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Checkmate: The Gifting Game and Gender Performance Anxiety in Lope de Vega's La Dorotea

From: Hispanic Review
Volume 81, Number 3, Summer 2013
pp. 245-262 | 10.1353/hir.2013.0022



Lope de Vega's 1632 novel in dialogue, La Dorotea, expresses the cultural anxieties of seventeenth-century Spain, particularly with regard to the shifting value of intellectual and economic capital within a changing society. Lope's characters find themselves trapped in a perpetual game of gift exchange, one that is illuminated by the many references to the game of chess throughout the text. Dorotea, the newly powerful queen, is inevitably seduced by the opposing kings, Don Bela and Don Fernando, with their respective offerings of gold and verse. The present study therefore seeks to examine Lope's chess allusions as they relate to gender politics, seduction, and social mobility in order to offer a deeper understanding of the Baroque consciousness expressed in this work and of social crisis in early modern Spain.

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