Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Royal palace

Royal palace. Corneille portrays the two houses in The Cid basically as elegant prisons in which Chimène and the infanta lead apparently comfortable lives but cannot express their deepest feelings to others. One might expect the infanta to be a happy person because she is so wealthy, but such is not the case. The royal palace in which she lives is a marble museum and almost a tomb for her. There she must always act and speak in conformity with the expectations of her social standing.

Chimène’s house

Chimène’s house (shee-MEHN). The home of the daughter of Don Gomès is more modest than the royal palace, but is equally oppressive. Chimène is constantly watched by a female servant who reports to her father. Corneille effectively contrasts the interior spaces occupied by Chimène and the infanta with the open surroundings in which the warrior Rodrigue operates. Rodrigue, like the women, is also profoundly alienated. Once he believes that he can never marry his beloved Chimène, he seeks death in a rash attack to defend Seville against the invading Moorish forces, only to win an unexpected victory. He is no happier on the battlefield than are Chimène and the infanta in their elegant domestic prisons.

Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

Eleventh-century Spain
From the eighth until the eleventh century, Muslims (or Moors as they were once called) controlled most...

(The entire section is 1167 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

The Three Unities
The three unities, as they were called, influenced much of seventeenth-century French drama. This concept of...

(The entire section is 938 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

Eleventh century: The Muslim government in Spain is in a state of collapse. Small Christian kingdoms, some won through the efforts...

(The entire section is 294 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

• Research the role of Cardinal de Richelieu, who was chief minister of France during the production of Le Cid. What were...

(The entire section is 237 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Drama for Students)

• The Spanish version of the legend of Le Cid was made into a movie called El Cid (1961) and starred Charleton Heston as the hero...

(The entire section is 45 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

• If you want to read the original text of the poem of the legend of El Cid, The Poem of the Cid (1985), by Ian Michael, Rita...

(The entire section is 249 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Clarke, John, Pierre Corneille: Poetics and Political Drama under Louis XIII, Cambridge University Press, 1992....

(The entire section is 361 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Abraham, Claude. Pierre Corneille. New York: Twayne, 1972. Geared for the general reader; all quotations are in English. Gives a short biographical sketch and discusses the structure, themes, and style in Corneille’s plays. Shows the significance of The Cid in Corneille’s works.

Bénichou, Paul. Man and Ethics: Studies in French Classicism. Translated by Elizabeth Hughes. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971. Treats the social and moral conditions of life during the seventeenth century. Brilliantly considers the relation between aesthetic and moral values in literature.

Cook, Albert Spaulding. French Tragedy: The Power of Enactment. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1981. Presents an interesting discussion concerning the style of the neoclassical play. The quotations are in both French and English.

Moore, Will Grayburn. The Classical Drama of France. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1971. Provides information about the form of the French neoclassical play. Explains the background of The Cid.

Yarrow, P. J. Corneille. New York: Macmillan, 1963. A general study of Corneille’s plays that presents their structure and relates them to their epoch. An excellent treatment of The Cid’s importance in the developing of seventeenth century French neoclassicism.