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Mayor of Zalamea


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AT: The Best Garrotting Ever Done A: Pedro Calderón de la Barca Pf: 1636, Madrid? Pb: 1651 Tr: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: The town of Zalamea, Spain, and its environs, near the Portuguese border, 1580 C: 10m, 3f, extrasThe Spanish army, on its way to conquer Portugal, is billeted in the border town of Zalamea. A captain, Don Alvaro de Ataide, is quartered with a rich peasant, Pedro Crespo. The Captain tricks his way into the bedroom of Crespo's daughter Isabel, but the Commander-in-Chief intervenes and orders Don Alvaro to live elsewhere. This inflames Don Alvaro's passion further: he kidnaps Isabel and rapes her, abandoning her in the woods. Crespo, who has been wounded attempting to protect his daughter, rejects the possibility of killing his daughter to protect the family's honour. Instead, appointed mayor, he arrests the Captain rather than trust to a military tribunal. When the Captain arrogantly refuses to marry Isabel, Crespo sentences him to death. The Captain is garrotted. The King pardons Crespo and appoints him mayor in perpetuity. Isabel has entered a convent, becoming ‘the bride of One who cares nothing for differences in social origin’.

AT: The Best Garrotting Ever Done A: Pedro Calderón de la Barca Pf: 1636, Madrid? Pb: 1651 Tr: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: The town of Zalamea, Spain, and its environs, near the Portuguese border, 1580 C: 10m, 3f, extras

Supposedly based on an actual incident, the play shares this and other characteristics with Lope de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna, above all the recognition that common people can act more honourably than their supposed superiors, and the avoidance of a tragic outcome by the benevolent intervention of the monarch. What distinguishes Calderón's play is the psychological realism with which Crespo is portrayed. Audiences can identify with his dilemma in needing to restore his family's honour, while showing love and concern for his daughter.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Pedro Calderón de La Barca (1600—1681) Spanish dramatist and poet


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