Feminism in the novelas of Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor
Vollendorf, Lisa. "'No Doubt It Will Amaze You': María de Zayas's Early Modern Feminism." Recovering Spain's Feminist Tradition. Ed. Lisa Vollendorf New York: The Modern Language Association ofAmerica, 2001. 103-120. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 94. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 103-120. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Ursinus College. 20 Nov. 2009 .
• Maria de Zayas’s collection Novelas amorosas y ejemplares employ different strategies to criticize women’s secondary status in society
• Rhetoric in the intro pages of her book are used to convince theSpanish reading public of women’s integrity and value
• “While she protests the treatment of women in society, she does not call for a complete reconceptualization of the patriarchal social structure. However, Zayas advocates women's access to education and arms, promotes women's intellectual equality, and criticizes misogyny. Her female characters denounce men for treating women badly, and hertexts denounce society for failing to protect and nurture women.”
• “La Fuerza del Amor” Laura accuses men of purposefully debilitating women: “vais enflaqueciendo nuestras fuerzas con los temores de la honra, y el entendimiento con el recato de la vergüenza, dándonos por espadas ruecas, y por libros almohadillas" (Novelas 241-42) ("you weaken our strength with fears about honor and ourminds with exaggerated emphasis on modesty and shame. For a sword, you give us the distaff, instead of books, a sewing cushion" 
• Zayas herself was a feminist because she could read and write during a time when most women couldn't “Zayas's life attests to her unique status as a popular woman writer in a time when most women had no education whatsoever”
• Zayas gives such vividdescriptions of the abused women in order to emphasize the effects of the violence and injustice that women are subjected to. “The graphic descriptions of women's violated bodies confirm that Zayas is intensely engaged with both the aesthetic and the political impact of her highly didactic texts. Such representations emphasize the repercussions of violence and injustice, showing women sufferingmaterial (that is, bodily) consequences of cultural wrongs”
• One of Zayas's strategies for emphasizing women's victimization is to appropriate rhetorical tropes of feminine beauty. She redeploys the language of love to describe acts of violence against women. In "La fuerza del amor," for example, Laura complains about her adulterous husband. Diego hears her and
acercándose más a ellay encendido en una infernal cólera, le empezó a maltratar de manos, tanto que las perlas de sus dientes presto tomaron forma de corales, bañados en la sangre que empezó a sacar en las crueles manos.(Novelas 238)
[o]vercome by an infernal rage, he rushed over to her and struck her so violently that the white pearls of her teeth, bathed in the blood shed by his angry hand, looked instead likered coral.(172)
This passage exemplifies Zayas's subversive appropriation of conventional Petrarchisms: violence transforms women's pearl white teeth into the red coral usually reserved for seductive lips or healthy cheeks.
• Zayas feminism. The women in her stories transcend their abuse : “Like martyrs represented in hagiography, many of Zayas's female characters suffertremendous physical abuse, yet they often transcend their victimization by maintaining emotional and corporeal integrity”
• “Using the female body as a vehicle for her didacticism, Zayas's texts are based on a politicized aesthetic meant to urge readers to enact both individual and social reform… The texts lay claim to women's inclusion in the institutions that protected the aristocratic...