Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date



By the time Maria de Zayas published her Desengaños amorosos, the honor scenario, due in large part to the dominance of the comedia and especially of Calderón, had taken on a number of characteristics that today seem inseparable from the familiar plotlines. A noblewoman, usually innocent of adultery but loved by another man, is believed for one reason or another to have dishonored her husband. He proceeds to verify that the affront has indeed been committed, and, upon (wrongly) coming to believe that his wife is guilty, undertakes to have her killed in secret so that his honor will not suffer from even the faintest whisper of scandal. The thematic conflicts of this scenario are subtle but powerful: truth versus appearance, justice versus revenge, love versus honor, the freedom of men versus the constraints on women. An extraordinary amount of comedia criticism has dealt specifically with what an audience is to make of this plotline: is it an affirmation of the oppression of women by a patriarchal system, or is it an ironic condemnation of the husband who, too quickly and therefore erroneously, punishes his wife for deeds she did not commit? Zayas's story, La inocencia castigada, poses anew a number of these questions, but her novela is utterly unlike any Calderonian plot.


Gwyn E. Campbell & Judith A. Whitenack


Global ICGS





Publication Information

Zayas and Her Sisters, 2: Essays on Novelas by 17th-Century Spanish Women