cloak-and-sword play



  • (comedia de capa y espada) A type of 17th-century Spanishplay characterized by romantic adventure, intrigue, and duelling.No matter how tragic the main plot, there was always a comic subplot.Spanish dramatists who contributed to the genre included Lope de Vegaand Tirso de Molina.

    Originally, the cloak and sword signified no more than therank of the chief characters. However, the characters often disguisedthemselves with their cloaks and became involved in intrigues, revenges,and plots that necessitated frequent use of their swords. There wasoften a final duel. Because of this, in France (and through Frenchinfluence in England) a cloak-and-sword play came to denote a playof swashbuckling adventure. The plays were also sometimes called cloakand dagger plays. By association, the term 'cloak and dagger'came to denote the undercover and often melodramatic activities ofthose involved in espionage, etc..