The Bases of humor in the contemporary Spanish theatre

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The Bases of humor in the contemporary Spanish theatre
Zatlin, Phyllis, 1938-
Boring, Phyllis Zatlan, 1938-
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
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iv, 299 leaves : illus. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Aunts ( jstor )
Comic books ( jstor )
Comic theater ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Humor ( jstor )
Husbands ( jstor )
Illusion ( jstor )
Marriage ( jstor )
Playwriting ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Spanish -- UF ( lcsh )
Spanish drama (Comedy) -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Spanish drama -- History and criticism -- 20th century ( lcsh )
Spanish thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Bibliography: leaves 284-293.
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Also available on World Wide Web
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Manuscript copy.
General Note:
Thesis - University of Florida.
General Note:
General Note:
"Index of cotemporary Spanish plays": leaves 294-298.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Phyllis Zatlin Boring.

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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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December, 1965

Copyrl.,,it b,i

Phy11t Zstlln ~arnla




,he suth.or 'iane t~o expresc her Aine$eP appecia-

tljA and thMnkS to kex 00=it't.* chairman, Dr. Fr-ncir

0. Hayes, om to Drx. Alfred Rower frr 'the time-..uzuiM

tUsk of reading aend*, orru-ting the or1ICnal ir2It of

this dissetation, ad to the other members of her

coummttee, Prof. Pedro Villa Ferondez. Drh. Rurray La17ey,

and Dr. Daxwell Walla ce, for their he2p gad encourcgemmnt

througbout her' graduate study.











COlowlUo .





"From the beginning, humor has been an essential

ingredient of the dramatic literature of Spain, ever

ready to appease what has been called 'la dolera del

espanol sentado.'"I In the "Auto de l1s Reyes agoe,"

firs t extent work in the Spanish theatre, there is

some humor in the portrayal of the Jewish counselors

te King ero"d. Although no other plays are available

for study until the end of the fifteenth century,

scholars know from references in Alfonso el Sabie's

Zlete Partidas that Spain developed a type of realistic,

satirical play called luegos de escarnio. These secular

works were condemned for their licentiousness, but even

the serious religious drama was not devoid of the

humorous, realistic element. Judging from the develop-

ment of drama In ether European comutries and from the

sixteenth century manausripts that are available, critic.

of Spanish theatre know that the shepherd of the early

nativity play soon developed into a comic character,

a ~asm or )boj. From the 1ue~os de escarnio and the

use of the comi shepherd, Spanish playwrights developed

and perfected a one-eat farce whbse humor was based on

the more or less rellistio portr-yal of certain popular

types, usually drawn from the lower classes. This form
of farce may be recognized in the nZ_'o and Antrcmsd of

the Renaissance and the Golden Age, in the -.inet ef

toe eighteevth century, in the ,-enro chico of the


It is significant to note that these humorous plays,

athich were essentially popular in nature, have often

outlived the more ambitious worEs being written at the

same time. Cervantes, as a playwright, i- remembered

generally, not so much for his longer, more serious

works, as for his excellent e.trem:--c. The eighteenth

century in Spanish drama iould be almost a void were it

not for the S~an,3te. of R de la Craz. At the end of

the nineteenth century some of the best theatre produced

in Spain was the Line~r chico of such playwrights as

Ricardo de la Vega.

Because few medieval plays have been preserved,

the history of the Spanish drama really begins in the

late fifteenth century with Juan del Encina. One of

Enoina's best known works is the "Aute del repelda,"

which deals with student pranks played on stupid peasants

and doubtless steis from the lost medieval .lueos de

'a xar'Ilo and iueToa3 4colaire:.

The students throw the countryurea's vegetables
LLte the and, drive ai;y their donkeyz, and pull hair. Yuch of Ute humor depends upon the
peasant dialect, the nalve sqpresslons of the
rustics, their Negro-like misuse of long words.

We find here already two of the commonest farce
types, the student and the bobo or simple, the
rural Eimpleton.

This is a popular play, with ha~or that often verges an
sla,,tic'k. Incin-, iao:cver, also wrote for the ariLteo-

ray. In his Iglog. he Introduces shepherds who are
held up to seem beeanse they try usaecessfully to

iuitate the manners en courtly love of the upper class.
In "Egloga repre!.ntada an request de unes snores,"
for czanple, E na presents a knlght dressed a a

shepherd who is a rivsl of Yingo, a married shepherd,

for the love of a shepherdues. The kight wins his lady
and .ingo becomes the object of the alienee's laughter.3

In other plays, Encina usas the cmic device of sleep
to make his shepherds humorous. In "Egloga de tree

pastorss," a tragedy there is the burlesque element of
one sheph *'s sleeping through another's account of
his lamentable problems. Again, in "Egloga de PlAcida
y Vltoriano" some shepherds will net aid in a burial

until they have had a nap.5
Among the other outstanding contributors to the

early development of Spanish dram were Sinche: de

.Badajoz, Lucas Fernandez, Gil Vicente, and Torree Naharro.

. Nothup consider Snche- de Badajor to be the
link between the religious dr and the later farce
in Spain. Writing In the first quarter of te Eix:teenth
century, Badajoz placed coric episodes in his religious

allegories; he introduced many tf the stock comic types

of the period, such as the sacristan, the Negro, the Moor,
the boastful soldier.6 One such bracgart soldier appears
in the "Parsa teologal." The soldier has been badly

frightened but wishes to conceal his fright. Lying to
explain the loud exclamations he made in his fear, he

says that he has a toothache. A dentist soon appears
and begins pulling the soldier's teeth, promising to
send a bill in the morning.7 Badajez also introduces

on sta~e the figure of the devil, a favorite comic type

in medieval European drama. Along with many of his
contamperaries, he satirizes the clergy and he is harsher

with them than the other playwrights of his time.8 Lucas
1'erninde: and Gil Vicente, along with many anonymous
authors, satirized the friar and religious orders. The
friar was satirized for such things as selling bulls
and fathering illegitimate children. He was portrayed
as a rather stupid person, with little dignity or moral
character.9 Similarly public officials, such as the
rc-:11i, were criticized for thtir dishcoeaty and for

their injustices. "Social satire is to play a consider-

able part in the Eitr rf' as it develops. It is a form

that in every way lends itself to such subjects."10
Essentially Lucas Fern&ndez continued the pattern

already set by Eacina, writing farces and ~j-lorG.. His
shepherds are more vulgar in their language than iere
Encina's.11 He is credited with turning the conventional
pastoral play into farce.12 Rather than introduce

aristocrats dlsgulsed as shepherds, he introduces real
shepherds and makes bin of courtly love. In his "Farsa

o aoasl comedia" he presents a burlesque courtship of a
lady by a slepheri, and in his "Egloga nueva" he ;.rse ts

a hermit, a tafry-venrer, and a friar who fight over a

Gil Vicente, who wrote in both C:astillan and Pertu

guese, is noted for his ironic view of certain types from
society, for his blend of social satire and poetry.13 Like

Badajoz, '% --see the devil as a character. In "Auto da

baroa do inferno" he uses the coaic device of h-ving

someone call the devil names. In "Auto da area de prgai-

torio" a character has seni-esnie, semi-philosophilal
speeches with the devil and with an angel. lhe devil

again appears in a "Parga clheada ante das fadas." In

this case the devil has ban called to appear by a ri':ch.

The play also contains an element of satire against the

cler&y, as do eara dos fislkes," "Teml:o d'Apolloe"

and other of Vieente's werhk.15 Vicente also concerns

himself with marital problems. In "Auto da India," for

exanmle, he shows how a wife plays one man against

another while being unfaithful to her absent husband.16

In his longer work, Comedia del vludo, he achieves much

etic effect when a friend of the wiloi:er complains about
hi; unbearable wife.17 A common theme in later fercee is
that of literary parody; Vicente already introduces this

idea in "Amadis de Gaala," which sutiri:eo the language of
the novels of hivalry.18

Among these early playwrights of the late fifteenth

century and the early sixteenth century, Torres Naharro has

been given credit for lending the greatest impetus to the

development of humor in the Spanish drama.19

Terree Ihharro es el padre del humorismo en
la escena eapanola. Las crudas bafonidsa de los
pasteres de Eneina se han tornado en fins erftiea
humorfstics en lablos da los oriades de Torres
Naharro. En las 4glogia de aqudl hay exagerscl6n
coaics; en las oomedias de Iste, interpretacidn
hunorfitics. Es un humorisme de superior categorfa,
porque es mis honda la observaci6n y mae universal.
Detres de lae ironLas y sltiras del autor de la
Tropilrdia hay una filosffa moral, un sentido
dtlco, uni personalidad.20

Specifically, Torres Naharre is given credit for intro-

duoing to the Spanish stage true humor, the comic prologue,

the type of the gracio.o and gracitaa so common to the

Golden Age, and the first models of the comedies of

intrigue and customs.21 His works have also been noted

for their anti-clerical satire--a comic element that

disappeared with the censorship of the Gounterreform

when the sacristan became the substitute for the friar--

their portrayal of character, and their "honor calderoniano."22

One device frequently found in his works is the use of

several different languages. In his "Comedia soldadesca,"

for example, the recruits come from several different

countries or regions, and each speaks his own dialect.

In his "Serafina" a friar speaks in a humorous imitation

Latin, while three other characters speak in Castilian,
two in Valenilan, and two others in Italian. For humor-

ous effect Torres Naharro also uses parody and satire.

His "Comedia aqulliana" is a parody of the novels of
Chivalry; the pair ao young lovers are caricatures of

the romantic heo and heroine, and the ing swears like
a farmhand and even tries to borrow :til doctor's wife for

the sake of a love-sick gardener.23 In "Comedia himenca"

the playwright parodies the love problems of his own

main characters by introducing a parallel burlesque love
among the servanta--a technique. later to be employed in

the Golden Age irth the love affairs of the rracloso.

With their -.oday of 'le entral action, Torres Naharro

creates a notaa c6mica que brota del contrast entire la

poeZf y la prena de la vida."24 Stire is seen in the
"Comedia tinelaria." Here the scene is a cardinal's

1ltchen in oame, and the author shows how the Oardinal's

servants abuse their positlsn. "La servidAbre roba a

sa veZor, llam la trip y se embriaga hasta reventar,
mientras que leo pobres, qut depanden de la caridad de

aqult, se mleren do hambre."25

Among the best of these earliest Spatni play-
wrighit, noiever, Ie Lope de Rueda, ifiho give a crude sort

of literary value to the igao.26 His sort farces are

realistic portrayals of the domestic relations of te

lower ciassc3, and his humor doe not in every oase rely

upen the horse-play and coarseness often found in the
works of his predecessors. "Their home life, with Its
banal situations, its crudities, and Ite commonplaces,

all comic to the humorist, is full of te material most

useful for popular comedy. 7

Lope de Rueda, in addition to his Paso:, wrote five

longer comedies. One of these, Lo: er-unhdos, has its

humor based on disguises and mistaken identity; a brother

and sister so much resemble each other that they are taken

for each other in spite of the differences of sex. But

the real value of Lope de Rueda's theatre lies in his

short realistic farces and their view of ordinary life:

A husband and wife quarrel over the price to
be asked for a crop of olives, though the tree has
just been planted. Two rogues get a free dinner by
bamboozling a stupid servant out of the provisions
he is carrying. A doctor's servant inoersonate
his master and prescribes to various paticats.-

In his eagsB Lope do Rueda perfected the character of

the bobo, but he also created realistic portraits of

"eI rufimn cobarde, el lacayo maldiciente, la negra tonta

y bonachona, el morisco con su jerga ininteligible, el

doetorcillo pedante, el aldeano sooarr6n, la gitana de

stiles artes, el vejete malhunorado e impertinente."29

Among the plays of these sixteenth century Spanish

authors may be found a number of common comic devices,

stock character types, and themes. Some of these comic

characters and situations developed because of foreign

influences, while others are native to Spain. The

Spanish playwrights were influenced to some extent by

the Italian comedy, the improvised comedia dell'arte,

and by the Latin playwrights. Raymond Grismer, who has

studied the influence of Plautus on the Spanish play-

wrights before Lope de Vega, finds that a number of the

cesmn tendencies in the Spanish farce may be traced to

the Latin comedy. The braggart soldier for example, is
found in Plautus' l1iles GlcrLosis. In Italian comedy the
braggart soldier has become a boastful Spanish captain.

In the Spanish farces where he frequently appears, he has,
as Orawford points out, been adapted to Spanish life;
now he is the Spanish soldier who has served abroad and

returns to lie about his expl -its and his valor.3 Cr-wford
also states that the soldier is related in type to the

rurlt : lly who -ppears in Spanish literature as early
as 1, Cclectiri-.31 The character of Celestina herself

nay be traced to the bawd in Latin comedy, and she is
a character used frequently in the later Spanish farces.32
Grismer lists among Plautus' favorite comic devices a long
or funny name, a funny disguise, an insatiable hunger,

a craving for Atrong drin. or actual drunkenness on the
stage, threats, beatings, fear, the calling of names,

madness, and dreams; he finds examples of each in six-
teenth century Spanish drama.33 In the theatre of Lueas

Fern:ilde he finds examples of name-calling, beatings,

and fondness for drink.3 Sanchez de Badajoz has used all

of these devices as well as hunger; one of his characters

is hungry even when asleep.35 Torres Naharro is parties-
larly noted for his use of name-calling; his servants
are e::pert at heaping r-tlla.36 Lope de Rueda borrowed

many of his plot from Italian and Latin comedies and

made use of the stock Latin characters of the father, the

faitier's old friend, the son, the girl, the bawd, the

braggart, and the servant, as well as the Negress and

gypsy from Italian comedy.37 According to Grismer, "Rueda's
contribution largely consists in the sparkling humor of

the Spanish comedy."38

Another critic, William Hendrix, has studied some

of the native comic types in the Spanish drama of the

period. He divides the stock ch3rsct:L: into the stupid

enes and the clever ones. The most common of the stupid

characters was the shepherd, who carried over into the

seventeenth century. He was scantily clad in sheepskins
and was comic in his exaggerated interest in eating,

drinking, and sleeping. Through the shepherd, the play-

wright was able to satirize the townsman, the squire, and

the churchman. Often participating in moments of slap-

stick humor, the shepherd was beaten b., the Negro and the

Moor and slapped by the churchman and the squire. He

differs from the later ?im-.e or hobo in that he has less

to do with the plot.39

At the opposite ex+reme from the stupid shepherd is

found the clever servant--possibly a development of the

clever servant or slave of Latin comedy. This servant is

already found in Terres Iaharre, where his love affairs

serve as a burlesque of his master's. He frequently makes

sarcastic remarks about his master and is sometimes noted

for being a glutton or a coward.40

Also co in the plays of the period are the foreign

and dialeetical types, each with his characteristic traits,

usually exaggerated for comic effect. The use of dialeet

itself is humorous, perhaps because the spectator feels

superior to the person speaking. Thus broken Spanish is

funny in these early plays as a Brooklyn Seceiit. or

broken English is in the television plays of today in the

United Sates. Most common of the foreign or dialectical

types in the early Spanish drama ar '- fe Negro, Moor,

gypsy, and Portuguese; but examples of Italian, French,
Valenclan, VYzoayan, Jewish, and German characters qre

also found. The first two are notable for their ignorance

and for their almost unintelligible Spanish. The gypsy

likewise has a distinctive speech charaote"istic, the

agelej; gypsies are associated with fortune telling,
begging, zte"Allng, and horse-trading. The Portuguese

are poor and proud, love music, women, and Portugal, wear

unusual costumes, and are treated as a burlesque of the The French are m-ide to speak a language that

is really a mixture of French, Italian, and Spanlsh,

while the German is usually portrayed as a heretical


In addition to these stock comic types, G. T.

Northup finds several others 'n the Spanish farce. He

m.ntlona the ve.ete--a earry-over from the Latin f-ther--

who may be either th. deceived husband of a cldly young

wife or the out-wittei father of a young daughter; he is

usually miserly, suspicious and credulous and often

receives beatings. Te doctor, who Is pedantic, unskilled,

and completely without conscience, is also common in the

farces. The doteer appears along with the lawyer, who is

dishonest and ignorant. Another stock character is the

student, an unscruulous young rogue who is slovenly and

suffers from chronic starvation.4

These stock comic types are still being used in the

farces of the Siglo de Oro. Cervantes, who is coanidred

superior to Lope de Rhed in his humor and his universal-

ity,43 nakes use of them in his entremeoes. In one of

his best-knon farces, "La cueva de Salamanca," for

example, he introduces the velete, who is being deceived

by his young wife, ad the young starving student, who

cleverly fools the credulous old man. Also he frequently

puts a picarecque element into his comedies, such as

"El ruflin vludo" and "Pedro do Urdemilas," and his humor

can be as cruel as Quevedo's. Among his longer works

are "comedia- de cautivos" based on his experiences as a

prisoner in North Africa. One of these, El gallardo

espnol, contains a aracioso in the cast of characters,

and another, Ieo baHos de Argel, features a comie sacristan

wrho makes fun of the Jews.4 The best of Cervantes'

theatre, however, is the etre In his short farces

are found:

Veladae sctiras sobre ls prejuicice e interests
y la credulldad exoesiva, que dejan una in.iuletante

interrogacion, lunto a problems mSs hoados, c.adros
hampescoe, Irenlas eobre las armas y la iglesla (el
soldado y el sacristan), sobre los cgnillotos matrl-
moniales, cobre las superstlcionecs.

In "La elooclin de los alcaldes de Daganzo" ervantes
introduces a satire on the interference of the Chureh in
civil issues. In "El juez de los divoroiee" among other
things, he pertrsys, with a coarse, burlesqe humor, the
problems resultant from marriages where there is a wide

age difference between husband and wife. The Bame problem

is treated in "El vielo celoso" and "El oeeloe extremeHo."
In "Ia guard culdedosa" the Church triumphs over the army
when the sacristan wins his lady--a kitchen maid--from
his rival, a braggart soldier. In "El retable de las
maravillas," a story similar to the Code Lucanor's tale
of the invisible cloth, CerTantes presents a satire of
all types of :hpocrizy.46
Luis quitonese de enavente is the other major writer

of entrenese- in the Si.lo de Oro. Beglaning to vrlie in

1609, Benvente gave to the Cntremxs its definitive form.
He is credited with "a genius for comic situation and
dialoC.e. "7 He also helped develop a kind of "entremis

cantado" which later became the ar:uela. Like his
predecessors in the shrt farce, QuiTones de Benavente

wrote for a popular audience. The sole purpose of his
short plays Is to entertain. One finds in his farces
... 13 sdtira que nuele las costs y las coatumbres
sin apelazs ofender a las personas, las frases hechas
de fortune, el regooljo y la hilaridad mis

caprichosos, las situaoiones esc&nicas ms rieas
en ritnos populares y en viveza musical, el verso
fldido, los antecedentes oarioaturescas dcdada sea,
lo grote.rsc dignificado por el humanismo.4-
In addition to these short farces, elements of humor

are rarely lacking in other plays of the period. The most

significant single comic element to be found in the giglo
'e Oro drama is the character of the rsci.o:o. While

traits of the gracioso may be found in works before Lope
de Vegi on the Spanish stage and even in Latin comedy,

Lope de Vega claimed to have created the graclIEO or
figure del doneire In his play La France-illa. The

grsclo'o, generally a servant, gives the somic note to

the plays of the Golden Age, for the nobleman usually

cannot be the object of ridicule. The graci mlay be

a -Iciav, or he may be of a higher intellectual order.

He often is capable of writing poetry, and this comic
character may create ingenious or burlesque sonnets.51

He dresses in his master's discarded clothes and serves
as a caricature of him. He is usually, though not always,

faithful to his master and is characterized by his interest

in feed and his ability to think about the practical

aspects of life.52 While the oomic figures in earlier

plays of Spanish drama often appeared only in short epi-

sodes, the rraciozo plays an important part throughout

the play. In the comedies where love is an important
factor in the plot, he serves as a go-between for his

master; but, at the same time, he makes fun of the refined

love of the nobleman.

There is often a parallel romanee between servants,
and here the grsclog burlesques the courtship of the
master and his lady. It has been suggested that the
gracloso and his master really represent two sides of the
same personality.53
Lope de Vega uses the fixura de donaire in all types
of draaa, including his tragedies. In PuentsovYeuna
the arajloEs appears in the character of Mengo, who,
like his fellow townsmen, edes not tell who killed the
Comendader. There is comic repetition in his assertion
that "Puenteovejana" killed the man.5 The gracloso
also appears in the comedies of saints; here he serves
as a humorous and sympathetic link between the saint and
the audience, but he is less inclined to make fun of his
master's theology than tracloeo in other comedies do
of refined love.55
Although the grasCoso seon became a stock character,
there is some variation in his portrayal from the time
of Lope to that of Calderdn. In Gaillln de Castro's
plays the Araciosoe are "~es movides, Mis franeanoete
cdmicos que la mayor part de leo de Lope."56 He lacks
some Of the idealism of Lops's coali figures. He collects
for the saS ticket or the same medicine several times;
he arranges false marriage; and he courts every woman
he sees.57 In Juan Ruti de, Alarc-n the grax o has
become the confidant or even adviser to the here. In
La verdad sospechosb, for example, he is an older man,

apparently a gentleman who has suffered financial misfor-

tunes, who is to keep the protagonist out of trouble.
Tristin, the gracloso, evidentally feels a greater
loyalty to the here's father than he does to his young

master, for he reports Don Garefa's lies to his father.

Ruis de Alare6n's graclosos are satirical and are quick
to criticize the customs of the society in which they

live, even if their criticism breaks the unity of action

of the comedy. They sometimes use the comio device of

frequently changing clothes. In one play, La managilla
de Melilla, the garcloso is Jewish.
In the plays of Tirso de Molina the g1aicaM's
humor tends to be more vulgar. The author also intro-
duces more rustic characters than his contemporaries

and, hence, his FraclosoE, who are not rustics, appear
to belong to the upper classes. In 12 burlador de Sevilla
the gracioso Catalihun is of a high enough class that he

eats with his master. Most of Catalin6n's humor, besides
his fear of the statue, comes in asides when he makes

fun of his master. In omo han de ver los sanigos a

rricloso hides in a coffin, occasionally holding his

head up and acting as an echo to what is being said on

stage. Tirso makes use of a language device in another

of his plays, El melanoglico, where the comic figures

pretend to be English and use supposedly englishh words.59
Rojas Zorrilla has made his wraoioeos human. Like
Lope, he uses the gracioso to express his own opinions.

He sometimes blends an element of the picaresque into
his aracioeos. Like Tirso he makes use of the language
device; in one case he has two characters who speak a
false Turkish, put on disguises, and mistakenly capture
each other. In another play, Rojas Zorrilla uses the
comic device of having the character pretend to be
writing the play in which he appears.60 Mreto increases
the Importance of the graqcloo to the main plot of the

play; in l desdin con el deedin, the graoloeo becomes
the center of the action. The play was copied by Molibr*,
who often used a clever searant to manipulate the events
of his omedies,61

Although the gracl.os is the Moet important element
of humor feund in the coaedias Of the Golden Age, it is

not the sole basis of humor in the plays. Often there
is humr from the eemplicated plots themselveE--disgul1ez,

mistaken identities, romantic entanglements. Xoreor,
characters besides the L may be humorous as in

the "oe)mdias de figurdn" of Rojas Zorrilla. In the
theatre of Lope de Vega, for example, eritio YalbUena
Prat finds various comic elements; among these are the

light comedy of eastoms in La mo-s de cnantro, the figure
of the bully in E ruflan Catrucho, scenes of realistic

haler in La ;oche toledens. and subtle irony in Aar n
saber a Qp e. 62 The latter play is a good example of
a romantic comedy with he sole purpose of entertaining.

The play is fast moving, consisting of many short scenes.

The main humor comes from the aracloso, comically named

Lia~n; his master has fallen in love with a fifteen-

year-old girl whom he does not know but whose picture

he has. Lim6n repeatedly comments that the girl is

probably forty years old--in spite of the evidence of

the picture. umor is also evident in the way the extra-

ordinary young girl overcomes all obstacles to be able

to marry the man she loves. In another of Lope's

romantic comedies, La noche de San Juan, there is lees

humor than in Amar sin esber a quia., but the comedy is

noteworthy for its complicated plot. There are two love

triangles; In each situation a young girl loves one man

but must marry another to follow the wishes of her

brother, who has arranged the match for his sister in

order to win the hand of the woman he loves. The unrav-

eling of these complications forms the basis of its


In others of his comedies Lope adopts the figure
of the or pseudo-babo. There is such a heroine

in La daaa boba, but she overcomes her stupidity when

she falls in love. In La boba para los otros y discrete

para s the main character uses stupldit,- a. a sort'of

disguise in order to see through the hypocrisy of those

around her.

Although Lope makes use of a wide variety of comic
devices, Trss de Molina is usually given credit for

being the most huneros of the playwrights in the Lope

cycle. One of 1Tite's common devices is to introduce
the man-seeking woman, a female counterpart of Don Juan
who, like some of Shakespeare's heroines, will even
disguise herself as a man to aid her in arranging the

marriage she wants. In La villana de Vallecas the heroine
disguises herself as a girl from the lever classes to
be able to pursue tah man who has dishonored her. In
this same comedy, the "villain" also steals the ereden-

tials of another man; the result is the comic situation
of the stranger who cannot prove that he is himself

because someone else is masquerading under his name.
In El verconzoso en palacio a young girl pursues her
father's shy secretary. In Don Gil de las clszas verdes

the heroine disguises herself as a man to be able to
follow her lover, who has deserted her to aarry another
woman. The other woman doee not realize that the "Den

Gil" she meets is really her rival disguised as a man.
Eventually two wemen fall in love -ith the feminine

"Don Gil," several of the characters are using fictitious
identities, and no less than four characters are claiming

to be the real "Don Gil" at the same time. before the
final untangllng of all these emplications, the only
one suspicious of the sex of the disguised "Don Gil de

las calzas verdes" is the gracloso Caramanchel, who
suggests that the handsome young "man" is a "capdn."
Tirse is quite adept at handling such complicated
plot. An extreme example of cmic involvement is found

in AverfInelo Vsrras, where a series of love triangles

tw made even more confusing by a series of go-betweens.

A brother and sister, Ramiro and Sancha, who do not

knew either their relationship or that they are the

illegitimate children of the deceased king, arrive in

the capital. The sister loves her brother, who loves

Dola oelipa. In spite of her love, Sancha disguises

herself as a male dwarf to act as a go-between for her

brother. At the same time, the brother is acting as a

go-between for Dola Pelipa, whom he loves, and Don Dionss,

and DoEa Pelipa is acting as a go-between for another

woman and Ramiro. Eventually Ramiro masquerades as Don

Dionls and Don Dionfs mistakes Sancha for Dola Pellpa.

It is pure "situation comedy" and ends happily.

A much better comedy is Tirso's famous :rra lai
-IP4.]o-a. Marta, in an attempt to avoid marrying a much

older man chosen for her by her father, adopts the guise

of being very devout. Her hypocrisy gains her enough

freedom to be able to see the young man she loves without

much difficulty. Eventually the young man pretends to

be a sick student, and Marta suggests, as an act of

Christian charity, that he be invited into their home

while he convalesces. Later his pretense for staying

is to tutor her in Latin. The device of pretending

siclniess to gain admittance to the girl's home is not

a new one; it is also found in Quilones de Benavente's

entrees, "El doctor y el enfermo." In essence Marta

is the headstrong yoa girl of the earlier farces who

13 deceli7iT her credulous *l father.
Ja:n lRuiz de Alarcan is beost wnoaw for his comedies

of Ohararter in which he satirizes man'a =hort:oniLgs.

In his theatre Is fobnd "an tesoro de observaelones

pa3ool6slca3 y do graolosf-iimOr donalrel."6 In his

fauss play La ver'ial ro.pechiosa, which wias adapted by

Pierre Corneille in Le maeite.r, he presents the portrait

of an .Nmazin liar awh eventually is punished for his

vice. The liarg Ban 3arcfa, is

El m&3 porfacto vy rac1ioa embastero del mundo,
el maestro cumplldislmo de la mentira: la concibe
con sorprcndente r-plde:, 1 dlice con coj.ridad
y oesdfa, la adorns con tedo lujo de permenores;
7, zI es coidlo, asbe eronpsr ioperturbable y

In El e-xaen de marldo a father leaves to his daughter

this .i-agle mea.age in his will "Antes que te eases,

aira lo quo hases." The clever young woman sets up a

husband contest and oritosally looks over her suitors.

ITo h.,v mal iue por bien no veag- or D>n D~Einro de Don

FIa 13 a alighily different kind ai play, for here the

here is quite admirable. People laugh at him because he

believe- in puttina coefort ahead of faEshIoL, but he is

a brave man who fitfully serves his king, and one

finds in his attitude a clever satire of the exaggerated

ao.nnera of ite court.

ong the outstandla playwri hts of the Golden Age

the one usually considered as being the least humorous

is Calder6n de la Barca. In the full-length eomedies of

CalderJn are found fewer variations on the gacdoso than

in any other author. Calderdn has a "concepts de lo

odmico memos complejo ... el humor, 10 o6mico, eran

cosas en el fondo despreciable que se le enooedia al

vulgo'65 Contrary to Lope's rlso, who sometimes is

brave, Caldern'as is always a coward and usually has

ridiculous pretensions. The exception to this generali-

zation about Calderdn's longer comedies isa d

duende, in which the racl oss e has received high

praise as a comic character:

This character has humorous lines, is placed in
many humorous situations, and is naturally a funny
man in his own right. Cosme is really the best
developed character in the play, and there is grave
danger of his stealing the show. If one were to
judge from La dama duende alone, one would say
that alderdn was the greatest humorist in Golden
Age drama.00

In his autos icranentales Calderin has also developed

some comic Eraciosos. "In the humor of his autos Calder6n

is never quite as ineffective as he is in some of his

comedies, and in two autos his performance ranks with

his best efforts elsewhere. ,67 The two gracioss particu-

larly mentioned are Pensaicento in La cana del Rey

Baltazar and the Labrador in El gran teatro del mundo.68

In addition to these graoiose O alderman did introduce

some other comic elements in his plays. In La damn dusude

the heroine, much like the female characters of Tirso,

assumes a disguise to win the man she loves. In some

of his mythological comedies humor from anachronism has
been noted in "la miasa Ironfa de volver los tomas
pagaoes a las costumbres e ideas eontemporiness."69
Besides these comedies Oalder6n also wrote some short
The most humorous playwright, contemporary of

CalderJn, is probably Francisco do Rojas Zorrilla.
A R~ana cmico se le ocurren loa mis gracioso;
traces y disparatos rin saliree do la raya huansa.
3abe barajar come nadie para quo hagan Jusgo los
mesones oletellanos y la manasione noblilarias,
los estudiantes y los casamenteroz, las viejos
LeloEos y loa galanes audaces, las illas bobas y
las dasas duendes, los espadachlnes y los soldados,
los frailes y los pfoaros rematados, as ingniesas
aventuras y las sltuacloneE cmicas.u

Rejas Zorrilla created the "oomedia de figur6n" which
features a character with exaggerated, often ridiculous
traits, but who is portrayed with a realistic psychology
not found in the earlier burlesque eeledies.71 Such a
comic character appears in Entre bobos enda el luego

where the hero is a ridiiulous yeung man, easily deceived
because of his vanity, who caoes to the eourt from the
provinces. In Lo sue ?on iss muiere? an angry match-
maker sends prospective suitors, not to the beautiful,

rich, but haughty yeung girl, but rather to a poor,

ugly woman. Often dealing with matrimonial problems,
Rojas ZerTilla defends in Oada cual lo oue Ie toca womaa''
right to choose her own husband. In Ab2ir al olo he
reveals the aeceptions of the cortesans. In Donde hay
agravlos no hay ce]os the master and servant exchange

roles so that the master may get to know his future wife--

a device not unlike that used by Oliver Goldsmith in She
Stoop- to Conquer. Much of the resultant comedy comes

from the stupid things the servant, disguised as his

master, does.72

Rojas Zorrilla also incorporated a picaresque

element in his humor. He occasionally uses two cosmic

servants in his plays, one of them a gracloso and the

other a Pf- ro. He presents picaresque caricatures in

No 'ay acni-'o ,ar-a 'amio. Reminiscent of Quevedo, in

EL Oafn de Cataluba he shows the bitter humor of the jail

where the prisoners laugh at death and the gallows.73

One of the last of the major playwrights of the

Golden Age to display elements of humor is Agustfn Moreto

y Oabaia, who, like Rojas Zorrilla, wrote comedies of

character. The protagonist of his ~ liado Don Diego

closely resembles Rojas Zorrilla's main character in atre

boboa ands el lua-o. Valbuena Prat considers Moreto's

play to be a predecessor to the comic opera of the eight-

eenth century.4 In MHreto's other major play, -1 de1d;n

oon el de"r1nn, the z.racloso takes on new significance by

directing the action of the whole play. He might be

compared to Beaumarohais's Figaro of a century later.75

The theme of this play is similar to that of Lope's

Ii hermo- fei. In the latter play a suitor wins a beau-

tiful young lady who has become disdainful of compliments

by pretending to find her ugly. In Morete's play a

suitor arouses the girl's interest by being as indifferent

to her as she has been to all her other suitors.

Following the Golden Age with its great flourishing

of the Spanish drama came the decadence of the eighteenth

century. The Spanish stage began, rather tunsuhessfully,

to imitate Freach theatre. The Spanish national drama

itself degenerated. The etreme fell into such a stage

of decay and obscenity that it was finally suppressed

in 1780. The suppression of the 6ntreagi gave birth to
a new fozr, the galnete:

A comic, one act theatrical piece, longer than
the entremds, introducing more characters, and
with a somewhat more ambitious plot, portraying
realistically various rorlal types, and satirizing
human vices and foibles.'
Raamn de la Cruz y Cane was the greatest proponent of

the salnete. In it he displayed all classes of the

society of his time and no longer used the conventionalized

types of the earlier entrerns.

In general it must be noted that Cruz does not
deal with the two classes--the middle and the
proletariat--in the same way. His manner toward
the proletariat is one of sympathy tinctured with
mild amusement. He disapproves strongly of most
of what the addle class does, thinks, and says, and
he shows it."

While Cras may occasionally ridicule the lower classes,

as he does in "Manolo," he usually is most severe in his

criticism of the upper classes and their imitation of
French manners:

The author reveals to us the frivolous
tertullaE of his aristocratic circle; Mnuff-taking
gentlemen with rapier and wig, wearing the knee
breeches of the period; young fops dancing attend-
ance upon their beribboned and beflounced sweet-
heartz, vying with the inevitable abat and the ever-
present French perru.-uer for a moment of the fair
ona's time. We sees tutile society seeking vainly
to conceal its Ignorance beneath a veneer of Prench
culture. -

In "Las tertulias de Madrid" Cruz satirizes high society

in just this way. Den Juan pretends to be sick to show

his wife Inds the falsity of her tertiill friends. They

are noisy and rude while they believe that Don Juan is

dying; they prove to be useless when Inds needs their

help. The only true friend in the group is Don Lais,

whom Inds previously disliked because she considered

him too serious. This view of society and the very theme

of the play remind one of Molire's seventeenth century

play Le mslde Imaginaire in which the main character

pretends to be dying to find out who among his family and

friends really love him. In the nineteenth century we

find a similar device in Bretdn de los Herrero's l1.ret-

7 versa. In the latter play the main character is assumed

to be dead; he learns how quickly those nearest to him

could forget him when they believed him dead.

When dealing with the lower classes, Ramdn de la

Crus usually set his ainetes in the streetor a tenement

courtyard. Showing the bustle and animation of crowds,

he introduced many characters, all realistically portrayed:

merchants, artisans, beggars,charlatans, peasants. Speaking

in dialect or slang, usually using bad grammar, his
characters quarrel, make love, and exchange repartees.79
This popular theatre of Randu de la Cruz, the work of

greatest value produced by the Spanish stage in the eight-
eenth century, is the continuation of the antre6a and

pas. "Este teatro no muere, tiene sus altibajos, pero
siempre renace, porque es la manifestacidn satfrica,

cmica, dramitioa, prepia del alma espatola..80

At the end of the eighteenth century another impor-
tant figure appears in the history of humor in the Spanish

drama: Leandro Fern~ndez de !:ratfn. Mcratfn is the

forerunner of meat of the high omedy81 to be written
later in the nineteenth century in Spain. In addition
to adaptations and translations of foreign works--for
example plays of Molilre and Shakespeare--Moratfn wrote
five original omedies. One of these, La comedla nueva,
is a satire of literary trends of the time. Ranmd de
la Cruz also had previously satirized literary trends in

some of his ,ainetes. In his four other original plays,
Maratfn is concerned with the education of Spanish girls

and the arranging of their marriages. In his best play,

El ef de las qiHas, '.oratfn criticizes the tyranny of

mathers over daughters and the convent-school education.

The heroine is about to be married to a much older man,
who is the uncle of the man she wishes to marry. There
is a certain amount of scmie confusion when the three of

them and the girl's mother all meet in the same inn.

Much of the humor, however, grows out of the mother's

character. Eventually the older man realizes the wisdom
of letting the girl choose her own husband. In El vielo

y la nila a young girl faced with a forced marriage to

an older man chooses to enter the convent instead. The
theme of I a again is an arranged marriage. An

ambitious mother makes a match for her daughter on the

basis of the suitor's t.tle of nobility, which later

proves to be false. In La moJigata Moratfn repeats his

criticism of convent educations. He contrasts two cousins,

one strictly raised in the convent and the other given

a liberal education. The liberally-educated cousin is

falsely accused of a number of misdeeds which turn out

to be the wrongdoings of the molgata. These themes

of marriage and the education of women will continue to
appear in Spanish comedy even into the contemporary

Moratfn's type of high comedy was continued by

many of the playwrights of the nineteenth century,

including several who are much better known for their

tragedies than for their comedies: Mariano Joae de

Larra,82 francisco Kartfhez de la Rosa,83 Juan Eugenle

Hartsenbuseh,8 Antonio Garefa Gutierrez.85 More

important to the development of Spanish comedy, however,
are the works of Manuel Bretn de los Herreros and

Ventura de la Vega.

BretOn de los Herreros has been considered as a
link in the popular Spanish comedy between the saineten
of Randn de la Cruz and the -gnCro chbio of Ricardo de
la Vega.8 He both adapted old Spanish comedies and
continued the new trend of Moratin. In his works he
satirizes middle-class customs; his plays could in this
sense be considered a parallel to the cortnbrista essays
of Rand de Mesoneo Romnes.87 In .tugrete y ver4s the

hero, because of hie supposed death, Is able to find
out what his closest firends and his fianeos really feel
for him. His flanace quickly forgets him and begins a
new romance with his best friend; naturally there is a
sadden reversal in her attitude when she finds that he
is not dead at all, but by this time he knows which girl
really loves him. The humor is found mainly in the two
esperp-ntos FavilLn and Ellas. Another of Bretdn's best
known plays, arcola, shows a young widow trying to
choose among three suitors. The suitors, a timid poet,
a gruff soldier, and a play-boy, are handled as earis-
tures, reminiscent of some of Molire's szaG;erated

comic figures. Finding that all three of the men are
unacceptable, the widow decides to reject all of them
and retain her widow'3 frEedoa. Bretdn satirizes literary
trends and writers in E psoeta 7 Is beneflciasa, a
criticism of melodrama, and Lo vivo V lo, a
burlec .ue of the old Spanish national drama. In J

francs en Csrt-aena Bretdn criticizes the Frenoh--a very

common theme in the later ns5ero cnico. In El nelo de
l. dehesa he shows the falsity of the city as seen

through the eyes of someone from the provinces, and in

A Madrid me vuelvo he has a man from the city discover

that the country has as much vice as the capital but

not so many convenience.8 8 retdn's humor stems from

the spontaneity and realism of his plays, his use of

satire and caricature, and wide variety of exaggerated

types and customs that he portrays.

Venture de la Vega wrote a large range of plays,

from historical drama and classic tragedy to high comedy.

His original comedies lie halfway between the style of
l:oratn and the modern comedy of social criticism 9

The best of his comedies is .L hombre de omndo, which

concerns the problems facing a reformed Don Juan when

he gets married. He begins to suspect others of courting

his wife as he, himself, used to pursue married women.

Ironically his unfounded suspicions of his bride stem from

his own previous sins.

0~aparatively few humorous works of quality are

found in the nineteenth century Spanish theatre from the

time of 3retdn de les Herreros until the rise of the

anero chicso. One of the post-romanticists, Narciso

Serra, evolved in his plays toward comedy.9 His best
known play, La calls de la montera resembles both 31 Zt

de las nil~s and Marcel in some respects. Like the former,

the plot Involves the rivalry of an older man and a

young relative for the mase girl's head, and, 1Lke the
latter, te object of the romantic Interest is a widow

who must choose from a nanber of Eulitors.

Among the realistic playwrightz, both Adelardo
I.pez de Ayala and Manuel Tayo y Buns wrote some high

comedies, usually to illustrate a thebi:. They both

criticize the emphasis placed en money and the material
aspects of life. Ayala in El tanto ror clerto and Tamaye
in Lo postlivo. Tamaye's play contains some comic
elements, particularly in the portrayal of the frivolous
young girl whose father wants her to marry for money.
Ayala introduces a similar topic in Conauelo.
Although the most famous of Joss .chegaray's plays

are melodramas, he also wrote humorous works. One of
the-e, Un crftlio Incipiente, follows the pattern of
':oratfn's La comedian nuev, and Bret6n's al poetn .7 la

baneflcia.l and satirizes the current opinions on the

theatre. echegaray shows the sad fnanclial plight of a

good writer. PoTerty, as one critic has pointed out,

is a prime motive for laughter for a Spanish audience.9
Lchegaray also satirizes the drama critlci and the
Spanish addiction to bull-fighting as well as the peer
plays belne written solely for box-office appeal.
Among the writers of the ,4nero chico is Echegaray's
brother 1'iguel. :iguel Bchegaray is so patriotic to Spain

in his works that he criticizes the introduction into

his country of any foreign customs, fashions, or even
food. He is particularly quick to satirize the use of

foreign languages and, along with many of his contempo-

raries, he makes fun of people who show off their

knowledge of Italian, French, or nglish.92 Anoter

common linguistic device of the a8nero chico is to make

fun of faulty grammar.93 In "La sei Franletea" Miguel

Ecbegargy repeats the theme of Bretn's El nelo de la

dehesa--the provincial finding fault with the city.

The play includes a satire of lo cursi and of diplomats

speaking French and introduces a stuttering baron, a
hungry parasite, and a young man disguised as a servant

to gain admittance to his sweetheart's home. "Viajeros

de Ulttamar" concerns the problems of some servants,

who, after having turned the house in which they work

into an inn during the absence of their masters, discover

that the owners are unexpectedly returning.

Among the ether well-known writers of the ggro
chico are Miguel Rames Carridn and Vital Aza. In collab-

oration they wrote "Zaragleta," a play about a student's

problems with a moneylender. The student, a libertine

always in debt, is clever and dishonest enough to deceive

his aged uncle and aunt in order to borrow money from

them; such a student is the "tipo m.'z usado y oead de
la aomedia enpaTola" according to one critic.94 This

particular farce also introduces the cormi element of

deafness: the moneylender cannot hear what is being

said to him. He is presented to the ncle and aunt as
a doctor, and the resultant conversations among the three
are filled with camie misunderstandings. Another work

due to this collasbration is "El seer gobelrader" wheal
title character is one of the stock types of the period.
Ese personae es--como el parlzita, el sabllsta,
el estu1iante troners, y la patron de hdespedee--
ano de los muaecos usualee que en todas padres
figures, ya en la comedia, y en el sainete.'-

This faree also contains a starving artist who talks
some poor people out of their food on the pretense that

he is going to paint a picture of the things he takes.
The remedies of these two writers are often based on
mistaken identities, the quid pro ouo which was very
epoplar in the period.96 There is also 8uch similarity
between their saLiets and French comedies of the time
except that the illicit love affairs and loose women of
the French works do not appear on the Spanish stage.97
In "El eso maerte" Rames Carridn and Vital Aza introduce

a common French device af eamic terror when sameome

thinks he has involuntarily omitted a murder.9

Often considered the best of the c- inetista in this

group, Ricardo de la Vega wrote farces with little plot
but much realistic portrayal of life i Iladrid, partlcu-
larly of the lower classes. "Tode en 9l me pareoe viLo
y real; todo, fresco, agradable y sentido. El genero,
en aquella forma, ea la 'inca muestra, fategra y acceptable,

del genio c6mico castellano en la actualidad."99 Among

his works are "Pepa lA frescachona" and "La verbena de

la paloma." In the former are the usual young lovers

who are trying to see each other in pilte of parental

objections. In the latter are found such comic types as

the tavern kceper and his -Lfe and the vielo verde. In

this case a Jealouz young mae is also Involved and

eventually a street fight takes place. Like his predeces-

sors in the comic genre, Rioardo de la Vera sstlrlzed te

theatre In his qslnates. "La abuela," for eamaple, is

a satire on the melodrama of Echegaray.

Outstanding in th following generation of esinetistsE

is Carlos Amrichec, who is reputed to have replaced

Javier de Burgos, Ricardo de la Vega, and REiaos Carridn

In popularity.0 The standard comic device found in
his works is fear, "miedo a una tranca, a una pistola,

a los puHos de un jay{in, a las uess[ de uns maulr Irazci-

ble o a las aparitloaes del otro matd; pero mistd stem-

pre.101 It was his unfailing method of evoking laughter

for forty-five years of writing for the stice.

'ulminating the movement of dgnero chico in the

twentleth century were the works of the brothers Seraffn

and Joaquin Alvare: Quintero. They created a theatre

of Andalusian customs, as well as a number of comical

and satirical works not dealing with their ouR region.

Their humor is based on the same type of realistic

portrayal of manners to be found throughout the develop-

ment of the short fares in Spain. An important comle

element in their plays of Andalusia is the dialect of

that region:

Es adomda un hocho que esa manera de hablar de los
andaluces, come en general 6u a-neers de ser, produce
en cl resto de 10o espalolea una Lepreasin agrada-
ble, tanto que bastan los gestos y la pron'icaicidn
andalucea para prestar a quien los tiene, tants en
la vida como en el teAtro, una eierts gr~cia.i2

Among tha more successful of the Quintero comedies are

Fl CenIo Walere, revolving around a cheerful Andalusian

Clrl who lives -Ati her stern aunt; Las de 'a-, dealing

with the problems confronting a father who has to marry

off five daughters without dowries; ro1j C-arijag, whose

title character, a bit like Ruis Alsrodn's Don DomIngo

do Don Blas, is considered insane because she tells the

truth and ignores social convention; and i anor uae

3aSa, which tells of a lonely old d aialways aailting

the sweetheart who never comes.

Ccnte-orary with the Qu intero brothers, several

pl.y-.rights were prodi1na high remedies. The most

famous of these was Jacinto Benavente, who became inter-

nationally known and won the Nobel Prize in 1922.

BcnavcntC and his followers broke away from the melodrama

of Jo0 Ecegaray and gave new life to the parishh stage.

La comedian tenaventlans era lo mS-. opuesto al
gusto imperante que cabIa concebir: sutil e ir6nica,
zin accldn, ni Paicones, nl tE1i, llevAbs a la
escena la3 costunbreo de la aristocracia y la clnse
media madrileHas noztrando sus prej4ailoE hipo-
cresas con Intencionada mordacidad.-

The theatre of Bensvente is more cosmopolitan than
;panish in its origin. He is said to have been
influenced most by contemporary French writers, Shakespeare,

llolibre, Ibsen, and laeterllnclk.105 In his earliest works

he was particularly interested In satlri l. the aristoc-

racy and the middle class of nladrid. In El automdvil,

for ewmnple, he nakes fun of the latest fad of the day.

In Lo c'Arci he satirizes the middle class's affectations.

In Los intereses creados, one of his beat play-, Benavete

.atirizes human nature. In the latter is found a servant-

master combination which shows the good and the bad sides

to man's character. The comedy itself has some relation

in form to the old cojmedia dell'arte and 1!olirs.

Among the followers of Benavente are Manuel Linares

Rivas and Gregorio Marthnez Sierra. Like Benavente,

Linares Rivas is inclined wtvard social satire. His

plays deal tith marital conflicts, where he takes a stand

for divorce; with the aristoracy, whom he severely criti-

cizes; and with politics, which he satirizes. Linares

Rivas also wrote short comic works and car.uelas. Quite

different from Linares Rivas and more of a modernist in

his style is Martfne: Sierra. His works are notable for

their delicate, poetic huor and their handling of feminine


Although Benavente continued to write and produce

plays nmtil the 1950's, he, Linares Rivas, and Ilartfnez

Sierra properly belong in the development of the Spanish

theatre to the early decades of the twentieth century.
In the following generation of playwrights, appearing

before the Spanish Civil War, the most famous name is
that of Federico Garcia Lorca. Lorca's best theatre was

his three rural tragedies, but he also wrote farces and

comedies, introducing an element of poetry here as in
all his work. Perhaps mere influential on the post-war

humorous playwrights are the works of Alejandro Casona.

Casona first began writing plays whea Lorea did, but while

Lorca's career was cut short in 193 with his asassina-

tion, Ca.ona went into exile and continued to write. His

theatre is marked by an element of fantasy, by a juxta-

position of realism and Idealism. further reference
. 11 be made to his writing in the body of this disser-

tation, although Casona' work ia not specifically

included in the present study as he was not in Spain in

the period from 1945 to 1960.106 The came is true of

Jaclnto Grau, who also went into exile and continued to

rite. Gra was not very successful in Spain before the

Civil dar, but his plays have more recently been recog-

ni:ed by critics. Orau wrote nlw adaptations of such

legends as that of Don Juan and Pygmalion; like Casona,

he introduces elements of fantasy into his work.

This diasertation is based on a study of a number
of comedies produced on the Spanish stage between 1945
and 1960. The yearly anthology, Te&ro e sstaol, edited

by Clin: de Robies, has been used as an initial guide in

the election of plays to be studied. These plays have

been supplemented by many others that were well received

at the Time of their presentation or that have met with

the favor of the critics. Doubtless additional plays

worthy of attention have been inadvertently omitted, and

some plays have been included which ether students of

contemporary Spanish theatre may not consider worthy of

serious treatment. But, in general, the plays studied

in this dissertation represent, in the opinion of the

writer, the best comedies she has read of the period.

The better of the works recently produced in Spain

Eay roughly be divided lnto two categories: the serious
dramas of social protest dealing with the anguish of

our times, and the lighter comedies that usually make

no pretense at having any purpose other than entertain-

ment. It is the latter group of plays which we shall

consider in this dissertation.
Do these contemporary Spanish comedies bear a close

relationship to the traditional Spanish comedy, whose

development we have discussed in this introduction? One

might say that there are two main branches to Spanish

comedy loading up to the period under discussion. One

of these is that of the faree, the popular comedy realis-

tically portraying Spanish life, as sea in the paso,

entrern1s, zilnte, and penero chico. The comedies from
1945-60 studied in this dissertation do not follow this

farce tradition; they differ in fSor in that they are

full-length play, and they differ in content in that they
have plots and do net merely attempt to reflect customer.

The other branch f Spanish comedy is that of high comedy,

begn by I!oratfn and continued by Ventra de la Vega and,
much later, Benavente ae' his follweIrs. We have already

mentioned the cosmopolitan influence on Bemavente's

work. ?oratfn and Ventura de la Vega, too, were influenced

by foreign playwrights, particularly French.107 Inter-

mediate between Ventura do la Vegs and Benavente, we
find the works of L6pez de Ayala and Tamayo y Bans, both
of Wom also underwent some foreign influence. These
rwritera of high comedy differ among themselTes. Whle

one may trace an evolution from ::oratfn through Ventura
de la Vega and then t Ayala and Tamayo, Benavente owes
little to his predecessors. He was more directly

influenced by the French, Ibsen, and Shakezpeare, than

by the Spanish.03 In the eame way, the .riterr who have
some after him in the development Ot Spanlsh comedy have

been more influenced by foreign rliters than by Benavente.

They likewise *we comparatively little to tieir other

Spanish predeceasors. In the twentieth century, with

its rapid means of communication, cultural ideas san
readily cross national boundaries and much of the literature
of the western n world has become cosmopolitao in nature.
It is easier to find traces of Pirandello, Prieatley, or
Giraudoux in contemporary Spanish comedy than it is to
relate the latter to the entr~i or the realistic thesis

comedies of the nineteenth century. This is not to say

that there are no theme:, comic devices, or comic charac-

ters common to both the contemporary Spanish stage and

the Spanish comedies of centuries pact. "Ho hay nads nms

mudable que la material humorfstica de cada ppoca aunque

la tScnica do provocar la riEa varfa poco."109 sentlally,

however, contemporary Spani-h comedy I more the end

result of the evolution of world drama than it is of the

development of drama in Spain alone.

Among the contemporary Spanish playwrights to be

diecusned in this dissertation, the one who bears the

closet resemblance to "traditional" Spanich comedy is

probably Alfonso Paso. Paso frequently makcs usc of the

comic device of fear, as did Carlos Arnlches and genera-

tions of farce writers before him. PiT cowardly character

is also usually stupid, a sort of modern version of the

babo. This cowardly, stupid character is u-ually paired

rith an extraordinarily clever or Idealistic man. In

3ome cases they remind one of Don Quisote and Sancho

Panza, although they are also reminiscent of the naEter-

traoloso combination. Paso also introduce- tho conic

character of the talkative wife, a character used with

great success in the entraggq of the Golden Age, "Los

dos habladorec," attributed t Ccrvantes. lMoreover,

there is ccsmo connection between the macabre hbnor of

Paco and that of certain writers of the Golden Age, such

as Quevedo and Rojas Zorrilla. The structure of Paeo's

mystery plays in particular is based en a complicated

series of entanglements, much as the Sl de a reman-

tie remedies utilized an Involved plot.

The examples of close relationship between the

Spanish comedy of the past and the other contemporary

playwrights are more scattered. In many eases the common

themes are universal in nature: marital problems, literary

parody, satire of lo cursl. The omile language device

of the sixteenth century is still being used by contem-

porary writers, as is the satire of foreign and dialectloal

types. The devil is still a eomic character as he was

in the medieval and renaissance periods, although he

has been modernized somewhat. Long or funny names con-

tinue to evoke laughter as they did even in Latin comedy.

And elever young girls today, as yesterday, manage to

outwit their elders in matters of love.

More specifically, one might mention the parallel

between Brettian' Narete y vards and LEpes de Rubti's

La otra orilla. In the former the here finds out when

he is reported dead that his fiancee did not really

love him but that another young lady truly did. In the

latter, where the author uses a juxtaposition of the real

world and a fanciful interpretation of the after life,

one of the characters makes a similar discovery, but,

as he ie dead, he cannot rectify his error in marrying

the wrong woman. Another parallel may be seen between
La dama boba of Lope de Vega and Casl un cuento de hadas

of Buero Vallejo. In both oases a young woman is cured

of her stupidity when she falls in love. But it would

be a mistake to say that Buaro Vallejo was inspired by

Lope's play; actually the contemporary wor) is based on

a French story by Perrault. The similarity of theme is

coincidence as are apparently most of the connections

between the Spanish comedy of today and that of the past.

What the contemporary period definitely does have in

common with the past is that many of the best plays being

written for the Spanish stage are humorous. The bases of

that humor, therefore, are worthy of study. Humor, however,

is seldom treated in detail by Critics of the Spanish

theatre, and, to the knowledge of this writer, there is

no monograph ofi the cemic elements employed by contemporary


Because of the large number of comedies produced in

Spain since the end of the Civil War, it has been necessary

to limit beth the period studied in this dissertation--

1945-60*-and the number of playwrights. The appendix,

found in each volume of Sains de Robles' anthology, of

plays staged in Spain clearly indicates the great activity

of the contemporary Spanish theatre.110


1Dorts K. Arjona, "Beyond Humor: The Theater of
Miguel Mlhura," Kentucky Foreign Language Quarterly, VI
(1959), 63,
2George Tyler Northup, ed., Ten Sranlsh Farces of
the 16th. 17th and 18th Centurles (Boston, 19i2), p.x.
3J. P. Wickersham Crawford, The Spanish Pastoral
famai (Phlladelphia, 1915), p. 27.
4 MW., p. 33. 11 bd., P. 48.
6lorthup, op. cit., p. ix.
7Tlliam Shaffer Jack, Tne Early Entreaj in ZSpI-n:
Tne Saie of a Dramatic Form (Philadelphia, 1923), p. 57.
8William Samuel Hendrix, Some Natlve Comic Types in
the Earl Spa-nlh Dra3ms (Columbus, Ohio, l15), p. 13.
9Ibid., p. 14. loJack, oa~ fi., p. 65.
11M. Romera-IIavarro, Hietoria de l3 1Iterr.trta
espfola (Boston, 1928), p. 112.
12Crauford, , ait., p. 53.
13Anrel Valbuena Prat, Literatur- dramitlca easpvols
(Barcelona, 1930), p. 66.
14Hendrl-, o. cit., p. 35.
15Valbuena Prat, p. cit., pp. 61-65.
16Hendrix, or. cit., p. 35.
17.Koera-Uavarro, op. cit., p. 114.
'Hendrix, op. cit., p. 36.
SThe foremost critio on the works of Torre? Unharro
is Joseph E. Gillet. Gillet, however, did not appear to
be specifically interested in the humorous element of

Naharro's theatre, and the student of humor must search
elsewhere for a study of that aspect of Naharro's plays.
23Romera-lararro, p. cit., p. 117.

Ibid., p. 113.
22Federloo Carlos 3alna de Robles, 51 teatro espahol.
historic y antologa, I (iladrid, 1942), o5.
''Romera-y.Uavrro, on. cit., 115.
4Ibid.., p. 117. 251ib.., p. 115.
2uct, on. cit., p. 85. 27Ibld., p. 89.

-N3orthup, op. cit., p. xv.
29Romera-Ilavarro, op. cit., p. 199.
"eCrairford, "The Braggart olderr and the Rufidn
In the Spanish Druma of the Sixteenth Century," Pomanit
Review, II (1911), 189.
.lIb1d., p. 1?9.
Paymond Leonard Grlcmer, The I~gluece of Plantur
in ?,'i.n bfrre- Ton. de? Jia (Iew York, ii.4), p. 10P .

33Tljj. pP. 36, 51. 4fld., p. 133.
3 l., p. 136. 36Tt .., pp. 153-54.
371bid., pp. 167, 175. 38Ibid., p. 173.
g9Hendrix, op. c.t., pp. 4-5. TIbld., p. 6.
1Ibi..., pp. 6-7. '42'orthup, v. cit., pp. XT-xvl.
t4i.., p. xix.
"'ialbuena Prat, o". cit., pp. 102-03.
'"Ibld.. p. 109. 461-1a., pp. 109-10.
:~'Uorthlup, op, ., p. xxv.
48Sainu de Roiles, op. cit., II, 65.
'i Juarles David Ley, E arasc o en el t"etro do
la penfnetla (C.ilra XTI-./11) (Hadrid, 15'54), p. 36.

531b., p. 12. 51Ibid., p. 120.

521bd.. PP. 75, 83, 86, 112. 53i. ., p. 121.
54I_ ., p. 128. 55i -, pp. 152-53.
_., P. 159. 57 ,i. ld. pp. 178-91.
59Ibl., pp. 196-202. 601bla., pp. 226-30.
_Ibid., p. 235. 62albuenh Prat, op. cit., p. 153.
635omera-Nawnrro, op ., p.9p. 352.
641.d., 354. 65 .l p. ci., p. 206.
6t0rgis L. Leavitt, "Did Calder6d Have a Sense of
:umor?" ("Romance Studies"; Capel Hill, 1950), p. 5.
'7Leavitt, "Humor in the Autos of Calderln,"
Hizanla, ;::0I.( (IMay, 1956), 1-3-
681bid., pp. 140-43. 69Valbuena Prat, oj. ct., p. 231.
70Sainz de Robles, op. cit., II, 39.
71Romera-BavarrF, p ., p. 373.
72rbid.. pp. 370-71.
T53albuana Prat, op. cit., pp. 253-54.
741bid., p. 260. 7Tibd., p. 265.
76northup, op. cit., p. xx.
77Arthur Hamilton, A Stu.i of Znnlsh !niors 1750-
1800 from the PFlas of RaJin de is Oru (university o
Illinois tudies In Language and Literature," Vol. XI,
No. 3; Urbana, 1926), p. 10.
79Torthup, og. cit., p. xxii. 79Ibid.

80Sains de Robles, on. olt., V (Madrid, 1943), 42.
81High comedy ic a term frequently used to distinguish
serious comedy from slapstick or farce. rillian Flint
Thrall and AJdison Hibbard in their A handbook to Litera-
ture (Carden City, N. Y., 1936), p. 197, define high comedy
"Fure or serious comedy, as contrasted dlth 'lew
comedy.' High comedy reset upon an appeal to the
intellect and arouses 'thougntful' laughter by

exhibiting the inconsistencies and incongruities
of human nature and by displaying the follies of
social manners. The purpose is not consciously
didactic or ethical, though serious purpose is
often implicit in the satire which is not infre-
quently present in high comedy."
Bartholow V. Crawford in his article "High Comedy in
Terms of Restoration Practice." Phlllooral uarterly
VIII (1929), 343, also distinguishes high comedy from
popular comedy: "Indeed it will scarcely be disputed by
anyone who uses the term that High Comedy scorns the
devices of mere popular appeal, that it seeks instead the
approval of a smaller, more discriminating, albeit less
lucrative audience." Speaking more precisely in terms
of Spanish drama, Richard E. Chandler and Kessel Schwartz
In their A New History of Spanlih Literature (Baton Rouge,
1961), p. 116, refer to ta comedia as a new type of
social satire created by the realistic dramatists in the
nineteenth century.
82zainz de aobles, op. cit., VI, 49.

83Valbuena Prat, oP. cit., p. 303.
84Sainz de Robles, op. cit., VI, 56.
85Valbuena Prat, op. cit., p. 309.
86Federico de Onts, "Introduction" to Seratfn and
Joaquln Alvarez Quintero's La flor de li vida (Boston,
192o), p. ix.
87Angel del RSo, 8i toria de la literature esoagola,
II (New York, 1948), 8b.
88Josi Yxart y Moragas, 1 arte eaednico an Senags,
II (Barcelona, 1896), 33.
89rfo, o. cit., p. 86. 90bAid., p. 113.

9l1zart, op. cit., p. T. 92 Ibd., p. 125.
95Ibid., p. 140., p. 63. 951bid., p. 67.
96Ibld., p. 76. 97Ibid., p. 74. 9Ibid., p. 75.

991bid., p. 107.
100Joed Lelelto y Piruela, OrRen y asooeo del
pinero chico (Madrid, 1949), p. O.

101Ibid., p. 203. 1020nif, or. clt., p. X.
103Lno, o. ot., p. 193.

10 Aubrey P. G. Bell, Literetlra castellcpa (Barcelona,
1947), p. 217.
'05rdo, a;. cit., p. 194.
1060Caona v it nt voluntary edle at the beginning
of the Civil War and lived in south America for many years.
In the earl7 months of 1965, however, he returned to Spain,
and his works are onee again produced in his native country,
where they have bee well receive by critics and the
public. Iile playwright died in Madrid in September, 1965.

107Bell, an. cit., p. 217.
103 op. cit., p. 194.
1q'Lcy, cit., p. 30.

110.3ln: de Roble- liata each year the plays stged
both in Madrid and in the provinces. Although for the
season 19"9-53 he lists only about 150 plays, for each
of the esBaens 1950-51, 1951-52, and 1952-53 the number
varies between 450 and 500. i eomll percentage of these
plays are new productions of older Spanish works or transla-
tions of foreign plays, and some plnylfriht do p 'oduae
more than one now work in a given year, but we may still
cafel; say that in some theatrical season hundreds of
contemporary writers s* their plays proemee d en the
Spainia stage.



Conic authors over the centuries have built up a

vast :tocilpile of sure-fire laugh-getting techniques to

which both novice and e::perienced playwright: still

resort .ith varying degrees of success. iT be sr*e,

comic devices differ from ome country to another and

one generation to another, and hbm often edes not

translate, but many of the base technique remain the

came. The stock characters and their favorite antics

of Roman comedy are as much alive today as they wre

t;ro thousand years age.

As the French psychologist L. Dugas has pointed

out, it is impossible to attribute all the causes of

laughter to a single source:

Le rire se maaifeete dans des conditions ~1
h6tdrogbnes et si multlples--sensations phyclques,
jole, contrast, surprise, bicarrerie, ktrangeto,
baasesse, etc.--jue la rkdctlon de toutes ce3
causes q uae azele reate blen probldcatlw e.1

Ilevertheleas, the theorists have mn.naged ta pinpoint

tho causes if laughter as far as the comic atage is

concerned. Mx Eastman feels that the causs of tlaut-

ter may be reduced to two principal sources. Taking issue

with the elaborate theories of Freud2 and Eergson,
Easatmn finds that these laugh-provoking techniques may
be discovered by playing with a baby. What will make
a baby laugh when he is being played with? Funny faces
and object that are pulled away from his grasping
hand. The funny face is something ludicrous, or an

example of Aristotle'a ceneept of something ugly or
distorted but mot painful. The object pulled away from

the baby's grasping hand or the mre soplIsaticate
adult's grasping mind is something witty, or an example

of R-nt'- concept of an expectation that comes suddenly
to nothing.3 Thus, according to Bastman, laughter may
be aroused by t'.o means: by the ugly, ludicrous, or

distorted; or by the surprise or sudden reversal or
Starting from entirely different perspectives,
other thinkers have arrive at nearly the same eonelau
sons as Eastman. The coice actor Ra3 n Rivere believes

that audiences will laugh when the comedian takes them
by eur rise and that one always laughs at another's

misfortune.5 'Wile Rivero's sacend reason at first

sounds far removed from Eastaan's theories, there is

actually a close connection. The baby laughs 'hen his

toy is pulled away from him in fun. The older child
laugh, for the same reason, when a chair is pulled out
from ander a claeemate. In the latter case. It ie the
claErmate's expectation that has eBae to nothing, or

another's misfortune, which causes the child to laugh.

If Charlie Chaplin receives a pie In the face, that Is
funny; if we do, we are less inclined to see the humor

of the situation.

Expressing himself differently, Stephen Leacoek

touches upon these same sources of humor. He finds that

laughter is provoke by incongruities, contrasts, and

disharmony. The incongruous, ft course, is nt too

far removed from the unexpected and the surprise, or

from the ludicrous, and the funny or ugly thing that

makes the baby laugh could be classified as an example

of disharmony. Leacook suspects that primitive man

laughed at Injury--others' misfortunes--and that civili-

cation has modified this source of lanuhter fram injury

to incongruity.7 He considers the clown a "symbol of

our redeemed humanity" because he has raised our tend-

ency to laugh at others' injuries fro the realm of

oruelty to that of make-believe. The clown slips on

the banana peel and falls down; we laugh, but we know

that he has not really hurt himself, that It is just

done "in fun." In the same way, the baby laughs when

his toy Is taken from him because he knows that it is

just a game and that the toy will be given back to him.

Lescock also describes a humor of "discomfiture."9

In thick kind of humor, we laugh not at someone else's

misfortunes or injuries, but at his blunders. i;e see

Ihe aemic character's mistakes, we knew that his

expectations will ome to nothing, and we relish in

the impending disaster, even thouA the character's
stupidity ay make us uncomfortF ole.

The concept of dissemfi+;ie also appears in the
theories of Carolyn Welle. She sumnarizes the sources

of laaihter in the Dericion Theory and the Disappoint-

ment Theory.10 The derision concept is just another

wording for Lesaeek's humor of diecomfiture, but the

choice of voabulary spotlights a frequent idea about

bhy we laugh. According to some we laugh because we

are b'~ically maliieous and wish to make fun of others.

eZavnes and small children supposedly find humor in

someone else's broken leg, but the civilized adult must

find substitutes, like the make-believe mia)1p3 of the

cloew, for his rather- grin desire to deride his fellow

man and enjoy others' :ufferlngs because, being remeTed

from them, he can feel saHerior to them.

The humor of the chil. and the eavaeE is cruel.
That is riy George Mleredith can say, "An excellent
trzt of the civilization of a country .. I take
to be the flourishing of the comic idea and of
co dy,." Parnapa it is not only a product, but
one of the chief cau':es of that civilization.11
'hat Carolyn Wells calls the risapointment Theory is

again the idea of incongruity or of the expectation

that cones to nothing.
-ll of theze variations an the source of comic
laughter give us at least a lmlted view of the devices

the playwright may use to create the desired effect on
his audience, but it is Henri Bergson who has worked
out ene of the meet detailed systems to explain the
various phases of comedy. Eastan may feel that Bergson
missed the point of laughter entirely, but the French
philosopher's theories de include explanations of the
success of many stock comic techniques, and doubtless
many twentieth century writers of comedy have familiar-
ised themselves with his theories.

To evoke laughter, Bergson feels, aomedy must appeal
to the Intelligence and must not be sentimental in that

the emotion are the enemy of oemedy.12 However, humor
in a broader sense does not have to arouse laughter and
therefore may involve emotions and sentimntts. To be
comic, a character must be unconscious of his comical
characteristics and must be a type rather than an indi-
vidual; Othell is the title of a tragedy, while a
comedy of similar theme might be called The Je3lous
Bergson does not believe that ugliness can be comic;
a distortion is only comic if it is one that can easily
be imitated. "Peut devenir comique touts difformitd
qu'une persona e bien eonformie arriverait & centre-
faire."14 Neither can the comic be beautiful.

What is comic is not ugliness, but stiffness, not
laideur but raieur .15 And here Bergson arrives at the
heart of his theory of comic laughter: human

characteristics become comic when they are stiffened

in some way to appear mechanical. "Lee attitudes, gestee
et mouvements du corps human sent risiblee dana l'exacte
measure o4 ce corps nous fait penser & une simple mica-

nique."16 An imitation or repetition of gestures
appears mechanical and is, therefore, comio. A multipli-
cation of an action gives the effect, not of a man, but

of a marionette, and is, therefore, funny. Any sort of

diEgulee may also be funny because it is a mechanical

way of concealing or deceiving nature. Hence clothing,

except the tyjle to which we are accustomed, is funny
because It could be a disguise, and red noses or black
skin, even if they are real, are funny because t:ey, too,
could be a way of mEqueradlng.17 A character with an
obsession may be oseic for such an obsession suggests
an automatic or mechanical quality.18

Bergson also develops an acceleration or snowball
theory of comic laughter.19 As a child is amused by a
snowball that rolls downhill, Inereasing both in speed

and size as it goez, so an audience will be amnsed by

an action that constantly aooelerates or by anything that

passes from hand to hand or increases somehow in size as

it travels from one character to another or one scene
to another. A situation that is repeated may be funny,

as we have already mentioned, and so is a situation that
suddenly reverses direction, for the sudden reversal is

also mechanical.20 The latter theory calls to mind the

stock movie device of reversing the real and having the

diver suddenly return to the board from the pool.

Comic characters may also be explained in part by
the stiffening process, for often the comic types have

stiffen-s themselves against society and are noted for

theli "insoclabilit&."21 The nisanthrope and the miser

have stiffened themselves in such a way and are funny

because they are out of step with society.

Ber zon's essay on comic laughter includes many

other elements of humor and why he thinks they are

funny to us, but his essential doctrine is that human

action, human characteristics, human thought become

comic when they become automatic or mechanical in some


All of the theories cited here reduce the source

of laughter to certain tools which the comic writer or

comedian may employ, consciously or unconsciously, to

entertain his audience. He may do so in the most obvious

wayl the clown puts on a large red nose and baggy pants

and proceeds to slip on a banana peel. There is no

attempt made at being subtle in his use of the age-old

laugh techniques. Or the writer may choose to be more

sophisticated in his approach, by appealing to the mind

rather than the eye. He may give his character an

exaggerated love of money, rather than an exaggerated

nose, and let his slips be on an intellectual plane,

rather than on the floor in open view. The variations
on the various laugh-getting devices are therefore

Are these tools for provoking conic laughter seen
in the Zpaniah comedies produced between 1945 and 1960?
They abound, and often the stock devices are used in

new and rather interesting ways. Even the severest
critics of contemporary Spanish theatre must admit that
a number of today's playwright are excellent craftsmen,

writers who a thoroughly familiar with staging and

stage effects and know hew to coastruct a play ven if

they de fall short of literary masterpieces.
One of the first plays that comes to mind, not

because ef any gret literary vluc but rather beease
of its unusual staging, is La ruead by Juan Antoni do
Laiglesia. First produced in 1955 and recipient of the
Premlo Naclonal Calderdn do lI Barea of 1954, TL rueda

in its entire staging is an excellent example of
Bergson's boule de nele or snowball theory of comic

effect. According to Bergson, laughter an be aroused
by an acceleration of action or by the passing of an

object from one character to another. Zaiglesia uses
both of these techniques. The spealal stage for this

production is constructed on a revolving platform, a cir-
cle divided into ix: sections. Each section represents
the living quarters or office of each of the figures in
a rather involved love circle; expanding upon the familiar


The six settings are staged on a large, rotating
platform. Right and left are those of the spectator.

Scene I. Doctor Benavides' office.

Scene II. The doctor's home. Without the curtain
lowering, the platform revolves from right to left while
the doctor exits through the door on the right in his
office and enters his home.

Seene III. The platform rotates again, and Eulalia
exits from the doctor's home and enters a cafL .

Scene IT. The platform rotates while Miguel leave-
the caf~ and enters the library of the College of Medicine.

Scene V. Glorl leaves the library and enters the
next setting, Jes4 Luis's room in a boardinghouse.

Scene VI. As the platform rotates from right to left,
Jose Luls exits from his room and enters the living room
of DoBa :saTilde de Osorio.

love triangle In which A loves B who loves C, Laiglesia

has created a situation in which the Doctor loves
Eilalla, who loves Miguel, who loves Gloria, who loves

Jose Lui3, who loves Matilde, who loves the Doctor.

Because of the revolving platform and the mItliple

stage setting, the action of the play can move readily

from one :cene to another, thus creating a sense of

acceleration. In the first half of the play, each

scene is fairly long as the action moves from one

setting to another. In the second half of the play,

the circle spins much more rapidly and in the opposite

direction, as each of the characters has a change of

heart. (Remember that a sudden reversal of this nature
is also a stock eaoni device.) Also illustrating

Bergson'e theory, laiglesia uses a rinL that passes

from one character to another as the stage spins around.

The ring manages to make a complete circle as each

charaeter receives it as a gift from the one who loves

him and then gives it to the onee loves. As Bergson

has pointed out, the audience is aused by watching the

passing of the ring "snowball" as to speak, and, of

course, the spectators can also anticipate with pleasure

the Inevitable return of the ring to its original oner

and the resultant series of recriminations as each donor

accuses the roclpient of having not cherished the ring
~rth the proper feeling.

Human charscteriltic., says Bergson, become comic
when they become mechanical. How have Spanish play-
wrights shown this comie technique?
A miner character who very clearly shows the results
of making a human characteristic mechanical is Victoria
in Joaqui n Calvo-Sotelo's TUa much3cha de Valladolid

(1957). Victoria is the wife of the cultural attaeh6
in a Latin American country. Before her marriage,

however, she was a typist, and she has obviously suffered

from typing too many mechanical business letters. Her

conversation is never flexible; she always speaks in

letters and in the stock expressions to be found in
commercial correspondanee. And, as her typewriter did
not have an R, she consistently pronounces all g's as

t's, just as she typed them. Certainly Calve-Sotelo
can count on Victoria's appearances, which wisely are

not too frequent, to get a laugh from the audience.
The British butler is a traditional comic character
who is funny because he seems more mechanical than human.

His posture is stiff, his speech is stiff, and the expres-
sion on his face never changes. He is an old stand7y

in Western comedy, and it is not surprising that he

should appear in Spain. But the Spanish have given him

a slightly new twist by creating Spanish servants who are
trying to be British butlers. In Miguel Miura's 11 caso
del EeBor vestido de violets (1954), the main character
is an intellectual torero who cannot tolerate anything

Andalusian. Roberto, therefore, compels his servants

to adopt the attitudes of British servants; his secretary

is even called Miss Denis. The stiffness of these

servants becomes most coaic, perhaps, when the audience

finally realizes that it is all an act. In Edgar leville's

agto one of the few successful comic devices of this

rather unsatisfactory comedy is the servant who decides

for himself, under the influence of too many British

movies, that he wants to be a British butler. His name

is Santiago, but he asks his master to call him "James."

He even begins speaking in the plural because his proto-

types use "we" instead of "I."

Among contemporary playwrights. Alfonso Paso turns

out an amazing number of comedies, most of which have

some entertainment value and few of which achieve any

literary stature. He does, however, seem to know most

of the tricks of the uomic trade, so it is not surpris-

ing that there are examples of this "mechanical" humor

in his works. In lCosas de Fapid .Y rf:. (1960), to site

one play, he lets the character Dr. Bolt create a cer-

tain comic effect by his habit of mechanically wiping

his glasses, and then he creates a more obvious piece of

"business" with Leandro's cough. Leandro, the Papa of

the play, stops coughing whenever his wife t ena raises

her arm. We know from the first sat, before Leandro

and Elena begin tneir romance, that both of their

physical maladies stem froa a lack of love, but the
method of stepping Leantro's cough, like flicking a

switch to turn off a light,lis funny nevertheless.
A human being can become funny not just by stiffening
one aspect of his nature, but by stiffening his whole

being. In Diana eats oomunicando (1960), Jos6 Ldpez

Rubio's spoof on telepathy, the characters intermittently

become statues when the telepathist wishes to enforee

his will. There is the added humor here of one person

being able to control another, so that the medium may

be talking quite naturally and then suddenly stiffen,

change his attitude completely, and begin responding

to the telepathist's will.22 In Cmo aeFor estin la?
rublas es con patatas (1947), one of Enrique Jardiel

Poncela's last plays, three of the characters are so

shocked to learn that a long-lost scientist is returning

home in a cage as a cannibal that they sit quite frozen

on the sofa throughout a good part of the play. To

highlight the unusual immobility of the three, the

Dorterg of the house and her daughter sell admission

tickets and offer guided tours f the room with the

three living statues on the couch. One of the statues

has the added attraction of thinking that he is a bird
and of occasionally coming to life and chirping or

attempting to fly. The fun is doubled when one set of
visitors to this spectacle pays extra for seats and the

privilege of watching for developments, and then the
next set of visitors enters and finds, not the three
promised statues, but six!
One of theuspects of mechanical huemr that Bergson
stresses i that of repetition. A machine is constructed
to do the same operation over and over again; the human

being is more versatile. Thus when the human begins to
repeat an operation, expression, or action, what he is
doing becomes funny. he first time Pase's Dr. Edlt

wipes his glasses, no one laughs. There is nothing acmic
in the action of wiping glasses. vhen he repeats the
operation a few seconds later, however, there may be

a slight laugh from the audience. By the third time
he repeats the action, there is probably a noticeable
laugh. If he wipes his glasses eto often, however,
the result is monotonous and no looser funny; the coeic
author must be sensitive enough to know when a repetition

has created the maximum coalc effect and stop using it
at just that point.

In another Pase play, rUn bosbs Ilamada Abelardo

(1953), the author uses a more om plicated but ant less
obvious repetition device. Manuel, the vote of reason
in this satire, has ordered a plane because of a sudden
infatuation for Laura, a piano teacher. Two eno deliver

the piano and unload it, but Manual is not there and the
others tell them to take the piano away. Naturally

Manuel then appears and orders them to unload the piano

again. In a series of contradictory orders, & la La uel

and Hardy branj of humor, the men load and reload the

piano at intervals throughout the play.

An almost identical device is used by Tono (Antonio
de Lara) in Un drama en "El Qiinto Fino" (133). Fernanda

hae packed the suitcases for a trip to Barcelona with

her husband, Roberto. But some of Boberto's things

3o not fit in the bags. So aoberts repac k: thea and

finds that it is Fernanda's things that do set fit. She

unpackc, re ~cks, and proves that her thing fit very

well. The unl.pacing-repEackin-s cycle is repeated

several tLmes, each time aceempanied by appropriate

clatter areIun the suitcases and Leireasing anxiety of

Roberto, who worries about the time and t'ih impending

departure of tne train.

Examples of such repetition devices in any group of

comedlee are almost unlimited. Repetition is a time-

honored comic device and, in its more obvious manifes-

tationa, a very easy one to use. The repetition takes

on a slightly different aspect in Neville's AJlilt,

however. Pedro, the samePedre from M. blle (1952) but

now mohf older, has a great weakness for sweets, for

m1rron Fl--ife and almendras .:TrraniTBl as in particular,

but the doctor and his granddaughter Adelita have for-

bidden him to eat them. Throughout Lte play he

repeatedly manages to sneak his favorite candies and

talk others into smuggling them into the house. The

action is comic In its repetition, but the play is

written on a higher level of humor than these previously

mentioned, sad there is a certain amount of pathos

intermingled with the comic. Pedro has diabetes and

his death at the end of the play is doubtless hastened

by his comic di.sobedlenca of Adelita's orders.

Repetition need not be limited to a particular

action of an Indiaidual oharcster; it may involve the

recurrence of an entire situation. Such repetition can

be handled on many different levels; instead of merely

provoitng laughter, it may arouse a feeling of pathos

or even terror. In El balle the third set repeats the

first in that Adelita is getting ready for a dance,

wearing the same dress her grandmother wore, and Pedro

and Jullin are preparing to take her, as they took

Adela. Tre repetition of the scene is humorous, but

humorous in the sense that It evokes a tender smile,

or perhaps a tear, but not a hearty laugh. Such a blend

of humor and pathos is a highly prized combination.

Repetition of situation produces a more comic effect

in Un drama en "tEl uinto Pino." Roberto finally leaves

for Barcelonlon lone, and Pernanda expresses a fear of

being left behind because someday a thief may come

walking down the stairs. Shortly thereafter Juan does

just that. But Juan is not a thief; he claims to loTe

Permands although she has never seen him before. His

presence in the house is rather compromising, and they

wonder what Roberto would do were he to return and find

them together. Roberto returns and kills them both.

Then the audience learns that Juan and Pernanda are not

dead, that they have just been imagining a scene that

has not taken place. Again they try to imagine Roberto's

return, and he appears on the scene; this time he

accepts the idea that Juan is a cousin, but eventually

the stage is littered with corpses again. The scene

repeats itself with slight variations, each time only as

a supposition, until Roberto returns in reality. The

first time the situation occurs, the audience takes the

melodramatic moment seriously. The second time, the

situation is comic because it is only "supposition."

By the time Roberto really comes, the audience, and

zuppoEedly Juan and Fernanda as well, are quite surprised

to find out that this is the flesh and blood husband,

not the imaginary one, and that this time the outcome

of the triangle scene cannot be pretended away.

It is a frequent device in these comedies to have

a scene take place first in the imagination or in the

dream world and then repeat itself in reality. In Paso's

Veneno para mi marido (1953) an actress plays the role
of a jealous wife who poisons her husband. The play

WIthIn the play ends with the first act. Then, as the

actress returns to the real world of her marriage, she
discovers to her horror that the same situation is

beginning to Mocur that led to the poisoning in the play.
The actress thinks she knows what will happen next, but

does not. There is comedy resultant from the contrast

between her assumptions and reality and from the reactions
of those who witness her series ef luunrler:t-.ndlngs.

In El c-.7o de lI muler T~eFiiditn (1946) by ;i gel

HIhura and Alvare do Laiglesia, Mercedes dreams that

her husband Le.'enzo has murdered her and married Raquel,
accomplice in the murder and Lorenae's former typist.

Shortly after the dream, Raquel does become Lorenzo's
typist, and the pilees of the dream begin to fall in

place. In Neville's I' v. en un hllo (1959) Doat

Tomasita has the delightful gift of being able to leek

into someone's eyes and tell him what might have betn.

She tells the young widow Mercedes about the happy life

she would have had iriti the sculptor I71iel Angel had

she not married the deadly dull--and now dead--Ramn.

Mercedes creates a beautiful dream around ?Mguel Angel

in the ;rorld of fantasy, and then niraclloual;, meets

the sculptor in reality and has her fantasy coe true.

In Neville's play the repetition device is used for an

obvious co- e effect. After meeting Miguel Angel,
Mercedes knows what will happen next, but the other

characters do not. She is always one step ahead of

them, and their bewilderment is laughable. In Mihura's

play the repetition produces fewer laughs than in the

other two comedies. Here, as in El b-lle, there is

pathos blended with the humor, for the repetition in

reality of Mercedes' dream must inevitably lead to her

Hihura uses several different kinds of repetition

to interesting effect in A sedia luz 103 tre: (1953).

The main character, Alfredo, is very much of a Don Juan

and boasts of his accomplishments to his friend

Sebastian, who is married, quiet, and apparently a

bit stupid. Alfredo is not only suceessful with the

ladies, but the ladies chase him. By the end of the

play, Alfredo seems to have lost his touch, and when a
situation ef the ladies' chasing Don Juan repeats

itself, it is Sebastian, not Alfredo, who is being

chased. Repetition of situation also occurs in this

play in that Alfredo tries to add to his conquests in

a series of seduction scenes. Mihura heightens the

sense of repetition by having each of the ladies played

by the same actress. Alfredo uses the same approach--

without much success--on each of his visitors. He points

out a stuffed burro in the corner and calls the burro

an "uneducated horse." If the lady seems eager to leave,

he presses a button and turns on automatic rain outside

his window so that she will stay until the weather

clears up. Only one guest, however, falls for Alfredo's
tricks, a ne.t-door neighbor who has been deserted by

her lover. At the ead of the play, when we learn that

Alfredo has gotten married, we suspect that the neighbor

is Alfredo's bride. But I!lhura pulls a comic surprise
on ut, and we find that the wife is Alfredo's former

maid--also played by the same actrezs--'.-ith whom he has

been fighting during all three acts.

Having one actor play two or more roles is a sure

way of making a repeated situation visible. Closely

related to tn13 kind of repetition is a dulication of

character--two characters who leok and act enough alike
that one seems to be the mechanical reproduction of

the other. Twins, of course, would be the classic
example, and twins have been a stock comic device from

the days of Plautus to the present. the bachelor
brothers in Calvo-Sotele's La visltn aue no toc El

tiabre (1950), who suddenly find themselves in posses-

sion of an abandoned baby, are not twin; but they are

comic both because of the similarities in their charac-

ters a-d Uves a.d because of the contrasts between them.

Fortunately, the nurse who comes to help them with the

baby has an identical twin sister so tnit ;antiago and

Juan can duplicate their taste in women. In the saRe
way, Pedro and Julin of El ball and dlIita, although

they fight qdite constantly and are individuals, are

comic because they have so much in com in lB spite of

their difference.

In La nuerra EmpiE:a en Cuba (1955) Viotr Ruiz
Iriarte concclously makes use of the lassie theme of

twins and Introduces a double set. One set, .arfa

Teresa and :12rfa Rosa, are Inseparable little girls who

s.eak in union and recite poetry; the comic aspects of

their trinship e.:-e exploited meehanleslly. The other

set of twins also provides good fun, but in a different

ray. One twin, Adelaida, is the stern, unasiling,

unloved wife of tR -overnor; her sister, Juanita, is

lovable, charnlug, and dishonored. Determined to take

vengeance on Adelaida for the past, she takes her sister's

place for a day, and no one believes that there are

tro governor's wives. The twins duplicate each other

physically but have contrasting characters. When the

happy-g&-lucky twin puts herself in the stern sister's

shoes, and latcr, at the end of the play, when the

governor's wife decides to model her own character

after that of her sister, we have an effective reversal

of roles. Such a reversal has great comic potential.

Again in comedy the device of inversion in situation
or roles is a formula Eure to produce laughter. By
turning the tables in the plot or reversing the
usual order of nature, a- wen a man is disguised
as a roman, a child lectures its parents, or the
robber Is robbed, i;e get examples of tUe world
upside dovn. Since life is an Irreversible process
with ts routines rarely lnfriured1, sch topEy-
turvydcn Is funny.7'-

Similar reversals appear in other contemporary Spanish
comedies; the favorite relationships to turn topsy-

turvy are the parent-child and the master-servant.
The parent-child reversal may be seen in gCosa

]api y Marea. Here it is not the yeung Luica and Julie
who fall in love, but rather their respective widowed
parents, Leandro and MEena. The younger generation is

much too tied up in business transactions and the hurry
of modern life to have time for romance. They are

serious and settled, but the parents are not. The

children are also watchful, for fear that their elders
will do something foolish, and the parents only receive
filial permission for their marriage when they lie
about ena's being pregnant. The entire situatiem of
young love and the problem of getting consent to marry
is certainly familiar enough, but here the generations
have exchanged places.
The younger of two generations also proves to be
the mere serious in Juan Ignacle Luea de Tena's Doni Jos
Pepe y .epito (1952). Atually three generations are

involved here, but Pepito, the youngest, remain in

his chronological place. It is Don Jos, the father,
however, who is serious and settled and Pepe, the grand-

father, who has the youthful outlook oa life. Even the
choice of n-mes and nicknames here clearly highlights
the reversed roles of the two generations.

Similarly, in Ruic Iriarte'e Lqa Poltera rebeld-

(1952)Guadalupe, the a nt ia h e thirties, is in many
ways timid and afraid of life, while her younm nieces,
Idnica and Naty, although inexperienced themselves, are
well-versed on many matters and can give their aunt

advice on the facts of life and romance. Ruin Irlarte
uses tB eame. device in JTueOo ne onLos (1952). Here
i'lit, a very modern yaung girl, proves to be much
riser in the ways of the world than her aunt Odadida

-ad ta3:eE charge of asaeme to help Ctadida win back

the love of her linflthiful husband.

1:uch more complicated is Carlos Llopis' T Ootroz.
ellas ... 7 el dusede (194'3). At the beginning of the

play, the two generatans involved act as one would
erect them to. The young Pilar and her fiance Claudie

-re in love and plan to be married; Pilar's widowed
father SEdardo and Zlsudio's widowed either Antonina

take charge of the parental arranGement for the wedding.
Then Eduardo and Antonina fall in love, are married,

and prove at tiame to be more romantic than their ehll-

dren. There are many moments when the son advises his

another about her marriage and the Jsughter, her father,
rather than the more usual revered situation. A

standard comic conflict is the mother-in-la versus the
new bride, but in the complicated family eirele of this
play, we often find mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in
perfect harmony and an unmusal mother-son conflict.

As we have already mentioned, the master-servant
reversal is also a stock comio device of which there are

many classic example. In .:llre, we find the master

who deliberately changes places with his servant so that

the servant may take a beating intrcded for the master.
In marny comedies the master assumes the servant's role

so that he may examine more closely someone's true

feellne. about him. In t-a.'ntietU ceatury come y, we

have the example of James M. Barrie's The A~dt-rble
Cri:ht n (1902) in which fate arranges for the butler

to take over as master on a desert isle and prove his

native superiority. The device appears again in a

Spanish play of considerable merit that appeared

.zhrtly before the ;ereiod under study: i r-olbrs ni rlco.

zlno to3o 1l coantzrio by MItura and Tono, first written

in 1939 but not produced until 1943. In this comedy

the raster, Abelardro goes from extreme wealth to the

life of a beggar. Els valet, Julio, remains at the

same economic level, so that he is In tna first aet

Abelardo's hired servant, and in the second he chairitbly

bring. bread to his former master. The reversal of

roles here is not complete, however, fcr Jullo doe- not

lose his raspectfal :ervant's attitude; he even oeontines

to Have Abelarde, but now that Abelarde is poverty-

stricken, he shaves him only dance a week Instead of

every d v.

Neville resorts to this time-honored technique in

Alta fidelidad (1957), a satire of contemporary capitalism,

tax collectors, and the cost of living. Fernando is a

wealthy man who believes that money should be spent,

not invested. Hie servant, Timoteo, who is u like

the perfect British butler again in his conduct, has a

sound business mind and rapidly is becoming wealthy from

his investments while Fernando is losing all he possesses.

Finally Fernando turns everything over to Timotto and

takes the latter's place as the servant of the house.

Timoteo now finds that he canot keep up with his finn-

cial obligations, but Fernando begins to learn something

about investing. Eventually the tro return to their

original roles.

The comic effect achieved by asch reversals of

roles is somewhat related to what Leacock has called

humor from contrasts. On a lower level, Mutt and Jeff

.re funny because one is so tell and the other so short;

iare the two to exchange suit, they would appear even

funnier, for each would be obviously out of place. When

the child begins to zhou parental concern for the parent,

a modification of the sane device is being employed.

In a sense, two individuals who contrast vividly in

onme respect--physical appearance, age, social class,
outlook on life--have been miscast. Ruis Irlarte

lights this aspect of miscasting in La guerra empie:.

en Cubi at the beginning of the play when some of the

characters ar rehearing for an amateur theatrical
production. The Marque., who is a rather elderly geutle-

man, has been given the role of the son of Pepito, who

is a youn man.
;ontra3ts between two or more characters miy, of

course, be used humorously without having the characters

exchange places. In RIiz Iriarte's 1% Tolters rebelde

there is a tender humor in the romance of Guadalupe,

a spinster who has le a very proper life and to noted

for her violent temper, and Esteban, the Eohenian

organist who is as quiet and humble as lUpe is tempera-

mental. In Paso's El cnlato de la clarri (196O) the

contrast between characters exists on a larger seale.
Aristdbulo Terch, the gras-hopper of the pieee, is a

lovable Bohemian who never works, whose house -1 falling

apart, .hioce children, aest of thea lllegitmnte, bear

inposzible name. Arist6bulo takes life as it comes and

refsmes to hide behind any social hyocrsir On the

other hand, his wife Elisa, from whom he has been separated

a number of years, in extremely concerned with wealth ad

social custom. The same contrast also appears to a

le3aer degree between Elsblinana, Ariet-bulo's daughter,

and Alfredo, the man ;he eventually marries. Blsbi is

muoh like her father, but, as the father points eat, she
is aleo hilf like her mother; Alfredo belong to the

same society which Eisa considers so important, but

,he appreciates the value of the Bohemians and their
lack of pretense.
Character contrast of a different nature is found

in Mihura's :' ribcl y la eztra~r famili- (1959). Maribel

is a prostitute whom Mareelino brings home to meet his
aunt and his mother. Marcelino's family seems totally

unaware of Maribel's profession; they assume her to be

a amdern young girl and the perfect wife for the rather

shy Mareelino. There is a vivid comei contrast between

Marlbel, her friends Ruti, Pul, and Mini, and

Marceline's family. The girls are quick to think the

worst of people and be suspicious, while Marcelino,
the aunt, and the mother are filled with human kindness

and an idealistic tendency to find only the best in

everyone. Their effect on Maribel is such that finally
she, too, almost believes that she used to be a seam-

The contrast in I[ribel y la eatraSa familla is

not only one of character. The contrast here is also

that between the idealistic illusions of the mother and

aunt and the grim reality as seen by Maribel. Such a

contrast between illusion and reality appears in many

of the best comedies of the contemporary Spanish stage

and will be treated at length in this study in Chapter
Six. A humorous effect may also be created by a contrast

between the past and the present; plays exemplifying thiz

kind of contrast are discussed in Chapter Four.

One of the sources of comic laughter most frequently
mentioned by the theorists is incongruity. This incon-

grnity is cloely related to disharmony; what Is ineen-
gruous is somehow out of place, out of harmony with its

surroundings. It is the exaggerated red nose on the

clown or the monkey dressed in man's clothing. But an

effect of incongruity may also be achieved on an intel-

leetual plane by presenting the unexpected; the mind

anticipates a certain logical conclusion following the

given set of circumstances, but a different, incongruous

conclusion Is substituted instead. The incongruouE

and the unexpected appear frequently in contemporary

theatre. They are he thessence of the theatre of the
absurd, which attempts to reflect the debasement of

logic in the modern world. Doubtless the best-kn~wn

exponents of the theatre of the absurd are those

writing in Franoe, headed by Ionesco,24 but Spain is

not without its own contribution to this kind of humor.

Incongruity or absurdity is at the root of the so-called

humor of L o.odorna: and of the playirrIghta connected

rit, that now 1cfunct magazine, notably Miguel rilhura.

.'ccorline to one critic, the whole purpose of the humor

magazine was to replace the hackneyed by the une::pected;
La aodorni: had the "Intention of annihilation the tipico

(the shoapwrn situation, the tired olihd), mostly by a
process of dislocation which replaced the shopworn :itua-

tion by a mad counterpart and put the tired cliche to a

mew and ridiculous use."25 Or, as GonzAlez Ruiz words

it, the nuei,- conicidad of this school of playrrightn
"aborda de freote la inveroefAil conme a no le fuera."26

This type of chmor of incongruity or absurd'ity in 2paln

dates back farther than the nmegaline with which it has

been associated. As Mihura himcclf has frequently

pointed out, many of his play written in this vein were

oompletcd long before the magazine w:s founded, and a

similar humor can be found In the older playwright

J-r.ilel Poncela, fwh has in many ways influence the

men writl:g comedies tosiy. PFrsz I'inik, who Include;

JTrdiel, Tihura, Alvaro do Laiglczia, Tono, and

Carlos Llopi among the playwrights of this Ewfool of

humor, has suggested that at zone later date these

comedies mna be ev.-lusted as a serious document, capable

of interpreting our era and giving our contemporary life

an unquestionable meaning.27

21en as verdad que tods eata representaci6n
humorfctica dltima, deahumanizzda y abstracts,
invertebrida y aseptics, arbitraria y escandalo-
samente original, merece an estuilo a fondo qcp
scuL creemoe no se ha hecho con today digntidd.J

::ar3lea of the humor of incongruity may be found

even in Uie titles of some of the comedies. Jardiol

Poncela's 09o0 mejor ertin Isa rubisn er con patata?

Iz an e::cellent sample. We are accustomeJ to steak

tasting cood with potatoes and blondes loeeng attractive
in blue, but the juxtaposition of blondes and potatoes

is unexpected and amusing. Mihura and Tone had a similar

effect with the title Ni pobre nl rico. sino todo lo

contrar1o; we consider rich and poor to be opposite in

meaning, and it catches us offguard to suddenly assume

an opposite in meaning to both of them. Again, Milura

and Laiglosi'a EL csco de la muler acesenadlta causes

us to smile; how can the woman be just a little bit

murdered? Alfoneo Paso, who also makes use of absurd

or incongruous humor upon soeasion, uses the same tech-

nique in the title Una bomba ll11aad Abclardo; we might

expect Abelard to be the name of a scholar, but we

ordinarily do not anticipate either that Abelard

should be the name of a beb or that a bomb should have

a human me in the first place.

The authors of incongruous humor may use the tech-

nique, not only in the wording of the title, but in the

camil dialogue of the play itself. 1i Debre ni ric.

si todo lo contrnrio is filled with such dialogue:

Abelardot IMercedesI
Barone3a.: He tardado?
Abelardo: Iucho.
Barone~o: lHenoz .al. Cref que habfa tardado. ?ara
venir antes be dejado mi gto en el
garage y he venido a pie.-
Inventor 10: &A used tamblgn le c:usts iventar
Inventor 3: Desde pequoao no he hecho otra cosa.
Inventor 10: LY su padre no inventaba nada?
Inventor 3o: S Inventaba muchas co0c cuando
volvfa tarde de la ofl ina. Pero mi
madre no ce lo cref.-U

Abelardot Te easaris ahora connmigo?
Margarita: (Mirando ereloj.) Ahora, no. Es ya
uay tarde.1
Although this comedy was first produced somewhat

before the period of Spanish theatre under study, it is

so rich in examples of incongruity that it should not

be overlooked. The play opens with three inventors on
stage who are waiting to see Abelardo and sell him their

patents. One inventor has created an auto horn and a

harp that make no noise. Another has a machine that

peels potatoes--but it only peels one potato and then

never works again. The third has a saw that sounds a

bell when the work is finished; he tests his invention

by saving the legs off a table in the room, but the

bell does not work. Eventually Abelardo comes and

buys the inventions. This scene is as fantastic as

anything in lonesco or as the opening act of Alejandro

Oasona's tLo frbolea muren de pie (1949).

More incongruous situations develop when Abelardo

becomes a beggar. At one point he comments that it was

so warn that he had to sleep on his park bench with the

window open. Margarita comes to visit him on the bench

and decides to stay and set up housekeeping; in typical

female style, she is discontent with the arrangement

of the living quarters. She carefully plans hew she
will move the trees and flowers to suit her tastes in

interior decorating. The baroness also comes, bringing

equally noble ladies with her; the three noble ladies

have a picnic with Abelardo and his beggar friends.

Others of Mihura's plays display similar elements

of the absurd. In Tree sombreros de copa, written in

1932 and first produced in 1952, Dionisie's hotel roe

is Invaded by an unbelievable assortment of people:

the troupe of dancing girls, their Negro manager, the

bearded lady, the Astute Hunter, the Hateful Gentleman.

The Astute Hunter is a good ease in point; he fishes

for rabbits, and from time to time throws a rabbit

wander the bed. Later Dionisie's prospective father-in-

law, who represents the interests of "decent people,"

mistakes the dead rabbits for rats and takes them to

his little nephew as a present. There is an obvious

incongruity between the nature of the present and the

supposedly acceptable standards of decency which Den

Saoramento has been preaching.

In ISublime decision! (1955) Mihura creates another

unbelievable atmosphere when Flora's family sets the

stage with a eat, a piane, and assorted pastries to

interview a prospective husband for their daughter.

In El caeo de la zaeora estupenda (1953) f the same

author, the hotel rsoo of the honeymooning couple at

the beginning of the play seems quite normal until the

bride asks her husband what his name is, and then it

Is learned that another man shares their honeymoon

suite with them. In 31 caao de ila ruer sseresadita
Sche authors Introduce into an otherwise normal-looldng
Spanish home an American Indian, eemplete with feathers;
the Indian proves, however, only to be part of Mereedes'

Earlier in the century Jardiel Poneela made use
of the same kind of devices. In APellna o el honor de

un irli'dier (1934) he presents the situation of Germia,
the villain, kidnapping Angelina with Angelina's poet-

bq' friend pursuing the fleeing couple on his bicycle.
In Elofes eata debaio de un alSondro (1940) he creates

a fantastic family. The father has not gotten out of
bed in years although he is net sick. He takes imagi-
nary train trips and tests prospective servants by
finding out if they can remain totally unsurprised by
sudden gun shots. An aunt, who is inseparable from her
massive dogs Gain and Abel, is equally strange. Examples

of humor from incongruity appear also in Jardiel
Ponoela's last plays. In Lo: tigre7 eoconJldor en la

alcoba (1949) Merche insists that she and her sister
Celinda are both the wife of Darfe. In the second half

of El sezo d*btl ha beaho inaEle (1946), the family

of sisters, in contrast with their nineteenth century
predecessors of the first half of the play, are so

emancipated that their antics approach absurdity. For
example they greet the first visit of a prospective

suitor with a "dansa de las hogueras" in which they
encircle the unsuspecting young man like a tribe of
savage Indians. The yeung man then becomes initiated

Into the illustrious group of warriors including
"Qaballo Ind6mito," "Aguila Blanea," "Coyote Valeroso,"

and the "Poderoso Cacique y Heehliere." Some of the
incongruities resultant from the cannibal's return to

civilization in Como melor estIn las rublas es con

palates have already been discussed. At the end of the

play, however, before It Is learned that the cannibal
is a fake, there is a delightful scene in which the

stage is cluttered with radio announcers, members ef the
family, asserted strangers, the man who still thinks he
is a bird, and the cannibal in his cage. The cannibal
is busily writing a book, a cookbook: one can imagine
the gourmet specialties that he is reeordingl
Paso's use of incongruous techniques closely parallels

that of ihara and Jardiel Penoela. In :.: hay novedad.

dpoa Adela (1960) Enrique rents an apartment where he
has about as much privacy as Dionalea does Ln his hotel

reom in Tree sombreros de copa. The tenets in the

adjoining apartments come and go as the please, particu-

larly to use Snrique's phone. Moreover, nothing in the
apartment is really what it appears to be. All of the
pleoes of furniture may be converted to a completely
different aue; the phonograph, for example, really makes

up into a bed. In Una bomba l1amada Abelardo there is

a father who is about as strange as the one in Jardiel

Poncels's Elofsa erta deba.Jo de un al'endro. This man

cannot leave the house, so he hunts in the house; irae-

ulously enough, he usually manages to shat a bird or a

small animal, but occasionally he misses and kills a

maid instead. The play has a further element f the

nlcongruous when it is learned that Abelardo, the great

scientist and inventor of a magnificently destructive

bomb, is really a gorilla; in spite of this knowledge,

his fiancee plans to marry him as scheduled. In El canto

de la cirrra, one of Pase's funniest plays, the incon-

gruous appears at every turn: In the names of the

children-- .marmata, errelie, Eadimidn--in Aristdbulo's

fatal weakness for women with physical defects, in the

way In which these women Invirlably abandon Aris with

their resultant offspring, in Bisbi's habit either of

not answering the telephone or of confuslnE the party

at the other end of the line by carrying on an ineempre-

hensible monologue. The house itself is filled with

Incongruities as well. There is a croeodile in the

bathroom, and the lights are tuned on and off by

throilun a book at the wall. The scene becoes even

more unbelievable after two dind ladies learn that

Arls's children do not have milk, and well-intentioned

people begin to send ever so many bottles that the

stage gradually becomes covered with them.

Humor of the Incongruous or unexpected is somewhat
akin to humor eoked by surprise, although the element

of surprise need not involve any particular incongruity.
We are surprised in Don Joc4. Pene y Penito when the

gentleman Don Jo84 is expecting from America turns out

to be a lady, and we enjoy the resultant confusion, but

the mistake was a natural one. We are likewise surprised

at the end of Antonio Bero Vallejo's Irene o el tesoro

(1954) when we learn that the doctor intends to commit

to the insane asylum, not the charming and wistful

Irene, but the practical dmas who accused Irene of

insanity. What is often more eloesly related to incon-

gruity than suprise is the lack of surprise on the part
of characters in unusual situations. No one seems

astonished that the Astute Hanter fishes for rabbits

or throws dead bunnies under the bed. Abelarda's future
in-laws accept the father's hunting in the house as

perfectly natural and are not surprised by a dead maid.

In Claudio de la Teore's La caga de pescar (1958) a

whole series of Inexplicable events takes place, but

Rafaela, the family servant and cook, is never movd by

them at all. If the lack of surprise about dead rabbits

is incongruous and therefore comic, the comic element is

even stronger when characters can take in their stride
murders and corpses. Such is one of the major techniques
in the comedies of so-called dark or macabre humor, the
parodies of murder mysteries and detective stories to be
discussed in the following chapter.


IL. Dugas, PFschologte du rire (Paris, 1902),
2We shall not consider Freud's theories oe the
motivation of laughter in this paper as thhy are more
pertinent to students of psychology than to students of
the theatre.
3Tax Eastmn, TiEoyment of Lsughter (New York,
1936), p. 49.
4Ramdn r.vero, Por aid se rfe la rente (San Juan,
1950), p. 34.
.bld., p. 29.
Jter.hen Lescook, Hamoujr: Its Theor7 and Technilue
(London, 1935), p. 12.
7Leacock, Humor and HumnltyJ: An Introduction to
the Study of H~umr (Hew York, 1 93i), p. 17.
8ieacoca, Humour: ItE Theory and Technal us, p. 12.
9Leacook, Humor and 9uanlty. . p. 91.
100orolyn Wells, ed., An Outline of Humaor: Betin
a true Oaroniole from Prehistoric Aces to tae iwentiet
Cmntir (Nlew ort, 1923), pp. o-7.
11rnest earnest, A Porewaord to Literature (New EYrk,
1945), p. 221.
12Hearl Bergeon, "Le rre" in Oeuvres (Paris, 1959),
p. 388.
131bid., p. 39. LIbhid.. p. 399. 15Ibd., p. 400.
16Ibid., p. 401. '17bid., pp. 402-09.
18Ibd.., p. 422. 19Ibid., p. 424. 201bid., p. 426.
2:11bd., p. 456.


-2Tne humorous treatment ef telepathy, extra-
sensory perception, and psychiatry is considered in
greater length in nCapter Five.
2!.-rLre tllr s Swibey, -)milc t I,-i ter: 4
Philo-ophalel Essay (New laven, 19oi ), p. 1-'3-44.
24See Iartin isslin The Theatre of the Absurd
(Garden city, N.Y., 1951).
25ArJona, 1oc. cit., p. 55.
26licol."i Gonzalo; .IRz, LI uiltlri .iaoali
Io ilt'os reinte asoes: F teatro (Madrid, 1949),
p. 40.
27Domiugo P4re: ilLnik, Dfbatpz t obre el te-t-.o
e;r.ol contemrorinec (Santa Crz dje Tenerife, Oauarlas,

I ud., p. 25.
29'guael :IThur. and Tono, Ui r-abre l Trico. ~a
tod o co~trria, In Tres sombreros do cipa: ILatro
(;Xiiril, 1947), p. 175.
:1Ibtd., pp. 162-63. 'Ibl., p. 201.



A type of comedy that appears frequently ia the

1945-60 period is that of "dark" or macabre humor, the

t-ke-offe on detective astries and horror movies. While

dark humor itself is nothing new in Spain, being well

exemplified by the works of Quevedo,1 this particular

kind of literary parody can be traced in the contemporary

period to certain plays of Jardiel Poncela.2 A number

of playwrights have made use of the technique, but the

most notable ones in Spain are Alfonso Pase and Miguel

Mihura. Pazo, in particular, has expressed a great

fondness for macabre humor:

Si alguna forma de humor me gusta much es
precisamente el macabro y delirante a dos pasos
de la monstruosidad. Aborrezoq eso qu re e lama
humor con aoaramelada dulzura.5

The writers of the dark comedies show that one can joke

about death, that the topic is not so serious as to be

beyond the realm of humor. In their comedies they

succeed in building up suspense, littering the stage

with corpses, and yet provoke laughter throughout the

calami ties.

These parodied of detective stories, murder mysteries,
and hror movies are certainly not limited to Spain.
If anything, the influx of such comedies in the Spanish
theatre is influenced greatly by foreign plays and movies.

The same type of emedy appears frequently in the

American movies, and many playwrights of 3arope and the

United States have tried their hand at the genre. Preni-

nent amongg the playwrights of mysteries who are trans-

lated and frequently pr~duoed in Spain are J. B. Priestley

and Agatha Christie. In general, aentemperary 3panlsh

playwrights are familiar with these foreign writes and

are at least somewhat influaeeed by their work. In the

theatre seasons 1949-50 and 1950-51, two of Priestley's

plays, Datroe us CArnr and An Inspector Calls, respec-
tively, were produced in Spain.5 he latter of these
two plays wav published in translation as the sixth in

Alfil's Inczpenslve collection of theatre. The influence

of Priestley and Christie on individual Spanish play-

wrights, notably Alfenso Paso and Xlguel tahura, has been

cited by a number of critics of the contemporary Spanish

stage 6 As Spain produces comparatively few movie, a

majority of the films shown in Zpanish tneatres are

foreign films with a dubbed-in soundtrack in Spanish.

In recent years there has been a large number of American

and British detective-story 1avies, many of ihlch are as
humorous as they are suspenseful. Alfred Hitchcock, for
example, often produces films that are parodies of

mystery stories. One recent American film clearly

shows in Its title, The Oomedy of Terrors, that it is

intended to parody horror movies. A good percentage of

these British a ana.merican parody movies reach the

moving picture screens of Spain. There is, perhaps,

.ome evidence of foreign influence in the Zpanich

maoabre comedies in the fact that they are often set

In foreign countries. Paso's Usted .-uede cer un asertno

(1953) takes place in France, and fihura's ag (197)

not only takes place in foggy London but alse satiries

many aspects of "typical" Eritish life. flthura's eamedy

suggests that the British love r-imes and murders, and

Oarlota is convinced that she can keep her h1.b~bda's

interest by making him believe tha' she poisons people.

The detective ai the case naturally comes from Sootland

Yard, and the policeman on the beat is so entrenched

In the Britisi custom of drinlnG tea that he apparently

carries a teapot under his coat.

One element often found in mystery stories is

surprise. The author keeps the reader's attention by

b:allding up suspense; then, i.-en all the clue: have been

presented and t2e reader--or spectator--is eenviniee

he cno; s the solution, the author gives his plot a sudden

twiot and presents a surprise solution. The author of

the detective-story parodies does the same thing, of

course, but he seeks a humorous effect in his surprises,

and he also makes use of a lack of surprise on the part

of his characters to evoke laughter from his spectators;

that is to say, the characters may manage to take murders

and corpses in their stride, and the incongruity of

their reaction to death and violence beosmeo coaie.

For example, in the final act of Tono's Un drama en

"E Qyinto Pieo" Roberto thinks that his wife Fernmuad

is dead. The maid eaters to receive her instructions

for dinner as there is manypan:

Rarfa: Entonces, habrS que freir dos huevos m3s.
Roberto: No es necesarlo, ;arfa. La seeora no
tomar& huevoe fritos.
rarfa: Entonces, tortilla.
Jnan: No, es que la seBora se ha muerto.
':arfa: (may natural) Eso es peor. Bueno, pues
ouando quieran los seTores me 3visan.

The maid, obviously, is net at all disturbed by the news

of Pernanda's death. Likewise, in C-erlott hnsrlie

Barrington has brought a detective home for dinner only

to discover that his wife, Carlots, has been murdered.

He wonders nonchalantly what he is going to feed his

guest now that his wife cannot prepare the meal, but

Detective Douglas adjusts nceely to the situation sad

finds sandwiches in the kitchen. In Ustogd Pruee aer

un asesaLo Stion and anrique have a difficult time

disposing of the body of Dupont; everytime they try to

hide him, someone Interrupts at the wrong moment.

Finally Siadn puts Dupont in a chair on the terrace, ea

to hide the fact that Dupont Is a corpse, Sidmn and

khrique join him on the terrace and conduct a lively

conversation with their friend "Don Segismundo" who is

so quiet that It is impossible to get him to say a word.

In the same play the policeman Andrd is so unconcerned

by this murder and the subsequent murders and attempted

murders that he nonchalantly reads a newspaper through-

out the action. The policemen in Ldpez Rubio's t

rills (195) also are unperturbed by the four dead

bodies in the play; when they find a bottle of chilled

champagne in the refrigerator belonging to one of the

murdered men, they are perfectly happy to share it with

the maid of another of the murdered men. Out of

"deference" to the dead, however, they drian the cham-

pagne in the kitchen Instead of in the living room

where two of the corpses were.

Lven the dead are capable of making macabre comments.

La otra orilla differs from the other plays mentioned

in that it is not just a detective comedy; the play

consists of two planes of reality--the reality of the

living and the reality of the recently dead. The four

dead people cannot be seen and heard by the living,

but they continue to vies life and make comments on it.

Jaime, the deceived husband, has murdered his wife Ana

and her lover Leonardo at the house where the lovers

met; he has also accidentally killed Martfn, a passer-

by. Jaime himself in turn is killed by the police when

he tries to escape. Ana and Leonardo quickly realize that

they are dead because they can see their own bodies lying

on the floor. Martfa, however, was killed on the side-

walk and does not realize that he is dead. Trying to
break the news to him gently, Ana suggests that he go
back outside because he has left something on the side-

walk. Later Jaime is indignant that Martfn, a stranger,
should offer opinions on the love triangle and killings;

their conversation is filled with grotesque humor:
Jaime: (A Irrtfn, irritado.) &Se puede saber
4uiin le do a ousted vela en este entierro?
Dlartfn: Perddn pero me parece que ha eido uEted.
LEte entierro es, tambi el mio.
Jaime: se no le da dereoho a ....
Mlartfn: MUre, me da dereehe a tods. iSl, eneLma,
me voy a tener q-e ests todo el tempo
callade come an muertol

At the and of the play, although he is now olear to

divine judgment, Martfn even manages to joke about hell.

Not yet dead, only mortally wounded, he has fallen in
love with Ana and wishes to follow her wherever she

artfn: No me resignarfa a vivir sin usted. No
me resigno a pensar que podrfs realgnarme.
|3erfa capaz de ... '
Ana: &De bajar a los ifiernos por if, cas
Martin: (Lament&idelo.) Tengo tan mala vozl9

The characters in these comedies have little or
no respect for the dead--or for the living; if they did,

of course, the audience would take the matter seriously
and there would be no humorous effect possible. In

Ueted puede ser un acesino Simln is sauh a mystery story
fan that arque does not take him seriously ;hen he
tells him that there is a body in the closet. Enrique

just laughs until Sima.n temporarily looks him in the
closet with the corpse; then Earique's laughter subsides.

In Dn .zdrma en "E2 intoo FPtro" the characters want to
kaow if Fernanda is really dead, and someone suggests

holding a mirror in front of her; if she is still alive,

her breath will steam up the mirror. Roberto, the

husband, however, comments that the mirror is an excellent

idea because, if Fernanda is alive, she is so vain that

she will naturally straighten her hair as soon as she

gets near a mirror. The mirror is handed from the

neighbor Carleta to Roberto to Fernanda to Juan, who

holds it in front of Fernanda; but no one realizes that

the "dead" woman has passed the mirror along.

Another common source of amusement in these plays

is the Sherlock Holmes figure--the detective or character
who recontructe a complicated crime from insignificant

seraps of information. The character may be of two

types: he may be a detective who amuses us with his

deep deductions because his deductions are invariably

wrong, or he may amuse us because his deductions are so

clever and so accurate that they pass the bounds of

plausibility. The police inspector in Usted auede ear

un aserino is an example of the former. Named Hilario

Oerveille, he proves not to be so "brainy" as his name

might indicate. Not only is he incapable of unscrambling
what has happened, but when Simdn finally turns Julio,

the real murderer, over to him, he quite frankly admits
that Sim6n will have to come down to the station to
explain to him why he is arresting Julio. Douglas in

Crota is even more obviously a oarieature of a detec-
tive. He has a reputation as a sleuth from Scotland

Yard. At the beginning of the play, he amazes the

others by readily deducing that Sergeant Harris, the

policeman on the beat, is a widower; then he admits that

he researched the record of the local patrolman before

coming to Barrington's house. His first deduction

without research is that Carlota does net answer the

door because she is afraid of Douglas and has run away;

actually Carlota does not answer the door because she is

dead. Douglas' other deductions throughout the play are
about on a par with the first one. It is quite doubtful

that he would ever have solved the case had Carlota

not oonveniently left behind a diary containing all

necessary background information and had her friend
Miss Margaret not confessed.

More fun than the bungling detective's efforts are

the exaggerated methods of deduction of the amateur.

One of the best examples of this is Oarlos in Paso's

Receta pAra un orimen (1959). A man of intelligence

and courage, Carlos does not believe in work and there-
fore lives by his wits. At the moment he is the
traveling companion of EB ilio, a w eal thy man who is

neither very bright nor very brave. They are spending

the night in an old inn, and, with almost no facts,

Carlos manages to solve the mystery behind a fifteenth

century legend and eventually arrives at the correct

conclusion concerning a murder that took place two years

before. The action of the play, in good detective-story

tradition, takes place on the second anniversary of the

crime and on the same sort of rainy, stormy night.

Carlos is amaing and amusing because of his unshakable

logio and his lightning-fast deductions. His method

of investigation consists of turning over a fact,

"d!ndole la vuelta," in order to see the correct possibil-

ity. The old legend is child's play for him. He is

told that the inn once belonged to a wealthy Jew with

a beautiful daughter. According to tradition Count

Nieva, the great lord of the region, came one night

to steal the Jew's "treasure," 1. e. his daughter,

Alor. Carlos quickly deduces that Count lieva, who

had feudal rights over the young maidens living much

nearer to his castle, would not have troubled himself

for Alor. The Jew's treasure, therefore, was not his

daughter, but gold and jewels. And, as all three died

in the house on that evening, the treasure is still

hidden in the inn.

Carlos also turns his attention to the more recent

murder. Supposedly Enrique, who is still at large,

killed his wife Herminia because she was in love with

Enrique's nephew Daniel; knrique often still eases near
the inn and attempts to kill Daniel. Carlos soon deduces

that Enrique dLd not kill his wife and was, in fact,
murdered himself two years before and is buried by some

rose bushes in the backyard. To prove his point, he

calmly disinters the skeleton. By this time Carlos has

trained Laura, enather guest of the Inn, to play his

game of myEtery-zolvlng. She, too, learns to start

with one call bit of inforamtion and quickly deduoe

that if A s true, than 3, 0, D, a ad E must logically

follow. An opt pupil, she seen arrives at the identity

of the real murderer, just as that murderer puts in his
appearance. It is a o.mon devices in these comedies to
have the murderer arrive at just this point in the

deductions, 3oin in the conversation unnoticed for
several exchanges of speech, and then suddenly terrorize

the anat.ur detectiveE; tie same situation occurs in
Uated pu-de ser un aserino when Simda realizes that Julio

is responsible for IDper.L's death.
Proving his intelligence onee again, Carlos

outwits the murderer, Lorenzo, a disappointed scholar

who is an old0 schoolmate of Carls and who has been
searching for the treasure in the inn. rarlos convinces

Lorenzo to escape, rather than murder all the inn guests,

and Carloa promises not to contact the police. Loren-o
flees, Carlos keeps his word, and millo cilla the

police. The comedy ends on a good humorous note, for
lailio, who has shown. nothing but comic stupidity and
cowardice throughout the play, has now caught on to

Carlos' game of logic. He not only tells tle police who

Loren-o is and why he Is fleeing, but "d&ndole la vuelta"

to what he knows, tlals the police what route Lorenzo

will take, how he will attempt to leave the country,

and what his ultimate destination is. This sudden

reversal in amilie's thinking processes both surprises

and delights the audience.

Paso uses the same character type as Caries and the

same means of logical deduction in others of his plays.

In Julclo contrs un sinverguenza (1958), whaih takes
place in London and is aetnally a criticism of social

hypocrisy rather than a mystery story, the main character

conducts a parlor game that is similar to Carlos'

mystery game. 8Jan Esqufn, who is really an honorable

man but Is condemned by society for being shameless,

suggests that his respectable acquaintances play a game
of judgment. In the course of the game, Juan logically

deduces and proves that the minister of Imports has

undermined the British economy for his personal gain

by allowing F1 enh ears to enter the country, that the

men Juan used to work with before being falsely accused
of a robbery were all in on the graft, that the minister

himself has been carrying on an adulterous love affair