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Our focus on the honor conflict that involved a man's sexual designs on a woman or a woman's willing participation in an adulterous relationship led us to focus our attentions on the so-called "honor code. But the conjugal honor conflict rarely appears in isolation. Instead, it is part of --and often subordinate to-- a much broader presentation of honor. The obsession with honor in Golden Age life and literature was not limited to questions of conjugal honor, and this generalized obsession with honor of any sort is also a major characteristic of the comedia as a genre.
Non-conjugal aspects of honor in the comedia have been studied extensively, though generally outside the context of the "honor play. A character's position in the social hierarchy guaranteed him a measure of honor that established his privileges over those of lower rank, and any action that undermined such privileges constituted an agravio de honra. Those who found themselves lowest on the social scale, the peasants, based their own claim to honor on the assumption that peasant blood was pure by definition. One area of disagreement among scholars who have written about honor in the comedia has been the question of whether we should be studying honor as a formal, literary motif largely divorced from social reality or as a literary representation that reflects real conflicts and concerns within Golden Age society.
This disagreement probably originates from the fact that honor has been divided into so many distinct categories. While the code of conjugal honor clearly operates as a useful dramatic motif, conjugal honor conflicts are rarely studied in the context of the broader, and often multiple honor conflicts that may occur within a single play.
Those who agree that honor in the comedia does reflect social reality do not necessarily agree about the nature of that reality, or the attitude of the dramatists towards it: did the comedia's focus on honor make it an ideal vehicle for social control by an intolerant orthodoxy, or did Golden Age playwrights, at least in some cases, use dramatic honor as a means of questioning and even subverting the values on which such orthodoxy was based? All comedias are honor plays to one extent or another.
Characters in these plays never ask themselves what kind of honor problems they are having: honor is honor, and its loss or diminution, whatever the reason, must be avoided at all costs. My approach today will be to examine the way honor works in seven well-known plays, all of which appear in the anthology, Diez comedias del siglo de oro. For each play I shall consider the following hypotheses:. That most comedias deal in some significant way with honor. That conjugal honor, and, more generally, family honor related to the behavior of women, does not appear isolated from other honor-related concerns, and is often presented as being part of broader or more important issues.
That Golden Age plays generally set honor against honor, often producing multiple honor conflicts that at times can only be resolved with "trick" solutions. Del rey abajo, ninguno is the only play that contains a "traditional" conjugal honor conflict, but the play's opening scenes actually serve to foreground questions of social honor and blood purity rather than conjugal honor. Don Mendo insists that the King make him a Knight of la Banda immediately, because long delays in the granting of honors that involve blood-purity investigations can themselves be the cause of dishonor.
The conjugal conflict itself is the least problematic of the play's honor conflicts. The impossibility of vengeance against an abusive King and the need, under such circumstances, to kill an innocent wife, are fairly conventional in the comedia. But around this well-known motif are woven a series of variations: the king who isn't a king, the peasant who isn't a peasant, the nobleman whose blood purity is suspect, and the king who sees his royal authority and will challenged by a peasant. Moreover, this is a play with a "trick solution" that raises real questions about the comedia's portrayal of peasant honor.
Del rey abajo, ninguno | work by Rojas Zorrilla | Britannica
As peasants, they entertain us with many lines of conventional menosprecio de corte verse and serve to counterbalance the suspect lineage of the noble Mendo. But if on the one hand the play is said to extoll the virtues of the peasant because he is assumed to be pure of blood, it simultaneously rejoices in the pretend-peasant who regains his noble rank.
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In Fuenteovejuna the primary conflict involves the Comendador's refusal to recognize the peasants' claim to honor. This pressure produces additional honor conflicts within the groupings of nobles and peasants. Here, once again, the play's opening scenes foreground a secondary honor conflict, as the Comendador uses deliberately offensive language with the Maestre in order to establish his own control over his young superior and, through him, over the entire Order of Calatrava.
Language, in fact, plays a vital role in all of Fuenteovejuna's honor conflicts.
Language that offends honor is used not only by the Comendador, but by Laurencia as well: it is only when she impugns the manhood of the town's elders that they finally decide to take action against the Comendador. Language is also used in Fuenteovejuna by both nobles and peasants to mask offended honor.
ISBN 13: 9788437602554
When the Comendador arrests Frondoso for having threatened him, the crime he cites --without ever referring to himself in the first person-- is Frondoso's attack on the Order of Calatrava and its Maestre through a threat to the Order's Comendador Mayor. And when the elders of Fuenteovejuna finally decide to act, they do so not in the name of their own threatened honor but rather, they say, to avenge the Comendador's acts of treason against the monarchy. One interesting aspect of honor in this play is what we might call the generation gap motif, which appears in many of the plays under discussion.
This motif assigns the primary obsession with the most formalized types of honor to older male characters, while other, younger characters, both male and female, struggle to exist in a world constrained by the honor of their elders. Frondoso's desire to marry Laurencia is important to Esteban not because he wants to see his daughter happy, but because it transfers the potential honor threat from father to son-in-law.
In a similar fashion, the Comendador's manipulation of the young Maestre subordinates the whole Order of Calatrava to the needs of the older man's honor. Las mocedades del Cid presents another common type of honor conflict: the incompatibility of love and honor, traced here through the experiences of Rodrigo and Ximena after he murders her father. As in Del rey abajo, the honor conflict introduced in this play's early scenes is different from but actually gives rise to the main conflict involving Rodrigo and Ximena.
Dramatic tension thus passes from old vs old, to old vs young, and finally produces the primary honor conflict between the play's two young protagonists, whose struggles are played out against the backdrop of old men making bad decisions in the name of honor. The generation gap motif is further developed in this play with an additional secondary plot based on the King's decision to divide his kingdom among his children, a decision that will inevitably lead to war and, quite possibly, fratricide. Las mocedades del Cid is another play with a "trick solution": Rodrigo overcomes Ximena's demand for his death and wins her hand in marriage when he responds to her call for a man who will bring her the head of Rodrigo: after killing his rival he brings her his head, still, of course, firmly affixed to his shoulders.
View waymark gallery. Teatro de Rojas - Toledo - Spain. Location: Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Download this waymark:. GPX File. LOC File. It is denominated like this in honor of the Toledan playwrighter Francisco de Rojas. He multiplied the stairs, improved the layout of the hall, giving it a more open horseshoe, graduated the flight and the layout of the different floors and favored the ventilation through the ceiling of the hall.