I’ve been doing some reading on Spanish theatre lately for a rather particular reason that may be revealed in a later blog post, and I came across this speech that I love. The speaker is Laurencia, a strong, passionate woman (equal to any of Shakespeare’s women) from Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna, a play about a village overrun by a tyrannical officer. Incredible play, powerful monologue. Just thought I would share.
LAURENCIA: For many reasons – but chiefly because you let me be carried off by tyrants, by the traitors who rule over us, without attempting to avenge me. I was not yet Frondoso’s wife, so you cannot say my husband should have defended me; this was my father’s duty as long as the wedding had not been consummated: just as a nobleman about to purchase a jewel need not pay for it if it is lost while still in the merchant’s keeping. From under your very eyes, Fernan Gomez dragged me to his house, and you let the wolf carry the sheep like the cowardly shepherd you are. Can you conceive what I suffered at his hands? – the daggers pointed at my breast, the flatteries, threats, insults, and lies used to make my chastity yield to his fierce desires? Does not my bruised and bleeding face, my disheveled hair tell you anything? Are you not good men? – not fathers and relatives? Do not your hearts sink to see me so grievously betrayed?… Oh, you are sheep, how well named the village of Fuente Ovejuna, Sheep Well. Give me weapons and let me fight, since you are but things of stone or metal, since you are but tigers – no, not tigers, for tigers fiercely attack those who steal their offspring, killing the hunters before they can escape. You were born timid rabbits; you are infidels, not Spaniards. Chicken-hearted, you permit other men to abuse your women. Put knitting in your scabbards – what need have you for swords? By the living God, I swear that your women will avenge those tyrants and stone you all, you spinning girls, you sodomites, you effeminate cowards. Tomorrow deck yourselves in our bonnets and skirts and beautify yourselves with our cosmetics. The Comendador will hang Frondoso from a merlon of the tower, without let or trial, and presently he will string you all up. And I shall be glad – you race of half-men – that this honorable town will be rid of effeminates, and the age of Amazons will return, to the eternal amazement of the world.