Academic journal article Hispanic Review

"Esta Sangre Quiero": Secrets and Discovery in Lope's El Perro del Hortelano

Academic journal article Hispanic Review

"Esta Sangre Quiero": Secrets and Discovery in Lope's El Perro del Hortelano

Article excerpt

MOSTLY interpreted as a work which confronts the contradictions of the Baroque code of honor, El pero del hortelano is also a play about the process of discovery.1 Indeed, the theme of discovery runs through the argument and, as will be seen below, associates the play's structure and layers of meaning. The multiple aspects of the discovery topos help organize the play from its beginning, when the Countess of Belflor, Diana, searches in the dark for the intruders who have dared to enter her chambers.2 More importantly, issues related to the revelation of secrets also implicate the audience members who, at the play's end, are called upon to be accessories to the maintenance of "el secreto de Teodoro."3

From beginning to end, then, El perro foregrounds anagnorisis in its Aristotelian dimension, especially stressing the welcome transition between ignorance and knowledge.4 There is, however, not a unified process of discovery concerning a single protagonist. Diana, Teodoro, Tristan, and Ludovico all deploy various strategies to uncover or discover the world of the other and of the self at various stages of the play. These "discoveries" ultimately lead to the harmonious resolution of the conflict presented. Discovery and knowledge, then, act as a means to overcoming the constraints of a code of honor that stifles the developing passion of Diana and her secretary, Teodoro. But, as will be shown in this article, to discover and to uncover, in this case, do not lead to the vindication of either truth or reality.

Although discovery, in the sense of recognition and access to knowledge, is important in El perro, other aspects of this process are equally central to the play. Discovery in El perro is extended to embrace also the recognition both of oneself and of the role and situation of others. It is, consequently, interesting to note that probably the more important discovery of the play is the result of Tristan's invention of Teodoro's wealthy parentage. Along the way to this fabrication and Ludovico's anagnorisis, however, some important sacrifices are made. The more prominent of these are, for a contemporary audience, Marcela's feelings and future. Sacrifices are also made on the moral level, where truth is the first and the last victim of the play's "happy" discoveries. Nevertheless, in spite of these sacrifices, as Pilar Mud's recent rendition of the play shows, a director can manage to keep the audience's sympathy with its main protagonists.5 Although switching our allegiance from Marcela!s plight to Diana's and Teodoro's confusing relationship, a skdful director may have viewers endorse and even enjoy the play's denouement.

Suitably for a play dealing with discovery, recognition, and deception both within the play and between the play and its audience, the initial scene reveals that appearances are not what they seem. When searching for those intruders whose presence within her chambers threatens to undermine her reputation, Diana stresses the dimensions of her deception. Using her own sense of vision as a way of describing the access to knowledge, she informs her servants that the scene is not the product of her own imagination. She then insists and qualifies her assertion that she has not been a victim of Baroque "desengano" and has seen neither a dream nor a shadow: "no es sombra lo que vi, / ni sumo que me ha burlado" (11-12).

Diana is determined to find out the identity of the men who use their own capes to disguise themselves. Quite like Don Juan, who will use Mota's cape to try to usurp his place in Dona Ana's bed, these men depart from a possible scene of seduction covering themselves with a cape. Both a sign of their class and an indicator of their masculinity, the cape also underscores their deceitfulness.6 Not only do Teodoro and his servant run away under cover of darkness but they "kill" the light on their way in a scene which is echoed in Don Juan's seduction of Isabella in the palace.7 The "sombrero" that is used to suffocate the torch will, Diana believes, provide a clue to the discovery of the intruders' secret identity: "yo sabre quien es. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.