The Surgeon of His Own Honour



  • (El médico de su honra) A tragedy by Calderón.First produced in 1635, the year of Lope de Vega's death,the play confirmed Calderón's standing as Spain's supreme dramatist.This grim and macabre work remains controversial. Some critics accuseCalderón of justifying the murder of an innocent woman to meetthe requirements of an inhuman code of honour, while others say hispurpose was to attack the code by creating a feeling of horror andsympathy.

    In the play Don Gutierre de Solis's wife is admired by theKing's brother but remains entirely faithful. Don Gutierre, however,becomes convinced of her infidelity. He grants her two hours to live,during which she prepares herself for a holy death. Don Gutierre blindfoldsa surgeon and brings him home to bleed his wife to death. Afterwards,the physician marks the door of the house with his bloody hand andinforms the King. Don Gutierre, purely for honour's sake, says hiswife died accidentally. When the King orders him to marry a certainLeonore, Don Gutierre agrees but warns her that if necessary he willonce more defend his honour:

    And mark me, too, that, if already once
    Unto mine honour I have proved a leech,
    I do not mean to lose my skill.