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Embodied Cognition and Empathy in Miguel de Cervantes's El celoso extremeño

From: Hispania
Volume 97, Number 1, March 2014
pp. 113-124 | 10.1353/hpn.2014.0023



This article examines the portrayal of cognitive experience in the published version of Miguel de Cervantes’s short story El celoso extremeño (1613), drawing both on recent studies of empathy and current debates about the inseparability of cognition and emotion. It considers how cognitive experience is marked by particular bodily sensations and shaped by internal representations (i.e., mental images) that are closely tied to emotions such as fear, jealousy, joy, and sorrow. Paying particular attention to the ways in which the narrative underscores the characters’ limited sensory experiences and their defective understanding of each other’s positions, the article argues that this provides the reader with the opportunity to simulate mentally his or her own challenging situations, faulty judgments, and injudicious actions. While being invited to use his or her imagination and judgment to enjoy being placed in a position of greater power and knowledge than the characters, Cervantes’s reader is also encouraged to consider the possibility of not knowing and to accept the limits of empathy.

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