In the play Fuente Ovejuna by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, can Laurencia, the mayor's daughter, be seen as the protagonist?
The town of Fuente Ovejuna is often discussed as the collective protagonist. But, I think that Laurencia, a woman, is actually the protagonist as she incites the town to overthrow the cruel Commander.
In its uniquely proto-feminist style, Lope de Vega presents us with the strong-willed and courageous Laurencia. Laurencia is the daughter of Esteban, and the love interest of Frondoso. Rather than being a static and passive character, Laurencia goes through a series of events in the play that test her resiliense as a character and as a woman. So many things happen to her that there is no argument that her presence in the play serves as an anchoring force that moves the plot forward. For this reason, it is safe to say that she is definitely in the position of a heroine, a main character, or a protagonist.
Laurencia is desired by both friend and foe; by Frondoso, her lover, and by the Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán who kidnaps her unsuccessfully, for she escapes. However, it is not her sexuality what moves the main idea of the play, but her willfulness and her determination to not be squashed down, so to speak, but the predominantly male figures that attempt to ruin her, and those around her. Moreover, Laurencia maintains her femininity and nurturing spirit through the patriotism and pride that she displays as one of the strong people of Fuente Ovejuna.
This being said, think about how Laurencia displays her heroine traits: she escapes from captivity under the nose of Commander Gómez de Guzmán, she then defends herself again from the Commander's rape attempt. She condemns the arrest of Frondoso, and she even gives a good beating to the attackers in Act III, preserving her virtue. Finally, the orchestrated manner in which she instills in the men the overthrow of the Commander seals her fate as one of the strongest forces in the storyline of the play. There is no doubt that Laurencia is at least worthy of a position of distinction from the rest of the characters.