoodin the light of Ggvez's wider experimentswith the devicesand preoccupationsof
new literary modesand dramaticgenresthroughouther tragic oeuvre.
23 In La venganza de Tamar (111,758-909), the prophetessknown as Laureta, and in
Calder6n's drama as Teuca, arrives with a basket of mixed flowers, each with a symbolic
association.She proceedsto distribute to Am6n, Adonias, Salam6nand Absa]6n a different
flower, each of which is suggestiveof personalitytraits, past behaviour and future fame or
ignominy. Later the peasantsadom the princes' pavilions with branchesof trees and bunches
of flowers which havesimilar symbolic meaningsOIL 910-935).
24 For
L.
F.
Lucas,
'The
Greek
fiinction
form
the
chorus,
see
of
observationson the
and
Ancient Chorusand its Modem Counterparts',in Tragedy,London, 1946,pp.59-72.
25 bid
69.
p.
,
26The
de
Tamar
(111,558in
La
dimension
venganza
the
metaphorical
shepherd'ssong
of
559), and in Los cabellos deAbsal6n a xi), has been identified by A. KG. Paterson.He
is
in
there
'The
their
a note of urgency;the
song
observes,
shepherdssing of their work, and
from
be
their
has
the
shorn
wool
with
the
rewarded
moment
come when
will
year's vigilance
141
sheep.' Apart from adding a note of pastoral charm, this song suggests'a correspondence
between the shearingof the flock and the deathof Am6n'. He fin-therdevelopsthis argument
to draw a more profound comparisonbetween Am6n and the image of the slain Lamb in
Tirso's play. SeePaterson,ed.cit., p.23.
142
CHAPTER NINE
ZINDA
Zinda, the penultimate work printed in the Obras pogficas, although never performed,
has recently enjoyed substantial scholarly attention.' The play has both appeared in a
modem edition and been the focus of a detailed analysiS.2 It is principally viewed as an
important early feminist contribution to the literature of anti-slavery in Spain and this
3
for
may account
much of its appeal with modem literary critics and readers. The
inclusion of the work in volume three of the Obras pogficas suggeststhat Gilvez
4
intendedthis drama tr6gico to be understoodas tragedy. However, in the context of
Gilvez's other tragic writings, Zinda is somewhatunusual,sincein this play, disasteris
threatened,but ultimately avertedand the action doesnot end in misfortuneor death.
Moreover, GAlvezmakesmore explicit use of the emotive repertoire of new literary
genresin this play thanin others,andthis hasled manyscholarsto regardit asa comedia
5 Examining the work as Gilvez intended, as tragedy, opens up fresh
Jacrimosa.
possibilitiesfor interpretation.
Historical Sources and Literary Antecedents
The character of Zinda appearsto have been modelled on Nzinga, Queen of Ndongo and
later of the newly created Matamba in modem day Angola.' Gilvez may have learned of
the historical figure through French language histories and travel narratives of Africa,
7
historical
departs
in
from
the
account. In Zinda, the
although she
significant ways
Portuguese, whom Nzinga fought for many years, are presented as a benevolent and
enlightened colonial presence,while the Dutch are embodied in the character of Vinter, a
8
is
looter
This
kingdom's
tyrannical
the
a telling aspect of the
opposition
of
resources.
'
in
Gilvez
Nzinga
this
the creation of
work.
way
engagedwith the narrative of
Aside from specific historical sourceswhich may have informed the composition
Spanishbased
this
colonial
and
specifically
tragedies
on
of
play, a number of classicising
American subject matter had appearedprior to Zinda, and there were certainly dramatic
'O
Spanish
European
for
the portrayal of exotic queens on the
and
stages.
precedents
Recent scholarship has shown that these works in part served as a vindication of the
11
As
Christian
heart
lay
the
the
mission.
such these
civilising
colonial attitude which
of
at
143
tragedies tended to reassureand reaffirm confidence in Spain's own system of
government at a time when Britain's loss of its American colonies spread fear of the
possibility of Spain's loss of territories in central America. Thus in choosing to base her
play in an overseascolony outside Spain's sphere of influence, Gilvez mined the seam of
interest in colonial tragedies while avoiding any overt political parallels or controversies.
Tragedy 'con ixito felizI
The greatest obstacle to the treatment of Zinda as tragedy might seem to lie in its
resolution: Zinda's death, and those of her husband and child, are prevented by the
unexpected arrival of Pereyra in the final moments of the action. Thus the play ends
happily, a denouement generafly considered admissible by theorists, though not
recommendablefor good tragedy. Aristotle had suggestedthat 'tragedy at its best should
be complex, not simple, and it should also present a mimesis of things that arouse fear
12
and pity,. Despite the practice of his own day, Aristotle went on to argue:
So it is clear that one shouldnot show virtuous men passingfrom good to bad
fortune, sincethis doesnot arousefear or pity, but only a senseof outrage.Nor
shouldone showbad menpassingfrom bad to good fortune, as this is lesstragic
than anything,sinceit hasnoneof the necessaryrequirements;it neithersatisfies
our humanfeelingnor arousespity andfear.Nor shouldone show a quite wicked
manpassingfrom good to bad fortune,it is true that suchan arrangementwould
fear,
is
it
the
human
feeling,
but
or
since
one
satisfyour
would not arousepity
felt for someonewho comesto grief without deservingit, and the other for
deserve
his
fate,
fear
does
like
(pity
is,
for
that
the
not
and
someone us
manwho
for someonelike us); so this eventwill not arousepity or fear. So we have left
the man betweenthese.He is one who is not pre-eminentin moral virtue, who
because
but
bad
fortune
to
of somepiece
through
passes
vice or wickedness,
not
fortune,
like
Oedipus
ignorance,
is
high
great
good
and
and
of
repute
andwho of
Thyestesandthe splendidmenof suchfamilies."
LuzAn recognised that Aristotle's three classes of dramatic protagonists (buenos y
del
declinan
la
'malos
todo
'indiferentes
al
vicio
ni
a
no
que
virtuosos',
y viciosos,
virtud, no siendo ni por extremo buenos ni por extremo malos') and two possibilities of
had
fibulas'
Aristotle
de
in
in
'constituciones
fortune,
of
which
reversal
six
resulted
declared only one suitable for tragedy.14 Luzin pursued Aristotle's argument to its
logical conclusion, appearing to admit the possibility of a tragedy with a happy ending,
in
that
while accepting
such a resolution was more appropriate comedy:
144
Quedans6lo los indiferentesque bajendel estadofeliz al infeliz o, al contrario,
subandel infeliz al feliz; y como este61timocasoproduzcas6lo alegriay gusto,
seri mis proprio de la comediaquede la tragedia."
However, in other parts of Lapoetica, Luzin appearedless disapproving of tragedy with
a happy denouement.16Furthermore, he gave some thought to the mechanics of plot
proper to comediesand tragedies'con 6xito feliz'. Taking his cue from Aristotle he
observed:
parece que el enredo y la soluci6n sölo tengan lugar en las tragedias de ixito feliz
o en las comedias, y no en las de dxito infeliz. [ ] Porque como el enredo
...
consiste, segün hemos dicho, en los obstäculos y peligros del hiroe, o sea del
primer papel, y la soluci6n consiste en superar estos obstäculos y peligros,
sucediendo en las tragedias de dxito infeliz todo lo contrario, esto es, que lo que
habia de ser el enredo no contenga peligros ni obstäculos, y lo que habia de ser
soluciön sea origen de desdichasy desgracias,las cuales no sölo cesan, sino que
antes bien se aumentanBegandoa acabar con la vida del h6roe oa lo menos con
su felicidad, es evidente que en las tragedias de 6xito infeliz no puede haber
17
enredo ni soluciön.
Luzin proceededto discussthe dramatic function of these dangers and obstacles,
concludingthat they were vital in arousingand maintainingthe interest and attention,
and, by implication, the pity ('Ustima', p.472) and fear ('terror', p.472), of the
spectators,which might sustaina dramaas tragedyuntil the final and unexpectedhappy
18
(p.
487).
resolution
Zinda is constructedaround a seriesof dangers,threats and obstacles.At the
outset of the play, Mido
has been kidnapped, by the start of Act 11, Zinda has been
captured, and by Act III, Nelzir is also taken prisoner. Furthermore, Nelzir's attempt to
deceive Vinter in order to secure the release of his family is unsuccessful, and Vinter's
Angela
force
to marry him becomes ever more real. The senseof trial
ongoing threat to
and danger is persistent, and is exacerbatedby the imn-dnentprospect of renewed conflict
and racial disharmony.
Through the depiction of these dangers, threats and obstacles, Gilvez aims to
"
by
However, it is in the resolution of the
defined
Aristotle.
provoke the tragic effect as
action that Gilvez appearedto challenge accepted precept and advice most directly, by
employing the 'fibula doble', or 'double arrangement of the action' in which the more
less
fortune
the
and
virtuous characters are
virtuous characters are rewarded with good
20
punished. Aristotle viewed this as a very much inferior model, although he accepted
145
21
that the doublearrangement
in
his
time.
was morepopularwith audiences
Thus, although tragedy 'con 6xito feliz' was not specificallypraised, it was
neitherexcludedin theory nor unknownin practiceandaccordingto ancientandmodem
criteria, Zinda may be viewed as tragedyon sucha model.Moreover, in additionto the
tragic effect, it is possibleto identify three key elementscommon to all classicising
tragedyin this work: the statusand nobility of the protagonist,tragic error, and reversal
of fortune. As Queenof the Congo,Zinda hasthe requisiteelevationof title and stature,
and this is highlightedat the outset of the play when Pereyrarefers to her as 'gloriosa
Soberana'(1j). More significantlyshehas nobility of character,which derivesfrom her
conversionto enlightenedcustoms,practicesandwaysof government(Lii).
Furthermore,GAlvezaccordsZinda the complexityof the tragic protagonist.By
Angela,
her trials arenot thoseof the persecutedinnocent,and
the
contrastwith
virtuous
Gilvez is deliberatein signallingher tragic error. Pereyraurges Zinda not to react
instinctivelyand to avoid bloody conflict with Vinter, proposinga more subtlestrategy
to securethe releaseof Z6fido (Liii). Yet Zindaremainsguidedby vengeance:
PrimeroRegaride mi venganza
el golpeasolador;dejaa mi brio
el esplendordel triunfo... (I, fii)
However, Gilvez showsthat this is not a blind, instinctivevengeance,but one which in
its way is reasoned,evenjustified. When Vinter indicateshis wish to parley, Zinda
agrees,motivatedby the valuesof 'paz', 'humanidad'and 'tolerancia' inculcatedin her
by Pereyra(I,vi). Shetempersher vengefuldesireswith an admirationof and respectfor
'la virtud de Pereyra'andit is only whenprovokedby the unacceptable
and unjustterms
of Vinter's ultimatumthat shefinally goesinto battle.Zinda's subsequent
rapid defeatis
ascribedby Vascoto her imprudentattack on the fort (II, i), an error of military tactics
which pointsto the inherenterror of the strategyof conflict.
In Zinda, as in Safo and Aft-Bek, this error forms part of a tragic trajectory
initiatedprior to the start of the action:Wido hasbeencaptured,Pereyra'ssonhasbeen
assassinated
and the indigenouspopulationhas risen up againstthe colonial presence.
Zinda's decisionto go into battle furthersthe momentumof the reversalof fortune,since
her rashtacticsresult in her captureand sheremainsincarceratedthroughoutthe rest of
the action. Once captured,she facesa choice: the surrenderof both her son and the
146
resourcesof her kingdom,or heroicfamily suicide.This is a recognisabletragic dilemma,
in which Zinda's Stoicismand self-sacrificeinspire her husband(III, v). Where he had
for the wider
preferredduplicity and escape,shedemonstrates
courageand selflessness
benefitof the kingdom.
Although presentin this work, theseelementsof tragedyare somewhatdiffusein
comparisonwith Gilvez's other works. Zinda's error is shownto be mitigatedand to a
certain extentexplainedby Vinter's behaviour.He is an externalforce of evil who is the
agent of misfortunefor all the charactersboth prior to and during the action. Zinda's
refusalto compromiseor bargainwith Vinter, which leadsto the disastrousbattle,is thus
seento be a logical, rationaland evenvirtuous act. Furthermore,just as Vinter mediates
Zinda's tragic error, so Pereyra intervenesto reverse Zinda's tragic demise. This
unexpectedturn of eventsnot only dilutes the tragic dinouementbut transfersagency
away from Zinda in the resolutionof the conflictsof the work. Ultimatelythe important
parts accordedto Vinter and Pereyrain the unfolding action serveto temperthe force
and centralityof Zindawho is confinedandrestrictedfrom the start of Act IL
Tragedy and the Devices of Comedia Lactimosa
Though Zinda may be understood as tragedy, it is important to recognise that Gilvez
drew on the resources of other genres in the creation of this work, which are evident in
the construction of character, in the establishment of mood and in the incorporation
22
lacrimosa.
The
debt is
The
certain gestures.
clearest
to the comedia
of
play opens with a
sequence of rhetorical speeches in which Alcaypa vows to seek revenge on the
Portuguese and urges his fellow Congoleseto join him. IEs epithets are full of blood and
destruction and his tone is declamatory. By contrast with this high rhetoric, a more
in
iii
in which Zinda
is
language
scene
established
natural conversational rhythm of
informs Pereyra that his son has been murdered. Although the metre is unchanged, the
incorporation of exclamation, interrogation and shorter, more broken phrases into the
dialogue in this scenecreates a close, intimate atmospherewhich is reminiscent of much
2'
details
Vinter's
treachery,
Furthermore,
the
of
sentimental comedy.
while recounting
Zinda is moved to tears, which, although as she insists are the tears of fury, are an
outward manifestation of sensibility nonetheless:
147
Tus Iwnentos arrancan de mis ojos
ligrimas de furor. Soy desdichada,
Pereyra, pero el Ilanto de la queja
no derram6jamis una afticana
(i, iii)
In addition to tears, there are finiher examplesof the gesturalvocabularyof comedia
lacrimosa. Zinda andNelzir's embrace(1,v) finds an echonot only whenZinda embraces
Angela, an action laden with matemal.pathos (II, H), but at the end of the play when
father and daughterare reunited(III, vii). However, the scenesin which the emotional
tone of family drama is most self-consciouslyevoked are those between Zinda and
Mdo. It might be arguedthat the child's lack of voiceis a concessionto the decorumof
the tragic stage, since children rarely feature in classicising tragedy. However, the
presence of the five-year old boy is a device much more familiar in sentimental comedy,
Cpara,crear escenasde gran.patetismo o simplemente para dar un. toque de ternura a la,
descripci6n de las relaciones familiares en el interior de un hogar burgu6s'.24
At the start of Act 111,Zinda, in introspective mood, speaksto her sleeping child
and confessesher fearsfor his future andthat of the kingdom:
Feliz infancia, en cuya edad se ignoran
los males de la vida y los peligros.
iC6mo el dulce reposo de tu estado
hijo
dolor,
querido!
envidia mi
1-Ejode ini desgracia,tü del suefio
gozasel blandohalago,y yo suspiro,
tiembloy me afanoal contemplartu suerte.
Gilvez uses the pathos and the melancholy of the family sceneto underline the status of
Zinda as Queen, and Zdlido the boy heir. Thus beyond his token role as the object of
maternal love and the channel of audiencecompassion,&fido representsthe kingdom of
the Congo and his capture and eventual release are intertwined with the fortunes of the
Congolese.25
It is in respect of characterisationthat certain tensions arising from the mixture of
the modes of tragedy and sentimental comedy in Zinda can be perceived. Gilvez
characterisesher heroine Zinda as both warrior queen and sensitive mother. Throughout
is
indeed
to
as
act
as
a
queen
Converge,
the
these
also
most of
action,
roles coexist,and
to save her son. Throughout Act 1, Zinda is pre-erninently figurehead and leader,
148
although the tearful scenewith Pereyrais suggestiveof a sensibilitywhich is emphasised
in Act 11,and which by Act III has
come to dominate.However, by the final act, the
accentuationof the maternalin Zinda offers a new perspectiveon the tragic dilemma
which facesher and the choicesheeventuallymakes.As a protagonistof a tragedy,her
decision is familiar, comprehensible
and admirable. However, the conventions of
sentimentalcomedymakethe killing of a child an horrific and repulsiveprospect,even
within the impossiblecircumstanceswhich Vinter creates.This is a moment at which
tragedy and sentimental comedy seemto pull in opposite directions.
Someof thesesametensionsare also visiblein the characterof Angela,although
rather in reverse.Sheis at first, the 'infelice hija', who after the deathof her brother is
'desarnparada'and vulnerableQýH).Like
Angela
heroines
of sentimentalcomedy,
many
is innocent and virtuous,
and about to be forced into a marriage(Tatal y triste lazo',
IIJ), to which sheis nevertheless
preparedto submit:
Cualvictimaadomada,quepreviene
al sacrificioel inocentecuello
asiyo de estasgalasmal vestida
me preparotarnbi6na serel precio
del comimalborozo
...
(Iij)
However, this is not a sacrifice to filial duty, but to the wider good of the
community and as such a more obvious tragic self-sacrifice. As the action unfolds,
Angela acquires an increasingly active role, first as intermediary, facilitating the reunion
of Zinda and Wido (11jv), later assisting the progress of the counter-plot to overthrow
Vinter, (II, fii), and finally intervening to prevent the death of Zinda, Nelzir and Mido
(III, v). In balancing the passive, innocent victim with the active, principled, confidante,
and in according her traits of Stoic self-sacrifice, Gilvez succeedsin creating a character
who is a fusion of both dramatic modes.
The complexityof the femalecharactersis offset by the one-dimensional
nature
of the malecharactersin this work andparticularlythat of the charactersof Pereyraand
Vinter, who cometo embodyvirtue and vice respectively.It might be arguedthat it is
difficult to developand sustainfully roundedcharactersin a relatively short three-act
26
play. Neverthelessit remains surprising that Vfnter and Pereyra, who play such
importantrolesin the expositionandresolutionof the action,shouldbe accordedso little
149
light and shade.Vinter is cast in the familiarrole of the tyrant, yet he is strippedof any
deep-seatedmotivation beyond greed. Even his lust for Angela is unconvincingand
undeveloped.We learnof Vinter's intentionsto compelAngela to marry him principally
through the reported speechof others, and GAlvezdoes not allow his charactera
soliloquy in which to meditateon his desires.This suggeststhat for Gilvez his character
has two functions:a mechanicalone, asthe instigatorof the initial reversalof fortune in
the Congo and of manyof the subsequent
beset
the other characters,
misfortuneswhich
and a symbolic one, as the embodimentof unenlightenedand brutal European
colonialism,whereVinter is associatedwith slaveryandlooting asNelzir observes:
Lqui? Lyo podria
fundar la esclavitud en este imperio
del
tu
LYo
oro
avaricia?
por saciar
las niinas descubrir a un europeo
infame y codicioso, que arrojado
de su propio pais con vilipendio,
quiere, a costa de todos mis vasallos,
elevarsu fortuna?
(11,vii)
Conversely, Pereyra, is posited as the enlightened colonialist bringing values of
civilisation, reason and order to what was once a brutal and savage society, as Zinda
recognises:
Pereyra me ha enseiiadoa ser piadosa,
cuando Ileg6 su nave a estascomarcas
por la primera vez, en nuestro suelo
reinabanlas costumbressanguinarias
de la ferocidad pero vosotros
al mirar sus virtudes, la tirana
fiereza depusisteis,y yo misma
(I, ii)
irnit6 la clemenciaque enseiiaba.
At the start of the actionPereyrais subjectedto a ratherincrediblecatalogueof trials: he
hasbeenthrown overboardand managedto swim ashore,he hasbeenrescuedfrom the
his
his
the
to
menace
and
death
learnt
son
by fire, he has
of
threat of
of the assassination
daughter,andyet his speechandbehaviourpatternsremainhonourableand dignifiedand
betray little of the psychologicalimpact of these events.He retains his capacity for
just
the
a
and
advocates
forgiveness,
play,
reason,measureand
and, at the end of
de
/
hoy
61
baJel
for
'Un
Vinter,
mismo partiris
esti pronto; en
appropriatepunishment
150
estascostas,y en Lisboa/ suffiris el rigor de tu destino' (III, vii). He might be regarded
as a fusion of two idealisedtypes:the brave,strongcolonialadventurerand the wise and
just paragonof enlightenedmalevirtue.
Pereyrais absentfrom muchof the action.He disappearsmid-waythroughAct 1,
and doesnot reappearuntil the last sceneof the play. His final entry, accompaniedby the
cries of the Portuguese,althoughforeshadowedwithin the inherentlogic of the drama,
nonethelessappearsabrupt and evenmiraculous.In a suddenreversal,Vasco abandons
Vinter, who is quickly surroundedand overpowered,Angela is freed from Vinter's
grasp, and Zinda is restoredas Queenandassumesa regaltone as sheurgesher people,
'Vasallos, respetemoslas virtudes/ de esteh6roeportugu6s'(III, vii). In the mannerof
this final scenePereyraassumesthe role of Deus ex machina, quickly resolving the
conflict and ensuringthe restorationof good order.
Perhapsthe most interesting,albeit sublimated,aspectof Pereyra'scharacteris
his relationshipwith Zinda. Early in the action they sharean intimate, emotionalscene
which colours an understandingof the extent of the bonds of trust and respectwhich
unite them.Zinda's maternalfeelingstowardsPereyra'sdaughteraccentuatethe senseof
the kinshipbetweenthe two charactersandher high praiseof his virtues at the end of the
drama merely echoes the sentimentsshe expressesthroughout. Zinda's constant
admirationfor Pereyracontrastswith the morepracticalrelationshipwith her husband,in
judgement.
her
defers
her
he
in
to
superior
which
role asqueensetsthe tone and which
Themes
This relationship between Pereyra and Zinda is perhaps best understood in the fight of
the thematic interest in this play: the relationship between colonial powers and the
colonised subjects, and more broadly between Enlightenment values and civilisations and
those said to be barbaric and violent. In this play, as Franklin Lewis has observed,
oppression is denouncedand slavery condemned,and this is most apparent at the end of
the play when Zinda demandsthe end of the slave trade in exchangefor the continuation
27
both
Franklin
that,
difficult
is
though,
Portuguese
It
as
to
the
accept
of
colony.
more
Lewis and Fernando Dom6nech have asserted, that Zinda can be read as 'An early
28
"colonisation"
Spanishdiscontent
exampleof
with the
of nationsandpeoples'.
Firstly, it is clearthat thereis no hint in the dramathat the colonycould or should
revert to the control of its indigenouspopulation.Zinda's nostalgiaat the beginningof
151
the action is not for a pre-colonialpast, but for 'el tiempo / de concordiafeliz y de
/ puede
alianza' Q,vi). Indeed,prior to meetingwith Vinter, shehopesthat 'su embaJada
volver la paz a nuestroimperio' (I,vi). It is also importantto rememberthat onceVinter
is overthrown, Pereyraabandonsall hopes of establishingan 'alliance' betweenthe
Congo and Portugal, until persuadedby Zinda to ratify the treaty. Gilvez therefore
makesZinda complicitin the continuationof the colonialpower relationshipandeventhe
fact that Vinter is sentto Lisbon to be tried emphasises
that justice, like power, resides
not in the colony,but in the courtsof Europe.
It is not simply through these aspects of the dialogue and action that one senses
an ambivalencetowards the colonial subject, since the characterisationof Zinda in
relation to that of Vinter and Pereyrapoints to a familiar colonial attitude. Although
impressiveas a model of female heroism,ultimately the characterof Zinda does not
possessthe full resonanceof tragic protagonist,becausesheis deniedagencyfor much
of the action, and sheis neitherresponsiblefor the reversalof fortune which has beset
her and the colony, nor for the resolutionin which her own death and those of her
husbandand child, are averted.It is perhapsironic that Zinda's first act of free will after
releaseis to sign the alliancewhich will guaranteethe continuedcolonial presenceand
the further underminingof her own powerandstatus.
Conclusions
More than any other of GMvez's tragic works, this play is poised between tragedy and a
new literary genre, in this case sentimental comedy. This in itself makes an important
contribution to an understanding of the author's desire to innovate and experiment in
tragedy. However, it is tempting to connect some of the ambiguities of form in Zinda
with the fundamental uncertainties of theme. As in Aft-Bek, Gilvez portrays an exotic
country and brings European and African civilisations into close contact. There are
Ali-Bek
decentred
between
the
role
of
and the
the
obvious parallels
construction of
in
the
difficult
that
it
is
the
in
to
Zinda
conclusion
avoid
this work, and
position of
by
Gilvez
radical social vision, as some
this
much
so
writing of
play,
was guided not
intellectualism
in
her
have
by
conservative
modem scholars
contended, as an enlightened
its
European
between
and
colonial
civilisation
understanding of the relationship
dependents.
152
I Maria RosaGAIvezde Cabrera,Zinda.Drama
Inigico en tresactos,in Obraspoiticas,IIL
pp.100-168.
2 Dom6nech,
ed.cit., andFranklinLewis, 'Breakingthe Chains'.All fin-therreferences
to the
text arefrom theeditionby Dom6nech.
3 Franklin Lewis
European
situatesGAIvez'splay in the context of eighteenth-century
feminist anti-slaveryliteratureand speculates
impactof Zinda in the
on the contemporary
light of the successfulslaverevolutionin Haiti in 1798.SeeFranklinLewis, 'Breakingthe
Chains', pp.263-266.Thereis a growingbody of scholarshipdedicatedto the analysisof
Europeanfemale-authored
texts concernedwith colonial issues.Anne K. Mellor, 'The
FemalePoet and the Poetess:Two Traditionsof British Women's Poetry, 1780-1830',
Studies in Romanticism,36 (1997), pp.261-276 has demonstratedthat whereasmale
abolitionistsarguedagainstslaveryon the groundsthat it opposed'natural law', women
writers, 'tendedto conderrinslaverybecauseit violatedthe domesticaffection.' It 'separated
fromtheirwives,andsubjectedblackwomento sexual
mothersfrom theirchildren,husbands
abusefrom theirwhitemasters'(p.267).Thesespecificcondemnations
oftenformedpartof a
more broad-rangingcritiqueof the conductof the entireimperialproject, basedon three
factors:that nativepeopleswerecreatedin the imageof God andwere thereforeentitledto
liberty,thatEuropeanexploitationof therich naturalresources
of foreignlandsdefiedreason;
femaleempathywith thesufferingof slaves(p.268).
4In her requestto CarlosIV GAIvez
ha
'expone*
trestomosde poesias,
compuesto
que
wrote,
entreellasdosdetragediasoriginales'.SeeaboveChapter2 note1.
5 SeeFranklinLewis, 'Breakingthe Chains Slavery', 265; Dom6nech,
p.
of
ed.cit., p.33;
Dom6nech,Autoras, p.497. Daniel Whitakerviews Zinda as a tragedywhich 'lacks a
de
Itragedia
traditionaltragic denouement'
tesis' or 'propaganda
play',
andultimatelyas a
Premiere',p.26.
seeWhitaker,'An Enlightened
6 SeeJosephC. Miller, 'Nzinga of Matambain a New Perspective',Journal of AMcan
History, 13 (1975),pp.201-216;JohnK. Thornton,'LegitimacyandPoliticalPower:Queen
Njinga, 1624-1663',Journalof.4ffican History,32 (1991),pp.125-140.
7 AntonioCavazzidaMontecuccolo,
Istorica descrizionede'tre regni: Congo,Matambaet
Angola, Bolonia, 1687;JeanBaptisteLabat,Rilation Historiquede I'Etopie occidentale,
Paris, 1732; Jean-LuisCastilhon,Zingha, reine dAngola, Histoire africaine, Laurent
Quillerie(ed.), Bourges,1993,[Paris,1769].For a discussionof possiblehistoricalsources
of theplayseeGrinstein,Dramaturgas,pp.167-169.
8 Plot Summary:The
play is set in the Congo,ruled by QueenZinda, now a colonyof
fort of Santo
Portugal.At thestartof Act L Pereyra,returningCommander
of thePortuguese
Tornis hassurvivedan attemptto drownhim, but hasbeencapturedby Congolese
natives
five-year
Zinda's
intend
imprisonment
false
kill
him
in
to
to
the
of
old son
who
order avenge
and heir, Z61ido.Zinda preventsthe murder,but informsPereyrathat in his absence,the
Dutchman,Vinter,whomhe protectedandto whomhe grantedasylumin the fort, hasduped
thePortuguese
guards,killedPereyra'sson,imprisonedherown sonandis preparingto force
Angela, Pereyra'sdaughter,to marry him. Zinda determinesto overthrowVinter, and
Pereyra'scallsfor a peacefulsolutionareto no avail.Havingmet with Vinter andrefusedto
accepthis bribes,Act I closeswith Zinda'sdeclaration
of war.At thestartof Act H thebattle
is overandZinda,defeatedandimprisonedin thefort. Vinter andhis menaretriumphant,but
Angela's spirits contrastwith the prevailingmood as she realisesher nuptial hour is
153
Angela's
Vinter
in
Zinda
approaching.
care and the two women begin to plan their
places
escape.Nelzir, Zinda's husbandmeetswith Vinter and, defying Zinda's insistencethat they
refuse to co-operate,agreesto surrenderthe Congo's natural resourcesin exchangefor the
release of his wife and son. At the start of Act III he is reunited with his family. Zinda is
furious at her husband's perceivedtreacheryýbut while Nelzir explains that he deliberately
misled Vinter as to the location of the mines,his ruse is discovered.Vinter returns to the fort
in time to preventthe departureof the family and threatensto kill all three. Angela intercedes
and Vinter agreesto sparetheir lives but vows to sendZifido to Portugal as a slave. Zinda
and Nelzir threatento kill their son and commit suicide, but this extreme solution is avoided
by the arrival of Pereyra,who has regainedthe support of the Portugueseguards.Vinter is
overpowered, but despite calls for his death, Pereyra insists he be sent to Lisbon to face
punishment. The play ends with the prospect of the imminent rafification of the treaty of
alliance and trade between Congo and Portugal on condition, placed by Zinda, that the
trafficking of slavesbe ended.
9 Ironically it is
in
from
the
trade
Nzinga
slave
that
now recognised
promoted and profited
order to maintain her power. See Thornton, Tegitimacy and Political Power', p. 136.
Grinstein, Dramaturgas has argued that aspects of Nzinga's life, as documented in the
Gilvez
known
been
histories,
that
have
offensive
and
various
considered morally
would
purged the narrative, but in doing so rriissed the opportunity to create 'una tragedia
into
Zinda
'el
have
the
transformed
character
of
absolutamenteoriginal', which would
paradigmadel movirnientofeminista', seepp. 168-169,(p. 168).
10See, for
),
(ed.
Teatro,
d.,
Lafarga
La
Akira,
de
Manuel
Sumalde,
see
n.
n.
p.,
exarnple,
delfirancis
Traducida
En
205-206;
Pablo
de
La
Zayda.
Olavide,
Tragedia.
actos.
cinco
pp.
al espahol, Barcelona, n.d., performed at the Principe 1771,1790,1792,1794 and at the
Cruz, 1791, see Lafarga (ed.), Teatro europeo, p.233 and Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera,
p. 882.
11 Antonio Mendoza Fiflola, 'El
]a
despotismo
tragedia,
en
comprorniso colonial y el
de
Ta
tema
Tovar,
in
Coloquio,
tragedia
Paco
267-287;
neoclAsica
neoclAsica',
pp.
),
(ed.
75
Sala
Valldaura
1in
Teatro
de
Cort6s',
Atahualpa,
Crist6bal
pp.
espatTol,
americano:
782.
12
Aristotle, Poetics, p.66.
13 ibid
14LuzAn, Lapoifica,
p. 471.
15Ibid.,
p. 472.
16Ibid., pp.433,443,448,470.
171bid.,p.486.
18Ibid., p.487.
199Tragedy is
but
also of things arousingpity and
action,
a mimesis not only of a complete
fear, emotionsmost likely to be stirred when things happenunexpectedly'.Aristotle, Poetics,
p.63.
20Ibid, p.67,
470.
Luzki,
Lapoitica,
p.
and
21'Second comesthe
best:
is
is
this
the one that
the
sort of arrangementthat somepeoplesay
has a double arrangementof the action like the Odyssey,and endswith opposite fortunes for
154
the good and bad people. It is thought to be the best because of the weaknessof the
audiences; for the poets follow the lead of the spectators and make plays to their
specifications.But this is not the pleasureproper to tragedy, but rather belongsto comedy.'
(Aristotle, Poetics, p.67).
22 See Garcia Garrosa, La
ret6rica de las 16grimas, for an important analysis of the
development of the comedia lacrimosa in Spain. See especially Chapter VH, 'Recursos
dramificos' and ChapterVIII, 'EI lenguajey el tono', for a discussionof the dramatic devices
proper to this genre, (pp.219-242). See also David T. Gies, 'Cienfuegos y las lagrimas de
virtud', in Coloquio, pp.213-225, and CaflasMurillo, Comediasentimental,pp.43-61.
23The
verse form adoptedis romanceheroico. The assonanceis a-a in Act 1, e-o in Act H, i-o
in Act III.
24See Garcia Garrosa,La
ret6rica de las 16grimas,p.221. I am very grateful to Dr. Garcia
Garrosa for supplying a list of contemporarysentimentalcomedieswhich feature children:
Luciano Francisco Comella, Drama en dos actos.El dichoso arrepentimiento, n.p., n.d.,
'Ana, nifia de diez afios;Luciano FranciscoComella,Lafamilia indigente, [Salamanca],n.d.,
'Juanito, nin-o' (a baby); GasparZavala y Zamora, Las victimas del amor, Ana y Sindham,
[Madrid, 1797], 'Pamela,nm-ade diez afios'; Vicente Rodriguez de Arellano, A padre malo
buen hýyo,n.p., n.d., 'Un nifio', Antonio Valladaresde Sotomayor,Elfabricante de paflos, o
hijos
de
'Enrique,
de
de
d.,
inglis,
'Isabela,
and
seis,
el comerciante
edad ocho ahos'
n.p., n.
de Wilson'; Dionisio Solis, Misantropia y arrepentimiento.Drama en tres aclos, arreglado
a nuestro leatro, Madrid, 1800, 'Dos nifios, hijos del Bar6n'; idem., La misantropia
desvanecida.Drama en un acto, escrito en aleintin porAugusto Kotzebue,en continuaci6n
al drama intitulada La Misantropia y arrepentimiento del mismo autor, Barcelona, n.d.,
'Felix y Amelia, hijos del Bar6n y Eulalia de seisy siete afios'. Dr. Garcia Garrosa observes
that, with the exception of the baby, all these children 'hablan o fienen un papel
importantisimo en la trama o en el desenlace.
'
25Franklin Lewis has recognisedthe
future
black
'symbol
Z61ido
the
the
race'
of
of
as
role of
and developsthe argumentthat since he has no voice, Zinda must speak for him using the
languageof power, that is, the languageof the European colonisers. See Franklin Lewis,
'Breaking the Chains'. p.270.
26Act I comprises452 lines, Act 2
lines.
3
418
lines
Act
448
comprises
and
comprises
27Franklin Lewis, 'Breaking the Chains', p.266.
28Ibid., p. 271. 'Es,
lacras
de
la
las
de
peores
civilizaci6n
una
un alegatorazonado,contra
europea,una defensaa ultranza,de los derechoshumanossin restriccionesy una contribuci6n
de
Dom6nech,
internacional
importante
de
la
aftos',
ed.cit.,
aquellos
al problema mis
politica
p.32.
155
CHAPTER TEN
LA DELip. 4NTE
La delirante, the last work in volume III
of the Obras po&icas, engaged with the
historical conflict and rivalry of Elizabeth I
and Mary Stuart, a narrative wl-&h had
proved popular with playwrights and audiences in Spain during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries.' Gilvez's attitude to the character of Elizabeth and her
unprecedentedcreationof the characterof Leonor, basedon Mary's secretdaughter,as
describedin somehistoricalaccounts,demonstrated
not only her capacityfor imaginative
engagementwith a well-known episode in history, but also her talent for the
dramatisationof tragic conflict. As before, GAlvezcreatedLa defirwile on a classical
model of tragedy, but its complexplot, gesturaland scenicvocabularyand tone owe
much to the repertoireof other dramaticgenres.Yet it is the characterisationof Isabel
and Leonor, whose paralleltrajectoriessustainthe tensionand the interest throughout
the action, which remains the most strildng aspect of the tragedy.
Elizabeth and Mary in Spanish and European Drama
The intrigues of the Elizabethan court proved fertile ground for Spanish playwrights of
the seventeenth century and the story of Mary was invariably used to cast Elizabeth in a
light. 2 Antonio Coello's, El
focuses
de Sex 1633,
negative
conde
of
which
on the amours
between Elizabeth and Essex, had no role for Mary and this enabled the author to treat
the English Queen in a surprisingly sympathetic manner However two later works re'3
established the more familiar opposition between the saintly Catholic Mary and the
tyrannical Protestant Elizabeth. It has been demonstrated that Juan Bautista Diamante's
La reina Maria Estuarda, of 1660, exerted a powerful influence on an early eighteenthcentury treatment of the narrative, Lo que va de cetro a cetro, y crueldad en Inglaterra,
first performed in Madrid in 1712 Although La reina Mari Estuar,da is not known to
.4a
have been performed in the eighteenth century, Lo que va de cetro a cetro and El conde
de Sex were frequently staged in Madrid throughout the period, presenting two different
faces of the English queen which together may have influenced Gilvez's nuanced
5
Elizabeth.
to
the
approach
characterisationof
156
Gilvez may also have been aware of the fascination which the historical
confrontationof Elizabethand Mary exertedover Europeandramatiststhroughoutthe
6 However,the appearance
seventeenthand eighteenthcenturies.
of Gilvez's play might
bestbe understoodaspart of an intensification interestin the
of
narrativeboth within and
beyond Spain at the turn of the century.The four-act tragedyLa
estuardaby Maria
MartinezAbello is thoughtto be contemporaneous La defirante.7 In
with
a Plot summary
(argumento)which appearedat the end of the printed play, Martinez Abello identified
Mary as a compellingtragic heroine,but recognisedthat in orderto properlyexploreher
tragedy,Elizabethmustalsobe powerfullydrawn:
Este esun brevecompendiode la trigica, historiade la mis hermosay desgraciada
reina, [ ... ] he procuradopintar el carActerde las dos soberanascon los mAsvivos
colores que me ha sido posible.Apenasse encontrarAasuntotan lastimosopara
formar un dramatrAgicocomodste.'
Martinez Abello's tragedy, like Lo que va de cetro a cetro, was fundamentally Catholic
in inspiration and maintained the very stark
demonised
between
Elizabeth
the
opposition
and the martyred Mary. By contrast, Friedrich Schiller's five-act tragedy, Maria Stuart
completed in 1799, premi6red in Weimar on June 14 1800 and subsequentlyprinted in
1801, offered both a more secular version of the tale, and a more complex vision of the
relationship between the two queens.9 The work is still regarded as the most significant
10
Stuart
Mary
and powerful of all classicising treatments of the
narrative. Schiller's
emphasison Mary's guilt enhancedher tragic status, but may also account in part for the
fact that the play was neither performed in Madrid nor translated into Spanish in
Gilvez's lifetime. " It is thus not generally believed to have directly influenced the
"
La
deftrante.
composition of
In addition to dramaticversionsof the story, Gilvez may also have known of
historicalaccountsandmemoirs.Schilleris thoughtto havederivedmanyof the facts on
13
Scotland
1759
of
which he basedhis tragedy from William Robertson'sHistory of
.
This work was translatedinto Frenchandthusmaywell haveprovidedGilvez with some
her
indications
that
However,
principal
there
materialon which to constructthe plot.
are
sourcewas the Mimoires of Michel de Castelnau,in the revisedand augmentededition
by J. Le Laboureur first publishedin 1731.14TheseMjmoires made mention of a
daughter,born to Mary in Januaryor February 1568, who was taken to France in
157
disguiseand who becamea nun in the
" It is this
conventof Notre-Damede Soussons.
daughteron whom Gilvez appearsto have
modelledher characterof Leonor, indeed
thereis an explicit referenceto Leonor's conventupbringingin La defirante: 'permitiera
que volviese/A la antiguaAbadia en que tuvieron / Placery paz sus inocentesaftos'
(II, i). However,thereis no historicalor literary
precedentfor the dramaticconfrontation
betweenIsabelandLeonor which Gilvez
portraysin her tragedy.The exclusionof Mary
and the incorporation of her daughtermust thereforebe regardedas the single most
important aspectof Gilvezs dramatic
16
the
engagement
with
narrative. This innovation
allows Gilvez to approachthe familiar subjectmatter from a fresh perspective,and to
exploresomeof the powerfulthemeswhicharecentralto her othertragedies.
Leonor and La Estuarda
In the unprecedented creation of the character of Leonor, Gilvez both
exploits the
tensions and conflicts which made the Tudor-Stuart confrontation such rich material for
tragedy, and avoids the well-known progress and denouement of the relationship
between Elizabeth and Mary. On one level, this may be viewed as part of GAlvez's
constant searchfor new dramatic situations and perspectiveson familiar subject matter in
tragedy. The ill-defined nature of the historical figure of Mary's daughter afforded
Gilvez greater freedom of invention. The confrontation between Isabel and Leonor is
entirely of GAlvez's making, and as such, the resolution of La defirante cannot be
foreseen with any certainty at the beginning of the action. This allows for greater
suspense and dramatic tension than could be invested in the Elizabeth and Mary
narrative, whose outcomes were so well-known.
As a dramatic device, the invention of Leonor also allows GAlvez to circumvent
the expectations of her public. In Spanish drama and culture, Elizabeth and Mary had
"
Gdlvez
While
fixed
acquired
exploits
and oppositional characteristics and roles.
historical enmities in her tragedy, she does not emphasiseProtestant-Catholic hostilities,
and indeed the absenceof any doctrinal overtones in this play is a prominent feature.
GAlvez, like Schiller and unlike Martinez Abello, made scant reference to religious
debate, and viewed the clash between Tudor and Stuart in human, and specifically
emotional terrns. The unexpected reconciliation between Isabel and Leonor at the end of
La delirante allows Gilvez to transform a narrative of bitter enmity into one of
forgiveness and humility. Such a resolution, impossible in tragedies which focused on the
158
dramaticconflict betweenElizabethandMary, hereaffordsboth figures complexityand
redemption.
However,Gilvez ensuresthat Mary remainsa powerful presencein the tragedy,
and a political or psychological point of reference for all the characters. She first appears
as a symbol of political resistance,manipulated by Arlington to cast Essex in the light of
traitor to Isabel, (1, iv) and she remains a potentially threatening political force, whose
namecan reanimate old hostilities and grievances:
Los arnigos
De su madre Estuarda ya juräron
Coronarä Leonor
(IVi)
Furthermore,Mary's presenceis not merelya political threatto Isabel,but also a
features
Mary
her
developing
equally
to
guilt.
conscienceand senseof
powerful spur
iii,
in
II,
Act
in
hallucinations
Leonor,
scene
particularly
of
vividly the memoriesand
18
faint.
her
to
her
headless
throne
the
causes
the
royal
mother on
vision of
when
for
desire
fuels
Leonor's
her
vengeance,
Remembrance
mother
of the unjustexecutionof
dire
the
Leonor
to
(II, iii and vi). More significantlythough, when
comes understand
deaths,
her
it
is
(IViv),
exemplary
on remembering parents'
of revenge
consequences
is
to seekreconciliation.
her
that
that
she persuaded
mother,
andparticularly
of
found
be
Elizabeth
within
Mary
can also
Remindersof the confrontationof
and
her
Leonor
clandestine
and
the plot structuresof the tragedy: the concealmentof
importantly,
More
her
life
last
itself
mother.
of
period of the
an echoof the
existenceis
the triangular relationshipof Leonor, Essex and Isabel consciouslyechoesthe past
be
fully
English
to
Gilvez
the
Isabel.
queen
Norfolk
shows
and
relationshipof Mary,
de
fatal
'LPor
vuestros
between
al
eco
qu6
past and present.
aware of this parallel
Leonor
deaths
iii).
The
(1,
'
which
furioso
/
Essex
virtuous
contra mi conspira?
nombres
to
the
allusion
subtle
the
a
are
for
Essex
play
herself
the
of
towards
end
and
envisages
the
Leonor
final
evokes
consciously
In
(IVv).
death
the
scene,
pattern of her parents'
by
death,
and
heroism
compromised
not
her
were
parents,whosevirtue and
exampleof
(Vviii).
forgive
Isabel
to
able
who were
Leonor: 'La defirante'
be
Leonor
GMvez's
however,
regarded purely as
cannot
Despite these repeated patterns,
fit
tyrannical
the
the
antagonist.
does
Isabel
of
Mary,
mould
precisely
and
nor
a second
159
Indeed,the complexityof Gilvez's characterisation
of both womenis one of the major
achievementsof this tragedy. Leonor is not a simple substitutefor Mary as tragic
heroine.Her trajectory is dependenton the progressof Isabel,and the two characters
canbestbe understoodnot in opposition,ashasoftenbeenasserted,but intertwinedin a
19
fate.
parallelprogressand
Leonor's first appearance
on stageseemsdesignedto signalher troubledstateof
mind (II, ii). Gdlvez's choice of words and imagery in this scene is a conscious echo of
the vocabulary used by Shakespeareto indicate Ophelia's derangement in Hwnlet. 20
However this allusion must be understood as a powerful theatrical shorthand to indicate
mental turmoil, rather than as a symbol of a profound parallel between Leonor and
Shakespeare's character. Ophelia's journey is from reason to madness and suicide,
whereasLeonor's trajectory might be said to be the reverse. Leonor moves from loss of
reason and status through anger and retribution to reason and reconciliation before her
murder.
In her first appearance,Leonor's speechis punctuated with exclamations,
questionsand pauses,laced with repetitionsand broken phrases,as she questionsher
own identity:
Si, repite
Esenombre:mi mnante,mi consuelo,
Todo
Lquidn
mas
soy
yo?
....
Yet even amongst these recognisable signs of mental anguish, Leonor is aware of
her own 'confusa raz6n', a hint that hers is not an irreversible condition. In the following
her
in
is
Leonor
Essex,
the
there
quality
of
scene, as
a perceptible change
confronts
language. The melancholy composure of her dialogue with her lover indicates not
delirium, but rhetorical recriminationof his behaviour.When Essexasks 'tPudiera yo
/
Hubiera
faltase?
Teonor
',
Leonor
primero
si
ex1stiria
no
vivir si ella
responds,
...
herself
iii).
Leonor's
(II,
Essex'
In
as someonealready
of
this
conception
muerto
context,
but deeptrauma.In the light of her poetic explanation
deadis not a signof derangement,
dead,
into
her
forced
fate
marriage,unjustly accused,presumed
of
own
and situation;
both
it
for
to
hidden
from
identity
three
seem
comes
years,
view
given a new
and
coherentandpoignant.
As G;Uvezshows,angerand the desirefor revengeare the forceswhich disturb
Leonor at the start of the action.In her dialoguewith Essex,theseare clearlyarticulated:
160
Si, venganza,
Grita. desdela tumba; desdeel seno
Donde yace la.invoca: A sus agravios
Tu valor sacrifique sus perversos
Perseguidores Di, ttienes presente
...
lo que por ti sufH6?Deshonor, zelos,
Envidia, Conde, abominableenvidia,
....
je acuerdasbiende todo?
(11,iii)
Theseare the driving forcesfor her actionsandwords in subsequentscenes,and
especiallyin her confrontationswith Isabel(H,vi; III, vii; IVvi), althoughthe natureof
her vengeanceis transformedin the courseof the action.In the early scenewith Essex,
sheis motivatedprimarily by a personalvendetta,inspiredby the misfortuneswhich she
has endured(II, iii). In the first confrontationwith Isabel (IIvi), she becomesmore
justice
Old
Testament
andvengeance:
concernedwith an
visionofjudgement,
tus zelos,
Tu crimen,y esamanoenroxecida
Te acusarAnal tribunaltremendo
De la irunortalidad eranmispadres
...
Hay un.Dios vengador.
(II'vi)
In Act 1][1,scenevii, the tone changesagain,andher appealsfor justice are made
on behalf of all those who have sufferedunder Isabel'spersonaland political tyranny.
This movement away from purely personal through family to wider social concerns can
be seenas part of her rehabilitation and progress from self-obsessionand self-destruction
to self-sacrifice, and from the state of confused victim to the status of virtuous and
iv,
in
Arlington
is
IV,
Act
in
key
A
which
this
scene
respect
scene
reasoning agent.
divulges his plot to usurp Isabel and place Leonor on the throne. He wishes to exploit his
insists
but
Leonor
(Tor
tu
figurehead
on
y
nombre),
mi astucia
wife's symbolic value as
by
('0
Arlington,
importance
her
the
choice
stark
the
of
virtue, and when presentedwith
Morir 6 reynar al lado mio') reveals her preference for Stoic death over perfidious,
criminaltriumph:
Y Lqu6me hallo
Entre el odioso crimen y la muerte?
Y tqu6 mi coraz6n suspira en vano
Por no eýdstir?... perezcauna y nül veces,
Antes que la traycion pueda mancharlo
(IVIV)
161
In the next scene,with her reasonfully restored,she offers herselfin exchange
for the freedom of Essex (IVvi), in an action which foreshadowsher offer of selfsacrifice in Act V.
This abandomnentof vengeanceand refusal of treacheryis a vital stagein the
rehabilitation of Leonor. However, the final and most important transition is evident in
her passionatedefenceof Isabel as queenand her forgivenessof the sovereign'spast
crimes:
la sangrehumea
De mis padres sus sombrasinocentes
...
Los sagradosexemplos me recuerdan
De virtud y heroismo: ellos piadosos
Perdonan al morir la mano fiera
Que los hunde en la nada y yo pretendo
...
A un tiempoperdonarlay defenderla.
(Vviii)
In emulating her parents' conduct, Leonor acquires authority and dignity,
factions
devices
of a
the
to
the
employing all
of rhetoric persuade obviouslywarring
divided kingdom to unite and respect Isabel as monarch. Gilvez demonstratesthat
Her
forgivenessmarksthe final stagein the transitionfrom madwomanto stateswoman.
brutal murderat the handsof Arlington is pot the privatedistressedandisolateddeathof
the derangeddaughter.Shediesin the act of reconciliatoryembrace,andat the heightof
her virtue andheroism,forgiving Arlington asshedies'contenta'(Vviii).
is
The clear associationin this scenebetweenreason,virtue and statesmanship
drama.
in
It
this
depiction
Gilvez's
the
of
madness
nature
evidenceof
of
conceptionand
is possible to see that beyond the obvious psychologicaldimension,madnessis a
powerful metaphorfor tyranny,treacheryandpolitical disunity:
Y si traydor lo encuentro... sidescubro
Quemis favorespagacon perfidias,
Derribad un verdugola cabeza
Dondeviventan locasfantasias
(1,iii)
By contrast reason symbolisesloyalty, good government and political unity.
Isabel: 'La. delirante'?
Isabel representsthe other pole of the tragic structure in this drama, and her progress is
inseparable from that of Leonor. Gilvez ensures that conscious parallels are drawn
162
betweenthe characters.In a
powerful soliloquyin which shecontemplatesher own guilt,
Isabel'swords seemto be a deliberate
echoof thoseof Lady Macbeth:
jt6 me arrojas
Su sangreen mis vestidos?esta mancha
Jamis seboffad
...
jamis...
(iii, iii) "I
By comparing her queen to that
other paradigm of female madness in Shakespeare,
GAlvez establishesan allusive paraHelbetween Isabel
and Leonor.
However, the comparisonsbetween the two women operate on a
more profound
level in the drama, since Isabel
also moves from a kind of madnessto a kind of reason.
GOvez portrays her transformationfrom cruel and capricioustyranny, paranoia
and
jealousy, to humility, justice and forgiveness.In her first
words on stage,the queen's
jealousy of Lord and Lady Pembroke'shappinessfuels a soliloquy in which GAlvez
shows that Isabel has been corrupted by the vengeanceshe exacted on Mary and
Norfolk, and,as shebelieves,Leonor:
iOh sombrade Norfolk! jDe qu6me acusas?
T6, a quienmi amorun tiempopreferia,
Me abandonasteingrato; y me he vengado.
Tu cabezacay6, y la mano misma,
Que supo castigar en ti su afrenta,
AniquiI6 con furia vengativa
A Estuarda, y al fruto detestable
De este enlace,A Leonor: ya no respira.
The language of this speechalready hints that her reason is clouded by both a senseof
guilt and a continuing fragility which leads her constantly to the edge of tyranny,
'temblari Undres / Del terrible escarn-&ntode mis iras ' (1,v).
...
It is precisely this mental fragility and this underlying senseof her own culpability
that accountsfor the very profound impact of her first encounterwith Leonor. She
by
been
have
from
to
troubled
a malevolent
pursued
wakes
a
night of visions,claiming
spirit, and convincedthat shemustrepentof her crimes(III, ii). She,like Leonor, stands
'outside' herself, unable to recognisein her present troubled persona her former
/ Quehizo temblarla Europa?(Ill, iii).
grandeurandcourage,'LSoyla ri-ýsrna
On learning that Leonor is alive and secretedin the palace,Isabel's anguish,
paranoia,and desirefor vengeanceare renewedand intensified(III, v). Thesepassions
163
are part of the complexityof her character.Leonor describesher as 'de mirmol' (II, vii)
with 'un corazon de bronce' (IIIvii), which might suggestan opposition to that of
Leonor, whom Essexdescribes 'viva
as
al sentimiento'(Il, iii). However, Gilvez shows
Isabelto be dominatedby grand
passionsandvolatile emotions(IlLiv), which reachtheir
height when,incensedby Arlington's fies
anddeceit,sheresolvesto executeLeonor, 'De
c6lera estoy ciega: envidia,zelos / Ultrajesy rencor estanluchando/ En mi pecho
...
perezca,si, perezca I (IVvii).
...
However, at the height of her fantasy of vengeance, (Vi) she is visited by
Pembroke, who explainsthe extent Arlington's deceit, but
of
also reminds her of her past
tyranny and its consequences.The realisation of her own fallibility and error leads Isabel
to begin a quest for understanding, a process by which she is eventually redeemed(Vii,
iii). The intervention
of Essex marks an important step in this (Vvi). He makes an
impassioned plea on behalf
of Leonor, seeking to persuade Isabel of the greater glory
which clemency and forgiveness bring. However, it is through admiration of Leonor's
example of self-sacrifice that Isabel's redemption is complete. She is moved to tears and
admits that Leonor has triumphed over her rage and desire for vengeance, and
demonstrated the virtue of
compassionand forgiveness(Vviii).
Thus Isabel, like Leonor, abandons vengeance in favour of justice based on
forgiveness. However, while for Leonor, this transformation is achieved by gradually
acquiring agency, Isabel must become more passive. She must relinquish her power to
punish and execute, and allow herself to be instructed by wise counsel. More
importantly, though, through the
example of Leonor, the powerless daughter of her
implacable rival, Isabel finally acquires the
nobility of conduct which matches her status
as sovereign.
The Double Centre of Tragic Interest
Gilvez's characterisation of Leonor and Isabel emphasisesthose shared aspects of their
nature and parallel progress through the action, and brings into question the identity of
'La defirante'. Although this is usually understood to refer to Leonor, G;Uvez's
representation of the state of derangementin this tragedy is broad enough to encompass
the states of mind and patterns of behaviour of both female characters. This ambiguity
may be reflected in the title La dehrante, conspicuous in Gilvez's tragic works which
otherwise all adopt the proper name of the protagonist. Furthermore, if there is an
164
ambiguityaboutthe identity of 'La delirante'thereis alsouncertaintyaboutwhich of the
two charactersmight properlybe consideredthe tragic protagonist.
Isabelhasmanyof the attributesof the tragic protagoniston a classicisingmodel.
Pride is signalledasthe primarymotivationfor her vengefulkilling of Norfolk andMary
prior to the start of the action(1,iv) andit is againthe injury to her pride, which prompts
her desire to avengeherselfwhen Essexrejects her offer of marriageand when she
discoversthat Leonor is alive(H,v; III, iv). Thereversalof fortune originatesin her pride
since she is credulousin the face of Arlington's manipulationsand underminingof her
power as sovereign.Gilvez ensures,though,that Isabelbearssomeresponsibilityfor her
apparentderniseand reflectshow she has alienatedherselffrom wise counsellorsand
becomeprey to Arlington's flattery. In this sheis shownto be in dangerof compounding
the original error of the killing of Mary and Norfolk, with a further crime. She
experiencesa moment of recognition, when she learns the extent of Arlington's
deception (Vii). Finally, her status is re-establishedthrough her humility and act of
pardon,andher passagefrom badfortuneto good fortuneis shownto be complete.
The characterof Leonor cannotbe as neatlymappedonto an Aristotelianmodel
it
is
but
be
Her
desire
for
tragedy.
error,
of
regardedas an
personalrevengemight
ratherthan
obviouslymitigatedby her desperateplight andis shownto be a consequence
Leonor's
Nevertheless
her
fortune
the
a causeof
action.
reversalof
prior to the start of
situation,in which her life is threatenedinitially by Isabeland later by Arlington, as she
does
Leonor
fear
both
her
dignity,
not
to
pity.
and
struggles regain reasonand
provokes
remain a victim, but her deathmight at first sight appeardifficult to reconcilewith her
her
from
fortune.
Yet
and
shocking,
transition
marked
althoughabrupt
misfortuneto
death can be understoodwithin the context of classicisingtragedy,sincenot only is it
dies
Leonor
by
her
but
is
heroism,
it
content.
that
occasioned
clear
own act of
The double centre of tragic interest allows certain unexpectedparallelsto be
drawn betweenthe all-powerful Isabel and the powerlessLeonor. Both women are
their
reason
and
by
both
driven
unbalances
which
shown suffering,
a
vengeance
are
but
their
them
Their
is
finally
forgiveness.
apart,
sets
rivalry
through
which
overcome
is
Gilvez's
this
tragic
writing,
In
bring
themtogether. the contextof
paralleltrajectories
in
41i-Bek,
to
a certain
instead
and
decentred
as
the
protagonist,
a new experiment:
of
the
Zinda,
virtuous and
Acciolino
shadows
and
remorse
extent,
or
whoseact of suicide
165
heroic death of Blanca,in La defirante Gilvez presentstwo strong and interdependent
centresof tragic interest.
Tragedy and New Dramatic Devices
The incorporation of two tragic protagonists in La defirante offers further evidence of
GAlvez's innovative interpretation of the possibilities of traditional models of tragedy.
However, the characterisation of Leonor and Isabel cannot be fully explained in terms of
classical conventions and it owes much to Gilvez's experience of writing in other
dramatic genres. The conflict between the two female characters derives some of its
tension from themes and devices of plot more usually associatedwith high comedy and
comedia lacrimosa. In this tragedy, the love interest does not revolve around a choice
between civic duty and personal feeling, but on rivalry in love, a common feature of plot
in high comedy. The topos of forced marriage, familiar in sentimental drama is also
present here as a crucial factor in depicting Leonor's suffering and self-sacrifice prior to
the start of the action. Perhaps most significantly, the final reconciliation between the
two women is also reminiscent of the denouement in comedia lacrimosa. Much of the
tension between the emotional reunion and Leonor's murder, which owes more to the
conventions of a tragic plot, is indicative of twin poles in GAlvez's dramaturgy.
The recognisable framework
is
tragedy
overlaid with a range of
of classicising
devices proper to newer genres. 22 As in Zinda, the gestural vocabulary of sentimental
comedy, and principally tears and fainting, is much employed at key moments in the
action-23 As in Blanca de Rossi, some of the colour of the Gothic in literature is also
deployed here: Leonor's incarceration, visions of ghosts and the vocabulary of death and
24
diminish the tragic tenor
this
features do
the tomb. However,
and
these
not
of
work
GAlvez contains her use of other registers and techniqueswithin an overarching structure
of tragedy. The elevation of language and rhetoric establishesthe requisite gravitas and
tone and the sophisticated use of imagery throughout also contributes to a sense of
decorum proper to tragedy. There is a limited cast of characters, each of which is
accorded a measure of depth and complexity. Far from stock types, these characters all
contribute to the unfolding plot and to the psychological complexity of the play.
La defirante resolutely belongs to the tragic mode in that GAlvez uses the conflict
of Leonor and Isabel to explore abstract philosophical themes such as vengeance and
reconciliation and she consciously meditates not simply on private dilemmas but on the
166
affhirs of governance and sovereignty. The personal distress of both Leonor and Isabel at
the beginning of the tragedy reflects the disharmony of the kingdom. Their reconciliation
and the return of their reason at the end also marks the return of unity to the political
sphere. This tragedy has often been interpreted as a psychodrama of feminine
subjeetiVity.25 However one might read the message of forgiveness and unity as a
politically powerful one.
Conclusions
La defirante is one of GAlvez's most affecting tragedies, deriving its
potency not merely
from the subject matter, but from Gilvezs
particular and original handling of it. The
dramatic creation of Leonor in itself
sets this work apart from the extensive canon of
Spanish and European literature which engaged with this compelling narrative. More
significant is Gilvez's use of Leonor to recast the opposition between Tudor and Stuart.
In exploring the historical figures from unexpected perspectives, she creates not one, but
two tragic protagonists. In this double focus, Gilvez depicts both the powerful and the
powerless, and represents both opposition and reconciliation. Her exploitation of the
techniques of other genres helps to animate this confrontation and to heighten its
emotional impact, but, as in all her tragic writing, the structure of the play is firmly
rooted in an understandingof and respectfor the conventionsand decorumof tragedy.
La defirante demonstratesmore effectively,perhaps,than in any of her tragic works,
how Gilvez's innovationsexpandthe normsof classicisingtragedyin order to produce
profound andaffectingdramafor a new age.
167
1 Maria Rosa GAlvezde Cabrera,La delirante. Tragedia
original en cinco actos, in Obras
poiticas, 111,pp. 169-263.
2 In her
comparativediscussionof two dramatic versions of the narrative of Elizabeth and
Mary, Ann Mackenzie refers to significant Spanishand Europeanliterary engagementswith
this historical subject matter. See Ann Mackenzie, The "Deadly Relationship" of Elizabeth I
and Mary Queen of Scots Dramatized for the SpanishStage:Diamante's "La Reina Maria
Estuarda7 and Caftizares' [?] "Lo que va de cetro a cetro, y crueldad de Inglaterra"',
Dieciocho, 9 (1986), pp. 201-218.
3 Antonio Coello,El
condede Sex,Donald E. Schmiedel(ed.), New York and Madrid, 1972.
4 Juan Bautista Diamante, La
reina Maria Estuarda, Michael G. Paulson and Tamara
Alvarez-Detrell (eds.), Madrid, 1989; Jos6 de Caftizares;[?], Lo
que va de cetro a cetro, y
crueldad en Inglaterra, Barcelona,n.d. [ 1765?]. The play was reprinted in Valencia in 1795.
See Mackenzie, 'The "Deadly Relationship" of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots',
pp.203,217 n.15, for a discussionof the attribution of this play to Caftizares.
5Lo que va de
cetro a cetro was performedin Madrid on numerousoccasionsthroughoutthe
period and at least once a decadefrom 1712 until 1798. See Andioc;and Coulon, Cartelera,
p.755. It was proscribed in 1799 as part of the plan of theatrical reform and reinstatedin
1803. SeeMcClelland, Drama ofPathos, p.230. Dar la vida por su dama (el conde de Sex)
was also performed throughout the period, at least once a decadebetween 1708 and 1807.
See Andioc and Coulon, Cartelera, p.681. Montiano cited the work as an example of a
Golden Age play which continued to enjoy popularity in the eighteenth century. See
Montiano, Discurso, p.71. El conde de Sex, "de un ingenio', also featured in the 'Lista de
comediasescogidasy corregidaspara los dos teatros de la corte por Don Bernardo Iriarte,
de
See
de
Conde
Aranda
1767'.
la
del
de
de
en
oficial
secretaria estado orden
presidente
PalaciosFern6ndez,'El teatro,barroco espafiolen una carta de Bemardo de Iriarte al Conde
de Aranda', p.63.
6 Two notable examples
dEcosse,
Stuart,
Paris,
1734,
Marie
Tronchin,
Frangois
reine
are
and Vittorio Alfieri, Maria Stuart in Tragedie, Siema, 1783-5.For a wide-rangingsurvey of
Mary Stuart as a figure in world drama see Karl Kipka, Maria Stuart im Drama der
Weltliteratur, Leipzig, 1907. It is also important to note that in his 'Defensa de la mujer'
Feij6o had cited Elizabeth as an exampleof a good monarch,althoughhe concededthat her
behaviourtowards Mary Stuarthad been far ftorn exemplary:'Ni (dejandootras muchisimas
de
Inglaterra,
jamAs
Isabel
tiempos)
mujer en cuya
acercAndonos
y
a nuestros
se olvidari
formaci6n concurrieroncon igual influjo las tres Graciasque las tres Furias, y cuya soberana
faeran
de
de
tan
Europa,
la
parciales
sus
no
si sus vicios
conductaseria siernpre admiraci6n
la
imagen
hicieron
imprescindibles,
presentara,
siempre
a
se
politica,
miximas, que se
y su
inocente
de
la
Maria
Estuarda,
la
dir6
(manchada
sangre
posteridad coloreada
mejor) con
reina de Escocia.' SeeSau,ed.cit., pp.28.
7 Maria Martinez Abello, La estuarda. Tragedia en cuatro actos, Barcelona, n.d. See
Dom6nech, Autoras, pp.855-856; Rodrigues Sbinches,Dramaturgos, p.360; Herrera
Navarro, Ca6logo, p.293; Serranoy Sanz,Apuntes, 270, p.40; Aguilar Pifial, Bibliogra fia, L
,
Schiller,
Alfieri
in
those
to
discusses
Julia
Grinstein
40.
Bordiga
tragedy
of
and
this
relation
p.
date
The
the
Grinstein,
Dramturgas,
249-252.
of
publication
surrounding
uncertainty
see
pp.
Martinez Abello's work makesit difficult to draw any conclusionsabout the mutual influence
of La estuardaandLa defirante.
168
8Reproducedin Grinstein,Dramaturgas, 251.
p.
9 Friedrich Schiller, Maria Stuart, William Witte (ed.), London, 1968. See
also Christian
Grawe,Friedrich Schiller.,Maria Stuart, Stuttgart, 1992.
10SeeespeciallyGeorgeSteiner,7he Death Tragedy,London, 1963, 180-184.
of
pp.
11Grawe,Ftiedrich Schiller,
cites the first Spanishtranslationof Schiller's tragedyas that of
J. Yxart, Dramas, Barcelona,1881 (p. 150).
12Francisco Ruiz Ram6n, Historia del teatro
espahol (desde sus origenes hasta 1900),
Madrid, 1979, observesof Gilvez's tragedy, 'Tambi6n su tragedia, que Ileva el tremendo
titulo de La defirante, sobre la reina.Isabel de Inglaterra,podria relacionarseen algunos
aspectosde construcci6nde acci6ny caricteres,con laMaria Estuardo de Schiller, salvando,
claro estk las distancias',p.298. Schiller's tragedyappearedin an English translationbefore it
was first printed in German,J.C.M., Mary Stuart, London, 1801. It first appearedin French
in an edition of 1802 before the more celebratedtranslationsof J.G. Hess, Maria Stuart,
Paris, 1816, and Jean-PierreLeBrun, Maria Stuart, Paris, 1820. See Grawe, Friedrich
Schiller, p. 150. See also Lafarga, Yeatro europeo,pp.195-199,for a discussionof the small
number of direct translationsfrom English and Germanto Spanishduring the period.
13William Robertson, The History
of Scotland during the Reigns of QueenMary and of
King James P7fill his Accessionto the Crown ofEngland, London, 1759.
14SeeJ. Le Laboreur,Mjmoires de Michel de Castelhau,Paris, 1731.
15SeeGrinstein,Dramaturgas,
pp. 169-170for a discussionof the relationshipbetweenthis
historical accountand G;Hvez's tragedy.
16Plot Summary:The tragedyis
Prior
in
in
in
to the start
London
the
palace.
royal
a room
set
lover,
her
former
has
Isabel,
Queen
England
the
the
the
execution of
of
action
ordered
of
Norfolk and his wife Mary Stuart. On discoveringsubsequentlythat the Count of Essex,her
new favourite, was in love with Leonor, Norfolk and Mary's daughter,Isabel determinedto
intervene, ordering Leonor to marry Lord Arlington and sendingEssex to Ireland to quell
Arlington
his
From
the
attemptedto usurp
court,
rebellionnew position of power within
Isabel's power and place his new wife on the throne. When his plot was uncovered, he
blamed Leonor and she was sentencedto death by the Queen. However, Lord and Lady
Pembrokeintervenedto saveLeonor's life and, unbeknownto anyoneelse, she has lived in
their home under a false name ever since. At the opening of the play, Essex is returning
his
loyalty
has
is
Isabel
by
but,
Arlington,
England,
of
and
suspicious
to
prompted
victorious
be
Leonor
Pembrokes
to
homes
his
including
the
that
searched.
the
of
of
supporters,
ordered
is removed and hidden in the royal palaceto preventher discoveryin their household.Essex
is brought before Isabel who informs him that he must not leave the palace without her
Act
11,
At
intrigue
the
in
of
Act
I
start
and suspicion.
closes this atmosphereof
permission.
Pembroketells Essexthat Leonor has becomederanged.She appearsshortly afterwardsin a
highly
lover.
in
her
Essex
a
emotionallycharged
as
traumatisedstate,althoughsherecognises
faints.
With
Isabel
before
fife
her
danger
her
he
to
she
the
to
of
scene, attempts convince
lies
Leonor
throne
draws
the
Lady
Pembroke
the
where
curtainsaround
quickly
approaching,
Isabel,
between
Essex
dialogue
during
disguise
her,
but,
and
the
ensuing
unconsciousto
Leonor regains consciousnessand emergesfrom behind the curtain. Isabel is horrified and,
believing she has seen a ghost, flees the stage to the sound of Leonor's vengeful cries.
in
is
his
knows
he
informs
a closing
Essex
and,
alive
Arlington subsequently
that
wife
in
III,
Act
the
for
In
takes
his
he
place
which
power.
ambition
reveals
renewed
soliloquy,
her
informs
Arlington
by
has
Isabel
woken, traurnatised ghostly visions.
middle of the night,
169
of Leonor'sexistenceandIsabeldemands
When
thatshebe broughtbeforeher immediately.
thetwo womenmeet,Leonorremindsthequeenof her actsof tyrannyandin response
Isabel
brandsLeonora traitorandordersthat shebe imprisoned.
In the soliloquywhichopensAct
IV, Arlington discloseshis falsificationof documentswhich will ensurethat Parliament
perceiveEssexto be a traitor andrevealshis desireto seeIsabeloverthrownin favour of
Leonor.However,he is unableto persuade
Leonorto participatein the conspiracy.
Tbushe
deliversher anultimatum:shemustjoin him or die.Leonorattemptsto wamtheQueenof the
dangerwhichArlingtonrepresents,
but Isabelnot only refusesto listen,but ordersArlington
to arrangehis wife's execution.Act V openswith an audience
betweenPembrokeandIsabel
in whichshelearnsof the extentof Arlington'sdeceitandthe decisionof Parliamentto hang
Essexfor treason.Isabelpronounces
herselfassuredof theloyaltyof Essex,but sherefusesto
granthis requestfor the releaseof Leonor.After Arlingtonstormsthe palaceroomwith his
supporters,two opposingfactionsline up. Leonorintervenesbetweenthe warringgroups,
for peace.Isabelis movedto
urgingloyaltyto Isabelandofferingher own life in exchange
Arlingtonfatally stabshis
pardonLeonor,but in a suddenand desperate
act of vengeance
wife.
17See Mackenzie, 'The "Deadly Relationship" Elizabeth I
of
and Mary Queen of Scots',
p.202.
18Daniel Whitaker
exploredthis scene,and the wider relationshipbetweenLeonor and Mary,
in 'Absent Mother, Mad Daughter', in which he applied the insights of psychoanalysisand
feminist theories of subjectivity to explore what he described as the 'submerged motherdaughterplot' in the tragedywhich pits Leonor not againstIsabel, but againsther mother, in a
struggleto achieveher own identity.
'9 For an interpretation Isabel
halves
Leonor
two
as
of
even
of a divided
and
as opposites,
subject, see Whitaker, 'La muJer illustrada', p. 1556, and Franklin Lewis, 'The Tearful
Reunionof Divided Femininity', pp.210-11.
20 See William Shakespeare,The First Quarto
of Hamlet, Kathleen 0. Irace (ed.),
Cambridge, 1998, pp.81-82,13.72-13.105. Both Elizabeth Franklin Lewis, 'The Tearful
Reunionof Divided Femininity', pp.211-212, and FernandoDom6nech,Autoras, p.491, have
comparedGgvez's Leonor with Shakespeare'sOphelia.The play was translatedinto Spanish
in three different versions,two of which were translatedfrom the French adaptationof JeanFrangoisDucis and are not known to have beenprinted: Rwn6n de la Cruz, Hamleto, rey de
Dinamarca of 1772; and A. de Savifi6n, Hamlet. The third is Leandro Fernindez de
Moratin's translation from the Englisk Hamlet. Tragedia de Guillermo Shakespeare.
Traducida e flustrada con la vida del autor y notas crificas por Inarco Celenio, PA.,
Madrid, 1798. See Lafarga (ed.), Teatro europeo, pp.218,402. Ram6n de la Cruz's
translatedversion was performedin the Principe4-8 October and 16-17 December 1772. See
Andioc and Coulon,pp.312,734.
21See Braunmuller,
Ducis'
Jean-Frangois
218-219,5.1.27-5.1.58.
translation of
ed.cit., pp.
Shakespeare'sMacbeth was performed in the Caflos del Peral 25-28 November and 8
December 1803,25 January1804. SeeAndioc and Coulon, Cartelera, pp. 508-509 and 759.
22 In this five-act tragedy the
is
rigorously upheld and the unity of time
of
place
unity
de
Londres
directions
indicate:
'La
the
en
un
sal6n
palacio
en
es
escena
observed,as
stage
[ ] La acci6n empiezaa las 8 de la noche,y acabaa la misma hora de la mailanasiguiente'.
...
Gidvez usesthe customaryromanceheroico verseform: the assonanceis i-a in Act One; e-o
in Act Two; a-a in Act Three; a-o in Act Four; e-a in Act Five.
170
23Elizabeth Franklin Lewis links Leonor's
and Isabel's tearsto fundamentalchangesin their
behaviour.SeeFranklin Lewis, 'The Tearfijl Reunionof Divided Femininity', p.212.
24SeeWhitaker, 'Absent Mother, Mad Daughter', 170, for
p.
a readingof the word 'tumba'
as a symbol of the connectionsbetweenLeonor andher mother.
25SeeFranklin Lewis, 'The Tearful Reunion Divided Femininity',
and Whitaker, 'Absent
of
Mother, Mad Daughter'.
171
CONCLUSION
The complexityand diversityof Gilvez's tragic oeuvrestandsas a defiantcounter-blast
to prevailingcontemporaryprejudicesconcerningthe limited abilitiesof womento write
in the noblest dramatic genre. Of her extensiveand varied literary output, Gilvez
regardedher two volumesof tragic writing asthe core of her achievementas an author.
In her eight tragedies,Gilvez demonstratesan ability to animateclassicaldramatic
conventions by recourse to the repertoire of new possibilities offered by the
contemporarystage,drawing on an incisive talent for the invention and selectionof
tragic subjectmatter.
Gilvez's willingnessto integrate some of the structuresand devicesof new
genresmust not be viewedasa superficialconcessioneitherto contemporaryfashionfor
the spectacularand the diverting or to the taste for overtly emotional scenes.The
evidenceof the texts revealsthat Gilvez deployedher knowledgeof new theatrical
idioms in very specific and subtle ways, rooting her innovationsin a recognisably
Aristoteliantragic framework,in order to preservethe genreas privilegedand elevated.
Thus, in Blanca de Rossi, Gilvezs inclusion of elementsfrom the repertoire of the
Gothic enhancesrather than compromisesthe structureof the five-act tragedy,lending
colour andtone to a powerful tragic narrative,while sustainingits decorum.Similarly,in
Zinda, Gilvez exploitsthe strategiesand effectsof comediasentimentalto heightenthe
emotionalimpactof the conflictsandresolutionsof the plot.
In Safil, Gilvezs innovationconsistsin imbuinga novel and successfuldramatic
form, the mel6logo, with tragic qualities and resonance. In both her choice of subject
Gilvez
in
her
depiction
Sa6l
dernise
tragic
that
protagonist,
the
of
a
as
matter, and
of
of
accords this one-act, uni-personal work the depth and gravitas of tragedy on a classical
in
is
in
this
Much
also
present
work
model.
of the concentration and potency achieved
Safo. In this more complex one-act play, GAlvezcompressesthe tragic action in order to
intensify the focus on Safo's emotional turbulence and eventual suicide.
Perhaps GAlvez's most consistent area of
is
that of
experimentation
have
been
figures
historical
By
who
would
characterisation.
revising understanding of
familiar to the reading and theatre-going public, GAlvez shows thoroughgoing and often
daring innovation. In Amn6n, she recaststhe much maligned Biblical figure of Thamar as
a virtuous character, and in doing so emphasisesAmn6n's role as a complex tragic
172
protagonist. Gilvez's reinterpretationand recreationof Florinda, the vilified figure of
Spanishlegend,is perhapsevenmore striking. Here,the processof recuperationandthe
elevationof Florindato the statusof tragic heroine,might be interpretednot simplyas a
powerful dramaticinnovation,but alsoasa veiledcritiqueof political corruptionandof a
patriarchalsystem.In La defirante, the revisionof attitudesto ElizabethI embodiedin
the figure of Isabel is a significant feature, but the essenceof Gilvez's theatrical
experimentlies in the creation of Leonor. Out of the merest fragmentsof historical
evidence,Gilvez imaginesan affectingcharacter,andtherebyreconfiguresandrevitalises
the more familiar confrontationbetweenElizabethandMary.
has
been
Although her engagement
matter
sometimes
subject
non-European
with
interpretedas evidenceof a political liberalism,evenradicalism,in Ali-Bek, as in Zinda,
Gilvez offers an ultimately rather conservativemessage.The underminedstatusof the
protagonist in Afi-Bek, and the enlightenedopposition to slavery in Zinda might be
viewed in the wider context of a belief in the superiority of the values of European
civilisation over the barbarity of non-Europeansocieties.Nonetheless,in other areas,
GAlvez'stragediesquestionprevailing orthodoxy and bear witnessto a highly critical
intelligence.This is perhapsmost evident in her secularattitude to the treatment of
religious subjectmatter.Divine authorityis overtly challengedin Safil, where the act of
defiance
in
but
is
God,
undertaking
a self-assertive
suicide not shownas a crime against
her
four
in
Gilvez's
Deity.
Indeed,
suicide
of
emphasison
of a vengeful
one might see
tragedies as part of a broad-basedhumanistview of the power of individuals to
determinetheir destinies.
Gilvez's secular viewpoint also leads her to interrogate gender prejudices
foundedin religiousdogma.For her Isabelis no longer the demonisedProtestanttyrant
from
fate
Evetheir
Thamar
imagination,
Catholic
Florinda
as
the
rescued
are
and
of
and
like temptressesandharbingersof universalmisfortune.More generally,in her portrayal
female
between
depiction
and
in
her
male
of the conflicts
of the plight of women,and
and
values.
is
systems
Gilvez's
patriarchal
of
there
questioning
characters,
evidenceof
Even whenvictorious,her father-figuresareoften enfeebledor deficient,and,by contrast
By
dynamism
portrayingpatterns
imbued
virtue.
and
with
youngerwomencharactersare
importance
by
the
of reconciliation,
female
stressing
of
conduct as exemplary,and
ideals.
liberal
to
forgiveness,
Gilvez
explicitly subscribes enlightened
compassionand
Thereis someevidenceto suggestthat Gfilvezconceivedher entiretragic project
173
asa challengeto a domainof the literary spherewhichhadtraditionallybeenthe preserve
of male endeavourand of male values.In recastingThamarand Florinda,the familiar
antagonistsof the Biblical and legendarynarratives,as virtuous and heroic, and in
shapingthe charactersof AJi-BekandRodrigo assufferingandevenunheroic,thereis an
implicit critique of social systemswhich prescribedgenderroles and renderedthem
naturalandimmutable.In this sense,Gilvezs writing of tragedymight be understoodas
an aspirationnot only to expandthe possibilitiesof the genre,but also to questionthe
genderedassumptionson which it was founded.Taken together, her innovationsand
experimentswith structure,characterand subjectmatter might seemto underminethe
associationbetweentragedyandprivilegedmalediscourse.
Gilvez is no longer regarded as a marginal figure in the history of Spanish
literature, but it is difficult to measureher impact and importance. Since only two of the
eight works included in this tragic corpus were performed during her lifetime, much of
Gilvez's vision had to remain in the mind's eye of the reader. Nevertheless,as Quintana
appeared to hint in his review of the Obras poificas, even on the printed page, the
author's experimentation and innovation were apparent.
Although Gilvez and her work were, for the most part, forgotten during most of
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in recent times, when the notion of the canon has
been modified, Gilvez has been recovered and reclaimed as a lost paradigm of protofeminist literature. However, this thesis has argued that any understandingof Gilvez as a
inheritance
both
the
from
her
the
of
with
writer should proceed
conscious engagement
Spanish tragic tradition and the potential of new literary genres. In the Obras po&icas,
GAlvez offers not one, but a series of models of tragedy which testify not only to the
dynamism and diversity of her dramatic vision and talent, but to the variety and flexibility
is
it
impact,
her
intended
to make
public
of the genre itself It is as tragedian that GAlvez
as tragedian that we must assessher legacy.
174
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