An ambitious and clever Spanish woman with acid wit sets out to become a doctor and a lover in Portugal, employing her considerable skills at improvisation and disguise to achieve her ends while dissolving the gender barriers of 17th century Spain.
A young woman, Jerónima — whose ambition it is to study medicine — becomes offended when her brother’s friend, Gaspar, comes to stay in their home but seems to ignore her. When her brother and Gaspar flee to Portugal, Jerónima decides to follow them. In Portugal, Gaspar falls in love with Estefanía, whose father fears she has come down with the plague. When a doctor is called in, Jerónima enters — disguised as a man, Doctor Barbosa — and proceeds to woo Estefanía. At first jealous of Estefanía’s attraction to the “doctor,” Gaspar eventually falls in love with the doctor’s sister, Marta, who is actually Jerónima dressed in female garb. Later confronted by Estefanía after almost being found out, the "doctor" confesses that he is not really the doctor but Marta, dressed as her brother. After a series of tricks that nearly go awry, “Marta” confesses that in fact "she" really is the doctor, not his sister, and that he wants Estefanía's hand in marriage. Estefanía agrees. Still disguised as the doctor when Gaspar enters, Jerónima gets Gaspar to agree to marry her —Marta. In the final moments of the play, Jerónima’s maid enters to announce that Jerónima’s brother has been killed, and that she must go back to Seville to take care of the family’s estate. Thus is Jerónima's identity revealed and, as per the happy ending of the Spanish comedia, Gaspar and Jerónima decide to marry.
The character of Jerónima may have been inspired by the early 17th century Sevillian writer Feliciana Enriquez.
El amor médico was adapted by Molière into a play titled L’Amour médecin in 1665.
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Entry submitted by sarahbrew on 2 September 2011 and last updated by Gwynneth Dowling on 29 September 2011