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Manners, mores, and marriage in the Spanish neoclassic comedy (1788--1808)

Joseph C McClanahan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


At the transition between the 18th and 19th centuries, the Neoclassic drama in Spain reached its pinnacle, breaking away from established ideas about the poetics of drama. This departure discloses the presence of certain social changes already taking place but not fully realized nor understood at the time. Evidence of these changes arises from the situation, speech, and action of characters as they engage in the rituals of courtship and marriage. By examining their thoughts and behaviors, we can identify conflicts between personal and social interests and how these intersections become a defining motif. ^ My dissertation focuses on the neoclassic comedies by two prominent male playwrights who represent this time. I explore how, as single, unmarried men, they elected as their central point of interest the institution of marriage. Through various socioeconomic trends that articulated the norms and expectations of marriage, these playwrights illuminated familial relationships, highlighting the situation of women. Tomás de Iriarte (1750–1791) is a noted translator and fabulist who developed into an author of inventive, modern plays. Leandro Fernández de Moratín (1760–1828) represents the movement from aristocratic preoccupations to the concerns of a nascent bourgeoisie. Complementing this study, I contrast the comedies of these two playwrights with selected comedies of María Rosa Gálvez (1768–1806), one of the few published female dramatists during this time. ^ The playwright's dramatic art and the disjuncture produced by a time of transition, created a convergence of preoccupations in their plays, allowing a privileged view of the past. By contrasting the comedies of Iriarte and Moratín with those of Maria Rosa Gálvez, we can reflect more insightfully on the meaning of past lives, and thus, to gain a better understanding of the present. These comedies written, performed or published within this pinnacle point in time brought together innovations in dramatic technique, profiled matters of gender, and resultant changes in patterns of social behavior. This fusion of art, social perspective, and intellectual critique provides unique perspectives on the cultural complexities of the time. ^

Subject Area

Literature, Romance|Theater

Recommended Citation

McClanahan, Joseph C, "Manners, mores, and marriage in the Spanish neoclassic comedy (1788--1808)" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3102571.