Desire and Death in the Spanish Sentimental Romance (1440-1550)

By Patricia E. Grieve | Go to book overview

arbitrary.20 If we see Grisel Y Mirabella as a tale of vengeance triumphant, then we can be satisifed with the turn of events, viewing them as a morally satisfying conclusion to the chain of occurrences. If, however, we see something more, as I think we must, not permitting ourselves to be fooled by Flores' abrupt ending, then we will be left with the feeling that the chain of violence has not ended with Torrellas' death, that perhaps, with the onslaught of primitive savagery, social harmony is still a long way off.


Conclusion

To sum up, Flores refuses to provide easy answers, but we can come to some conclusions, once we admit the ambiguities which exist in the work. The ambiguities are the consequence of the tensions established in Grisel y Mirabella. Flores sets up a system which he undermines along the way. The primary system is that of the material of romance, read as Matulka reads it. It consists of a series of elements easily associated with well-known literature, such as the romances of chivalry. This system is consistently undercut by subtle (and not-so- subtle) qualifications and ambiguities associated with the characters, their actions, and the imagery that surrounds them. The second manner of undercutting, which can perhaps be called the true system of Grisel y Mirabelia, is in the process of the conflation of love and justice and their inextricable link to violence.

Grisel y Mirabella demythifies love: it is not a simple tale of two young lovers thwarted by external forces. Love, better named desire, brings with it unexpectedly bitter results, which are never seen in, for example, the romances of chivalry, and are not fully explored in the cancionero love poetry which glorifies violence--the poetry of "muero porque no muero." Here, the paradox is brought to life and shows its violent nature. In Grisel y Mirabella, women cause desire and, once begun, desire runs its own course--the course of disaster.

If there is another process of demythification in the text, it is one that implies that the solution often rivals the problem in its destructiveness. Justice is not the solution to every social ill, since, in this case,

____________________
20
Nonsense: Aspects of Intertextuality in Folklore and Literature ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979). In "Desire and Causality in Medieval Narrative," RR, 71 ( 1980), 213-43, Evelyn Birge Vitz shows how medieval texts are resolved according to the satisfaction of a character, or characters, and to the satisfaction of the reader.

-72-

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