Sex(y) summer solstice: Lope de vega and shakespeare write fantasies of feminine desire Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Many studies have compared Lope de Vega and Shakespeare, but none has juxtaposed their two plays about Midsummer's Night. This omission may in part be due to a difference in nomenclature regarding this festival. The essay begins with the festive context of Saint John's feast day and its ancient connections to fertility rituals. Both plays exploit hese anthropological associations to develop the same theme, that of young women asserting the right to choose their own sexual partners. Both artists self-consciously employ metatheatrical devices to effect their dramatic ends. The ostensible winners in this game are the women, who-along with the vulgo, or commoners- appear to come out on top, at least on this night of carnivalesque misrule. However, upon closer examination it becomes evident that the men in these plays still hold the puppet strings. These two dramatic works are examined within the theoretical frameworks of feminism, post-Bakhtinian carnival theory, and echoes of the New Historicism. But Lope de Vega's play in particular offers a residue or subversive element that resists containment by the dominant ideology. It is this residue that ultimately proves most interesting as we compare Lope de Vega's and Shakespeare's contemporaneous attempts to write fantasies of feminine desire.

published proceedings

  • Comparative Literature Studies

author list (cited authors)

  • Kallendorf, H.

complete list of authors

  • Kallendorf, H

publication date

  • January 2014