Notwithstanding the harshness and coarseness of style which often mar the dramas of Lopé de Vega, it cannot be said that the reader is fatigued by their perusal, that the action flags, or that we feel the impatience and lack of interest so often occasioned by the plays of French authors of inferior rank. Our curiosity is awakened by the rapidity of action, by the multiplicity of events, by the increasing complications, and by the impossibility of foreseeing the development; and these are preserved in all their vivacity from the first scene to the last. His pieces are often open to severe criticism; indeed, they are sometimes even beneath criticism; yet they uniformly excite a desire to discover the event. It is probably to his art of explaining all the circumstances by the acts of his characters that Lopé owes this advantage. He always opens his scenes by some imposing incident, which forcibly attracts and captivates the attention of the spectator. His performers proceed to action as soon as they appear on the stage, and he discloses their characters more fully by their conduct than by a recital of anterior occurrences. Curiosity is awakened by his busy scenes, while we listen mechanically to the recitals which explain the French pieces; and only because they are absolutely requisite in order to understand the play.
In the dramas of Lopé, his principal characters are always displayed, and each circumstance developed in its proper place, so that there is no need of any other exposition, while the poet always attracts the eye and commands the attention of his audience, from the commencement. In The Certain for the Doubtful, for instance, a drama founded on the jealous rivalry of Don Pedro, king of Castile, and his brother Don Henry, both of whom are enamored of Donna Juana, daughter of the adelantado of Castile, the scene opens in the streets of Seville in the midst of the festivals and rejoicings on the eve of Saint John. The lively strains of musical instruments and of the human voice are heard on every side; dances are made up before the audience; the nobility of the kingdom partake in the diversions of the people, or avail themselves of that opportunity to carry on their intrigues: and at last Don Henry and Don Pedro are introduced in a manner sufficiently striking to awaken general curiosity.
Purchase Plays by Lope de Vega
Search eBay! for Lope de Vega collectibles