When Gila, the protagonist of Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la vera (1613), is betrayed by her lover, she decides to kill every man with whom she comes into contact until she can find and murder the man who left her. Although the protagonist is celebrated early in the play for her masculine prowess, her murderous rampage dominates the stage, and the play’s finale condemns her to a public execution. This essay explores how the spectacle of Gila’s body—as hunter, lover, murderer, and corpse—achieves a moralizing effect with attention to two unique aspects of the play’s production. First, the role of Gila was written for and played by one of the generation’s most prominent actresses, Jusepa Vaca. Second, the play is also one of the earliest stagings of femicide as a play’s conclusion. By studying the topic of exemplarity through these aspects, my goal is to illuminate how this comedia plays an important role in illustrating the complex relationships among gender, violence, and spectacle in the early modern period.


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pp. 159-175
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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