La dama duende has become quite a puzzle. Barbara Mujica, in her article, "Tragic Elements in Calderón's La Dama Duende," discusses several elements of Calderonian tragedy in a work which she ultimately defines as "comedy in its highest sense," (p. 328) and she finds implicit social criticism in its vaguely happy ending. Robert ter Horst refutes the idea of comedy and tragedy as leading a double life by saying, in effect, that comedy is potential tragedy which is averted by "anticipating or delaying the conclusions to which tragedy leaps," but then he goes on to claim that Don Manuel is the protagonist of the drama, and not Doña Angela, thereby denying any of the social criticism of the honor code which Ms. Mujica found. Essentially, there are two problems which are brought up here: 1) what is the nature of the suffering and the complications of the play, and 2) what is the meaning of the play. The suffering of the play is validated for both the characters and the audience by means of an anagnorisis, or recognition of what has happened. It is at the point of anagnorisis that the two aforementioned problems converge.
University of Georgia
Stroud, M.D. (1977). Social-comic anagnorisis in La dama duende. Bulletin of the Comediantes, 29(2), 96-102. doi:10.1353/boc.1977.0008
Bulletin of the Comediantes