The Early Modern Spanish Siege Play
Chapter Three: Romancing the Enemy 105
105 Romancing the Enemy In The Secular Scripture Frye states that ‘romance is the structural core of all fiction’ since ‘it brings us closer than any other aspect of literature to the sense of fiction, considered as a whole, as the epic of the creature, man’s vision of his own life as a quest’ (15).1 If we apply this observation to the fictional episodes of the early modern siege play, we might ask how romance informs the dramatists’ epic matter of siege in the texts under discussion. For early modern writers, the epic/romance dichotomy is a prominent trope of heroic literature. For dramatists of the comedia nueva, the degree to which romance is developed in the fictional episodes depends largely on how much he wishes to either distance or adhere to the predominant literary and ideological representations of epic and warfare. Previous critical approaches of the early modern history play allude to the fictional vignettes of intrigue, comedy, and tragedy in the pauses between the historical battles dramatized on stage. Yet, the thematic context of the fictional episodes also includes features of romance as identified by Frye in The Secular Scripture and in The Anatomy of Criticism. The dramatization of sentimental trials and imperiled conflicts of courtship make up the fictional vignettes of domesticity in these plays. Romance presents idealized situations in which characters become exemplary 1 Riley argues that romance is at the core of Cervantes’s fiction: ‘The principal suggestion I want to make is that we consider...
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