Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Cervantine Theater as Counter-Perspective Aesthetic: Reconsidering El Rufian Dichoso

Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Cervantine Theater as Counter-Perspective Aesthetic: Reconsidering El Rufian Dichoso

Article excerpt

Este trabajo ofrece una revaluacion de la obra El rufian dichoso que relaciona la "auto-reconstruccion" de la picaresca con la nocion de William Childers, segun la cual el protagonista de Cervantes es un actor consumado. Uno de los puntos centrales de este argumento consiste en explorar el uso que Lugo hace del lenguaje como su modus operandi para elaborar una identidad ficticia, haciendo especial hincapie en aquellas escenas en las que el protagonista cervantino forja una realidad ilegitima. A traves de las teorias linguisticas de J. L. Austin y Paul Grice, este articulo pretende mostrar de que manera Lugo explota las normas que determinan una comunicacion eficaz para asi manejar la perspectiva de sus espectadores. Por lo tanto, este estudio se centra en la transgresion linguistica de El rufian dichoso como una estrategia teatral que enfatiza la artificialidad del teatro como representacion y deformacion de la propia realidad. Por ultimo, Cervantes desafia a su lector/espectador a que perciba como y por que esta comedia de santos modifica y reconstruye el material hagiografico para el proposito de la dramatizacion.

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AS CERVANTES'S ONLY comedia de santos, El rufian dichoso has attracted considerable critical, attention. Scholarly deliberation has ften touched on the plays hagiographic sources and content, which is not surprising given that El rufian dichoso dramatizes the conversion of Fray Agustin de Davila Padilla. The fact that Cervantes bases his protagonist on a historical figure whose story was already recorded allows the dramatist to toy with audience expectations and, as we will see, opens up an ambivalent space in which his protagonist's religious activity is subject to scrutiny. (1) The play depicts a ruffian, Cristobal de Lugo, who lives out his life desperately desiring acceptance--on the fringes of society, a place where he can both "fit in" and earn the reputation and respect of social acceptance. The opening act of El rufian dichoso portrays the delinquent lifestyle of the protagonist as he indulges in criminal and felonious behavior in an attempt to escape his humble origins. The play's dramatic action is underpinned by Lugo's decision to abandon a life of crime and to become a religious man in New Spain. Acts two and three dramatize the protagonist's apparent transformation and subsequent religious life as a cleric in Mexico. The rogue's volte face from sinner to saint and the authenticity of his conversion are contentious issues which have dominated contemporary criticism. For instance, two very different lines of enquiry have been pursued by Stanislav Zimic and William Stapp. While both critics detail Lugo's controlling and domineering ways, Zimic contends that El rufian dichoso reveals "la trayectoria de la vida de Lugo desde el ambiente 'infernal' del pecado a traves del arrepentimiento y la purgacion hacia la apoteosis spiritual" ("La caridad" 126). Stapp, however, asserts that Lugo retains his prideful nature: "sigue siendo el hombre orgulloso, lidiando en habitos de religioso" (431). For Stapp the spiritual transformation is merely an illusion created by the protagonist.

Significantly, the sordid environment of Seville's illicit underworld, as depicted in act one, has also provoked analyses that draw particular attention to the presence of the picaresque in the drama. (2) However, this picaresque "presence" has been only superficially considered and is best understood in the light of influential Cervantine criticism which has documented Cervantes's association with the picaresque genre in ambiguous and almost enigmatic terms. For instance, in 1957 Carlos Blanco Aguinaga's opinion that Cervantes defied the label of a picaresque author was, according to Peter Dunn, "decisive in convincing a generation of readers that Cervantes and picaresque were absolutely incompatible" (112). Blanco Aguinaga argues, for instance, that "Cervantes no escribio jamas una novela picaresca [. …

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