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The Quest for Identity at the Onset of the Age of Reason: Calderon's Hado y divisa de Leonido y Marfisa


This paper examines how Calderon's chivalric drama Hado y divisa explores late seventeenth-century attitudes toward knowledge and ways of knowing by revealing the struggle between reason (or a scientific approach to knowledge) and intuition (or a non-rational, spiritual approach to exploring the mysteries of life) underlying the protagonist's quest for identity The conflict is presented through Leonido's (the protagonist's) two criados, Polidoro and Merlin, who represent these two primary opposing forces. This idea of opposing forces impacting upon Leonido reflects an important notion of the Renaissance mind, the concept of contrariety as a fundamental operating principle of experience. Hado y divisa uses these opposing forces to expose the lack of spirituality in an age increasingly reliant on reason and to highlight spiritual paths to knowledge (in contrast to scientific approaches to knowing). Read within the context of this philosophical discussion on the paths to knowledge, the horrible death of Polidoro, the Voice of Reason, reveals more than simply the real world's contamination of the ideal world of romance. Leonido is shown to be a complex character experiencing an internal struggle along his quest for self-knowledge, not the uninteresting, unchanging hero, as he has been described in earlier criticism. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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									           The Quest for Identity at the Onset of the Age of Reason:
           Calderón’s Hado y divisa de Leonido y Marfisa

           Amanda S. Meixell
           Susquehanna University

                     CHIVALRIC DRAMA first performed in 1680, Calderón de la
                     Barca’s Hado y divisa de Leonido y Marfisa is, in keeping with the
                     great questions posed by medieval romance, about the
                     protagonist’s quest for identity. A variety of critics have explored
                     this Golden Age play’s relationship with the medieval genre, but
                     little critical discussion has surrounded the play’s primary theme—
the quest for personal and social identity—which embodies the heart of romance,
within its historical context of the looming Age of Reason. William R. Blue assures us
that Calderón’s chivalric plays, among which he includes Hado y divisa, engage the
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