Naturalizing Politics and Metaphors of Loss: Forms of Sociability in Catharine Trotter’s Agnes de Castro

Isabel Pinto

Abstract

In the long eighteenth century, metaphors of loss, primarily seen as a mental process, express what is fundamentally at stake in the individual quest against an unfair world, reflecting thereby the ideology of individualism and, at the same time, accounting for the rise of an emotional community of the tragic. The loss they convey is always concerned with losing someone, or something, one deeply cherishes, as in a loved one, freedom, identity, power, etc. In Catharine Trotter’s Agnes de Castro the use of these metaphors takes the meaning of the discourse further, making for the invalidation of gender naturalization as a strategy to display and emphasize political naturalization instead. In other words, the collapse of a set of established differences between men and women is thought to favor the dissemination of a strong contrast between two rival nations, Portugal and Spain. Therefore, although the play classifies itself as a tragedy based on Portuguese history, accurately set in Coimbra, it does not correspond to the Portuguese dramatic trend about Agnes de Castro, since virtue and moral values are systematically on the Spanish side.

Resumo

Abstract

In the long eighteenth century, metaphors of loss, primarily seen as a mental process, express what is fundamentally at stake in the individual quest against an unfair world, reflecting thereby the ideology of individualism and, at the same time, accounting for the rise of an emotional community of the tragic. The loss they convey is always concerned with losing someone, or something, one deeply cherishes, as in a loved one, freedom, identity, power, etc. In Catharine Trotter’s Agnes de Castro the use of these metaphors takes the meaning of the discourse further, making for the invalidation of gender naturalization as a strategy to display and emphasize political naturalization instead. In other words, the collapse of a set of established differences between men and women is thought to favor the dissemination of a strong contrast between two rival nations, Portugal and Spain. Therefore, although the play classifies itself as a tragedy based on Portuguese history, accurately set in Coimbra, it does not correspond to the Portuguese dramatic trend about Agnes de Castro, since virtue and moral values are systematically on the Spanish side.

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