Abstract:

The goal of this paper is to analyze how works by Cervantes and Lope position the aesthetics of romance, or courtly love, and by extension, the poet, in relation to sexual violence in early modern Spain. The main works in question are Lope’s Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña and the Tosilos episode at the palace of the duke and duchess in the second book of Don Quixote. Where Lopeframes the potential sexual violence and theatrical chaos set in motion by the Comendador as the work a deceitful, heretical, and dishonorable aberration/abomination who needs to be eliminated so that an inherently just and natural society can function as God intended, Cervantes locates the source of sexual violence in the hierarchical power structure of the aristocracy per se as well as its use of theatrical spectacles to simultaneously entertain and legitimize their political privilege and economic superiority. In other words, for Cervantes, the image of terror that is brought to the stage in a figure like Lope’s don Fadrique is not external to the monarchical-seigniorial apparatuses of social and political containment, as Lope would have it, but is rather a product of its hierarchical structure. The hope is that this essay will further discussions sparked by the #MeToo movement concerning analogous debates about the relation between culture and sexual violence.

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