Those who, like Américo Castro and Arnold Reichenberger, assume a great similarity between historical fact and dramatic action, use literary texts to posit speculations about historical fact and historical fact to assert the realism of literary situations. Despite the potential tautology inherent in such arguments, these scholars have attempted to prove their cases by bringing to bear the following evidence: 1) real wife murders documented in Spanish history; 2) laws regarding the punishment of an adulterous wife 3) Spanish social history and the formation of a national Spanish personality; 4) contemporary concepts of honor, some fictional and some didactic, that together have come to be known as the honor code; 5) human nature («What husband would not feel the same about an adulterous wife and act accordingly?» [Parker, «Towards» 237]); and 6) wife-murder plays based on historical Spanish incidents. Two general and contradictory conclusions of these studies are 1) that the wife-murder plays represent a particularly Spanish genre that grew out of a peculiar Spanish historical and social reality, and 2) that the wife-murder plays reflect the universal situation of the aggrieved husband who responds violently but appropriately to his wife's adultery.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Stroud, M.D. (1987). Further considerations of history and law in wife-murder "comedias". Hispanic Journal, 8(2), 21-38.