Literal and Metaphorical Puppets as Supernatural Figures: Echoes of Classical Greek Theatre in Cervantes's Fiction


  • Mara Theodoritsi University of Ottawa



In this article, I seek to contribute to recent trends in Cervantes Studies on the transnational dimension of Cervantes and on Cervantine theatre by discussing, on the one hand, the relationship of the Spanish author to the history of puppet theatre and, on the other, the significance of puppets in the theatrical interlude “The Marvellous Puppet Show” and two episodes in Part Two of Don Quixote. I review some of the literature on the inspiration that Cervantes might have drawn from the Sicilian Opera dei pupi and the Spanish teatro de títeres (including puppet-based hagiographic plays), and I suggest including classical Greek theatre in what has been called the “Mediterranean cultural framework” of Don Quixote. My analysis of “The Marvellous Puppet Show” focusses on the portrayal of the townspeople as if they were puppets and of the two swindlers as if they were liminal figures between the realms of the human and the supernatural. In that of “The Assembly of Death”, I compare the encounter of Don Quixote and his squire with the theatrical company of Angulo el Malo to a satyr play. With regard to the episode of Master Pedro’s puppet show, I note the similarities with classical Greek theatre in the dynamics between performers and audience.

Keywords: Cervantes; puppet theatre; Mediterranean cultural framework; classical Greek theatre; metatheatre