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Los toros, las balas, y la castración—el dilema de la masculinidad en El caballero de Olmedo

By Alissa Murray

From the Faculty Nominator:

Alissa Murray wrote this paper for SP 254 (Survey of Peninsular Literatures and Cultures: An Exploration of Spain's Literary Journey), a class where students study the evolution of Spanish literature starting in the 12th Century when Spain was still under Arab occupation to the 20th century.

Alissa´s paper is a critical analysis of "El caballero de Olmedo," a 17th century tragedy written by Lope de Vega, one of the most important authors in the Spanish Golden Century literature. Alissa brilliantly analyzes the art of courtly love as a metaphor for sexual castration. Courtly love is characterized as being generally secret and extremely difficult to obtain or consummate, which in turn serves as a means to inspire men to perform great deeds. However, Alissa argues that instead of inspiring the two male characters to achieve noble deeds, courtly love drives them to lose their masculinity and hence, leads them to their premature deaths. 

From the author:

I like to joke that I can't take a literary analysis class without writing a sexual analysis at some point or another. Evidently, my Survey of Spanish Literature class was no exception. Early on in the semester, we were assigned the daunting task of reading El caballero de Olmedo, a short play written by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega in 1620. The play, a tragicomedy which highlights the perils of courtly love, tells the story of a love triangle between doña Ines, the coveted dame, and don Alonso and don Rodrigo, the two noblemen pursuing her. My paper, "Los toros, las balas, y la castración-el dilema de la masculinidad en El caballero de Olmedo" explores the downfalls of both men through their metaphorical castrations, in which they are stripped of their masculinities by the use of sexual imagery in the play. This effemination leads to their deaths, telling the tale of a love triangle in which at the end, nobody gets the girl.
 

Read: Los toros, las balas, y la castración-el dilema de la masculinidad en El caballero de Olmedo 

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