The Comic Craft of Tirso de Molina
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Xerox University Microfilms 300 North Zeeb Road Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
HAUGHTON, Linda Elizabeth, 1940-THE COMIC CRAFT OF TIRSO DE MOLINA.
The University of Arizona, Ph.D., 1976 Literature, Romance
Xerox University Microfilms , Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
LINDA ELIZABETH HAUGHTON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
THE COMIC CRAFT OF TIRSO DE MOLINA
Linda Elizabeth Haughton
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
DEPARTMENT OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY WITH A MAJOR IN SPANISH
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
19 7 6
Copyright 1976 Linda Elizabeth Haughton
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
I hereby recommend that this dissertation prepared under my
direction by Linda Elizabeth Haughton
entitled The Comic Craft of Tirao de Molina
be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement of the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Dissertation Director Date
After inspection of the final copy of the dissertation, the
following members of the Final Examination Conmiittee concur in
its approval and-secommend its acceptance:*
This approval and acceptance is contingent on the candidate's
adequate performance and defense of this dissertation at the final oral examination. The inclusion of this sheet bound into the library copy of the dissertation is evidence of satisfactory performance at the final examination.
STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced degree at The University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission, provided that accurate acknowledgment of source is made. Requests for permission for extended quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be granted by the copyright'holder.
I am grateful to the members of my committee for
their kind assistance in every phase of the preparation of
this dissertation. My sincere thanks to the following
advisers who have shown great generosity of spirit in
sharing their time and energies so willingly:
Professor Robert ter Horst, for being a constant
course of inspiration; for his erudition, patience, fine
sense of humor, and grace; and for sharing his private
library so generously.
Professor H. Reynolds Stone, for his keen eye and
many helpful suggestions; for graciously undertaking the
laborious task of proofreading; and for his compassion and
moral support. Professor Robert Bacalski, for his
excellent recommendations throughout; for sharing his
insights freely; for his friendship and support,
I also wish to thank Miss Ruth Lee Kennedy for
providing the opportunity to work for her and to learn from
her during the preparation of her Studies in Tirso I. And
for their love, friendship and much needed moral support I
thank Mr. and Mrs. William Haughton, my parents; Mary
Busalacchi-Bountalis; Mirene Hazebrouck; Dr. Anita Stafford;
Susan and Ram6n Martinez; Mary Webb; Marilyn Green; Mr. and
Mrs. Bernard Kerley; and Dr. William D. Sanders.
Finally, my thanks to Terry and Bill Clark for their
professionalism and very capable hands.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION: THE COMIC CRAFT OF TIRSO DE MOLINA 1
2. TIRSO'S THEORY OF THE COMEDIA IN PRACTICE IN EL VERGONZOSO EN PALACIO 8
The Defense of the Comedia Nueva in Los Cigarrales de Toledo 9
The Defense of the Comedia in El Vergonzoso en Palacio . . . 14
Plot of El Vergonzoso r , , , . 17 The Loa and Its Relationship to Play
and Theory ........... 20 The Title: Aspects of Vergiienza 2 5 The Hunt as Dominant Metaphor of Act I . , . 28 Mireno/Dionis and the Quest for Self-
Realization , 31 Seekers in the Palace; Don Antonio
el Curioso 37 Concupiscencia and Vergiienza: Dona
Madalena's Conflict 4 2 Serafina: The Quest for Knowledge Through Role-Playing 50
The Art of El Vergonzoso en Palacio . . . . 5 7
3. THE ART OF ENTERTAINMENT IN POR EL SOTANO Y EL TORNO: A STUDY OF THE PLAYWRIGHT AS SATIRIST 61
The Plot of Por el S6tano y el Torno . . . . 6 3 Act I: The World Upside Down as
Underlying Topos 66 Act II: Symmetry and Symbol en Torno al
Torno , , 79 Act III: The S6tano as Unifying Symbol . . , 89 The Function of the Closing Formula of
Por el S6tano y el Torno 99
TABLE OF CONTENTSContinued
4. THE ART OF ENREDO IN DON GIL DE LAS CALZAS VERDES: A STUDY OF THE PROTAGONIST AS MYTH-MAKER 103
The Title and Its Relation to the Myth of Don Gil , . . . 107
Act I: The Creation of Don Gil 113 Act II: Don Gil, Dona Elvira and the
Well-Crafted Fiction 121 Act III: The "Spiritualization" of
Don Gil , 127 The Uniqueness of Don Gil de las Calzas
V e r d e s . . . . . . . . , 1 3 4
5. THE ART OF ORDER RESTORED IN EL AMOR MEDICO; A STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE AT THE SERVICE OF LOVE . 138
The Plot of El Amor Medico 140 The Title of El Amor Medico 142 Symbolic Illness in El Amor Medico 14 6 Vision, the Path to Knowledge and
Well-Being . , . 15 9 Modes of Translation in El Amor Medico , , , 169 The Triumph of Androgyny in El Amor
Medico , , 177 The Uniqueness of El Amor Medico 182
6. CONCLUSION: TRANSCENDENCE AS THE ESSENCE OF TIRSO'S COMIC CRAFT ... 186
Most of the critical attention to the theater of
Tirso de Molina has centered upon the acknowledged master
piece El burlador de Sevilla, while relatively little is
known of many of the dramatist's other plays. The purpose
of this study is to examine a representative group of
Tirso's secular comedias as self-contained works of art
which reveal diverse aspects of this playwright's awareness
and mastery of his craft. The term "craft" is used
throughout the dissertation in the sense of "artifice" or
The introduction contains a short discussion of
recent Tirsian scholarship; a statement of purpose; and an
explanation of procedure. The body of the dissertation is
composed of four essays which focus upon outstanding aspects
of Tirso's comedic craftsmanship. These chapters include:
"Tirso's Theory of the cornedla in practice in El vergonzoso
en palacio"; "The Art of Entertainment in Por el s6tano y
el torno: A Study of the Playwright as Satirist"; "The Art
of enredo in Don Gil de las calzas verdes: A Study of the
Protagonist as Myth-Maker"; and "The Art of Order Restored
in El amor medico: A Study of Knowledge at the Service of
Each of the four essays departs from a descriptive
base and progresses to a detailed analysis of verbal and
visual symbolism; theme and supporting motifs; structure;
and character analysis. In the chapters dedicated to Por
el s6tano y el torno and Don Gil de las calzas verdes, the
analysis follows along the lines of the development of the
acts. In the essays which treat El vergonzoso en palacio
and El amor midico, this linear organization is replaced by
a more synthetic approach upon dominant metaphors and
Although the plays examined in this study are
autonomous, they share certain characteristics which are
discussed in the concluding chapter. These characteristics
include an emphasis on the transcendent power of incjenio,
which overcomes all obstacles in order to restore harmony
to the imbalanced world of the play; an equal emphasis on
the related concept of discreci6n in the sense of knowledge
and wisdom; the reconciliation of the dualism of discreci6n
and necedad through the actions of ingenious characters and
with the aid of intermediary devices or traslados; and
finally, the playwright's awareness of the transcendence
of intellect and Art as revealed through the creation of
androgynous female protagonists who surpass their normal
boundaries in order to attain superior levels of existence.
This transcendence reflects Tirso's awareness of his own
challenge to create new and superior works out of the "raw
materials" offered by nature, while working within the
containing structure of the comedia form and also with the
moral limits of decency or licitud. The essence of
Tirso's comic craft is revealed in his concern with the
surpassing of limitations whose transcendence reflects
worldly progression toward the divine.
INTRODUCTION: THE COMIC CRAFT OF TIRSO DE MOLINA
In the past five years two major contributions to
the study of the theater of Tirso de Molina have come to
light. The first work in chronological order is L'univers
dramatique de Tirso de Molina by Serge Maurel (1971);"'" the
second is Miss Ruth Lee Kennedy's Studies in Tirso I: The
Dramatist and his Competitors 1620-1626 (1974).2 A brief
discussion of these significant offerings to Tirsian
scholarship follows below.
L'univers dramatique de Tirso de Molina is a
compendious work which represents an attempt to unify the
various parts of Tirso's comedic world and reveal their
singularity of purpose. Maurel begins this study with an
account of the source materials for Tllez' theater: these
include the Bible; lives of Saints; history; contemporary
events and daily life; and "fantasy."
The remainder of L'univers dramatique is devoted
to a reordering of Tirso's known works in such a fashion as
1. Serge Maurel, L'univers dramatique de Tirso de Molina (Poitiers: Publications de l'Universite de Poitiers, 1971).
2. Ruth Lee Kennedy, Studies in Tirso I: The Dramatist and his Competitors 1620-1626 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, 1974).
to reveal the lack of a clear division between the sacred
and the profane. The author treats this question in two
lengthy sections entitled "L'ici-bas et lfau-dla confundus"
and "L1Edification dans l'univers de fantaisie." He con
cludes that Tirso's plays reflect a consistent commitraent to
the Christian order, which is "... l'unitg de propos qui
3 r6git ce theatre." This conclusion is further supported
in the appendix, which contains a discussion of El burlador
de Sevilla and El condenado por desconfiado.
L'univers dramatique de Tirso de Molina is the most
exhaustive study of the playwright's work to date, and
merits recognition as the first attempt at a thorough
synthetic study. The main interest lies in what one
reviewer describes as . . the desire to clarify beyond
traditional classifications, the inner unity of a seemingly
4 disjointed body of work." The same writer observes that
this kind of "thesis" "... seems marked out to give a new
5 impetus to Tirsian studies , . . ."
Miss Kennedy's Studies in Tirso I is the first
volume of a series whose second book will deal with the
Mercedarian's political plays and the third, with his
3. Maurel, pp. 499-500.
4. Jean Canavaggio, Review in Hispanic Review 42 (1974), p. 347.
g relations to other literary schools and personalities. In
volume I, the foremost Tirsian scholar focuses on the
playwright's relations with other dramatists during the
period 1620^1626, which coincided with the early years of
the reign of Phillip IV and the rise to power of the Conde-
Duque de Olivares. This period was one of social and
economic crises, with consequent call for reform on the part
of high-minded critics, but little action on the part Qf the
indolent king. Despite numerous grave problems, Madrid
attracted many writers who came seeking favor at court and
Against this background Miss Kennedy describes
Tirso's turbulent relations with such contemporary drama
tists as Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza, whom she believes to
7 have denounced Tllez to the Junta de Reformaci6n in 1625;
0 Lope, with whom Tirso had a fluctuating relationship; Luis
Vlez de Guevara, whom the author believes to be the poeta
9 corpulento satirized by Tirso in certain plays; and Juan
6. Kennedy, Studies I, p. 13.
7. Ibid., pp, 86-92.
8. Ibid., pp. 151-187, "Tirso's Relations to Lope and his Theatre Reappraised."
9. Ibid., "Tirso and the 'Corpulent' Poet," pp. 247-265,
Ruiz de Alarc6n, whom Tirso seems to have satirized from
1620 to 1625-26.10
From Miss Kennedy's meticulous scholarship there
emerges a portrait of the playwright as a frequent victim
of envidia and necedad on the part of his rivals, whom Tirso
satirizes through allusions in many of his plays. Studies
in Tirso I places Tillez' dramatic production in a literary-^
historical perspective which reflects thirty years of
research and assessment. All students of Tirso's theater
are greatly indebted to Miss Kennedy for sharing her
profound knowledge and frequently illuminating intuitions
in this exemplary scholarly work.
The most recent work of Tirsian criticism is The
Comic Art of Tirso de Molina (1975) by David H. Darst.11
This study deals with the interplay of Art and Nature in
seven dramas which include: Esto si que es negociar; El