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Fuente Ovejuna


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AT: All Citizens Are Soldiers; The Sheep Well A: Lope de Vega Pf: Early 17th c. Pb: 1619 Tr: 1936 G: Drama in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: The town of Fuente Ovejuna and surrounding countryside, Spain, 1476 C: 16m, 4f, extrasKing Ferdinand has granted authority over the town of Fuente Ovejuna to the nobleman Fernán Gómez de Guzmán. Guzmán is a brutal tyrant, who importunes Laurencia, a young virgin. When he finds her in the woods, he attempts to rape her and is fought off by Frondoso, the son of a rich farmer. Despite having formerly rejected him, Laurencia is now so impressed by Frondoso's bravery that she agrees to marry him. However, the ceremony is rudely interrupted by Guzmán, who immediately throws the lovers into captivity and has her father beaten. Outraged by this tyrannical behaviour and incited by Laurencia, who manages to free herself, the townspeople storm Guzmán's castle, where he is about to torture Frondoso to death. Guzmán is killed by the mob, and the populace now await judgement from King Ferdinand. It is agreed that everyone must share responsibility for this act of rebellion, and all attempts by the judge to establish who killed Guzmán are answered by: ‘Fuente Ovejuna did it.’ The King orders the people to be exonerated.

AT: All Citizens Are Soldiers; The Sheep Well A: Lope de Vega Pf: Early 17th c. Pb: 1619 Tr: 1936 G: Drama in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: The town of Fuente Ovejuna and surrounding countryside, Spain, 1476 C: 16m, 4f, extras

Though often appropriated, especially by directors in Soviet Russia, as a model of pre-Communist revolution, it must be acknowledged that the people of Fuente Ovejuna are spared only by the goodwill of the absolute monarch. Although the play is ground-breaking by placing at its centre the collective protagonist of the townspeople and by acknowledging that peasants may possess a greater sense of justice than the nobility, harmony is finally restored by reconciling the monarchy with the people not through any suggestion of continuing revolution against authority.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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