Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Monica Calabritto

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


Cervantes; folklore; Hellenistic novel; La fuerza de la sangre; painting; sexual violence


The aim of this thesis is to argue that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra used literary and artistic models to create the hybrid novella "La fuerza de la sangre" (The force of blood) in order to deal with moral and legal issues related to the representation of rape and subsequent marriage of the victim to the rapist. An explicit aim of Cervantes' Novelas Ejemplares is to mix the useful to the entertaining, and he intended to elaborate forms of fiction that could transcend moral dilemmas. The legal and moral implications of marriage as the best restitution after a rape, and the possibility of the rapist being mentally impaired at the moment of the crime, present a complex image of what Cervantes might have intended to achieve beyond the exploitation of the female hero. Cervantes confronted the subject of sexual violence head-on, he was aware of the legal and emotional implications of rape and its consequences to the all people involved. But since the only possible way to restitute the social value of Leocadia -- the victim -- was marriage, Cervantes used several rhetorical and literary resources to that end; he situated the story before the Council of Trent, when sexual union was enough to legalize marriage; he integrated the realistic representation of rape with the rhythm and symmetry of folktales, idealized models of pictorial beauty and the conventional plot of the Hellenistic Greek novel, where lost lovers are reunited in the end. With all those elements, Cervantes intended to provoke the reader and create a feeling of urgency and a sense of the ineluctability of marriage as a logical denouement to the story.