Hispanists now understand that in a number of Calderón's most important serious dramas, the concluding deus-ex-machina judgments of historically notorious rulers should not necessarily be taken at face value, as bearing the playwright's own approval. Calderonistas are therefore beginning to feel entitled to scrutinize any denouement of any comedia for a dramatic irony which might completely contradict the traditionally accepted interpretation of the play. Because Segismundo imprisons the rebel soldier at the end of La vida es sueño but rewards all the aristocrats who participated in Poland's civil war, it has become fashionable to view him as a calculating, cruel Machiavellian prince, a tyrant who is bound to repeat his father's injustices and political oppression. His treatment of Rosaura is likewise called into question. However, we are also beginning to acquire a new appreciation of the political context of these plays that should help balance such harsh judgments of Calderón's hero. A consideration of the seventeenth-century Spanish views on political resistance will show that Calderón intended no dramatic irony in the denouement of La vida es sueño. The playwright, immersed in the political theory of the times, supported resistance to poor rulership, but also, consonant with the restoration of order, fully approved of Segismundo's imprisonment of the rebel soldier. Furthermore, the Prince's betrothal of Rosaura to Astolfo is entirely in keeping with her own desire and the healing convention of classical comedy. (DF)


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pp. 141-154
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