This paper offers a pro-feminine reading of Calderón's La estatua de Prometeo by focusing on how the playwright uses the gloomy classic tale of the creation of women to explore female identity. In La estatua, Prometeo, a man of reason dedicated to learning, builds a statue of a goddess (Minerva) and then brings it to life as a living female being (Pandora). Although at first Prometeo cannot accept the materiality of the woman he claims to love and worship, he ultimately marries his living statue, providing what has generally been considered a favorable resolution to the play. Looking deeper, this paper finds that Calderón modifies the classic myth in ways that draw attention to seventeenth-century women's lack of a sense of self-determination and cast doubt on the happily-ever- after union between man and his statue. The perplexing subplot between Merlin—the medieval Arthurian enchanter—and Libia, a male/female relationship story that also ends in marriage, plays a particularly important role in throwing into question the apparently happy conclusion. Calderón actually uses the two love couples—Prometeo/Pandora and Merlin/Libia—to explore the age-old division in Western thought between an intellectual/spiritual love of the mind/soul and a physical type of love rooted in desire and lust. In the final analysis, this play reveals that neither the neoplatonic love tradition nor the courtly love ethic rooted in male desire provides harmony and wholeness for the women or even for the men. (ASM)


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pp. 379-408
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