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The Plays of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

The Plays of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

JULES WHICKER
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 220
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdp2w
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  • Book Info
    The Plays of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón
    Book Description:

    The plays of Ruiz de Alarcón, a significant dramatist in the Spanish Golden Age, show in many of their plots a preoccupation with deception, which Whicker believes reflects Alarcón's fundamental concern about truth-telling in literature. His study of Alarcón's comedias stresses the seriousness and moral orthodoxy of the playwright and his concern with how simulation and dissimulation can be viewed both positively and negatively in theatre as well as in life. In support of his argument for the seriousness of Alarcón's theatre - his challenge to his audience to think hard and clear about his play, particularly over the issue of illusion, deception and dissimulation - Whicker focuses on the moral arguments perceived in Alarcón's theatre, and their reference to serious literary-moral issues current in the Golden Age; he tests the relevance of his argument against contemporary circumstances, the ethics of privanza in particular. JULES WHICKER lectures in the department of Hispanic studies, University of Birmingham.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-362-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)

    This study of Alarcón’s drama is posited on the view that in the general run of his plays he shows a particular interest in the issue of deception, its necessity, and its conditional legitimacy. It is true that this is not a totally new view, and that published criticism has not been altogether indifferent or blind to the role of mendacity and social pretence in Alarcón’s drama. This need not surprise us of course, since deception constitutes a fundamental structural device in the majority of social and situational comedies and not just in those of Alarcón. However, the argument presented...

  6. 1 FICTION, THEATRE AND MORALITY
    (pp. 15-51)

    It is appropriate that this study of the relationship between fiction, deceit and morality in the plays of Ruiz de Alarcón should begin by considering the moral status of dramatic fiction itself. For, whatever may subsequently be said about the nature and moral legitimacy of the fictions, illusions and deceptions that are invented, created and practised by the characters within the plays themselves, we should not overlook the obvious fact that anycomediais itself a fiction, and that this mode of representation is no less open to moral scrutiny than the actions it portrays.

    While the question of the...

  7. 2 LIES AND DISSIMULATION: LA VERDAD SOSPECHOSA
    (pp. 52-78)

    La verdad sospechosais undoubtedly Alarcón’s most famous play, and has been accurately described by Melveena McKendrick as ‘a satirical comedy with a strong moral thrust about a compulsive liar’.¹ As a comedy, it is certainly effective, and derives its principal appeal from the reckless mendacity of its protagonist, don García, and (as is usual with the best of Alarcón’s urban comedies) from its sharp social observation. The play is well constructed and moves along at a brisk pace, and whilst it has all the familiar characters one expects to find in acomedia de capa y espada, Alarcón’s unprecedented...

  8. 3 ALARCÓN’S CRITICISM OF SATIRE IN LAS PAREDES OYEN
    (pp. 79-106)

    We have seen that Alarcón’s plays show him to have taken a serious interest in the moral and social status of fiction, and that they raise the possibility of there being certain kinds of fiction, and even certain kinds of deceit, which are not merely acceptable within the moral code of the aristocratic society envisaged by Alarcón, but are even possessed of a particular kind of utility in that context.

    Thus, inLa verdad sospechosaas well as distinguishing between two different approaches to literary fiction, assessing both their style and content in moral terms, Alarcón introduces a concept of...

  9. 4 ILLUSION IN MAGIC AND DRAMA: LA CUEVA DE SALAMANCA, QUIEN MAL ANDA EN MAL ACABA, AND LA PRUEBA DE LAS PROMESAS
    (pp. 107-141)

    In the plays discussed in the previous chapters the forms of deception most favoured by Alarcón are indicative of prudence rather than cunning; they are characterised by concealment rather than ostentation; and they are employed defensively, so as to reveal or confirm the truth about the moral character of others, rather than offensively, with the aim of projecting a flattering but illusory image of the deceiver himself. Moreover, in Alarcón’s plays, prudent deception is invariably concerned with the maintenance of honour-virtue, and the discovery of moral truths, whilst cunning is employed in the pursuit of worldly or sensual goals such...

  10. 5 PRUDENT DISSIMULATION AND MILITARY VIRTUE IN LA MANGANILLA DE MELILLA
    (pp. 142-161)

    We have seen that Alarcón is particularly sensitive to the issue of the relationship between honour-virtue and fiction or dissimulation, exploring it repeatedly throughout his works within a variety of different contexts. As regards honour, Alarcón’s plays present a society which offered its members a variety of means by which to enhance their reputations and publicly confirm the nobility of their nature: through the acquisition and practice of learning (La cueva de Salamanca); through courtship and marriage (Las paredes oyen, La prueba de las promesas); through submission to the protracted procedures by which membership of any of the three great...

  11. 6 DECEIT IN POLITICS AND ALARCÓN’S PRIVADO PLAYS: LA AMISTAD CASTIGADA AND GANAR AMIGOS
    (pp. 162-187)

    We have seen that Alarcón’s most persistent dramatic concern is with the moral implications of different forms of deceit, and that this is apparent in hiscomedias de carácter, in his magic plays and in his treatment of military virtue. Yet there remains a group of plays that demonstrate this concern in an even more significant context since they deal, not with private individuals, but with characters at the highest level of society: kings, princes, and theirprivados. Although there are several plays in this group, this chapter will focus on just two,La amistad castigadaandGanar amigos, considering...

  12. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 188-196)

    The analyses of Alarcón’s plays contained in this study make frequent reference to an extensive corpus of non-fictional works by his contemporaries and predecessors. My reading of these works in relation to Alarcón’s plays reveals numerous instances where Alarcón appears to be directly indebted to the philosophers, historians, poets and satirists of Classical antiquity on one hand, and to the Fathers of the Church on the other, as well as to the authors of a variety of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century works on statecraft, the art of war, the nature of magic, the history of Spain, and other topics of a...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 197-208)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 209-212)