Fuente Ovejuna


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Reading Guide

  1. This is a play with a lot of violence and conflict in it. What are three conflicts that you see in the play? Given what you read in your textbook, how might these conflicts represent the historical or cultural context of Spanish Golden Age drama?
  2. In this play, the characters can be put into smaller categories or groups to help us make sense of their interactions on a societal level. How would you group the characters along class lines? Along ethical lines? Along political lines? Along martial (or marital) lines? What other groupings might you make? Are there characters that seem to fall somewhere in-between?
  3. Consider the play's structure. What does the shape of the plot suggest about the play's larger meaning?
  4. What is the role of marriage in this play? Consider who is and isn't married, when the central marriage is attempted and when it actually occurs, and so on. Why does Laurencia agree to marry Frondoso?
  5. Consider the roles of the king and queen in this play. What do they do in the play? If this is a play about the people of Fuente Ovejuna, what function does the royal couple serve? Are they like or unlike anyone else in the play?
  6. As you read, consider the stage directions. What kinds of actions occur off stage? Why do you think they occur off stage?
  7. Follow the animal imagery throughout the play. What animals are mentioned? Which characters are most frequently described as animals? Does the imagery seem to shift throughout the play in a recognizable pattern—becoming more or less frequent, of a different kind, and so on?
  8. Why does the Commander think his actions are justified? What ethical or political system does he seem to be relying on to justify his actions?
  9. Why do the Commander’s men not allow the townsfolk to “go off in a group”? Given what we’ve discussed this term about the role of theater as an opportunity for civic spectacle and a site of political action, is it significant that the authorities are suspicious? Does this resonate in any way with the what we know from our textbook about the role of the police in 17th century Spanish theater history?
  10. In Act 3, Laurencia chastises the men and galvanizes the women; why does she chastise the men? What arguments does she use to galvanize the women?
  11. “Fuente Ovejuna did it!” What does this line, frequently repeated in the last act of the play, mean to you? What does it mean to the characters?
  12. What do you think the ending says about the sort of crimes perpetrated in this play? About responsibility? Are there any crimes that seem to go unpunished when they should be punished? Try to think about these questions from the perspective of an audience member in 1619. How might an early audience interpret the questions of crime and punishment in this play, especially given what you've read in your text?
  13. Does this play have a hero? Who might it be, and why?
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