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"La fuerza del amor" or "The Power of Self-Love": Zayas' Response to Cervantes' "La fuerza de

la sangre"
Author(s): Rosilie Hernández Pecoraro
Reviewed work(s):
Source: Hispanic Review, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Winter, 2002), pp. 39-57
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 14/12/2012 08:32
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University of Illinois, Chicago
U HE debt of Maria de Zayas' Ejemplos and Desen?





to Cervantes'





plares has been studied frequently. Given the popularity that the Novelas ejemplares enjoyed, their
influence upon other authors of short stories was



even obligatory.


And Zayas' work is

often read as an elaboration of the style, themes,
and content of Cervantes' ejemplos. Nonetheless, as Cervantes himself well demonstrated, imitation does not imply blind reverence to
the model; for Cervantes, as for most writers of the Renaissance and
Baroque, the practice of imitatio was a conscious effort to transform, and in the process hopefully surpass, the model. In fact, Zayas'
texts readily lend themselves to multiple and paradoxical readings,
making any imitation of or response to the content and themes of
Cervantes' works unexpected and highly original. As Patricia E.
Grieve has stated in her study of Zayas' practice of imitation and
manipulation of hagiographic codes, her works not only "imitate"
(and thus transform) form and content, but radically undermine the
ideological premises which commonly frame text and reading context:
By foregrounding hagiography and transforming seventeenth-century
male-approved reading matter for women into material for women's

This content downloaded on Fri, 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM
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Luisico. (89) I would add that this practice of irreverent imitation.while refusingmerely to imitate it. will be both symbol and proof of her innocent sacrifice (247). This content downloaded on Fri. If La fuerza de la sangre ends with an uneasy declaration of marital bliss between Rodolfo. as Marcia Welles establishes. Leocadia. a caballero whose "inclinaci6n torcida. she is raped. finally aware of her aggressor's identity. then for her release. a virginal and extremely beautiful sixteen-year-old is abducted from her family's carriage by Rodolfo. In contrast. As the night evolves Leocadia first pleads for her death. Nonetheless. First let us examine Cervantes' Sangre. She is taken to Rodolfo's room where." "libertad demasiada" and "companiias libres" prevent him from honoring his or her honorable standing in society (77). 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Zayas focuses on the pitfalls of marriage for women such as Leocadia and Lafuerza del amor's Laura. acts accordingly and. sin. beautiful objects of desire always lacking power and readily abused by husband and society. Zayas enables her disgraced heroine to find in herself the power of self-love (this tale should really be titled La fuerza del amor proprio) and establish her subjectivity apart from all male influence. of taking a male oriented discourse. and farfetched reconciliation. I will argue that in fact Zayas' tale of marriage and deception is a conscious continuation of Cervantes' contradictory tale of rape. subverting its premises. She appropriatesthe content but revises the context of the stories. Leocadia. Zayascreates a revisionisttext that subverts hagiography'spatriarchaldiscourse. unconscious. Cervantes' tale ends with Leocadia's surrender to her rapist's gaze and her tenuous reintegration into society as his honorable wife and mother of his children. has an accident that miraculously brings him to his noble grandparents' house where he lies in the bed that seven years earlier had been the stage of his mother's disgrace. In this ejemplo Leocadia. Lafuerza del amor openly exposes the cruel reality that this blessed state can and will bring. thereby circumventingthe pitfalls of being a female voice in a male discourse. and manages to leave taking a crucifix that.40 Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro HR 70 (2002) writing. and his victim. In this essay I will discuss the ways in which Zayas' La fuerza del amor is a direct retort to the irony (whether intentional or not) of Leocadia's marriage in Cervantes' Lafuerza de la sangre. through Rodolfo's parents' grace and kindness. and recontextualizing it into a woman's text is the same practice Zayas employs in her transformation of Cervantes' works. an aristocrat and a rapist. the product of this unworthy union.

"le parecia a Rodolfo que iba y caminaba no con alas. even when the narrative voice considers his youth: "Hasta veinte y dos anfos tendria un caballero de aquella ciudad a quien la riqueza. Rodolfo goes to Italy where. Soon after. sino con muletas: tan grande era el deseo de verse a solas con su querida esposa" (95. This content downloaded on Fri. Accordingly. The narrator's description of Rodolfo's desire to find himself alone with his "querida esposa" immediately invokes his desire to enjoy an object of beauty: "Mozo soy. la libertad demasiada y las compafifas libres. pero bien se me entiende que se compadece con el sacramento del matrimonio eljusto y debido deleite que los casados gozan" (91. during his wedding night with Leocadia. la inclinaci6n torcida.' Seven years after the rape Rodolfo's own voice is first heard but then only to confirm his lust and lack of interest in women as worthy subjects. It thus should not surprise the reader when Leocadia's beauty ignites in him the desire to "gozarla a pesar de todos los inconvenientes que sucederle pudiesen" (78). he can be as good a caballero as he had been in his homeland. emphasis mine). upon his mother's questioning. If years earlier "los impetus no castos de la mocedad" (77) had driven 1 It is in textual moments such as these that Friedman's reading of irony in La fuerza de la sangre is irrefutable. as we will see for Zayas. his utter disregard for anything but the enjoyment of physical beauty is once more confirmed. Even though Leocadia's story ends with an affirmation of the "muchos y felices afnos"(95) that she and Rodolfo spend as husband and wife and of the many more honorable children that they bear. the literal description of Rodolfo's character and motivations questions their union's credibility or.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 41 is able to regain her honor through marriage. Seven years after her tragic encounter with Rodolfo's lust she is for the first time free to acknowledge her son as her own and secure her public honra. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . It is evident from Rodolfo's first appearance that his character and actions are incommensurate with his position in society. emphasis mine). desirability. Edward Friedman has convincingly suggested that the reader of Lafuerza de la sangre is hard pressed to ignore how "the literal and figurative levels of meaning [are] self-consciously ambiguous" (15354). as his father advises him. le hacian hacer cosas y tener atrevimientos que desdecian de su calidad y le daban renombre de atrevido" (77). la sangre ilustre. His one opportunity to redeem himself and demonstrate repentance and transformation is marred when.

She memorizes the room that served as the "sepultura de [su] honra" and takes with her the violator's crucifix. not Rodolfo's problematic reformation. as described by the narrator. the "golosina" that he so enthusiastically had come from Italy to enjoy (89). Her desire for love and an honorable life cannot be separated from the violence and suffering she has endured. such an action would destroy their tenuous social and economic standing. Even if they had the inclination to publicize the crime and look for the culprit. She is. This content downloaded on Fri. as stated by her father. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Her parents. Not only does she have to plead for her death or her liberty. Welles considers Lafuerza de la sangre a woman's story. Leocadia finally has the opportunity to tell her story. are the focus of this rape narrative. are powerless in the face of public disgrace and scandal. and appears as an angel for Rodolfo. She is of noble title but poor. it is again his mocedad which legitimizes his disregard of virtue in favor of beauty and physical desire in marriage. She wants to save her family's honor and legitimize her son's existence. a glaring symbol of Rodolfo's hypocrisy and Leocadia's Christ-like innocence and sacrifice. Leocadia is a victim of her circumstance. his marriage vows are a channeling of that libidinal energy into the chain of desire within the socio-symbolic order of Spanish aristocratic society. Nevertheless. she also has to defend herself against a second attempted violation.42 Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro HR 70 (2002) him to violate Leocadia's body and honor. Leocadia's plight and actions. Leocadia wants to be Rodolfo's wife. a lamb that without any warning or compassion is taken from her parents side and raped. As she sits across from her aggressor. this is a point that Theresa Ann Sears has argued at length and that I will come back to later in this essay. Yet this desperate "love" (I would argue the desire to finally be acknowledged as a human being) is accompanied by memories of her rape and disillusionment: "comenz6 a revolver en su imaginaci6n lo que con Rodolfo habia pasado" (93). She is willing to go along with Rodolfo's mother's scheme in order to regain her and her son's public honra and private well being. While his early encounter with Leocadia is motivated by pure drive. Once Rodolfo's identity is revealed and contact is established with his parents. Moreover. the narrator tells us how Leocadia now feels she loves Rodolfo "mas que a la luz de sus ojos" (93). confirmed by her son's resemblance to his absent father. unrestrained by honor and its demands within the patriarchy. it is evident that Leocadia is first an unwilling and then an unresigned victim. Nevertheless.

pues habiendo escogido los curiosos ojos de la ciudad entre todas ellas once. Thus. La fuerza del amor starts off where Cervantes' novela ends. as Friedman proposes. the meaning of "lafuerza de la sangre" is as much a direct reference to blood lines as it is to the power of lust and its effects upon those who fall prey to its unbridled and unapologetic force. which. and pivotal to their status as objects of desire. Leocadia might have to "love" Rodolfo in order to enter the symbolic space of Spanish patriarchal society. this time sanctioned by state and church. abuse. y de estas once tres. To start with. "fueron sus ojos basiliscos de las almas." "recato. is their shared beauty. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . it is very hard to find believable that marriage and prosperity can result from rape and unrepentant humiliation. Like Leocadia. In other words. su gallardia monstruo de la las vidas. fue Laurade las once una. As Elizabeth T. This content downloaded on Fri. confused as she considers "cuan cerca estaba de ser dichosa o sin dicha para siempre" (93). y de las tres una. Laura's plight begins with her falling in love and marrying. (221) "Hermosa" is the adjective that most frequently describes Laura. as love for an object of desire. but this love is clearly not reciprocated. make of her one of the most desirable yet unapproachable women of Naples. the assertion of Leocadia and Rodolfo's many happy years of marriage should be questioned as a conventional but paradoxical ending to the events told in Lafuerza de la sangre. The narrative voice consciously and ironically describes her through poetic language. thus inscribing Laura within a long line of perfect and idealized women in literature: Laura. The points of contact between the two characters are evident. combined with her extreme "discrecion. or rather it is reciprocated in the only way it can be. Laura is an extremely beautiful woman. pretendiendo por medio del casamiento gozar de tanta hermosura" (222-23). It is. cebo de los deseos de mil gallardos y nobles mancebos de la ciudad.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 43 But at what cost and with what risk? It is no wonder that at this long awaited moment she once more faints. I propose. Howe has argued.peregrinoy nuevo milagro de Naturaleza. If Leocadia's tale ends with an idealized marriage." and "honestidad" (222).tanto que entre las mas gallardas y hermosas fu6 tenida por celestial extremo. y su riqueza y nobles partes. this contradictory and ironic ending of 'marital bliss' which Zayas picks up in her own story of seduction. and betrayal.

Diego's awareness of Laura's high social standing precludes him from taking any extreme measures and revealing immediately his lust and inconstant desire.. "[aquella] belleza que le tenia tan fuera de si" (224). it is her beauty and not her virtue that drives him to desperation and lament. Initially Laura. a trait that reminds us of Rodolfo 4 In retrospect this declaration of honorable love is ripe with irony. This is evident given that once Laura's father is made aware of Diego's interest for his daughter the union is achieved exclusively through parental intervention. he feels compelled to offer a public serenade. como si el saber que esta alma es mas tuya que la misma que posees fuera afrenta para tu honestidad y linaje. This content downloaded on Fri. (224. Even in his apparent and expressed respect for her honor and place in society. She will not only lose all private and public respect or opinion but will almost lose her life. afectos de un celoso levantartestimonios a los inocentes. creyendo que los descuidos de Lauranacian de tener puesta la voluntad en 1l. there was never a need for him to make a public spectacle out of his interest for her and his bouts of (as Laura herself points out) unwarranted jealousy. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Zayas' Diego will also long to "gozar de tanta hermosura. y con esto no pierdes opinion alguna. or the possible condemnation of Laura by her family: [P]rocurandodeclararen un romance. que por ser amigo muy querido de los hermanos de Lauraentrabamuy a menudo en su casa. He laments: iAy divina Laura. a declaration of love and jealousy that disregards truth. (226) Diego is an equal to Laura in wealth and social status.44 Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro HR70 (2002) Like his Cervantine predecessor. like the reader. public embarrassment. He asks her to dance in a sarao and when she shies away and rejects his amorous intent. Yet Diego's impulsiveness dictates his behavior from the very beginning. his suffering and loyalty seem sincere.." But whereas Rodolfo's "torcida inclinaci6n" was evident from his first contact with Leocadia. my emphasis)4 Yet already there is in this early representation of Diego's love for Laura something gone awry. As a result. pues es claro que si pretendo emplearla en tu servicio ha de ser haciendote mi esposa. su amor y los celos que le daba un caballero noble y rico. falls prey to Diego's apparently true and honorable love. y con qu6 crueldad oiste aquella tan sola como desdichada palabra que te dixe!..

Nise. I would argue that the text represents Nise's abandonment and cruel actions toward Laura as a direct result of Diego's deceit and mistreatment. as Lacan reminds us. Silence and distance are thus the solution of choice. As Lou Chamon-Deutsch points out: The life of the Zayasian heroine reveals social contracts to be sadly unrelated to human passions and sentiment.6 Laura is left behind to deal with her suffering on her own.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 45 and that will only intensify in a thoroughly incoherent manner once Diego and Laura's marriage is consummated. Thus. in any case. marred by their insistence in the shame that the rape brings to all of them. their powerlessness (or lack of will) to intervene. Diego's abuse of his wife is described in great detail. screaming at her. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Faced with the horrifying reality of marriage. who. bloodying her mouth. Unlike Timoneda. and threatens to kill her with a dagger. It seems evident to me that Cervantes' subtle but complex representation of familial love and honor (Leocadia's cause is abandoned by her family even if she is tolerated by them) is understood by Zayas and fully exposed in her corresponding tale. He is thus soon enthralled with an ex-lover. It is made clear that Laura's life was not worth risking one of the son's lives or public family honor. like Leocadia's. Her father and brothers move to another town afraid of what consequences may arise from Diego's rage and any defense of their daughter and sister. is destroyed and she goes into a kind of hiding. if Cervantes' male protagonist is a figure whose lust leads him to marriage. publicly shamed by her husband's mistreatment. its horror ironically made into a metaphor through the image of Laura's teeth which if once were like pearls. Diego proceeds to verbally and physically abuse her. Zayas' Diego is a warning of what happens to that lust within marriage: it tires and becomes loathing and abuse. abandoned and distraught. feels she has nothing to lose and seduces him into a very public affair. "presto tomaron la forma de corales" (238). who defines evil as a threat to stable unions that is posed from outside the 5 Even though Nise's role in La fuerza del amor is in contrast with Laura's virtuous nature. This content downloaded on Fri. subjects lack within their socio-symbolic structures. 6 Leocadia family's acceptance and support are. But whereas Leocadia finds a degree of comfort in her family's private acceptance of her disgrace. Unlike Rodolfo's act of violence in Lafuerza de la sangre. and the resulting necessity to hide its occurrence. On their wedding night Diego possesses his object of desire but not the fulfillment that. Laura's life.5 Tired of Laura's beauty and disgusted by her accusations and laments.

this time the "falsa enredadora" who tries to swindle her (239). Laura seeks out an hechicera as a substitute for a father's or brother's defense. First. Laura actively pursues reparations for the damage that has been done to her. y sereis el que me habeis de merecer. not to patriarchalstability but to women's physical and emotional well being. (24) Laura's father and brothers cannot. and they abandon her to further abuse and victimization. cabellos y dientes de un ahorcado" (239). If Leocadia family's silence incites her to personally tell her story to Rodolfo's parents as soon as she has a chance (albeit. "pues nos negais letras y armas" (241). In her lament she complains of women's inability to defend their honor and well-being.46 Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro HR 70 (2002) members of the union. Zayas sees the evil within the family unit as a threat. help her. seven years after the rape). and thus her owner. si por ello aventurase la vida" (228). Nevertheless it is important to note that in both Leocadia's and Laura's case it is family neglect that eventually prompts them to act. Laura offers the pivotal and often quoted speech where she questions women's position within the patriarchy. A careful reading of the speech also reveals Laura's clear understanding of her partic- 7 As a matter of fact. Finding herself in the impossible situation of having to go to look for "barbas. Once Diego psychologically and physically abuses her. Rodolfo's mother can be seen as an hechicera herself. sustaining the social contract that maintains that Diego is her husband. a union in which she expects Diego to be true to his word and his expressed desire to honor her in marriage. or rather will not. This personal declaration firmly establishes Laura as a desiring subject who willingly enters marriage. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Embarrassed by his public and gratuitous claims of jealousy (and the insinuation that there had been some amorous dealings between her and a friend of the family). is helped by a maternal figure.7 Laura's self-initiative is brought to light early on in the text when she first confesses her love to Diego. like Leocadia in Lafuerza de la sangre. When this strategy fails she. This content downloaded on Fri. que si alguno en el mundo ha merecido mis cuidados sois vos. given the sense of magic and wonderment attributed to Leocadia's transformation into an angel-like figure and Rodolfo's enchantment with this figure. she seeks Nise's compassion by personally asking her to desist of her pursuit of her husband. she advises him to be silent and privately declares her loyalty and love: "Yo no os olvido por nadie.

This content downloaded on Fri. and like Christ she emerges a new empowered being. is moved by a miraculous occurrence much like Luisico's rescue by his grandfather in Lafuerza de la sangre. "pues mi padre y hermanos. knowing that she is in danger. We could say that she herself has died. The analysis of her family's desertion is equally lucid. losing all sense of self and of right and wrong in her desperation to regain an honorable place in society. Carlos wakes up in the middle of the night and driven by instinct and fear goes in search of his sister. y hacen ellos lo que los ministros de maldades dexan de hacer" (241). Yet. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . She then sets out to the periphery of the city and to a common sepulcher where she can find the relics required for the witch's potion. que se olvidaba de si o quererla" (222). Early on Zayas had established the close (hinting on the verge of incestual) relationship between the two siblings: "quela amaba tan tiemo.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 47 ular situation as an abused and powerless object of exchange and desire. "pensar como dare a esa mujer [la hechicera] lo que pide" (242).8 As the narrator tells us. But if Laura symbolically dies and visits hell in the form of the common grave. the symbol of her plight and her innocence the Crucifix (see for example Welles' "Violence Disguised"). Obsessed with completing the task at hand and saving her relationship with Diego. Laura loved and trusted Diego only to find him to be like all men. Denied of all dignity and self-esteem. She wonders who can console her and concludes that no one can. finally avoids. ultimately finding her in the city's humilladero. por no oirlas me han desamparado" (241). she will take the only option available to her at the time. a place of death and desperation. I would say that here again we have a point of contact between the two characters for if Leocadia is sacrificed symbolically at the cross. Laura's act portrays the psychological extremes a human being can reach. Her consciously hopeless cry for help thus ends with an equally realistic determination. Carlos. Laura spends several hours among the dead. this is a realization that Leocadia. Laura's beloved brother. even though it is Carlos who calls on Laurato come out of the grave and helps her emerge from the depths of a physical and psycho8 Leocadia in La fuerza de la sangre has been related to the figure of Christ. Laura visits hell like Christ did. an innocent soul sacrificed. If neither society nor family will recognize her as a worthy human being. "cuyos engafios quitan el poder a los mismos demonios. Laura's visit to the grave can be interpreted as a metaphor for the descent into hell. it is also true that when she exits she is reborn. in Lafuerza de la sangre.

Even after her family and the Viceroy insist. even if he has expressed his repentance. y asi no queria mas batallar con ellos. This experience has served as a catalyst and the new Laura (a resurrected and cleansed being) finds it impossible to subject herself once more to Diego's control. "estaba desengafiada de lo que era el mundo y los hombres.9 As Grieve so clearly proposes: 9 Cervantes rarely uses the flight to the convent as a plot device. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . finding herself once more under her family's protection. no acababa de admirarse"(246). When Laura hears her brother's voice she first tries to hide her identity. Leandra. I would argue that the miraculous nature of Carlos' appearance is not the determining factor in Laura's resurrection and her transformation at the end of the tale. and her entrance into the spiritual and feminine world of the convent. but does not determine. the resolution of the female protagonist's plight.they are not always the moment a woman chooses whether to marry or whom to marry. This content downloaded on Fri. which results in his repentance and contrition. Ultimately she comes out of the grave and into her brother's arms.a decision often made for her by others.. Charnon-Deutsch highlights how in Zayas' works women often find themselves taking a stand and making decisions that go against social or communal requests: Such moment of decision when a woman must choose to act on her own behalf are central to Zayasiannarrative.Significantly. its absence most notable in the Quixote where only one of the numerous women characters. Laura rejects Diego's offer and decides to enter a convent since. But contrary to her family's expectations. Unlike Leocadia. An official complaint is presented to the Viceroy concerning Diego's behavior. It is in moments of extreme stress and adversitythat women are called upon to make choices. leaving Diego without a wife. and desperate. porque cuando pensaba en lo que habia hecho y donde se habia visto. (22) It is evident that the woman who has emerged from the humilladero is not the same one that found herself helpless and frantic to regain her husband's love.. she rejects the options they offer. Laura has found her liberty not in reconciliation with her aggressor but in her departure from the patriarchal society that condemned her to a denigrating existence.Rosilie Herndndez 48 Pecoraro HR70 (2002) logical hell. embarrassed. Carlos' presence is an event that facilitates. it is often extreme victimization that opens to a heroine the realm of decision making. Like the miracle in Cervantes' novela. Ironically.

to its presiding male deity (or his representative. mirroring La fuerza de la sangre's own central placement in Cervantes' volume. that Lafuerza del amor can be read as a manifest continuation of Lafuerza de la sangre. either through sublimation of violence against her or the loss of her libertyand free will.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 49 [A]ccording to Zayas. It is also evident in the central position of the tale within the collection (it is the fifth out of the ten). love and marriage can redeem the sinner. it clearly announces Zayas' own second collection. would have been wise to listen to the warnings issued by La fuerza de la sangre. but her father's desire to cut all ties to the sexual desire that his daughter has so publicly revealed. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the Desenganos amorosos. its obedient silence. but redemption often occurs at the expense of the redeemer. This content downloaded on Fri. Lisis. (104) As we analyze and compare the trajectory of the heroines in these two tales it becomes evident. the woman for whom these stories are being told in the narrative frame. the priest). even if revealing. Theresa Ann Sears in her book on Cervantes. from the exclusive company of women. but the opposite: it duplicates Carrizales' house exactly. not because it represents some unheard-of feminine freedom. (161) Much of the same can be said for Leandra in the Quixote. As Theresa Sears notes in her analysis of El celoso extremeno. It is not only the similar wording of the two titles that supports the idea of a conscious response by Zayas. discursive or otherwise. and protective (or confining) walls. Where Friedman sees a clear use of irony in the dissonant encounter between the narrator's words and finds herself in the house of God. In addition. centers much of her discussion around the ideological underpinnings of the ending of La fuerza de la sangre. If La fuerza de la sangre is an ideological and/or ironic anchor for the rest of the Ejemplares. A Marriage of Convenience: Ideal and Ideology in the Novelas Ejemplares. Leonora chooses the convent. women should reject the secular martyrdom sanctioned by society's view of civilized behavior-marriage-and seek refuge in the communitiesof women affordedby convents. As Cervantes' stories unfortunately demonstrate. Zayas' La fuerza del amor is not only the central but. for it is not her own will to remove herself from male influence that drives her to the convent. in my opinion. which make the horrors related in the Desenganos unnecessary. in my opinion. the most effective tale in the Novelas amorosas y ejemplares.

or at least condones. we see in the Novelas what [Robert]Ter Horst has termed "a fearful devotion to the lifelong bond between husband and wife" (116). if we follow an Althusserian line of thought. This is Sears' central. where the telling adjective "fearful"confirms the uneasiness that afflicts the tales' readers at certain moments. in contrast [to Boccaccio]. as individuals.the marriageplot comes to signify not a moral or theological but rathera social and literary order.and as participantsin a social structure.. (151)10 In sum. 11See Louis Althusser's "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (Trans. Sears interprets a conservative impulse in Cervantes that defends.For him. In other words.2 (1985): 87-127). if Cervantes is a champion of Christian marriage as an effective and valuable tool of patriarchal ideology. This content downloaded on Fri. coupled together with a declaration of many years of productive married life).. Verso: London. Ben Brewster. according to Sears. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . therefore. It provides a pattern for both the satisfaction of desire and its containment. If Friedman reads in Cervantes both a manipulation and subversion through irony of the typical marriage plot. yet most problematic well as a formula with which to solve the persistent riddle of our own origins. Cervantes' Novelas ejemplares are a didactic exercise in which social order rests upon both the satisfaction and containment of desire through marriage. and this shift constitutes one of the forward-lookingcharacteristics of the collection. " Cervantes' rape 10 Sears is here referring to the article by Robert Ter Horst. the status quo established by the patriarchy. Sears views Lafuerza de la sangre as a proposal for the domestication of "disruptive"desire under the guise of the sanctioned 'ideal' Christian marriage. for it is indeed very difficult for author and reader to support and reproduce an ideology that elicits fear and trepidation (even if only "at certain moments"). "Une saison en enfer: La gitanilla" (Cervantes 5.Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro 50 HR70 (2002) the characters' words and actions (the problem of Rodolfo's unrepentant attitude and Leocadia's love mixed with fear.For these reasons. As she states: Cervantes. then why does he repeatedly include in his texts descriptions and commentary that make the reader feel uneasy about the events that lead to marriage and the consequences it may ensue? Ideology. as members of a family. tames desire so that it can be satisfied and yet not challenge order. is in fact the story that we believe to be our natural 'unproblematic' condition of existence. 1971).

in all its conflictive complexity. it is safe to assume that Zayas could have understood Cervantes' tale from both perspectives: as a patriarchal endorsement of marriage as a means to social order and the "domestication" of desire (male and female). I find it worth reiterating that La fuerza de la sangre does not in any way lend itself to a Neoplatonic interpretation. This content downloaded on Fri. and artifice. Rodolfo's violation of Leocadia is an act of the flesh. and as a "fearful"and. and that Rodolfo desires this beautiful object and very willingly enters their marriage union. After all. in its representation of patriarchal values and how they frame the experience of women. But Lafuerza de la sangre. not of the spirit. or for or against his use of irony. the only solution admissible to the socio-symbolic social order in which she exists. In other words. as a woman tale). 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Notwithstanding the arguments for or against Cervantes' defense of the status quo. and the perversity of Rodolfo's unrepentant lust for beauty. Zayas is picking up on the uneasy and jarring nature of La fuerza de la sangre's ending and openly demonstrating what Cervantes only insinuates. Indeed. she could very well have read Lafuerza de la sangre (and most of Cervantes' corpus. Her marriage to Rodolfo is arranged by his mother as reparation for the damage and shame she has endured. In either case Zayas is reading along. Zayas is reacting against Cervantes' seemingly conservative ideological stance. and against Cervantes' tale. sacrifice. If we follow Sears' argument.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 51 tale. ill-advised undertaking that opens a space for legitimized lust to degenerate and result in the abuse of married women. Cervantes does tell a tale of "fearful devotion to the lifelong bond between husband and wife. as we see in her tale. with." a bond founded on violence. does not portray Leocadia's plight as natural or legitimate. never once allows the reader to forget the suffering endured by Leocadia. not on their newfound "love"(love as lust.12 It is true that Leocadia reappears as a vision of an angel for Rodolfo's benefit. If we follow Friedman's reading. and as a last resort for a woman who will now be wife to her rapist) for each other. and their eventual marriage takes place because of Rodolfo's preference for physical beauty over spiritual virtue. Leocadia marries Rodolfo because he had raped her-their relationship founded upon the violence of Rodolfo's act. for that matter) as a conventional and conservative marriage plot and/or as an ironic manipulation and tacit subversion of the same (as subversive rape tale. By respond12 Even though this point is self-evident.

defines "fantasy"(or the way we structure our existence within the symbolic order) as a structure which offers a totalizing view of reality. but rather only imported. Yet Zayas' tale is not one of defeat and submission. to hold much in reserve. with all its destructive impulses. Zayas is warning the reader (here more specifically the female reader) that male lust cannot be reformed. subdue itbeyond patriarchal discourse and its ideological mandates and limitations. (13) For Zayas patriarchal society offers no happy endings for Leocadia. believing implicitly in the generous giver and insistent petitioner. suggest the system's injustices and failures through a subtle use of irony. broken vows and neglect. it is important to note that in La fuerza del amor the convent remains a place beyond the confines of the novela itself. to rememberthat to give too freely is but to court a broken heart. to the convent. beyond the reach of those that would appropriate it.. Laura insists that she will now go elsewhere. In The Sublime Object of Ideology Slavoj Zizek. Fantasy-scenarios and the ideological fields that define them intend This content downloaded on Fri. tamed. Zayas does away with the ironical ending and offers her female protagonist a way out of both her victimization and of patriarchal ideology.52 Rosilie Hernandez Pecoraro HR70 (2002) ing to La fuerza de la sangre in this manner. leading her on to trust their very deceitfulness. and state. only a continued life of suffering and victimization. They take advantageof the frailty of woman.. for she shall indeed reap the unjust reward of her love! With music. with billets doux. As Lena E. If her father. Zayas thus creates an alternative society and with it an escape from patriarchal ideology and the discourse that accompanies it. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . redefine it. Here lies the most important difference between the two stories. or endured. and the Viceroy were ready to give her back to the (for the moment) repentant Diego. brother. in an interpretation of the Lacanian symbolic order and its mechanisms. As a matter of fact.. church. to the marriage. Most earnestly does Dofia Maria exhort women to be firm. and then only to be officially tolerated by family. V. Sylvania argued in her monograph of 1992: Throughouther [Zayas']works there is an underlyingtendency that seeks every occasion to vindicate woman against the misapprehendingjudgment of man. her favor is sought. with promises and presents. a female space where male desire need not be suffered. Woe unto the woman who places her faith in so insecure a vessel. at best. and trustinglyshe accepts all.. If Cervantes can.

is a scapegoat.. its symptoms.the symbolic orderitself. I would argue that both Lafuerza de la sangre and La fuerza del amor offer a rather stark reading of patriarchal ideology and the fantasy-scenarios it supports. in the last resort. the most radical dimensionof Lacaniantheory lies not in recognizingthis fact but realizing that the big Other. (122) The fundamental void is the void of the sexual relationship (of a true connection between beings.a stagingof it.e. not as ultimate truth or logos.a screen masking a void. Jews are accused of exploiting the rest of the population. both in Europe and America. Following Zizek's description. However. extreme avarice. Yet. not as interpellated subjects). 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and not washing regularly (48). their attribution to a specific figure alleviates all anxiety that there is something wrong with the system itself (i. the point is that the 'Jew' is a figure that (in its representation of everything that is weak or evil) helps us escape "a certain deadlock" in our fantasy-scenario (48).Zayas' Response to Cervantes 53 to cover over or repress the void at the core of all symbolic structures. is also barre. whether these ethnic characteristics are true is not the point. As Zizek explains: Today. The 'Jew. the figure that comes to embody for the rest of the subjects in an ideological field all values and/or characteristics that seem incompatible with that field or system. by a fundamentalimpossibility. Zizek illustrates this point with figure of the 'Jew' who in the West. arounda central lack. everything would be fine). or perceived points of malaise. if we could only get rid of Jews / Women / Blacks / Terrorists.'and this impossibilityis filled out by the fascinatingfantasyscenario-that is why fantasyis. 'There is no sexual relationship. Whatever malignancies (perverted lust. crossed-out. identical to a lack in a signifying chain. And thus: [F]antasy is basically a scenario filling out the empty space of a is a commonplacethat the Lacaniansubject is divided. seducing our daughters. crossedout. point towards its condition as structure. (Zizek 126) Regardless of the form a fantasy-scenario takes. structured around an impossible/traumatic kernel.' in other words. This is a society where masculine desire runs rampant in very destructive This content downloaded on Fri. and so on. etcetera) exist within an ideological field. always a fantasy of the sexual relationship. has so frequently played the role of symptom in our societies.

Laura. As a result. and the Viceroy dictate her life. Subjects cannot escape ideology or erase the constitutive lack within them. We are forced to infer from the way both Leocadia and Laura are treated by their families and society that. never required to pay for their 'sins. perhaps more just.' as Zizek would have it. no logos.' Instead Leocadia and Laura are hidden away. there is one fundamental difference in how these fantasy-scenarios are ultimately treated in these texts. and ironically ends up complying with the system that violated her dignity as a human being. silenced. they are responsible for and worthy of the humiliation they endure. Nevertheless Zizek does not propose we resign ourselves to reproducing systems that vilify and abuse others as 'symptoms. no truth. Seen within this Lacanian paradigm. somehow. or should. Nonetheless. only 'traversed': all we have to do is experience how there is nothing 'behind' it. But they can. husband.Rosilie Hernmndez Pecoraro 54 HR 70 (2002) ways. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . we must assume that new symptoms will arise that will both mask and point towards the system's inherent lack or void. Rodolfo and Diego are never condemned by their communities. in turn. See Zizek's chapter "Che Vuoi?" in The Sublime Object of Ideology.13 Further confirmation of this traversal is seen in Diego's 13 Of course. comes to understand and reveals the empty nature. behind the ideological system that has forced her to suffer as an abused and abandoned 'Christian' wife. brother. left behind. and how fantasy masks precisely this 'nothing'" (126). within this 'matriarchal' fantasy-scenario. Women are believed not inherently chaste. What Laura does is to 'traverse. the patriarchal fantasy that has hereto framed her existence as object of love and scorn: "As such. fantasy-scenarios. Men. What Laura finds out is that there is nothing. look for better less destructive ways to live their fantasies. Leocadia submits to the ideological system that declares her an unchaste woman unless she marries her rapist. not honorable. never asked for an explanation. and hence not worth defending. the lack of reason or foundation. yet women (like the 'Jew') are held responsible for ensuing chaos. fantasy is not to be interpreted. Laura's flight to the convent is a traversal of patriarchal ideology and an entrance into a new fantasy-scenario where feminine values and community can freely operate. he argues for the construction of less destructive.' Instead. of the values upon which her father. because of their 'superior' nature. receive the unconditional love of their parents (in Rodolfo's case) and forgiving words from the Viceroy (in Diego's case). This content downloaded on Fri.

adored or discarded. tells us: Laura. Amy R. tomo el habito de religiosa. (247. he 'disappears' and flees to a certain death in the war against the Duke of Saboya. Laura finds honor wholly in herself as an independent subject. As a subject unwilling to subject herself once more to Diego's objectifying and denigrating gaze.14 I would add that in La fuerza del amor Zayas also establishes an alternative concept of honor. Laura achieves her own definition of honor and of self-love.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 55 reaction to Laura's flight. If Leocadia in Cervantes' tale was only able to recuperate her honor by marrying the man who had raped her. Yo supe este caso de su misma boca. Marriage becomes an undesirable road and honor is newly defined. at the end rejecting the solution offered by patriarchal society. Nise. y a su tiempo profes6. This content downloaded on Fri. at a parent's or husband's whim.. First that it is a fully realized tale of "desengano" that announces both in content and in form the Desenganos amorosos. as I have here argued. As the tale's narrator. his own fantasy-scenario now challenged and made invalid. resulting in her decision to join other women in the presence of God. Second. "que era amante mas agradecido" (246). Whitenack. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . giving Laura the opportunity to find in herself what Leocadia never was allowed to: the will to be a self-determining subject.. The promise of a happy marriage will not suffice. Williamsen has argued for Zayas' use of subversive irony in her portrayal of the honor code. donde hoy vive santisimamente. Zayas' tale is a direct retort to Cervantes' 'ideal' 14 See "Challenging the Code: Honor in Maria de Zayas" in Maria de Zayas: The Dynamics of Discourse (Ed.viendose del todo libre. para que todos conozcan hasta donde se extiende la fuerza del amor y nueva maravilla de su poder. 133-51). by Amy Williamsen and Judith emphasis) What we find in Zayas' tale is an alternative to Cervantes' uneasy resolution. The "fuerza del amor" thus becomes the 'power of self-love' and the convent a feminine space which negates society's perpetuation of women's status as objects of desire to be loved or abused. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP (1995). if. y asi le cuento por verdadero.tan arrepentidade su atrevida determinaci6n. If we consider that Lafuerza del amor is central to the Novelas amorosas y ejemplares two things soon become evident.

Eds. I regret not having the time to refer to their arguments. Michael Nerlich and Nicholas Spadaccini. 75-95. 1922. Lou. Edward. Dona Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor: A Contribution to the Study of Her Works." Letras Femeninas xvii 1-2 (1991): 15-28. Howe. Sylvania. This content downloaded on Fri." Novelas ejemplares. Grieve. Patricia E. New York: Columbia UP. 2000). and authors to relate over and again (even if with irony) the highly implausible and obviously forced happy ending.15 WORKS CITED Cervantes. "The Sexual Economy in the Narrative of Maria de Zayas. 2000). Lena E. of Romance Languages. Ed. "La fuerza de la sangre and the Rhetoric of Power." Cervantes's 'Exemplary Novels' and the Adventure of Writing. V. Madrid: Catedra. 1989. 2001). and Lisa Vollendorfs Reclaiming the Body: Maria de Zayas's Early Modern Feminism (Chapel Hill: UNC Dept. Friedman. Chamon-Deutsch. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . women to marry their rapists and abusers. Marina Scordilis Brownlee's The Cultural Labyrinth of Maria de Zayas (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Theresa Ann. 1991. Minneapolis: The Prisma Institute.I(1991): 86-106. PA: Penn State UP. three important studies have been published on Zayas: Margaret Rich Greer's Maria de Zayas Tells Baroque Tales of Love and the Cruelty of Men (University Park. "The Power of Blood in Cervantes' Lafuerza de la sangre. Elizabeth T. "Embroidering with Saintly Threads: Maria de Zayas Challenges Cervantes and the Church. Sears. Miguel de. New York: Peter Lang. 125-56. 15 Since this article was accepted for publication. then we must understand the relationship between Cervantes and Zayas' whole corpus (both the Ejemplares and the Desenganos) as one that radically contests the ideological presuppositions that lead parents to hide and condone their daughter's plight.56 Rosilie Herndndez Pecoraro HR 70 (2002) Christian marriage. 1993. A Marriage of Convenience: Ideal and Ideology in the Novelas Ejemplares."Renaissance Quarterly xLIv. Harry Sieber." Forum for Modern Languages Studies 30:1 (1994): 64-76. "La fuerza de la sangre.

Marcia L. 1989. This content downloaded on Fri. Madrid: Biblioteca Selecta de Clasicos Espafioles. "Violence Disguised: Representation of Rape in Cervantes's 'La fuerza de la sangre. London: Verso.' " Journal of Hispanic Philology 13 (1989): 240-51. Maria de. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Zayas y Sotomayor. Agustin G. 14 Dec 2012 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . de Amezuia.Zayas' Response to Cervantes 57 Welles. 221-49. "Lafuerza del amor. Zizek." Novelas amorosas y ejemplares. Ed. 1948. Slavoj.