Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Bryant L. Creel

Committee Members

Nuria Cruz-Camara, Salvatore DiMaria, Laura Howes


This study analyzes Mariana de Carvajal y Saavedra's Navidades de Madrid y noches entretenidas as a work that explores issues relating to certain social attitudes of central importance to Spanish women in the seventeenth-century and that advances a specific perspective and point of view in relation to those attitudes. The book is seen as addressing the problem of the nature of feminine modesty and of its character as a virtue. The theme of modesty is analyzed in all the novellas that comprise the Navidades. My first chapter focuses on what is known of Carvajal, aspects of historical background, and the genre in which she wrote. The second chapter discusses criticism on Mariana de Carvajal to date for purposes of clarifying both the degree to which she is recognized as a seventeenth-century female author and the light in which scholars have viewed her. For example, note is taken of the critics' penchant for comparing her with María de Zayas. The third chapter analyzes modesty in various perspectives in order to arrive at a better understanding of how the Navidades portrays modesty on different levels. That chapter focuses on the female characters in the work and how modesty is manifested through those characters. The fourth chapter discusses the male character types and their influence on behavior of women with regard to the issue of feminine modesty. It also names four types of modesty that are suggested by groupings of characters in the novellas. The fifth chapter discusses symbolism in relation to feminine modesty and examines both the prevalence and implicit significance of modesty in the text. The last chapter summarizes my findings and draws some general conclusions concerning Mariana de Carvajal's uniqueness as a seventeenth-century Spanish female author and possibilities for future study.

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