Calderón's 'Arte nuevo' in the first act of 'El médico de su honra'
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El Medico de su Honra is one of Calderón's most controversial plays. Criticism in the past has largely concentrated on its imagery, its treatment of the honour theme, its portrayal of the King and its relationship to wider theories of tragedy. But very little work has "been done on the play as a piece of theatre; and this work is a preliminary attempt to redress the balance. Calderón was a working dramatist, one skilled and successful in his craft, writing plays that could be successfully staged, and so writing with the resources of his actors, the reactions and expectations of his audience very much in mind. This, too, is the basis of my approach. The complexity of the subject has led me to focus in my enquiries on the first act of the play; hut even so, the extraordinary richness of Calderón's dramatic gifts has meant that much has had to be left unsaid. The study begins with an examination of the way a play should begin. To get a play started is not as simple as it might appear; certain technical problems have to be solved, and the way in which the dramatist tackles them can give useful clues as to what he is trying to express. The opening scenes of this play - Enrique's fall from his horse, Mencía's dismay at his re-appearance in her life, Leonor's reception in audience with the King - on the one hand are simply devices for securing the audience's sympathy and attention, and for supplying the necessary information for comprehension of the play's plot. So they are studied as such; but at the same time they are considered as the means used by Calderón to examine issues such as the status of women, the dispensation of justice in ways that are relevant both to his time and to our own. By the end of the act it has become very clear that the methods used by Calderón to meet the elementary needs of his craft are also the ways that lead to the creation of a profound work of art.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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