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Open Access Publications from the University of California

All the King’s Women: Female Agency in the Political Comedias of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

  • Author(s): Silveyra, Jesus Jose, Jr.
  • Advisor(s): Fuchs, Barbara
  • Patiño-Loira, Javier
  • et al.

In his political comedias, seventeenth-century Novohispanic playwright Juan Ruiz de Alarcón shows as much interest in criticizing the ethical behavior of male characters as he does in representing violence against the female ones. This intersection of gender and political power is analyzed in the texts from a gender-perspective and supported by recent historiography on the political agency of royal women during the Spanish Golden Age. Despite the aggressions against them, Alarcón’s female characters consistently act according to reason, morality, and law. Furthermore, the decisions that restore the order lost to the intricate movements of the plots are not exclusively proposed or executed by the male characters, but usually foreseen or directly suggested by the female ones. In appropriating the functions reserved for a few privileged men, these women propose an alternative mode of government that challenges the traditional relationships between gender roles and political participation as understood in imperial Spain.

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