From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 15.2 (1995): 27-42.
Copyright © 1995, The Cervantes Society of America
ARTICLE

Quixotic Desires or Stark Reality?


MYRIAM YVONNE JEHENSON

  Counter-Reformation attempts to restore order required a separation of the sacred from the profane. . . .  To protect the pure from the profane, order depended upon a program of enclosure . . .  Needing protection not only from outside influences, but also from their own weaknesses, women were told to stay in the ‘natural’ confinement of convent, home, or brothel.
 
(Mary Elizabeth Perry: 1990: 177-8)

Cervantes's novela, El celoso extremeño, provides a means of access to codes, myths, discourses, and ideologies that give it socio-cultural as well as literary meaning. Different gender and generic subjectivities are implicated in the novela and in the characters' construction, making them a battleground of competing categories. My reading focuses on the relationship between behavior and “belief systems,” and is based on the following premises: that El celoso betrays a powerful set of cultural gender-coded assumptions, that the characters enact discursive systems inherited from their cultural milieu, and that they act out “patterns of perversely repetitive strategies that [are] the outcome of dominant western gender assignments”

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(Waller, 84). Nevertheless, resistant subtexts in the novela challenge these discursive systems thereby attesting to the reality of deep social ruptures and of patriarchy in crisis.1 It is, consequently, within the context of contesting discourses that I will read El celoso extremeño as a perverse gender-coded fairy tale.
     I use the adjective “perverse” in Louise Kaplan's sense. “Perversions,” she explains, “insofar as they derive much of their emotional force from social gender stereotypes, are as much pathologies of gender role identity as they are pathologies of sexuality. . . .  Socially normalized gender stereotypes are the crucibles of perversion” (Kaplan, 14). In calling the novela a gender-coded fairy tale, I use “fairy tale” in Iona and Peter Opie's sense of the term as a story that “is not one of rags to riches, or of dreams come true, but of reality made evident” (Opie, 13: emphasis mine); and I depend on Lutz Röhrich's tripartite model for the fairy tale's modus operandi. Röhrich has pointed out that fairy tales function as illusion, allusion, and paradigms. As illusion, fairy tales suggest that events may develop according to a pattern that diverges sharply from the narrator's, the reader's, perhaps even the author's expectations. Allusive use of fairy tales frequently involves social institutions and, for Jungian analysts, “a deep psychological reality generally hidden from view” (Bottigheimer, xii). Lastly, fairy tales function as paradigms in understanding both a given community and the individual's behavior within that community (xi-xii). Unlike popular romance, fairy tales are not enactments of Quixotic desires, or dream wishes (Opie, 14). Instead, stark reality suffuses them. Parents are viewed as wholly untrustworthy. In Snow White and Cinderella, for example, the magic lies in the women's being restored, not raised, to positions of which their own parents had formerly deprived them. In a number of variants, the story of Cinderella is more threatening. She has been obliged to leave her royal home and take kitchen employment elsewhere because her father, in search of the only woman who is as beautiful as his dead wife, is determined to marry his own daughter (Opie, 15-16). In Hansel and Gretel cannibalism is added to the theme of parental abandonment and threat. Rape, even necrophilia, are present in these fantasies. In fact, they form the very crux of the original fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty before it was “purified” by Charles Perrault in 1697. It is rape, not a princely kiss, that the various Prince

     1 For a study of sixteenth-century Seville as a city of “sharpening conflicts,” of patriarchy in crisis, see “Neither Broken Sword Nor Wandering Woman” in Mary Elizabeth Perry, Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Seville, 3-13.


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Charmings bring to the catatonic beauties of earlier versions. The original tale of Sleeping Beauty seems to have first appeared in the fourteenth-century anonymous and vast prose romance Perceforest printed in France in 1528 and translated into Italian in 1531. In chapter LII, the “Histoire de Troïlus et de Zellandine,” Troïlus rapes and impregnates the catatonic Zellandine who delivers the child while still in a stupor. The anonymous Catalan version written, according to P. Meyer, in the XIV century, Frayre de Joy e Sor de Plaser, includes the same ungentlemanly behavior (and consequences). Frayre de Joy also rapes the catatonic Sor de Plaser during her trance-like slumber (Perceforest XVII-XXIX). In Giambattista Basile's Il Pentamerone, published posthumously in 1674 but circulating much earlier, the sleeping Talia of the Fifth tale of Day Five is raped by a married king who happens to be hunting near the palace where she lies sleeping. Her subsequent pregnancy and the “great league and friendship” she shares with her lover the king occasions the queen's homicidal hatred of her and of her children (Opie, 102-102). Such grim originary versions have left gender-coded traces even on Perrault's domesticated late-seventeenth century tale. Here the betrayed wife of earlier versions of Sleeping Beauty becomes a female ogre who is also the mother of the young and handsome prince. As jarring as this makes Perrault's tale, it serves the interest of patriarchy and thereby saves the text. In his version, no adulterous act, no rape, is attributed to the idealized male visitor of the sleeping beauty. The onus falls, instead, on the evil female queen who vents her wrath on another female, the innocent Sleeping Beauty. Yet both women in earlier versions have been the victims of the king's deception. It is clear, then, that fairy tales, as constructed and promulgated in the west, are gendered discourses. A misogynistic ideology makes women natural enemies and splits them into bad or good entities: wicked stepmothers / sisters harm good stepdaughters / siblings, and, good or bad, women are portrayed as potentially destructive to the social order. They are seen as objects of conflict between women (Cinderella; Snow White), as objects of rivalry and enmity between men (The Yellow Dwarf), or as ideally pure and so sexually threatened and threatening (Rapunzel; Thumbelina). Women's natural weaknesses and propensity for disorder therefore requires their special protection and enclosure. These gendered subjectivities, as well as those of class and race, are implicated in El celoso extremeño. Its allusive and paradigmatic function, and Cervantes's uniqueness of treatment, can best be appreciated in comparison with fairy tale prototypes in which such categories become irrelevant.


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     The story that most resembles El celoso can be found in the earliest European storybook to include fairy tales, and one which was immensely popular in Spain during the time Cervantes was writing. It is Le Piacevoli Notti (The Delightful Nights) of Giovan Francesco Straparola da Caravaggio, published in Venice in two parts, 1550-1553. In the Spanish translation of Straparola, the Spaniard Francisco Truchado had tried to moralize the not-so-moral tales because, as he states in the preface, “sabéis la diferencia que hay entre la libertad italiana y la nuestra” (Pabst, 193). Truchado titled his translation of Straparola, “Primera y segunda parte del honesto y agradable entretenimiento de damas y galanes.” The Notti were published in 1583 in Granada, and 1598 and again in 1612 in Madrid (Pabst, 193). It is the First Fable of the Ninth Night that most resembles El celoso. In it, Galafro, an old king of Spain, is wed to a young woman by whom, a chiromantist informs him, he will be deceived. The frightened king shuts his young wife in “a strong and massy tower,” and places her “under the most jealous guard” (Straparola, 186-187). The report comes to the ears of the young prince Galeotto who, like Loaysa, sees this as a challenge to his industria. He, apprised of “the angelic beauty of the young queen and the advanced age of her husband, and the manner in which he let her pass her days, keeping her shut up a close prisoner in a strong-built tower, resolved to make an attempt to put a trick upon this king” (Straparola, 188). Galeotto disguises himself as a poor merchant and pretends to sell beautiful cloths. He is immediately given access to the tower by the young queen, and they make love. As in El celoso, repressed sexuality, deceit and rationalization emplot Straparola's tale. The young queen, like Leonora, mentally compares her husband and the younger man and “marked that the merchant was well seeming and pleasant to look upon” (191). All are aware that the stranger's disguise is fake, that “this man could not possibly be of mean condition,” yet their curiosity wins out (192). The successful Galeotto subsequently chants in the streets, “I know well enough all about it, but I have no mind to tell” (198). The king innocently repeats the catchy refrain to his wife. She confesses and is forgiven her indiscretion because “heaven” had willed that this should happen.2 In fairy-tale fashion

     2 It is interesting to note that Américo Castro posits Carrizales's similar utterance,“mas no se puede prevenir con diligencia humana el castigo que la voluntad divina quiere dar a los que en ella no ponen del todo en todo sus deseos y esperanzas . . . ” (Celoso, 133), as emerging instead from a “viva tradición islámica.” Hacia Cervantes, 445. What is culturally significant, however, is how meaning is produced through translation / publication strategies. In the Italian [p. 30] version, Straparola ends his fairy tale simply, with the victory of Galeotto and the conventional “they lived happily ever after” of the king and queen: “Ed in quel-l'ora fece spianar la torre, e pose la moglie in libertá, con la quale allegramente visse; e Galeotto, nel fatto d'arme vittorioso, con le sue merci a casa fece ritorno.” Le piacevoli notti, 100. In the French and English versions, however, shame / honor prescriptions are added to the original thereby producing new and gendered meaning. As Leocadia's father had advised her that “es mejor la deshonra que se ignora que la honra que está puesta en opinión de las gentes” (“La fuerza de la sangre,” 79), so do the listeners react in the frame story of the English and French versions. They are delighted with the tale, but “were much astonished that the queen should have been led to bring to light so easily her hidden fault, holding that she would have done better to suffer death a thousand-fold than to take upon herself such a scandalous disgrace.” The Facetious Nights, 200-201; “la compagnie, qui s'esbahissoit assez comme la royne avoit esté si simple de descouvrir si légèrement son fait, attendu qu'elle se devoit plustôt offrir à la mercy de mille morts, qu'encourir un blasme tant scandaleux . . .”. Les facetieuses nuits, 176.


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the king thereafter gives his wife “full liberty to do whatsoever she would,” and “they lived happily and joyfully” (200).
     In Straparola's tale, all the characters are of princely lineage and categories of gender, class, and race are irrelevant. In El celoso extremeño, however, these conflicting codes problematize the story. James Fernández, in his New World reading of El celoso, elides the issue of gender and focuses instead on categories of class and race, that is, on the relations of subordination produced by Carrizales, the indiano governor of an ínsula, “inhabited by a racially diverse group of natives” (972). Genre issues too, which are similarly irrelevant to Straparola's fable, continue to elicit critical attention.3 In her recent study of the figure of the deceived husband, Alison Sinclair reviews some generic subjectivities implicated in El celoso extremeño, and focuses on two generic types on which the figure of Carrizales is modeled: the Cuckold as developed from the fabliaux into the tradition familiar to us in Boccaccio's Decameron (1350) and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1387- ); and the Man of Honor, a different but complementary tradition of the wronged husband, of which known prototypes are found, of course, in the wife-murder plays of Calderón, Lope, Rojas Zorrilla (Sinclair, 50-172). It is common knowledge that Carrizales fits the type of the inadequate husband in the proverbial January-May relationship, and that he tries to enact the Man of Honor, “the model or epitome of vigilance,” as he prepares a “speedy and effective retaliation” at the sight of the sleeping lovers

     3 George Cirot's work on El celoso extremeño is still essential for the study of the sources of both El celoso and the entremés of El viejo celoso. See Works Cited.


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in the novela (Sinclair, ch. 4). As Röhrich points out in his explanation of the tripartite function of fairy tales, however, fairy tales can be said to be illusive precisely because they diverge sharply from the narrator's or the reader's expectations. Sinclair herself acknowledges that Carrizales's actions fit neither generic expectations. She therefore makes him the model of a new category, namely, that of Man of Distinction which suggests “the reality of the suffering and vulnerable human being underneath” both types of the Cuckold and the Man of Honor (Sinclair, 256). Informed by object-relations theory, Sinclair concludes that Carrizales ultimately emerges from a paranoid-schizoid position where fear, denial, and splitting mark the personality to the depressive position at the end of the novela where he is at last capable of understanding and forgiveness. Sinclair does in one page, and primarily as an aside, what Alison Weber had already done ten years earlier in her fine article on a Kleinian approach to El celoso (Weber: 1984). Both affirm, in their own ways, that Carrizales ultimately achieves the ability to be prompted to actions and to attitudes of reparation. This is not my position. I believe, instead, that Carrizales's final act of forgiveness is but a vengeful and effective wielding of power. My argument is that Carrizales, a nouveau riche, paranoid, and ageing bourgeois, encodes himself and the characters in a self-empowering script. He constructs women in two abstract discourses, chastity and lasciviousness. They are either ideally pure but sexually vulnerable, or they are sexually dangerous. Carrizales then proceeds to decode their sexual vulnerability and, in so doing, emerges triumphant and grandiose, rather than repentant, at the end.
     When we first meet Carrizales, he is a loner. His class affiliation is blurred (Dunn, 99). From hidalgo he has become a bourgeois indiano like “otros muchos perdidos en aquella ciudad.”4 He has no social connectedness: his friends and parents are dead. Having squandered his money, he is a “Pródigo” with no home to which he can return. Moreover, he is filled with a sense of failure because of “el mal gobierno que en todo el discurso de su vida había tenido,” and overwhelmed with paranoia as a result of “los muchos y diversos peligros que en los años de su peregrinación había pasado” (Celoso, 100). Carrizales is simply a man who lacks situatedness. Bruised by his past experiences with women, he has formed a

     4 “El celoso extremeño,” p. 100. I will be referring throughout to the Novelas Ejemplares, ed. Harry Sieber (Mexico: Cátedra, 1988), II: 99-135. References will be to Celoso with page numbers in parenthesis in the text.


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deep-seated belief in women's weaknesses and their propensity for disorder. He will spend twenty years in the New World putting order back into his life by caring for “la hacienda que Dios fuese servido de darle” and by proceeding “con más recato que hasta allí con las mujeres” (Celoso, 100). Twice in the novela, however, his attempts at ordering his life are constructed in order to validate his ideological bias. Carrizales goes to the New World “engaño común de muchos y remedio particular de pocos” (Celoso, 99), explicitly to make money and to change his negative attitude about women. But the land he chooses in order to change his negative fantasy of women is actually “añagaza general de mujeres libres” (99). Not surprisingly, then, Carrizales returns from the New World as paranoid and as distrustful of women as he was in the Old twenty years earlier. On his return to Spain, now empowered by newly-acquired wealth, he is beset by two powerful conflicting needs. For his “quietud y sosiego,” he needs to leave his fortune to a wife and heir. For that same “quietud y sosiego,” however, he needs to avoid women and their disturbing potential (Celoso, 102). His second attempt at ordering his life is also constructed so as to validate his ideological bias. Just as he had chosen the Indies, “añagaza general de mujeres libres,” to change his negative view of women, so he now chooses, not his harsh, impoverished native city but opulent Seville, instead, known in the sixteenth century as “the Great Babylon of Spain” (Perry: 1980: 1). Driven by contradictory desires, Carrizales makes an economic arrangement designed to satisfy his conflicting needs. He will buy a young girl whom he can control: “encerraréla y haréla a mis mañas, y con esto no tendrá otra condición que aquella que yo le enseñaré” (102), and he will build a foolproof structure within which he can enclose her.
     In order to be in control, the former Indiano now inscribes his new identity of husband in a discourse whose central psychocultural trope is the perversion of fetishism. He devivifies the girl at the window and in the freeze-frame of his gaze, makes Leonora into a non-threatening fetish, according her attributes object status wholly separate from her totality. She is reduced to abstract paradigms: beautiful, poor, young, malleable (Theweleit I, 89). He then proceeds to further unsettle the threatening boundaries between the real and the not-real by constructing a walled-in enclosure designed to guarantee her chastity and to deflect his fear of the death instinct.5 Stasis,

     5 Kaplan, 119. It is because Carrizales senses the imminence of death that he wants to leave his wealth to a wife “después de sus días,” and rationalizes that [p. 33] in marriage “el gusto alarga la vida” (Celoso, 102). Psychologists have pointed out that, “A man who is driven by a perverse fantasy is terrified of open, ambiguous spaces . . . He prizes strong, upright, sturdy structures that inspire in him feats of daring and prowess” (Kaplan, 74).


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control, infantilism will henceforth mark Leonora's existence as her sartorial, ludic, and religious needs are met. Making and playing with dolls, baking and eating sweet pastries, constitutes her life in a Jungian dream world of infantile happiness and child-likeness, the classic perversion of “a Garden of Eden where there are no real or significant differences between the adult and child generations” (Kaplan, 113). Infantilism of this kind has often been feminized as natural and enviable. Jean Paulhan, in his preface to the twentieth-century model of perversion, the Story of O, of Pauline Réage (Dominique Aury), expresses genuine envy of O's voluntary enslavement and of the sexual humiliation to which she has consented. It represents, he says, that longed-for and lost childhood which is not allowed to men: “Women at least,” he gushes, “are fated to resemble, throughout their lives, the children we once were.” In this way are gender assignments naturalized, and in this way perverse scenarios are played out as normal. Once of the fundamental paradoxes of our social life, Paul Willis reminds us, is the fact that “when we are in roles that look the most obvious and given, we are actually in roles that are constructed” (1979: 184).
     In order to appreciate how porous are the boundaries between the textual and the contextual, and to show how texts are primarily products of discursive practices, it is appropriate to move outside the text in order to look at some constituent elements that are the producers of meaning in El celoso. González Amezúa had claimed long ago that everything in the novela had been taken from the reality of sixteenth-century Seville (II: 245ff), and Mary Elizabeth Perry has shown how, in early modern Seville, the order-restoring function of gender becomes normalized. Secular and ecclesiastical officials increased their powers of social control as they responded to all kinds of crises and schisms. By the end of the sixteenth century, Seville had become the fourth largest city in Europe with a population of more than 100,000, excluding vagrants and transients. This highly commercial city was uncontrollable. On the one hand, hustling prostitutes, procuresses, potion makers and fortune tellers cluttered the city to the consternation of the city officials. On the other hand, visionary women, healers, and prophetesses worried the ecclesiastical authorities (Perry: 1980: 123-125). In the ensuing crisis for


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patriarchal control, both secular and religious, “[e]nclosure and purity developed as strategies for defending the faith . . . [and] women . . . required the special protection of enclosure” (Perry: 1990: 6). Religious beliefs permeated gender ideology. Juan de la Cerda advised fathers of marriageable daughters to “cerrar a cal y canto, todas las puertas, todas las portillas, por donde le pueda venir algún peligro”; and Fray Luis de León naturalized such actions: “Como son los hombres para lo público, así las mujeres para el encerramiento” because “la naturaleza . . . hizo a las mujeres para que encerradas guardasen la casa . . . ”.6 Fray Luis would have the “prudent husband” bar his wife from any contact with other women, even from receiving visits in her home, because when women talk together, it “always leads to a thousand evils” (228: Perry 1990: 68). The innate fallibility of women, already constructed by such treatises, became linked with a particularly conservative ideology around 1525 due to increased male emigration to the New World. As a result, women lost autonomy and influence, gender restrictions were legitimated, and masculine power and control was effected (Perry: 1990: 177-180). There is, then, nothing in Carrizales's obsessive behavior that would have seemed abnormal or unnatural in sixteenth-century Seville. Even his fortress-like house is modelled after the emparedamientos or convents in Seville which actually presented “to the streets a face without windows” (Perry: 1990: 75). The presence of servants and slaves in these emparedamientos was also common. Carrizales's branding of his four “white slaves” and not the two black ones may be a bit unusual but not the branding of slaves, in general, who were destined for domestic service in the city's household (Pike, 176-177). In one case, that of the Convent of the Incarnation in Seville, the presence of slaves was found disturbing only because the nuns were perceived as thereby overspending their original endowment (Perry: 1990: 80). Contextual reality, then, shows Carrizales to be a construct of discursive systems inherited from his cultural milieu and it also explains the women's acquiescence as they too act out patterns of perversely repetitive strategies of subordination that match Carrizales's of domination. For Leonora, her enclosure constitutes a mere “advertido recato,” the natural modus vivendi of newly-weds (Celoso. 106). The servants

     6 Juan de la Cerda, Libro intitulado vida politica de todos los estados de mujeres (1599); Juan de Soto, Obligaciones de todos los estados y oficios (1617); Fray Luis de León, La perfecta casada (158, 154). All quotes come from Alison Weber, “Pentimento: The Parodic Text of La Gitanilla,” pp. 61-62, 67.


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and slaves, “[p]rometiéronle . . . de hacer todo aquello que les mandaba, sin pesadumbre, con prompta voluntad y buen ánimo” (105: emphasis mine). The parents are satisfied because of “las muchas dádivas que Carrizales, su liberal yerno, les daba,” and the narrator tells us, approvingly, that “todos le querían bien, por ser de condición llana y agradable, y, sobre todo, por mostrarse tan liberal con todas” (106). As Antonio Gramsci has reminded us, cultural domination is achieved —not by force or coercion, but secured, instead, through the consent of those it ultimately subordinates.
     The very ubiquity and persistence of gender prescriptions prohibiting women from having contact with both men and other women signal, however, deep ruptures in the social fabric of the sixteenth century (Perry: 1990: 9), ruptures that are present in the novela, and that provide a discursive field in which cultural myths and their function as effective ideologies are contested (Barthes, Mythologies). Resistant subtexts in El celoso both suggest alternative structural possibilities for Carrizales and historicize what the women accept as givens, thereby making the novela a site of two contesting discourses: that of acquiescence and that of transgression. The transgressive discourse is sometimes articulated explicitly. Leonora's parents, for example, accept Carrizales's economic arrangement but also tearfully express their awareness “que la llevaban a la sepultura” (Celoso, 104). Mass cultural texts compete with the dominant text. The dominant text describes the house as a Bower of Bliss, suffused with light from ubiquitous skylights, and built in the midst of running water and orange trees. Loaysa and the women, however, sing popular coplas that contest the security of the bower: “Si la voluntad por sí no se guarda, / no la harán guarda / miedo o calidad” (Celoso, 126); and that warn against the enclosure of women: “que si yo no me guardo, / no me guardaréis” (Celoso, 125). Lope's well-known ballad, the “Star of Venus” and the popular songs of Abindarráez, and Abenámar in El celoso are all texts dealing with “the passions and frustrations of youthful love, tyrannical oppression of a maiden, and the theme of confinement” (Forcione: 1982: 36). Less explicitly, but just as transgressive, refracted echoes of horstexte realities of Biblical and Classical origin serve as caveats and resistant subtexts. It makes narratorial sense, for example, to equate the jealous and vigilant Carrizales with Argus. The remainder of Argus's untold story, however, warns of what happens to the most vigilant of Arguses in the hands of more cunning musicians. The description of Loaysa as Absalom is another instance. It may well refer to the former's comeliness, as Harry Sieber has pointed out, but


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the reference nevertheless provides access to a fearfully-relevant analogy. The Absalom-Amnon-Tamar story is, after all, the story of another violation of the sanctity of a home and a woman, and Tamar's shame-filled enclosure for the rest of her life, like Leonora's, provides a compelling subtext. The off-hand reference to the “nuevos adúlteros enlazados en la red de sus brazos” (Celoso, 130), also serves as a contestatorial fragment, displaying the consequences brought about by a spurned Jupiter's marrying off young Venus to his deformed son Vulcan. Even the simile used to compare the fleeing servants who think that Carrizales has awakened echoes transgression. They are fittingly compared to doves eating “sin miedo lo que ajenas manos sembraron” (Celoso, 126-127).
     Such subtexts, although they constitute resistant fragments, however, do not constitute discourses of power in the text. It is only Carrizales who ultimately wields power. Once the house is invaded, and he dishonored, he reproduces in dying what he had produced in his lifetime: discursive systems of control. His reaction to the supposed adultery runs the gamut of homicidal rage, to contempt for the hypocritical Leonora, to a calm and deliberate “venganza.” Carrizales has the legal right to kill the couple. It is common knowledge that the law provided that a wronged husband could execute his wife and her lover, privately or publicly. In 1565, for example, before an approving public, an innkeeper stabbed his wife and her lover (Perry: 1980: 140). Not surprisingly, then, the narrator of the novela anticipates the reader's support for wife murder as “determinación honrosa y necesaria” (Celoso, 130). But this is not Carrizales's way. “La venganza que pienso tomar desta afrenta,” he emphasizes, “no es ni ha de ser de las que ordinariamente suelen tomarse” (Celoso, 133). In a self-serving and grandiose gesture, he has the parents, the dueña, and Leonora summoned before him so that he can disclose Leonora's shame and his dishonor. The gesture also provides a means of access to ideologies that give it socio-cultural significance. We know that in early modern Seville, the dueña or older woman was constructed as a Celestina, dangerous to the morals of innocent Melibeas / Leonoras. Historical records abound in such cases (Perry: 1990: 56). Twice the “evil dueña” and Leonora are put on the same level. First, as both, prostrate on the floor, are complicitous in deceiving Carrizales, and secondly, in the recognition scene as the shame and disgrace of both women is exposed. What Helena Percas de Ponseti says of the first instance applies equally to the second: “Leonora se pone al mismo nivel que la dueña, representación gráfica de la bajeza del engaño. En ese momento son hermanas espirituales”


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(146). That the dueña and Leonora should be together in the recognition / exposure scene therefore constitutes a powerful signifying practice. It positions Leonora, if not as an adulteress, then certainly as not sexually innocent. In a Biblical sense she has lusted in her heart for Loaysa. In an Augustinian context her plea, “sólo te ofendí en el pensamento,” is already theologically damning. As a sin of intentionality, it constitutes a sin in actu (The City of God I.19). Moreover, whether or not Leonora is guilty of adultery, she has succumbed to temptation and has failed Carrizales. She has disobeyed her husband's only request, that she let no one into the house. It is she who administers the soporific. It is she who enthusiastically readies the wax in order to duplicate the key that facilitates Loaysa's ins and outs. The person who is ultimately responsible for Carrizales's death is Leonora. She cannot, under any circumstances, be considered blameless (Percas, 146). The reader may be able to concede irony in Carrizales's uncontested pronouncement that he has made her his equal in all things, but the reiteration of all he has done for her cannot be contested. It merely makes her ingratitude even more heinous and his magnanimity thereby more significant. He doubles her dowry with the proviso that she marry the virote, and, in a paternalistic gesture, forgives her because of her natural weakness, “su poco ingenio” (Celoso, 133).7
     It seems appropriate to move briefly outside the text once more for two intertextual resonances that enrich my reading of Carrizales's so-called magnanimous gesture: one is cultural, the other literary. In 1624 an adulterous couple were brought to the Plaza in Seville to be executed. The wife threw herself at her husband's feet begging for forgiveness. After one hour of this public spectacle the husband forgave her because the scene had established his honor and ensured forever both her guilt and her social humiliation (Perry: 1980: 142). In 1607 Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness was published. In Heywood's play, the virtuous husband, Franford,

     7 For virotes, the young blades who threatened secular and ecclesiastical authority, see Mary Elizabeth Perry, Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville, pp. 155-157. Women often manipulated the image of the woman-easily deceived to their advantage (Davis, 68), and used their “natural” weakness as a weapon against patriarchy. One of the most renowned instances of this is the case of the adulterous wife, Bertrande de Rols, in the celebrated sixteenth-century story of Martin Guerre. The clever Bertrande, who lived with the imposter Arnaud du Tilh (Pansette) for over three years as his wife, was not prosecuted for fraud or for adultery because “the judges agreed to accept her good faith; the female sex was, after all, fragile” (Davis,90).


38 MYRIAM YVONNE JEHENSON Cervantes

described as such by critics, as Carrizales is often described as forgiving, as a Man of Distinction, tells his adulterous wife Anne that he will neither martyr her nor dishonor her name. Instead he will isolate her and “with usage / Of more humility torment thy soul, / And kill thee, even with kindness” (13. 155-157). Franford's Spanish counterpart is just as insightful and wields as much power when he implements his “estremada venganza.” Carrizales has succeeded in decoding publicly his misogynistic script. The ideally-pure Leonora as well as the sexually-dangerous dueña have both validated his view of women as sexually vulnerable. He emerges triumphant and vindicated at the end as everyone else is rendered disordered and dysfunctional. The once-confident Loaysa is depicted as “despechado y casi corrido” as a result of this experience with women (Celoso, 135). Because of Leonora he has become Carrizales's enemy and has been defrauded of his expectations. His end, en route to the Indies, as Carrizales had been at the beginning of the novela, suggests the cloning effectiveness of Carrizales's misogyny. As A. F. Lambert has pointed out, “Loaysa, it is clear will . . . [become] a Carrizales, as Carrizales had been a Loaysa” (Lambert, 225). Marialonso, who had been initially encoded as “dueña de mucha prudencia y gravedad” (Celoso, 104), has now been decoded into one more “falsa” Celestina, natural enemy of another woman, namely, the once-innocent Leonora. Leonora's parents, who “quedaron tristísimos” at his death, will never be the same (Celoso, 135). A shamed daughter and a dishonored son-in-law are the legacy women's propensity for disorder has left them. The narrator himself wonders about women and, as a result, is confused and rendered unreliable. Is Leonora sexually innocent or are Leonora and Loaysa, instead, “nuevos adúlteros” as he himself labels them. No one, however, internalizes Carrizales's negative view of women as does Leonora. This experience has simply decoded for her the “truth” of Carrizales's script: women's weaknesses, their sexual vulnerability, and their propensity to disorder. The lesson she has learned is that the only effective way to protect women is to confine them within even more secure enclosures. And so she decides to spend the rest of her guilt-filled life in “uno de los más recogidos monasterios de la cuidad” (Celoso, 135).
     Ruth El Saffar, for whom Leonora's choice at the end is self-defining (as it is for Forcione), in referring to another aspect of the novela writes that “Carrizales is simultaneously Leonora and Loaysa” (47, 43). It is clear that I see Leonora's “choice” not as self-defining but as constructed. However, El Saffar's quote is valid in


15.2 (1995) Quixotic Desires or Stark Reality? 39

another sense. If Carrizales can be said to be the product of his cultural milieu, so Leonora and Loaysa can be seen as products of Carrizales's belief system. This makes the ending, as it has the entire novela, a continuing site of contested discourses. It is not the discourses of acquiescence and transgression, however, which are contested this time, but the discourse of humanism, on the one hand, with its insistence on the free agency of the individual, and the counter discourse of socialism, on the other, with its awareness of individual experience as culturally and politically constrained. We are left in El celoso extremeño, as in so many of Cervantes's works, with what Umberto Eco calls an opera aperta, that is, a work that admits of a multiplicity of possible readings in which meaning must ultimately be negotiated between mutually contested positions simultaneously.8

UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD

     8 Especially pertinent to the myriad interpretations El celoso extremeño has elicited, is Eco's emphasis on the ambiguities that must necessarily arise from a work of art because of the differences in sensibility, education, cultural background, and intelligence of readers. Opera aperta. 7th edition. Milano: Bompiani, 1989. First published in 1962.


 
 
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Prepared with the help of Sue Dirrim
Fred Jehle jehle@ipfw.edu Publications of the CSA HCervantes
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/cervante/csa/articf95/jehenson.htm