Posted by Brady on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 9:12am.
¡Bueno días, Brady! First of all this play is called a "comedy" certainly not because it is comical! Read all the dialogue carefully, noting the "black humor" and hypocrisy in this play. The language is flowery but representative of those times. It's a story of "lovesickness" and illustrates the poetic metaphor "to love is to die!."
Looking at Act I, Fabia, the procurer, or go-between tricks Inés into giving a response to the paper she has. By telling Inés to not read it, it makes her want to read it even more. Note the lines linking "Santas" to "Lucifer." You can predict trouble when Inés wants to marry Alonso but her father has promised her to Rodrigo.
In Act II, you might not understand the reference to Melibea, Calisto, Sempronio but they are all characters in La Celestina. To avoid marrying Rodrigo, Inés says she is promised to "el Señor" meaning she will dedicate herself to the Church. As a nun, she will need to learn Latin, which is how Tello and Fabia are "hired" by don Pedro. There is ironic humor in all this deception.
As for Act III, although Rodrigo owes his life to Alonso, the only way he can end his insane jealousy is to kill Alonso. If Alonso had listened to the shadow, the voice, the worker and gone back to Medina, he might have escaped his fate. Being the honorable man that he was, he kept going to Olmedo because of his parents. He does get to them but they "celebrate" his homecoming by mourning. Toward the end, everyone seems happy as Inés expects to marry Alonso, with her father's blessing, only to find out it's too late. The injustice of his death is justified when the king, heeding Tello and Inés who request justice, takes Rodrigo and Fernanco prisoners, to be beheaded the next day.
All-in-all, love, deceit, destiny/fate make this truly a "tragicomedy."
In Act II, Alonso's first line. Soon after that, Tello relates the scene with Rodrigo about the cape. When Inés tells about water and flowers, other authors have used those to imply that flowers do not have a long life and without water there is no life. (Federico García Lorca) It might be interesting to actually count how many times "muerte" or "muriendo." "matas" etc. are used throughout this play! When you have read a lot of Spanish literature you find the 3 great themes = love, religion, death. Once you see there is a "triangle" here (Inés, Alonso, Rodrigo) you could predict all will not go well!
It's Fernando that tells Rodrigo his feelings are jealousy and envy. Then there is the bad dream Alonso had about blood on the flowers (Lorca also used the color green as a symbol for hope) which upset him.
NOTE: Perhaps one day you will read Calderón's "La Vida es sueño" where he suggests life is a dream or a dream is life. Do we dream our life? (so to speak.)
Tello tells Alonso "mata de envidia los hombres; mata de amor las damas".....
In Act III, focus a bit on the conversation between Fernando and Rodrigo. Along with Circe, Médea, Hécate, do you remember the other references to Greek tragedies? After Alonso helps Rodrigo, note what Rodrigo says "
RODRIGO Mala caída,
mal suceso, malo todo;
pero más deber la vida
a quien me tiene celoso
y a quien la muerte deseo.
There can be no doubt about what kind of man Rodrigo is nor what he is likely to do. Also, when the voice says "
VOZ Que de noche le mataron
la gala de Medina,
la flor de Olmedo.
now we know what kind of man Alonso is. See the word "la flor" again? I also noticed the word "la cruz" and what that signifies.
Are you also the one who read Fuenteovejuna? Most of my life has been spent with literature but when I gave away all my books, little did I think I'd wish I still had some of them!
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For Further Reading