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Elements of Greek Fatalism in Rivas Don Álvaro - Book Report/Review Example

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ngel de Saveedra y Ramrez, duque de Rivas' Don lvaro o la fuerza del sino broke sharply with the norms of contemporary Spanish theatre, and forged a new direction toward which his national literature would move - the direction of Romanticism. As critic E…
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Elements of Greek Fatalism in Rivas Don Álvaro

Download file to see previous pages... Within the typical Sturm und Drang Romantic expression, Rivas utilises a conception of 'fate' to explore and undermine the obsolescing social hierarchy that dominated contemporary Spanish life.
Yet the question remains unclear: what exactly is the nature, the driving force of this conceived destiny Does this demonstrate the movement of divine providence, or is this more akin to the fatalistic destiny of the Greeks As the story progresses, the thread of fate that propels the action reveals itself to be profoundly fatalistic, not the orchestration of an omnipotent God but the engine of the myriad unseen forces that surround and enshround Don lvaro in his journey through despair. This fatalism draws its roots most profoundly from the tradition of Greek tragedy in which destiny always played a primary role. Yet Rivas develops advances on this fatalistic tradition, showing through the random twists delivered by destiny's hand the massively destructive forces of the familial Spanish hierarchy, which from the beginning envelop the protagonist in the shackles of old custom. It is these, Rivas declares audaciously through his play, that make up the very essence of destiny. It is these, the forces of society, which create the fatalistic reality in which all his characters, and by extension the whole of Spanish populiation, are doomed to their allotted existence.
The fatalistic concept fundamental to Greek tragedy is the act of transgression, the fatal flaw caused by hubris, or believing oneself to be above divine law, which transgression in the protagonist's own demise. This act of transgression could be something as active as Prometheus' theft of divine fire, for which he was savagely punished, or something as helplessly passive as King Oedipus' plight, having been ordained by the gods to the fate of killing his father and sleeping with his mother, and having been powerless over the course of his own life. Yet these pagan gods played no part in the worldview of the Duque; instead he considers that the effects of the gods inhere in the bounds of social custom, and that the central act of transgression lies in an individual's attempt to transcend those bounds. Doa Leonor's father took efforts to warn don lvaro of his inability to overcome these societal norms, denying his request for the doa's hand and then hiding Leonor away to protect them both from the impending fate. Yet don lvaro does not succumb to this denial; rather, he reaches out even more, making plans to violate the fatal laws of the Spanish family custom and elope with Leonor. It is in this very same mise en scne, in the act of transgression, that the hand of fate first begins to strike out. Though attempting to create the false appearance that he meant no harm, lvaro's threat to the strength of society meets with the fated discharging of his gun, which is the fatalistic movement allotted to him for his hubris in believing himself above his own fate:
S, he cegado en el punto
en que apuntaba el ms risueo da.
Me sacarn difunto
de aqu, cuando inmortal salir crea ...
Prfida! Te complaces
en levantarme al trono del Eterno
para despus hundirme en el infierno (Act 1 scene 7)

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