114th Annual Conference - Pasadena, California
Friday, November 11 - Sunday, November 13, 2016

Maids and Mistresses in the Novellas of María de Zayas

Karliana Sakas, Oakland University

Although the aristocratic women of the frame story in María de Zayas' novellas attribute bad behavior to lower-class women in general, and to servants in particular, the narrator Lisis acknowledges that the reality of the situation is that some aristocratic women are “ruines,” or brazenly shameless. Servants, as the agents of their mistresses' desires, are seen as powerful not just in a mimetic sense—because they had “real life” ability to shame their mistresses—but because they represent guilt itself.