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.