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The Political Theater of Early Seventeenth-Century Spain, with Special Reference to Juan Ruiz de Alarcón

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Cynthia Leone Halpern

This study deals with a number of political dramas written in Spain during the reigns of Philip III (1598-1621) and Philip IV (1621-1665). Primary attention is given to the work of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1580/81-1639), whose theater displays an interest in statecraft and politics much more constant than that of contemporaries such as Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Francisco de Quevedo. He turned again and again to dramatic plots which centered on the problems of absolutist regimes. The first three chapters examine various major political treatises of the day, the characteristics, significance and role of the chief minister or privado in government, and the signs of decline in the Spanish empire to make the political theater of the early seventeenth century comprehensible to today's reader and spectator.