Drama and Ethos

Drama and Ethos: Natural-Law Ethics in Spanish Golden Age Theater

Robert L. Fiore
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Drama and Ethos
    Book Description:

    Spanish Golden Age drama as an expression of morality falls between the extremes of art-for-art's-sake and utilitarianism. According to Spanish literary critics of the 16th and 17th centuries, drama imitated reality, the subject and domain of philosophy. The integration of drama and scholastic moral philosophy was an important aspect of the critical theory of this era, which held that art should both teach and delight.

    Through close textual analysis of representative plays, this book examines the artistic fusion of natural-law philosophy and drama. It demonstrates the relationship between ethics and the central ideological themes of these works, illustrating that an awareness of the doctrines of natural law ethics is crucial to an enriched comprehension of the drama of Golden Age Spain.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6294-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Chapter One The Climate of Opinion in Golden Age Spain
    (pp. 1-13)

    Thomistic natural-law ethics, the most important element of the revival of Scholasticism in Golden Age Spain, was extremely influential in the intellectual climate of this period, impressing itself upon many areas of Spanish thought. Scholars have demonstrated the importance of natural law with relation to the political thought of Counter-Reformation Spain, yet despite its pervasive influence on the literature of the period, no major studies have treated this topic. The impact of the notion of natural law on Golden Age literature can best be seen in the drama, where philosophical tenets are often essential to theme. Given the fact that...

  5. Chapter Two Fuenteovejuna
    (pp. 14-22)

    In the dramatic work of Lope de Vega natural law appears most coherently in the central ideological theme of one of his more complex plays,Fuenteovejuna.¹ This play treats an event of moral and metaphysical significance which Lope has extracted from the Rades Andrada’sChronicle.² There is a mutual interdependence of the historic and metaphysical implications which may be studied as an ethical problem.³ The central ideological theme of justice inFuenteovejunacan be analyzed to demonstrate that the dramatic action on all levels and the ultimate meaning follow the order of natural law according to Aristotelian-Thomistic ethics. Lope dramatizes...

  6. Chapter Three La mejor espigadera
    (pp. 23-37)

    While natural-law philosophy appears less frequently in Tirso de Molina’s dramas than in those of Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca, it is sometimes present in juxtaposition with the main theme of the plays. InLa mejor espigadera, Tirso dramatizes an ethical problem related to those of his day by bringing biblical characters and customs to a contemporary audience, that of Counter-Reformation Spain. A well-trained biblical scholar like most Golden Age dramatists, Tirso de Molina followed the popular tradition of bringing the message of the Bible to the secular audience of his era in an entertaining and dignified...

  7. Chapter Four The Auto Sacramental
    (pp. 38-46)

    In Golden Age drama the best expression of natural law is found in theautos sacramentalesof Calderón. Because these works are frequently misunderstood by critic and layman alike, it might be well to examine the nature of this type of drama before considering specific examples of natural law in three of Calderón’sautos

    Theauto sacramental, which stems from medieval liturgical drama,² begins to take form in the sixteenth century, and reaches its maturity as a genre with Calderón. Since there are almost no primary texts, it is difficult to determine the extent of the medieval theater in Spain....

  8. Chapter Five El gran teatro del mundo
    (pp. 47-59)

    Calderón emphasizes theology in some of hisautoswhile in others he stresses moral philosophy.El gran teatro del mundoandNo hay más fortuna que Diosboth emphasize philosophical rather than theological problems in their treatment of the restlessness of man in this world. InNo hay más fortuna que DiosCalderón dramatizes the ethical problem of man’s use of goods in his pursuit of happiness and how this use leads him either to accept or to reject God’s providence.El gran teatro del mundodeals with a similar ethical problem, but emphasizes man’s moral conduct on the individual...

  9. Chapter Six No hay más fortuna que Dios
    (pp. 60-78)

    InNo hay más fortuna que DiosCalderón uses ethical themes based on natural law to such an extent that without a knowledge of the philosophical content of thisauto sacramental, it would be extremely difficult to understand it.No hay más fortuna que Diostreats an ethical problem which pertains to a fundamental precept of natural law—man’s use of good in his pursuit of happiness leads him either to accept or to reject God’s providence.

    The doctrine of providence was one of the main apologetic themes of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation periods while the role of fortune diminished...

  10. Chapter Seven A Dios por razón de estado
    (pp. 79-97)

    Ángel Valbuena Prat classifiesEl gran teatro del mundo, No hay más fortuna que Dios,andA Dios por razón de estadoasautos filosóficos y teológicos,in which Calderón synthesizes philosophical and theological doctrines.¹No hay más fortuna que Diosis the most philosophical in content of the three, whileA Dios por razón de estadoemphasizes biblical narrative. The theological material ofA Dios por razón de estado,drawn from the Acts of the Apostles, serves as the framework of the play, while the philosophical content, man’s search for God through use of natural reason, is represented by...

  11. Chapter Eight Conclusion
    (pp. 98-102)

    The dramatic use of the precepts of natural-law ethics accurately reflects the social morality and the literary theories of drama prevalent in the Golden Age. The dramatic critics of this era, interpreting the poetics of Aristotle and Horace, thought that art should instruct and delight. For them imitation was, as Aristotle implied, natural to man and a source of pleasure. When moral doctrine was used as an object of imitation, both ends of art,enseñaranddeleitar, were fulfilled. Bances Candamo has this in mind when he speaks of the moral obligations of dramatists:

    Quien diuierte al Rudo pueblo tiene...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 103-115)
  13. Index
    (pp. 116-120)