Suicide in the Spanish Middle Ages: Literary Representation of Self-Aggression and Transgression
López González, Luis F.
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AbstractSuicide in the Spanish Middle Ages: Literary Representation of Self-Aggression and Transgression studies the artistic representation of suicide in the Spanish Middle Ages. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this dissertation analyzes the way in which medieval Spanish people perceived and reacted to suicide and suicidal drives (namely, despair). Influenced by Plato’s philosophy, Saint Augustine helped shape the belief system and doctrines of the Church regarding self-murder, which condemned suicide on the grounds of the fifth commandment (non occides). Like the Church, the State also adopted a condemnatory legislation against those who had chosen death. Life was, above all, God’s gift, and only God can end people’s lives. Despite the Church and the State’s condemnation, suicide was not a monolithic phenomenon, inherently criminal or sinful. When suicide interacted with other social or cultural constructs that people bestowed a higher value than life, they perceived self-murder in a different light. When a person killed him or herself to protect their chastity, their faith, or their “country,” he or she was seen as a hero or as a martyr. Social and political positions also conditioned the way people judged suicide. If a noble person killed him or herself, he or she was unlikely to be punished for the act. Instead, noble suicides were further ennobled for their “courageous” self-affirmation. As I argue, literary representations attest to these attitudes and responses surrounding self-destruction. Writers and poets represent suicide as a complex phenomenon, intertwining established norms and contemporaneous cultural constructs to heighten the dramatic tension of their poetic representations.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40046566
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