The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Satin Slipper contains fifty-two scenes, divided into four separate days. As the first day begins, a dying Jesuit priest prays that his brother Rodrigo will someday accept God. In the next scene, Pelagio asks his friend Balthazar to accompany Prouheze to the African city of Mogador, where Pelagio and Prouheze will represent the interests of the king of Spain. Pelagio plans to leave for Mogador after his wife’s departure from Spain. His arranged marriage with the younger Prouheze has made neither of them truly happy. Camillo, a disreputable character who also loves Prouheze, will direct the Spanish soldiers in Mogador. Although she wishes to be faithful to her marriage vows, Prouheze clearly loves Rodrigo and not Pelagio or Camillo. As she prepares to leave for Africa, she takes off her satin slipper and places it on a statue of the Virgin Mary, whose protection she seeks. The king of Spain appoints Rodrigo his Viceroy for the West Indies and Panama. Rodrigo, however, does not wish to accept this position. In a vain attempt to escape from Spain, he is badly wounded; Prouheze herself barely escapes abduction and death at the hands of brigands. Paul Claudel then introduces the first of many supernatural elements in this play: Prouheze’s Guardian Angel assures her that Rodrigo still lives and will someday see her again.

As the second day begins, Doña Honoria fears for the life of her son Rodrigo. Both she and Pelagio realize that Rodrigo and Prouheze love each other deeply. Honoria convinces Pelagio, however, that he should not travel to Africa with his wife. Honoria argues that the harsh life in Mogador will contribute to Prouheze’s spiritual growth, and she affirms that it will be necessary to separate Prouheze from Rodrigo in order to save the souls of these two lovers. Prouheze leaves for Mogador, whence she will never return. After his physical recovery, Rodrigo travels to Mogador...

(The entire section is 781 words.)