Lope’s masterpiece, Fuenteovejuna, is generally considered to be a glowing endorsement of the reign of Fernando and Isabel, who represent not just a glorious and hopeful Spanish history but political acumen, justice, and the triumph of good over evil. A closer examination of several key plot elements, however, reveals that almost every time characters are called upon to make decisions, they choose the option that at best circumvents the requirements for justice and at worst actively works to the detriment of the proper administration of justice and law. This study focuses on four pivotal moments—when Frondoso takes the Comendador’s crossbow and threatens him; when the Comendador imprisons Frondoso and kidnaps Laurencia; when the town rises up and kills the Comendador; and when Fernando and Isabel intervene in order to reach a final verdict—and concludes that the only philosophy upheld in these instances is one not based on notions of ideal justice but on the Machiavellian notion that the right action is the one that upholds the political power of the state.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
“The Play of Means and Ends: Justice in Lope’s Fuenteovejuna.” Neophilologus 92.2 (2008): 247-62.