Publication Year

1979

Keywords

Literature, Spanish, literary criticism, stereotypes, women, feminism

Disciplines

Comparative Literature | Creative Writing | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature

Abstract

"Man for the field and woman for the hearth:

Man for the sword and for the needle she:

Man with the head and woman with the heart:

Man to obey command and woman to obey;

All else confusion."

These lines reflect many characteristics of the stereotyped woman; namely, her role as mother, her role as wife and therefore man's helpmate, her extreme emotionalism, her submissiveness, and her subordinate position to that of the man. Although the stereotyped woman appears in all cultures, she is very often portrayed as Spanish, or she has many of her Latin sister's "qualities." On the surface, this correlation seems to be accurate. As tradition has it, Spain is a male-dominated country, in other words, a land permeated by machismo, which is a strong sense of masculine pride. The Spanish man conquers his feminine counterpart; the legend of Don Juan, which is indigenous to Spain, literally supports this assertion. With the pursuit of women as his vocation in life, Don Juan is historically a great lover. The myth requires him "to pursue and win women as inevitably as he breathes." Although Don Juan triumphs over women in the arena of sensuality, his victories also win him recognition as the Spanish hero in the sense that he is strong, walks with his head high, and is both feared and admired. In his insatiable appetite for women, "Don Juan the sensualist finds himself opposed, not only by injured fathers, husbands, and fiances, but by the Law and God." But his classification as a conscious rebel or outcast is counted as a virtue, and serves only to enforce his heroic stance. Don Juan is classically a powerful figure.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

English: Literature and Writing

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