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Stacey Parker Aronson

Stacey Parker Aronson, "The Martyred Maternal Body in 'Doña Francisca la cautiva,'" in Letras Peninsulares, 2009

Abstract: In the nineteenth-century romance “Doña Francisca la cautiva [the captive]” written by Pedro de Fuentes (1831), the Virgin Mary convinces a woman to redeem a man through her Christian influence. The female body becomes the instrument to bring about this spiritual redemption. During a trip from Naples to Rome, Doña Francisca, accompanied by her three children, is kidnapped by Turkish pirates and enslaved by the Renegade, a former Christian slave converted to Islam. This romance was written during the Tanzimat period between 1830 and 1880 when Ottoman writers and activists advocated the elimination of slavery within the Ottoman Empire. This romance shares characteristics with slave narratives (first person testimonies, demonstrating the brutalities of slavery) and with martyriologies (exempla of how Christian martyrs should behave). These two testimonial narrative forms and Fuentes's romance follow what Enrique Fernández and Donald W. Riddle have termed the "martyriological mo! del.”

Stacey Parker Aronson, " The Threat of Rape in Leonor de la Cueva's La firmeza en la ausencia," in Romance Notes Volume: XLVII: 2 (2007) Pages: 141-152 Year: 2007

Abstract: Rape is an all too common motif in the literature of the Golden Age. In many cases the rapist is someone of high socio-economic privilege, such as the Comendador in Lope de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna or Don Juan Tenorio in Tirso de Molina's El Burlador de Sevilla . In addition, most potential rape victims do, in fact, become actual rape victims, although the rapes often takes place offstage in the case of drama or while the female victim is unconscious (Miguel de Cervante's La fuerza de la sangre and María de Zayas's La inocencia castigada and La esclava de su amante , to name but a few) in the case of narrative, likely for reasons of decorum and as a means to highlight the female rape victim's innocence and noncompliance. What is unique about Leonor de la Cueva's rendering of the topic in her drama La firmeza en la ausencia is the fact that the rapist is the king and the potential rape victim Armesinda is never actually raped, although the threat is omnipresent. Cueva allows her heroine Armesinda to successfully dissuade her rapist, the king Filiberto, for a time, by using her wit and her intelligence, thereby allowing her to appear to be the agent of her own defense, at least up to a point. It is precisely this point—the king's threatened rape—and the questions it provokes that merit a more detailed analysis of the omnipresent menace that does not ultimately occur. A number of questions that warrant consideration are:

I. Why does Leonor de la Cueva represent the king as the rapist?

II. How would the drama unfold if the king actually raped Armesinda?

III. Why does Leonor de la Cueva not allow Armesinda to be raped?

"Transformation and Turkish Threat in the Romance "Blancaflor y Filomena," Hispanic Journal 28:1 (2007).

Abstract:   Mercedes Díaz Roig's version the romance "Blancaflor y Filomena" in El romancero viejo offers the reader particularly sensationalistic brutality and torture to which the raped woman is subjected. The torturer is a male character whose metaphoric name--Turquino--evokes a xenophobic fear of the male as Turk and as Muslim and demonstrates a correlation between Tereus's cruelty in the Ovidian myth and the reputed cruelty of the Turks or Muslims. The raped and tortured body of Filomena's sister Blancaflor becomes doubly the catalyst for her eventual vindication and a cautionary tale for other women of their impending fate.

"Monstrous Metamorphoses and Rape in the Works of María de Zayas," Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 29:3 (2005). 525-547.

Abstract:   In Ovid's Metamorphosis , women are transformed as a way to protect themselves from rape. Due to the societal stigma associated with the body of the raped woman, however, raped women in two works by María de Zayas--Camila in La más infame venganza and Inés in La inocencia castigada --suffer monstrous metamorphoses that torture and punish them for their having transgressed the code of appropriate female behavior. These metamorphoses differentiate them and identify them as "other," Girardian scapegoats, worthy of punishment. It is possible to gain cultural knowledge on the basis of a consideration of the monsters a culture produces. It is also possible to read and interpret the socio-cultural information of Spanish baroque society through a consideration of the monstrous bodies of Zayas's raped women because a relationship exists between the body and the culture that produces and interprets it. Rape makes evident not only the physical vulnerability of women but also the inefficiency of their male protectors and threatens the basis upon which the body politic is established: marriage, the only appropriate outlet for female sexuality.

"Cognitive Dissonance in María de Zayas's La esclava de su amante / A Slave to her Own Lover," Letras Femeninas XXIX:2 (Winter 2003) 141-165.

Abstract:   María de Zayas's novella La esclava de su amante / Slave to Her Own Lover represents a seventeenth-century Spanish culture so preoccupied with female sexual purity that it obligates a rape victim to view marriage to her rapist as her only course of action to avenge and restore her honor. In Isabel's efforts to come to terms with the forcible rape committed against her by Manuel, she demonstrates a seemingly irrational obsession whose psychological complexity begs further consideration. The theory of cognitive dissonance, developed in 1957 by Leon Festinger, provides a compelling psychological context through which to consider Isabel's mental state as well as the socio-cultural context of seventeenth-century Spain. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort a person experiences from holding contradictory cognitions. In Zayas's novella the inconsistent cognitions are that while rape is dishonorable, marriage (even to one's rapist) is honorable. Festinger enumerates a number of strategies, all of which are utilized by Isabel to reduce these feelings of cognitive dissonance. Festinger also recognizes the importance of the social group in either creating or eliminating cognitive dissonance. For example, what may be considered dissonant in one cultural context--one social reality--may not necessarily be in another. Therefore, the seventeenth-century social group may not have actually experienced cognitive dissonance with regard to this issue either, or at least if it did, a woman's marriage to her rapist was such an accepted cultural practice that there existed little outright objection to it. In this paper I also consider the possibility that the cognitive dissonance apparently experienced by Isabel is also experienced by the reading public (both seventeenth-century and twenty-first-century) and by the author as well.

"La poligamía de don Juan: El burlador de Sevilla como un caso contra los matrimonios clandestinos," Romance Notes 43:1 (Fall 2002) 53-63.

Abstract:   The innocent servant Ripio in Tirso de Molina's drama El burlador de Sevilla / The Trickster of Seville demonstrates a sensibility much more contemporary with respect to Golden Age marriage, a sensibility that belies the actual complexity of marriage when he comments to his master Don Juan Tenorio,

... mas si los dos os queréis
con una mesma igualdad,
dime: ¿hay más dificultad
que de luego os desposéis? (157)
... but if you two love each other
with the same intensity,
tell me, why is it so difficult
for you two to marry? (My translation)

This comment from the servant seems to imply that those entering into matrimony operate in accordance with their own free will and desire: they marry because they love each other. In reality, marriage functioned as a means to consolidate fortunes and families and to create social and economic interdependencies. In addition, the idea of marriage between people of different socio-economic levels was rarely accepted during the Golden Age. If a man and woman from the same socio-economic class consummated their relationship under the man's promise of marriage, he could be legally obligated to fulfill his promise to marry her. However, if the man and woman were from different socio-economic classes--especially if the man pertained to a higher class than the woman--then it was possible and likely that he would not be obliged to fulfill his promise to marry her.

The purpose of this present study is to determine to what point can the sexual unions into which don Juan Tenorio deceitfully entices the country women Tisbea and Aminta be considered true and valid clandestine marriages. According to the Council of Trent, clandestine marriage--officially prohibited in 1542-- represented an illicit union into which the participants entered without witnesses or ceremony and more importantly without the benefit of parental permission. It was considered illicit but at the same time valid according to both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. I also wish to propose the possibility that this play can be considered an extended argument against clandestine marriage: the case of innocent women deceived by a dishonorable man without benefit of parental advice or oversight, the same argument the Catholic Church used to prohibit the practice. The women Tisbea and Aminta are accomplices because they follow their own desires, whether sexual or material or romantic, and fail miserably in their attempts to validate their clandestine unions. However, they are victims because they and the drama as well lack paternal protection and presence.

  "Pedophilia as Erotic Taboo and Female Erotic Empowerment in Lourdes Ortiz's 'Alicia'," Ojáncano: Revista de Literatura Española , 16 (April 1999) 29-42.

Abstract: Using Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland as the intertextual context, Spanish writer Lourdes Ortiz presents the story of a young girl, coincidentally named Alice, who is enticed into a sexual relationship with a man as he takes her photograph and entertains her with stories of white rabbits and mad hatters. The young girl narrates the story from her own point of view, conscious of her seeming sexual power over the man but oblivious to the extent of her own victimization.

"La 'textualización' de Leocadia y su defensa en La fuerza de la sangre de Cervantes," ["The 'Textualization' of Leocadia and her Defense in The Force of Blood by Cervantes"] Cervantes 16 (1996): 71-88.

Abstract:   This study demonstrates Leocadia's "textualization," her inscription in the archetypal female typifications of Virgin and whore, and the ways in which these are interpreted ("read") by her rapist Rodolfo. It compares his interpretive abilities to those of Leocadia and doña Estefanía both of whom render a more accurate interpretation of Rodolfo's motivations, particularly his predilection for female beauty. As a result of the accuracy of their "reading" of Rodolfo, they are successful at their attempt to entice him to marry Leocadia. Despite the fact that Rodolfo's crime remains unpunished and he, unrepentant, a defense is provided for Leocadia on the levels of story and discourse. On the level of story doña Estefanía's intercession brings about the marriage and the subsequent restoration of Leocadia's honor. On the level of discourse the ironic imposition of the conventional "happy ending" as well as the sustained narrative condemnation of the crime throughout the novel reveals a criticism of 17th-century Spanish society and its treatment of women.