Journeys of the Body, Journeys of the Mind: Ectypal and Archetypal Studies of Cervantes’ The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda

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Rotermundt-de la Parra, Joanne
Spanish Golden Age Literature , Cervantes , Persiles y Sigismunda , Carl Jung
ABSTRACT This thesis offers an ectypal as well as an archetypal analysis of six characters from Miguel de Cervantes’ posthumous novel The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda (1617). It examines these characters both as citizens of a specific historical place and time, as well as individuals undergoing the process Carl Jung called individuation, a process experienced by all human beings as they move towards a greater masculine-feminine psychic balance. After an introduction to Jungian literary theory, the character of Antonio Villaseñor is examined ectypally by focusing on his argument with a fellow nobleman and how it reflects the sometimes subtle differences that distinguished an hidalgo from a caballero in the social hierarchy of early modern Spain. The voyage that leads him to the Barbarous Isle is then considered from an archetypal perspective, with the Spaniard progressing from a one-sided, all-male worldview, towards a more balanced masculine-feminine psyche that is symbolized by his union with a barbarian woman named Ricla, the anima figure who represents the missing feminine in Antonio. Transila Fitzmaurice and the ius primae noctis custom that is practised in her homeland introduce the theme of rape, which pervades the Persiles, and its social and legal implications in early modern Spain. Archetypally, her journey is considered as a taking-on of the contrasexual characteristics that have heretofore been lacking in her psyche. The implications of refusing a father’s choice of marriage partner are studied in the stories of Feliciana de la Voz and Isabela Castrucha, as are the subterfuges that real women devised in order to take control of their lives in a patriarchal world that allowed them so little autonomy. Archetypally, each of these women is able to assimilate their masculine side, or animus, thus moving closer to the psychic androgyny that Jung believed was the natural state of the human psyche. The title characters, Persiles and Sigismunda, are considered only from an archetypal perspective. The focus in this work is on the repressed sexuality of these two characters, as it manifests itself in Persiles’ dream and in the jealousy that dominates Sigismunda’s character throughout the novel.
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