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Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Volume XVII, Number 2, Fall 1997




JOHN J. ALLEN (1997)

Vice President




Executive Council


Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America


Book Review Editor: EDWARD H. FRIEDMAN

Bibliographer: EDUARDO URBINA

Editor's Advisory Council


Associate Editors


Cervantes, official organ of the Cervantes Society of America, publishes scholarly articles in English and Spanish on Cervantes' life and works, reviews, and notes of interest to cervantistas. Twice yearly. Subscription to Cervantes is a part of membership in the Cervantes Society of America, which also publishes a Newsletter. $20.00 a year for individuals, $40.00 for institutions, $30.00 for couples, and $10.00 for students. Membership is open to all persons interested in Cervantes. For membership and subscription, send check in dollars to Professor WILLIAM H. CLAMURRO, Secretary-Treasurer, The Cervantes Society of America, Dept. of Modern Languages, Denison University, Granville, Ohio 43023. Manuscripts should be sent in duplicate, together with a self-addressed envelope and return postage, to Professor MICHAEL MCGAHA, Editor, Cervantes, Department of Romance Languages, Pomona College, Claremont, California 91711-6333. The SOCIETY requires anonymous submissions, therefore the author's name should not appear on the manuscript; instead, a cover sheet with the author's name, address, and the title of the article should accompany the article. References to the author's own work should be couched in the third person. Books for review should be sent to Professor EDWARD FRIEDMAN, Book Review Editor, Cervantes, Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, Ballantine Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405.

Copyright © 1997 by the Cervantes Society of America.



ArribaAbajoRecovering the Hetairae: Prostitution in Don Quijote I

Carolyn A. Nadeau

Illinois Wesleyan University

Enfocándose en las mujeres que buscan un matrimonio armonioso -Luscinda, Zoraida y Dorotea- este ensayo analiza la relación entre las instituciones de la prostitución y el matrimonio; el valor social de la castidad; y el discurso femenino público en la obra El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. Propongo una recuperación de la figura hetaira, usando el concepto renacentista de la imitación y aplicándola al prólogo de dicha obra, en el cual el supuesto amigo sugiere que se cite a Antonio de Guevara en cuanto al tratamiento de las «mujeres rameras». El trabajo pone a la luz la manera en que Guevara reescribe las características de esta figura clásica tanto como el modo en que Cervantes las refigura en nuevos contextos y con nuevos propósitos.

In the prologue to Don Quijote I, Cervantes's anonymous friend tries to ease the author's worries about the quality of his text by suggesting that he cite famous authors. Regarding women and love the friend suggests citing Ovid, Homer, Virgil, and León Hebreo. Cervantes also includes Antonio de Guevara, who was the bishop of Mondoñedo from 1537 to his death in 1545: «En lo que toca el poner anotaciones al fin del libro, seguramente lo podéis hacer desta manera... Si tratáredes de... mujeres rameras, ahí está el obispo de Mondoñedo, que os prestará a Lamia, Laida y Flora, cuya anotación os dará gran crédito» (55-6)1. A prolific writer, Antonio de Guevara first collected and published his letters, including the one to which Cervantes's friend refers, in 1543, which circulated in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. His writings have long been regarded as possible sources for different passages and concepts in Don Quijote2. However, numerous editors including Vicente Gaos, Luis Murillo, and John Jay Allen, have dismissed the prologue citation as nothing more than a fleeting comic remark where Cervantes   —5→   parodies Renaissance writing strategies and notions of authority. While Cervantes does indeed poke fun at the accepted practice of overciting classical authors, he also imitates Guevara's text. Before returning to Don Quijote, I would like to recover characteristics of the ancient prostitutes and expose how Guevara rewrites these classical women. Then I will examine how Cervantes imitates Guevara. That Lamia, Laida, and Flora are prostitutes is of interest to Cervantes to the extent that it substantiates the duality of these women who are both prostitutes and saints. Cervantes borrows this construct from Guevara's letter as well as specific qualities with which the prostitutes are endowed. He then rewrites what he has borrowed from Guevara by redistributing the notions of identity within new contexts and refiguring the prostitutes' characteristics in the women in Don Quijote.

In order to discuss Cervantes's imitation of Guevara's text, a few words on this widely-debated Renaissance theory are in order. Although difficult to define, imitation can be understood as the process of borrowing texts from admired sources both to validate one's own writing by associating oneself with the classics and to surpass that text. Imitating classical texts justified an ontological truth that found its source in Antiquity and true exposition in the Renaissance. Some writers, Erasmus in particular, stressed the individual nature of the writer who collected and assembled materials and gave them new meaning3.


Most scholars today focus on the self-conscious awareness Renaissance writers felt when dealing with imitation strategies4. Thomas Greene, in his seminal work The Light in Troy, points out that in writing there is a responsibility to remember and preserve the past: «It is through a diachronic structure, an acting out of passage, that the humanist poem demonstrates its own conscientious and creative memory» (41). Greene goes on to categorize and define different types of imitation including heuristic and dialectic. The former exposes an important poetic distance traversed while the latter and more courageous leaves a «two-way current of mutual criticism between authors and eras» (45). However, these definitions of imitation are inadequate for Cervantes, who does not structure his imitation in diachronic terms but rather emphasizes a synchronic perspective, measuring his work in terms of his contemporary readership. Cervantes loosens the ties with the past and hones in on how imitation affects his relationship with his reader. By concealing his corrective strategies, Cervantes initiates a kind of hide and seek, inviting his readers to seek out the dismantled, fragmented narrative pieces that are the result of a complex rewriting. As E. C. Riley observes, Cervantes exploits the «complicity of writer, reader and character» (34). Imitation for Cervantes becomes an imitation of pleasure, a game both for himself, the writer, and for the reader. In distancing himself from a struggle with his sources and refocusing the historic effect of his imitation, Cervantes takes full advantage of his authorial freedom and responsibility; he carefully dissects and reconstructs his models. The echoes of Lamia, Laida, and Flora's disguised presence can be heard, but only by the astute listener. Cervantes offers us, the readers/listeners, an open invitation to share in the pleasures of literary freedoms and responsibilities. Guevara's letter can be divided into three sections: an introduction that captures the reader's attention with preliminary remarks about the illicit material; anecdotes that reveal the women's intelligence, charm, beauty and wealth; and finally, an ambiguous conclusion that both condemns the women's lives and insists that their   —7→   story continue to be told5. Guevara writes the letter, he says, to correct his misguided friend, Enrique Enríquez, who had sent him portraits of three women he had been worshipping as saints:

Esta Lamia, esta Flora, esta Layda, que vos, señor, tenéis por sanctas, fueron las tres más hermosas y más famosas rameras que nascieron en Asia, se criaron en Europa, y aun de quienes más cosas los escriptores escribieron, y por quienes más príncipes se perdieron.


The women about whom Guevara writes are historical figures with an elaborate literary tradition. Yet Clemencín suggests that Guevara invents the subtexts he cites in recounting the histories of these three famous prostitutes, «citando para ello autores que no han existido» (LII). However, all three of Guevara's subtexts, Plutarch, Aulus Gellius and Suetonius, mention these women or celebrations associated with them. Guevara uses these ancient sources to give authority to his own writing. In ancient Greece there were three types of courtesans: dicteriades, auletrides and hetairae. The hetairae were intelligent, cultivated and artistic; they were spiritually and politically powerful6. Jess Wells describes their influential status:

The Athenian women with the most exalted position and the most freedom were... the hetairae. They were intelligent, witty, articulate and educated, the only women in Athenian society allowed to manage their own financial affairs, stroll through the streets anywhere at any time. They were free to attend plays, ceremonies and speeches, to speak with whomever, whenever they pleased, to share the intellectual activities of Greece. They could take the sexual or romantic initiative with men... [T]he hetairae were accomplished conversationalists, the intellectual equals of the men they entertained. They were herbalists and midwives, the mothers and lovers of kings, statesmen, artists and poets. They demanded enough money for their sexual services to keep themselves and the prostitutes in their homes ostentatiously.


Like the hetairae, the auletrides enjoyed certain privileges and were recognized as accomplished musicians (Beauvoir 102). Laida was a   —8→   hetaira and Lamia, an auletrid. Although Flora comes from the Roman tradition and is not defined as a hetaira, she was worshipped as a goddess7. These «sacred prostitutes» attend to both the body and the mind; they embody both the sexual and the intellectual8.

In his letter, Guevara retains the women's sexual and intellectual qualities. I define «intellectual» in terms of the counsel they give to kings, nobles and other people who approach them for advice on personal matters, particularly those relating to love and relationships between men and women. Lamia instructs Demetrius, king of Macedonia, and Laida, daughter of an Apollonian priest, advises the people of Corinth. She guides men and women alike who seek her advice on courting, on marital problems, and on how to educate their children in gender-related issues. Typical of all three women, Laida was so «amorous in conversation» and «beautiful of disposition», she could have had anyone. Indeed, Guevara even restores to these women qualities that are lost to previous writers. For example, in Plutarch's account of Lamia, he briefly mentions her rebuking a judgment passed on another prostitute who complained of not having received her expected payment. However, the situation ridicules Lamia and her profession; it does not take seriously Lamia's ability to advise others (131-2). Plutarch, one of Guevara's sources for Lamia, Laida, and Flora, denies Lamia her intellectual character. In contrast, Guevara emphasizes her ability to reason and offer guidance.

In recovering these stories Guevara empowers these women to exaggerated proportions. They are exceedingly beautiful, the object of all men's desire, incredibly wealthy, and sought after by men and women for amorous guidance. By recognizing their ability to give counsel, he recuperates aspects of their lost sacredness and brings them closer to the saints Enríquez perceives them to be. Yet, in doing so, Guevara separates their spirituality from their physicality. As he recounts the individual stories of each woman, he contrasts their good and bad qualities. Lamia was capable of sound judgment but used it poorly: «Era esta muger Lamia de muy delicado juicio, aunque en ella estuvo mal empleado» (441). Laida was loved by all but never reciprocated that love: «cuán bien fortunada fué esta   —9→   enamorada Layda, pues nadie la aborrescía, y cuán mal acondicionada era, pues a nadie ella amaba» (443). Flora's background was pure but she was not: «fué de sangre muy limpia, aunque no de vida muy casta» (445). These conflicts of good and bad qualities construct a duality of purity / corruption, chastity / contamination, spritual / physical.

In terms of imitation strategy, Guevara maintains the cultural context of these women. Lamia, for example, is still a second-century BCE hetaira who interacts with nobility and kings. However, by adding to their story a second narrative level -responding to Enrique Enríquez's prostitute-saint confusion- Guevara segregates physical pleasure from spiritual pleasure. The hetaira who in antiquity «teaches simultaneously the receiving and giving of pleasure and the receiving and giving of knowledge» is now split in two (Bell 19). While Guevara maintains their cultural context, he overshadows the women's intellectual capacity, that is, their ability to give counsel, by placing them in a new narrative context. Lamia, for example, is no longer a small detail in the historical accounts of a king but rather a central part of a narrative that seeks to correct the misguided ways of Guevara's reader. Traces of her spirituality remain and in fact explain why Enrique Enríquez may have thought the women were saints, but Guevara repeatedly returns to their physical nature. In the end, Guevara reminds his reader, these women are prostitutes whose presence causes discomfort and unpleasantness: «yo estoy corrido, y aun afrontado, que tales imágines me enviásedes, y sobre tales liviandades me consultásedes» (437).

There is, then, an ambivalence to Guevara's letter. While he separates the women's purity from their corruption, their spiritual from their physical, he is, at the same time, fascinated with them. In spite of Enrique Enríquez's offensive request, he does elaborately describe each of the three women. He is intrigued by them, wants to tell their story, and wants others to tell it too: «Allá os torno a enviar las tablas de estas tres enamoradas, las cuales pienso que, si hasta aquí teníades en mucho, las tendréis de aquí adelante en mucho más, porque todos los que entraren en esta vuestra recámera tendrán que mirar en la pintura, y vos, que les contar en la historia» (448)9.


Guevara wants their story to be told but on his terms. By inventing this new narrative context of correcting Enrique Enríquez's misunderstandings, Guevara denigrates the hetairae. He distinguishes their spiritual knowledge from their sexual knowledge. Lamia, Laida, and Flora are not enclosed within a space that allows them to be either saints or prostitutes; they cannot be both.

As the anonymous friend of the prologue suggests, Cervantes does turn to Guevara's letter to develop certain female characters in Don Quijote. However, Cervantes refuses to polarize his characters as simply good or evil, or in the case of these women, chaste or lascivious. He resists Guevara's oversimplified duality, which finds its root in Aristotle's pairs of contraries: good / evil, male / female, etc., and seeks to complicate Guevara's division10. The sacred hetairae, who in Guevara's letter are fragmented, misunderstood «rameras», are at first glance in Cervantes's novel vulnerable women forced into their profession by unfortunate circumstances -Maritornes, for example. Guevara flattens the differences that sets the hetaira apart from the «ramera», leaving the two to be erroneously synonymous. Cervantes is not so concerned with these marginal women that exchange sexual favors for money. Instead, the nobility and spirituality that previously defined the hetairae now belong to chaste women who seek to (re)integrate themselves into society via marriage: Luscinda and Zoraida. Finally, in the figure of Dorotea, Cervantes recalls that sacred space which combines spiritual and physical, maternal and libidinal, male and female.

In Don Quijote, gender / class relations are put to the test a number of times. Ruth El Saffar mentions the counterbalancing of lofty females and realistic working women. She points, for example, to Don Quijote who transforms the inn prostitutes into princesses, Maritornes whose deformity counterbalances Marcela's beauty, and the «non virginal» Dorotea who plays the role of damsel in distress (Beyond 56). On a diegetic level, many of the central female characters consciously shift their social status. Marcela gives up her middle-class lifestyle in the village to roam the countryside as a shepherdess.


Zoraida sacrifices her position as daughter of a wealthy Moor and becomes wife of a Christian soldier as she pursues the teachings of the Virgin. Dorotea marries into a higher social level, which she loses when Fernando abandons her, elevates herself once again as she plays the role of princess, and later regains her upper-class status as Fernando's legitimate wife. These shifts from one class to another form the backdrop for Cervantes's development of specific female characters and their interaction with male characters.

Once Don Quijote leaves in search of adventures, the first women he encounters are metamorphosed from prostitutes to court maidens: Doña Tolosa and Doña Molinera. Later, Maritornes is mistaken for a damsel enthralled with the valiant knight as she attempts a midnight rendezvous with the mule driver. Maritornes is the most developed prostitute in Don Quijote. The narrator details at length her physical attributes and later gives a vague explanation of how she arrived at her condition: «... presumía muy de hidalga, y no tenía por afrenta estar en aquel ejercicio de servir en la venta, porque decía ella que desgracias y malos sucesos la habían traído a aquel estado» (201). Mary Elizabeth Perry describes prostitution in Counter-Reformation Spain as selling what other women gave away; yet, prostitutes worked under conditions that exploited their physical and emotional vulnerability. Perry explains that «prostitution was a sexual transaction so deeply embedded within a power system that it became a relationship at least as concerned with power as with sex or sin» (138). By the late sixteenth century, legalized prostitution -restricted to brothels that were controlled by city-appointed males- was on the decline, although illegal prostitution continued to flourish (Bullough 153-55). Maritornes, as an illegal prostitute who finds work outside the brothel, skirts the regulated boundaries that society has established.

As Don Quijote settles in to spend his first night at the inn, he fantasizes about the innkeeper's daughter, and believing Maritornes to be she, transforms the Asturian working woman into a princess:

Los cabellos, que en alguna manera tiraban a crines, él los marcó por hebras de lucidísimo oro de Arabia, cuyo resplandor al del mesmo sol escurecía. Y el aliento, que, sin duda alguna, olía a ensalada fiambre y trasnochada, a él le pareció que arrojaba de su boca un olor suave y aromático; y finalmente, él la pintó en su imaginación de la misma traza y modo que lo había leído en sus libros de la otra princesa que vino a ver el mal ferido caballero, vencido de sus amores, con todos los adornos que aquí van puestos.



Cervantes takes advantage of the identity confusion to develop Maritornes in terms of a prostitute-princess opposition. While the description provokes laughter and is central to Don Quijote's character and to Cervantes's parody of chivalric traditions, it also problematizes social and gender status. As both prostitute and princess, Maritornes brings together lower and upper classes in one figure, erasing social differences. The prostitute and the princess are the same, with the same body and the same physical needs. At this point in the novel, Cervantes does not directly confront gender norms, but, hidden under the laughter, he conceals an issue that corresponds to every female character in Don Quijote: how she negotiates her intimate relationship with a man.

The humorous scene erupts into chaos when the carrier, infuriated with Don Quijote's interference, attacks him. In the end, the innkeeper blames Maritornes for the confusion: «¿Adónde estás, puta? A buen seguro que son tus cosas éstas» (205). Constance Jordan argues that prostitutes are a scapegoat for the faults of the patriarchal system and points out that the cliché that women bring men to their ruin is contradicted by the male presumption that women are inherently weak. How can a weak creature bring about anyone's ruin? The only way men can blame women for sin is if they first admit to losing control over women (299). This is the case with the innkeeper and Maritornes; he has lost control over her actions. Just as many prostitutes avoided the patriarchal enclosure of the brothel by working illegally, Maritornes escapes the patriarchal authority of Juan Palomeque. He blames her, but cannot catch her. If the inn is a microcosm of seventeenth-century Spain, then Maritornes is the figure who exposes weaknesses in society's effort to maintain order in the community.

Cervantes's prostitute has a very different role than Guevara's «rameras», despite the fact all have complex histories and multifaceted personalities. Guevara evokes outstanding elements of the hetairae; Cervantes portrays Maritornes as ugly, poor, weak, and from a low social standing. She fulfills even her nocturnal promises with devotion and good will; she brings Sancho water, then wine, effecting a Christ-like transformation; and she plays painful jokes on the errant knight. In the bishop's letter, the prostitutes, mistaken for saints by Enríquez, are undeserving objects of worship. Although Lamia, Laida, and Flora are graced with desirable qualities, they are offensive to Guevara -in spite of his extensive writing about them. The bishop feels degraded by the mere mention of their names. Throughout the letter Guevara repeatedly admits the delicate situation   —13→   he has put himself in by writing about these women: «no es esta historia tan honesta y limpia para que ose emplear en ella mucho tiempo mi pluma» (439). With the exception of the innkeeper, no character or narrative voice in Don Quijote expresses any violent reaction or discomfort in dealing with prostitutes. In the early chapters of Don Quijote, apart from having a scapegoat function, Cervantes uses Maritornes as a device to accentuate Don Quijote's distorted perception of reality, much like Enrique Enríquez's perception of Lamia, Laida, and Flora. While Maritornes does share this similar narrative function and a public sexuality with the women mentioned in the prologue, her connections with them are limited. Yet all these women are part of an «Otherness» that is found at the extremes of social norms.

In exploring social standards for men and women, Sherry Ortner explains that «[f]emale symbolism, far more often than male symbolism, manifests this propensity toward polarized ambiguity -sometimes utterly exalted, sometimes utterly debased, rarely within the normal range of human possibilities» (86). The «Otherness» that is found at the extremes of social norms and that the female so often embodies is blended together in Don Quijote and is an important factor as Cervantes redistributes the «positive» qualities of Lamia, Laida, and Flora to women who are temporarily outcast and who strive to (re)integrate into society. Cervantes reverses the notion that these qualities belong to the extremes, to the prostitutes and virgins, as he incorporates the prostitutes' characteristics of wealth and verbal discourse, and the relationship of sex and money that is linked to them, into women who long to integrate into society as loyal wives: Luscinda, the recently-converted Zoraida-María, and Dorotea. In one way or another, all these central female characters pose a threat to the men that surround them and in spite of their physical beauty, moral standards, or intellectual prowess are eventually contained -on the basis of their gender- within the institution of marriage.

In early modern Europe, «women had economic value -that is, received material compensation for their services- typically as wives and as prostitutes» (Jordan 298). In Guevara, sex and money are bound together through the business deals the women negotiate for themselves. In Cervantes, the business deals focus on marriage and are less successfully negotiated by a male authority figure. Because of the economic arrangement underlying marriage and prostitution, the two institutions are symbolically equivalent. Perry suggests that the dowry system «encouraged parents and   —14→   other family members to regard marriage as an economic arrangement» (67), one that preserves and increases material wealth11. Those who marry for money exercise a prostitution of sorts; they negotiate sexual partners exchanging material wealth for women. In Cardenio and Luscinda's love story Luscinda's father plays the role of greedy negotiator. Cardenio remembers the mutual love they shared since childhood.

A esta Luscinda amé, quise y adoré desde mis tiernos y primeros años, y ella me quiso a mí... Sabían nuestros padres nuestros intentos, y no les pesaba dello, porque bien veían que, cuando pasaran adelante, no podían tener otro fin que el de casarnos, cosa que casi la concertaba la igualdad de nuestro linaje y riquezas.


From the beginning Cardenio explains the important relationship between marriage and money. When Cardenio's friend, Fernando, betrays their friendship and tries to buy Luscinda's love, money figures three times in the plot. First, Fernando sends Cardenio away to deliver money to his needy brother. Next, Luscinda can communicate with Cardenio because she is able to pay a man to deliver her letter. Finally, the connection between personal possession and financial gain is best manifested in Luscinda's father and his treatment of her marriage plans. In Luscinda's first letter to Cardenio she tells him that she is ready for her father to negotiate their marriage with Cardenio: «si quisiéredes sacarme desta deuda sin ejecutarme en la honra, lo podréis muy bien hacer. Padre tengo... cumplirá la que será justo que vos tengáis» (332-33). However, after Fernando's interruption of their plans, in her second desperate letter Luscinda explains the disrupted situation to Cardenio: «y mi padre, llevado de la ventaja que él piensa que don Fernando os hace, ha venido en lo que quiere» (336). Her epithet for her father explicitly reveals his shortcomings: «ya me están aguardando en la sala don Fernando el traidor y mi padre el codicioso» (337). Thus, it is through the power of money that Luscinda is forced into marriage with someone other than the man she loves. Like the prostitutes in Guevara's letter and Maritornes, her body is exchanged for financial gain.

Zoraida's situation offers an interesting twist to the monetary-marriage ties. In spite of Moors' association with dishonesty and   —15→   lasciviousness in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain, Cervantes sympathetically portrays this Moorish woman12. In an illuminating article on Zoraida's veil, María Antonia Garcés discusses Zoraida both in terms of Moorish women's association with prostitution and in terms of her Marianization, the two images being reflected in her dual name: Zoraida / María and in the Captive's description of her true identity: «Mora es en el traje y en el cuerpo; pero en el alma es muy grande cristiana» (463) (76). When she initiates contact with the Captive, Zoraida is the daughter of one of the wealthiest Moors in Algiers, Agi Morato. She sends messages to the captive offering him freedom in exchange for her own marriage to him13. In her first note she proposes to him: «... y tengo muchos dineros que llevar conmigo: mira tú si puedes hacer cómo nos vamos, y serás allá mi marido si quisieres, y si no quisieres, no se ma dará nada; que Lela Marién me dará con quien me case» (489). For Zoraida, marriage is essential to her pursuing a Christian lifestyle. Eventually Zoraida does arrange the Christians' escape and returns with them to Spain. Here, she exchanges not only her wealth but also her social and religious status for marriage to a Christian so she can better understand the teachings of the Holy Virgin. Instead of selling personal property to gain material wealth, as Lamia, Laida, and Flora do through prostitution and as Luscinda's greedy father does through marriage, Zoraida relinquishes her material wealth in exchange for marrying a Christian. Zoraida's efforts are similar to the popular prostitute-saint stories of Mary Magdalene and Saint Mary the Harlot, who enact their own salvation only with the support of male guidance14.

In discussing links between the social value placed on chastity, the practice of prostitution, and the legalized poverty of women, Jordan suggests that


the ideology of partriarchy sustains and is sustained by the related institutions of marriage and prostitution, that it is manifest in the comparable lives women lead in the family and in the brothel... A woman gets rich because she sells the only property over which she has any control, and this action puts her outside the bounds of civilized (patriarchal) society. Within that society and (presumably) enjoying the benefits of civility; she is and must remain without economic power.


This is the choice Zoraida makes. She exchanges her economic status as sole inheritor of her father's wealth to enter into Christian society. In Cervantes's time, wives had rank but could not command the wealth they possessed. They were protected by patriarchy because they represented a vital, albeit submissive, part of it. Prostitutes had virtually no rank although they controlled the money they earned. Ruth Kelso asserts the importance of chastity: «let a woman have chastity, she has all. Let her lack chastity and she has nothing» (24). However, this chastity, in order for women to be accepted into society, must go a step further; it must be controlled by man. Marcela, for example, freely chooses a chaste lifestyle, yet she is still an outcast because she opts for life beyond the reaches of the patriarchy. She refuses to submit to any control. Zoraida, on the other hand, is equally chaste, and earns her respected position after the Christian soldier agrees to marry her precisely because her newly found salvation is enclosed within patriarchal norms.

I conclude my discussion of Cervantes' debt to Guevara's text by examining women's verbal discourse and ability to give counsel15. In the Renaissance, the prostitute was openly associated with public speaking. Peter Stallybrass reminds us that the «signs of the 'harlot' are her linguistic 'fullness' and her frequenting of public space» (127). Cervantes invests in Marcela the prostitutes' ability to express their thoughts freely; he endows the shepherdess with «linguistic 'fullness16. On a societal level, both the prostitutes and the   —17→   shepherdess avoid discipline and enclosure. They make their own rules and hence, remain ostracized from patriarchal society17. Marcela, like the prostitutes, has her independence but, unless she is willing to surrender that freedom, cannot become part of society. Katherine Rogers notes that the repeated attack on the prostitute was a common sign of fear of women in the Renaissance (132). Similarly, the shepherds' attack on Marcela - «endiablada moza» (161), «esta rapaza» (164), «fiero basilisco» (185)- is coupled with fear of her scorn: «Su afabilidad y hermosura atrae los corazones de los que la tratan a servirla y a amarla; pero su desdén y desengaño los conduce a términos de desesperarse, y así, no saben qué decirle, sino llamarla a voces cruel y desagradecida» (166). Their only protection against her rejection are insults and slander. Marcela's speech calls into question the institutionalized double standard and lack of freedom for women: «mas no alcanzo que, por razón de ser amado, esté obligado por hermoso a amar a quien le ama» (186). Emilia Navarro points out that Marcela's speech «thrusts itself in direct opposition to the prescriptive social discourses of feminine conduct» (32). Her speech outlines the limitations of love in the established system. For Marcela, all women should be free to choose their own love. She opts for solitude: «Yo nací libre, y para poder vivir libre escogí la soledad de los campos» (186). Although she fails to convince her audience of her freedom of choice, she nonetheless confronts the issue, leaving it open for discussion. Cervantes, in his presentation of Marcela, effectively challenges the gender arrangement imposed by marriage and thus steps towards a new viability.


Lamia's and Laida's oratorical skills stem from the spiritual tradition of the hetairae. Guevara recounts that King Demetrius turns to Lamia for answers about men and women in relationships. Likewise, men and women both ask Laida for advice on many issues. The prostitutes' ability to give sound counsel surfaces in the characterization and discourse of Dorotea, who offers advice to Luscinda, Fernando, and Clara about how to approach their love dilemma. In her work on Cervantes's last novel, Diana de Armas Wilson analyzes the significance of the Feliciana de la Voz episode and the importance of the voice in female characterization that challenges the institution of patriarchy. She convincingly argues that by granting the voice of an angel to a fallen woman, Cervantes dismantles the dichotomy of virgin-prostitute. I have pointed to this shattering of the accepted binary found in all of the women thus far discussed; however, nowhere is this destabilization more apparent than in the figure of Dorotea.

As in the case of Marcela, who like the prostitutes has the ability to articulate freely yet remains on the edges of social acceptance, Dorotea is invested with a sharp mind and tongue. At the inn she offers her services to Luscinda: «¿Qué mal sentís, señora mía? Mirad si es alguno de quien las mujeres suelen tener uso y experiencia de curarle; que de mi parte os ofrezco una buena voluntad de serviros» (448). Although Luscinda chooses silence -in keeping with the traditional role for women- soon after Dorotea appeals to Fernando, in the presence of the others at the inn, to reclaim her marital status as his wife. Her speech persuades everyone and restores harmony to the fractured couples Cardenio and Luscinda and Fernando and Dorotea. Her words then are the deciding factor in the resolution and restoration of harmony.

Dorotea's public speaking calms the distressed lovers and restores social order. Marcela, who presents the limitations of women in their right to choose whom they love but fails to convince her audience, opens the way for Dorotea's more socially moderate speech. Both soliloquies share similar rhetorical devices and oratory strategies. Both fight for women's rights, but where Marcela asks to be left out of the marriage institution, Dorotea desperately fights to reenter it. Marcela's ideas are not accepted; however, Dorotea's are fully sanctioned18. Like Lamia and Laida and like Marcela she expresses her   —19→   opinion on matters of love. However, while Marcela can only question the lack of women's rights, Dorotea actively imposes a change.

I now briefly return to the beginning of the article and to my claim that Cervantes, by imitating Guevara, offers an alternative to the accepted writing practices he criticizes in the prologue. In his imitation of Plutarch, Guevara confronts the ancient text by rewriting Lamia's narrative context, altering her space, and privileging her with a strong verbal discourse. However, Lamia, Laida, and Flora are enclosed within a sexual boundary that denigrates their spirituality. His text unravels their spiritual qualities and reaffirms the low status they hold in the sixteenth century. While he pushes the prostitutes toward the stigmatized status society imposes on their profession, he also affirms that, as their story is told, the women's value will increase. He concludes his letter, leaving his reader with an ambivalent judgment of the prostitutes.

Cervantes's subtle manipulation of Guevara's letter generates more authorial freedom. By altering the context from the space of the classical hetairae to Counter-Reformation Spain, Cervantes further distances himself from his model and accepts the responsibility of his own authority. His most intriguing imitation of Guevara's epistle is the multi-layered restructuring of the duality that defines women. He borrowed characteristics of the spiritual / sexual being and redistributed them to women who seek to live between the extremes of prostitute and saint. Luscinda and Zoraida expose the parallel relationship between prostitution and marriage; both operate by exchanging economic wealth for sexual services. Finally, Cervantes reunites the divided sexual and spiritual qualities in Dorotea. As a «manly» woman -one who cross-dresses and lives the life of a man- she transgresses established gender boundaries. In describing society's responses to historical «manly» women -those who cross-dress and live the life of men- Perry explains that one woman, Feliciana Enríquez de Guzmán, was «applauded for her manly intellect because she abandoned her male disguise, resumed her female identity,and married the man she loved» (132). Likewise, as Dorotea restores her marriage to Fernando, she participates in her own oppression by reconfirming patriarchal authority. Like the hetairae of ancient Greece, Dorotea is intelligent and articulate, at the very least an intellectual equal to the men around her. She manages the financial affairs of her household, controls her own destiny by granting herself the freedom to leave the enclosed space of her family farm, and initiates her reconciliation with Fernando by actively pursuing him. Finally, at the inn, she carries with her the approval   —20→   of all who have listened. Apart from demanding money for sexual services -and her marriage into a higher social class recalls this type of exchange- Dorotea embodies all of the hetairae's characteristics. Echoes of their exalted position and freedom reverberate within her.

In recovering classical elements of the hetairae, Cervantes portrays several possibilities for women. In Don Quijote I, there are no clearly divided poles of «good» and «bad» women. All carry with them varying degrees of sexuality and spiritualness. Maritornes, the prostitute figure in the novel, shares only distant ties with the hetairae. Those who choose marriage recuperate the fullness of the hetairae in a more balanced way. As a male commodity, Luscinda illustrates the shift of the site of exchange from prostitution to marriage. Zoraida, like the hetairae, negotiates her own sexuality, using marriage as the accepted social institution. She recuperates their spiritualness that in Guevara'a text is lost and in Cervantes's text is transformed into a Christian virtue. Likewise, Dorotea's beauty and intelligence, her stained honor and virtue, in short, her sexual and spiritual qualities are accepted as one. In this way, Cervantes corrects Guevara's reading of «las famosas rameras». The site of exchange, while remaining sexual, shifts from the marginal zone of the prostitute to the enclosed conventional household. In Don Quijote, Luscinda, Zoraida, and especially Dorotea embrace the patriarchal institution of marriage. They are not only protected by it but, in actively pursuing their own marriages, simultaneously protect it.

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