Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Vindication of King Gaulo: Anger Management in Cárcel De Amor

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Vindication of King Gaulo: Anger Management in Cárcel De Amor

Article excerpt

Twentieth-century Hispanists have felt little sympathy for King Gaulo of Diego de San Pedro's Cárcel de amor. Having allegedly hindered the romance between Leriano and Laureola and having sentenced his daughter to death he caused much displeasure to readers. In an influential article, 'Cárcel de amor, novela política', Francisco Márquez Villanueva (1966) proposed that Cárcel should be reread as a political, rather than a sentimental novel. This idea was based primarily on the critic's evaluation of King Gaulo and his motivations:

Un Rey todopoderoso y, como allí se dice, 'turbado' por una aberrante pasión, se vuelve de espaldas a todo sentimiento humano y a toda responsabilidad jurídica para aniquilar a su propia hija. Su parcialidad y su prejuicio sanguinario contra Laureola [...] se muestran a las claras cuando prohibe que el juicio de dios contra Persio llegue a su ya indudable desenlace. desde este momento presenciamos la pugna del sañudo Rey con las voces de la justicia, de la religión, y de la sangre, que se estrellarán ante el acantilado de su ciega y 'turbada' voluntad. (Márquez Villanueva 1976: 147)

Márquez Villanueva argued that the only way to understand the intercalated episode of Leriano's rebellion against the King is to consider it on one hand as an illustration of medieval political theory that claims the right to resistance to tyrannical rule, and on the other hand as the converso San Pedro's oblique critique of the catholic Monarchs' instituting of the inquisition. Thus, according to this scholar, the King's treatment of his daughter was a political allegory of the catholic Monarchs' absolute rule, as well as an elaboration of the folkloric motif of incestuous father. Márquez Villanueva's analysis fuelled other studies that condemned the King. Santiago Tejerina-Canal (1984) went on to explore tyranny, which he perceived not only in the King's actions but also in the tyrannical forces of feelings, fortune and honour, as an overarching motif of diego de San Pedro's masterpiece. José-Luis Gastáñaga-Ponce de León (2008) revisited Márquez Villanueva's thesis and argued similarly that diego de San Pedro critiqued the catholic Monarchs' concentration of power, which, in Gastáñaga's analysis of the romance, was to be counterbalanced through the participation in power of other segments of the society, notably the church.

It should not be surprising that King Gaulo has had such a bad reputation with his readers. apart from the tense historical political circumstances that, according to some critics, may have infiltrated the plot of the romance and the portrayal of the characters, King Gaulo's reputation may have been tainted by some notorious company. In the sentimental fiction corpus, he is preceded by King creos of juan Rodríguez del Padrón's Siervo libre de amor, the father of ardanlier, and by the King of Scotland, the father of Mirabella in juan de Flores' Grisel y Mirabella. The enraged creos slashed with a sword his son's pregnant ladylove Liessa, presumably in punishment for ardanlier's abandonment of his filial duties for an amorous affair. The King of Scotland, in turn, had his beautiful daughter hidden in a tower, perhaps jealously safeguarding her delights from other suitors, for himself. King Gaulo might thus have been judged through an implicit comparison with other monarchs in sentimental fiction's lineage of cruel or incestuous royal fathers.

Such comparisons aside, however, King Gaulo seems to have a moral blemish of his own. On repeated occasions the text indicates his propensity to anger, a condition that throughout the romance compromises the wisdom and lawfulness of his decisions. Laura Vivanco (2004) draws attention to the King's anger in her study of Cárcel de amor as a novellized rewriting of Pero López de ayala's widely read chronicle about the abuses of Pedro el cruel. Vivanco's careful analysis of the judicial combat in Cárcel against a similar combat described in the chronicle juxtaposes textual evidence of Cárcel de amor against medieval legal regulations of judicial duels. …

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