What View Do You Think Calderon Is Inviting His Audience to Take of Gutierre's Actions and How?

What View Do You Think Calderon Is Inviting His Audience to Take of Gutierre's Actions and How?

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As a dramatist, Calderon was not in a position to express his personal opinion in such a direct manner, as perhaps a novelist is able to. Despite this, dramatists found other ways to manipulate their characters and therefore the reaction of their audience. The characterisation of the protagonist don Gutierre in `El Medico de su Honra' has created a multitude of disagreement amongst the critics concerning his culpability. It is through don Gutierre's actions that the audience is able to come to a conclusion about his character and for what reason he has decided to behave in such a way.

What I believe to be the most important characteristic of the whole play is the theme of honour, which evidently is the main motivation for all the characters. It is vital to consider the character of don Gutierre hand in hand with the `code of honour' which is the backdrop for the play. C. A Jones defines in his article "Spanish Honour as Historical Phenomenon, Convention and Artistic Motive" the honour code as a series of "demands made on the individual by the conventions of the society of which he is a member." The conventions of Fourteenth Century Castille in `El Medico de su Honra' made honour, meaning ones reputation and integrity, the primary concern. It is clear from an early stage in the play how high don Gutierre esteems his honour when he refers to `el honor que hoy ha ganado/ nuestra casa' (Act 1, lines 510-511) which is solely due to the prince's injury. Moreover, don Gutierre is prepared to sacrifice his own feelings in order to protect his honour. On the one hand, he is prepared to spy on Mencia as he did to Leonor. Yet on the other, he fulfils the characteristics of a `hombre de bien' who is unwilling to jeopardise the hon...

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...t that this could relieve don Gutierre of some of the responsibility. However, I am still of the opinion that this does not excuse don Gutierre's guilt. His crimes are far too extreme to be excused, especially when they were executed in such a cold and calculated manner.

In conclusion, Calderon has created a multi dimensional character which allows the audience to come to their own conclusion. He has a developed psychological background, and his motives are clearly outlined from the outset. In addition to this, the honour code is also a heavy influence, and these aspects evoke sympathy from the audience. Yet at the same time, don Gutierre reacts in such a barbaric manner, which clearly indicates that he is an irrational human being, even if the circumstances which surround his make him simply a victim of a cruel social code and unfortunate circumstances.

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