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CPLT 324 LOPE DE VEGA QUESTIONS
Assigned: Fuente Ovejuna (2783-2821).
1. What initial impression of the Comendador does the play offer? Consider how he behaves towards the young Maestre, and his first meeting with the people of Fuente Ovejuna upon returning from battle against Ciudad Real. What should we know about him (his political/social situation and outlook) before he assaults Laurencia?
2. In the first act, the peasant characters -- both male and female -- engage in a discussion of city/courtly values in love, honor, ethics, and manners. What seems to be their opinion of those values -- how do Laurencia, Frondoso, Mengo, and others see themselves in relation to their urban and aristocratic "betters"?
3. After Laurencia scorns his agents, the Comendador's evil designs on her are thwarted by Frondoso. Meanwhile, Ferdinand and Isabella have decided to send two companies to the rescue of Ciudad Real. How does the royal couple's situation parallel the one confronting Laurencia and Frondoso?
4. Discuss how Vega heightens the audience's awareness of the Comendador's viciousness -- what are his views, for instance, about women and everyone below him on the social scale? How does he pervert the values of the ancient chivalric and martial order he claims to represent?
5. How do the peasants handle the match between Frondoso and Laurencia? On the whole, what knits together the community of Fuente Ovejuna? In what ways do they prove more civil and "honorable" than many of their superiors? How have they differentiated themselves from the stereotypical view of peasants as "simple pastoral folk"?
6. It's obvious that the historical precedent referenced by Lope de Vega -- the butchery by townspeople of a hated local tyrant -- was an ugly, violent event. How does Vega represent the violence committed by the peasants against the Comendador and his subordinates? What role does comedy play in making this violence tolerable?
7. The play ends with the granting of absolution on the King's part for the entire town of Fuente Ovejuna. What would have been the result of their rebellion had they not all chosen (under torture) to say, "Fuente Ovejuna did it"? What basic political premises and system does the resolution of this play uphold?
8. A general question: there isn't much that we would call "character development" in this play or many others by Spain's Golden Age dramatists. What, then, are the features that you think most likely account for the popular success of Lope de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna? What makes it both entertaining and serious?
Edition: Lawall, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd edition. Volumes 1ABC. New York: Norton, 2002. ISBN A = 0-393-97755-2, B = 0-393-97756-0, C = 0-393-97757-9.