This study considers the relations between socially mobile prostitutes and decadent aristocrats as dramatized in Cervantes' entremés. The problem springs from the evolution from a traditional land based economy to one where wealth was a function of money, and the consequent realization that the traditional social signifiers of class and status could be counterfeited by money. A law of 1611 had attempted to codify society visually, to put everyone in his/her place by a new system of visual signifiers that would provide reliable data. The action of the play is set immediately following promulgation of the new law, and reveals its effects on two sets of characters who represent its two target groups: prostitutes and aristocrats. The behavior of both groups should be altered, but in practice only the prostitutes are forced to reform. The play's anti-aristocratic social message is encoded in a set of binary oppositions: up-down; in-out; riding-walking; coach-foot; coachhorse that stand for society's divisions. The study elucidates these semiotic relationships and locates them in historical context, especially with relation to the social values present in the signifier vizcaíno. (CBJ)


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pp. 7-20
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