Out of the Wings

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La capeadora (1640-1645), Luis Quiñones de Benavente

English title: The Cape Thief
Notable variations on Spanish title: La capeadora (Parts 1 and 2), this is from Part 1
Date written: sometime between 1640 and 1645
First publication date: 1645
Keywords: identity > gender, power > inter-personal/game play, love > relationships, women
Genre and type: entremés
Title information

‘Gusarapa’s Fishhook’ is what Bergman calls it in her book (1972), and she also tells us there is another version of the play published in Donaires del gusto (Madrid, 1642) that is not attributed to Benavente directly, but is probably the same play (Bergman 1972: 151).

  • Bergman, Hannah E. 1972. Luis Quiñones de Benavente. New York, Twayne


A clever girl tries to get her lover to buy her a new dress; when he refuses, she ingeniously steals his hat and cape and holds them ransom. Manipulating the mechanics of slapstick to dramatise the battle of the sexes, Benavente offers an endearing and entertaining short play.


Gusarapa and her boyfriend, Arrumaco, represent two strong-willed lovers intent on getting their own way. Gusarapa wants a new stylish black dress, but Arrumaco has no intention of giving in to her requests. He even feigns deafness, pulling out an ear trumpet to pretend to strain to hear her. Gusarapa counters his move by taking out her glasses to pretend she can’t quite read the sonnet he has written to her. Using their senses against each other, the couple wage a war which Gusarapa ultimately wins. Pretending to fix his hat, she attaches a fishhook to it and her servant, who is hiding in the upper window, lifts his hat off by the thread connected to the hook.  She does the same with his cloak, and though he offers money in return for his belongings, Gusarapa stalls for time and claims both his cash and his clothes. At the end Arrumaco is forced to admit that the women have outsmarted him, but he closes the play with a bitter comment - that women should learn to sew to earn their own money, or die, for he is tired of women’s constant dependence on men for money to buy clothes and food. A charming, entertaining short play, this entremés raises the issue of women’s financial independence from men while showing how the women make the best of their dependency by having fun tricking the men.

Critical response

Depicting the battle between the sexes on stage is a common theme for this genre of short, comic drama. Although he may have been influenced by Quevedo, who often used a similar lens but whose work tended to be more overtly misogynistic, Benavente differs significantly from Quevedo in providing Arrumaco’s concession that ‘women are cleverer’ in this play.

  • Quiñones de Benavente, Luis. 1985. Joco seria: burlas veras, ó reprehensión moral y festiva de los desórdenes públicas, ed. Manuel Antonio de Vargas. Hildesheim, G. Olms

    This is a facsimile edition compiled from the Madrid edition of 1645 and the Valladolid edition of 1653.

  • Quiñones de Benavente, Luis. 2001. Entremeses completos, vol. 1., ed. I. Arellano, J. M. Escudero and A. Madroñal. GRISO. Madrid, Iberoamericana; Navarra, Universidad de Navarra; Frankfurt am Main, Vervuert

Useful readings and websites
  • Bergman, Hannah E. 1972. Luis Quiñones de Benavente. New York, Twayne

    For La capeadora see pp. 102-5

  • Madroñal Durán, Abraham. 2003. ‘Quiñones de Benavente y el teatro breve’. Historia del teatro español I, ed. Javier Huerta Calvo, pp. 1025-68. Madrid, Gredos. (in Spanish)

  • Thacker, Jonathan. 2007. ‘Types of Comedia and Other Forms of Theatre’. A Companion to Golden Age Theatre, pp. 143-69. Woodbridge, Tamesis

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Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 4 October 2010.

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