Speaking out from within: Ana Caro and her role as a woman writer in seventeenth-century Spain
Gibbons, Megan E.
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Ana Caro de Mallén (c.1600-1645) wrote primarily comedias, autos sacramentales, and relaciones. Since she received monetary compensation for her autos and relaciones, Caro is arguably one of the first female professional writers to appear in Spain as well as in Europe as a whole. After exploring Caro's personal life and contextualizing her situation as a female cultural producer within early modern Europe, this study presents new readings of her plays and an examination of her relaciones in order to reveal Caro's consistent, albeit subtle, challenge to the patriarchal structures so deeply ingrained in the Spain of her day. In the play entitled Valor, agravio y mujer, the role of the gracioso as male friend to the protagonist Leonor is explored, showing how their relationship diverges from that commonly found in the comedia. In El conde Partinuplés, the use of the "invisible-mistress" plot is examined as a parody of certain elements of the typical "wife-murder" drama. While the relaciones are studied as independent texts, they are compared to other texts written by male writers about the same events, thereby revealing some of the ways Caro diverges from dominant representational practices. Although not a feminist in the modern sense of the word, Caro is certainly partial in her stance toward women in that her plays consistently highlight the dilemmas, frustrations, hopes and aspirations of her female characters. Likewise, in her relaciones , Caro does not refrain from commenting on the qualities of good leadership, the economic crisis in Spain, and the political tensions between Spain and countries such as France and Portugal. In this way, Caro succeeds in inserting her voice into a public sphere that often cultivated women's silence. Unlike Spain's other early modern women writers--who largely wrote either lyric poetry or religious texts from within the confines of convents--Ana Caro intervened in public and male-dominated areas by writing plays for the commercial stage and selling relaciones about major events.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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