• Calisto’s Narcissistic Visions: A Reexamination of Melibea’s ‘Ojos Verdes’ in Celestina

    Nicholas Ealy (see profile)
    Literature, Medieval, Spanish literature, Middle Ages, Sixteenth century, Seventeenth century, Psychoanalysis, Narcissism
    Item Type:
    Medieval literature, Medieval Spanish Literature, Early modern Spanish literature
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    In Act 1 of Fernando de Rojas’s 'Celestina' (1499), Calisto praises the beauty of Melibea largely in terms of the clichéd portraiture common to chivalric romance. Her green eyes (ojos verdes), however, contrast with more widespread depictions where authors tend to describe eyes in terms of their luminosity (shining, starry or mirror-like). This article proposes a new means of considering Melibea’s ojos verdes as a complex symbol joining the psychophysiology of sight to the conflicted desire that both sustains and undermines Calisto’s amorous feelings. The greenery of the eyes thus comes to serve as a metaphor for the transcendental, rapacious, and narcissistic modes of desire linked to vision and the gaze between lovers. In this study, I demonstrate how (1) the ojos verdes are etymologically and textually associated with traditions of beauty, carnality, and mirrored vision and (2) these issues coalesce around the theme of Ovidian narcissism present within the text. This dual objective is elucidated through an analysis of the beatific vision Calisto claims to experience in Act 1, where the reference to ojos verdes appears, the undoing of these exalted eyes in their connection to falconry and rapacious desire, and the link between Melibea’s eyes, narcissistic imagery, and the greenery of the garden in Act 19.
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    6 years ago
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