The Economics of Salvation in El esclavo del demonio


Mira de Amescua's 1605 play El esclavo del demonio represents the passage of a male sinner, Gil, from extreme sin to sainthood, creatively articulating Catholic doctrine regarding free will via the metaphor of slavery. This study traces the text's alliance of the good woman with the slave, the one who lacks her own will, whereas the perfect man realizes his. Gil's companion in transgression is the violative character Lisarda, who ultimately sells herself into slavery and then dies of sorrow. In her progression to the perfect slave, Lisarda pays not only for her original sin of disobedience, but the multiple transgressions of Gil as well, and for those payments she is rewarded not with sanctity, but with death. This unbalanced formula for salvation reflects early seventeenth-century versions of the vita of Mary Magdalen. El esclavo del demonio thus constructs the good woman as inherently slavish and thereby highly functional as the expiator of sin, particularly the sins of the men she is understood to have drawn into transgression. (ER)