Royal Obligation and the "Uncontrolled Female" in Ana Caro's El conde Partinuplés.

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    • Abstract:
      In her adaptation of the medieval romance that served as the source material for her comedia, Ana Caro preserved in her title the name of the original titular hero Partinuplés, yet she chose to make the protagonist of her work Rosaura, empress of Constantinople. This crucial change allows her to present the perspective of a female character forced to operate as a monarch within the expectations of a patriarchal system of government. The circumstances are analogous to Caro herself working within the male-established customs and expectations of comedia authorship. In the play, one issue in particular serves as the focus and source of all the conflict: Rosaura must contend with the demand of her subjects that she marry and produce an heir. While the matter of succession must be in some way addressed by all monarchs, it is a problematic one for a female monarch if there is a suspicion that the marriage is a means of containing and controlling her. Rosaura's situation is further complicated by the presence of a prophecy in the plot that foretells disaster to herself and her kingdom should she marry. This essay specifically examines the methods and character of Caro's heroine in dealing with these circumstances. In her absolute dedication to fulfilling her duty and obligations, she serves as an exemplum for Partinuplés. In addition, she insists on the right of consent in the marriage and thereby hopes to avoid the disaster of the prophecy, illustrating a common concern for female characters of the comedia, the desire to subvert arranged marriages. This essay further contextualizes the question of female rule and royal marriage in light of the literary model of Lope de Vega's La reina Juana de Nápoles and the historical models of Elizabeth I of England and Isabel of Castile. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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