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La traición en la amistad (1618-1632), María de Zayas y Sotomayor

English title: Friendship Betrayed
Date written: sometime between 1618 and 1632
First publication date: 1903
Keywords: morality > honour, identity > gender, identity > sexuality, love > relationships, love > desire, women
Genre and type: comedy

This play turns traditional comedia gender roles around, foregrounding female friendship and showing how women can seduce and betray just as mercilessly as the typical male galán.


The plot of this female-driven play twists and turns around three women’s love of one man, Liseo. Marcia is the first to describe her love for him, showing his portrait to her friend Fenisa, who falls in love with him after seeing the picture. Both Fenisa and Marcia already have admirers; Fenisa pretends to reciprocate the love of her admirer Juan, but he becomes jealous when she shows interest in Liseo, asking too many questions about him. Marcia writes a love letter to Liseo, but he prefers to pursue Fenisa, making plans to seduce her with no intentions of marriage. Another woman, Laura, reveals she has been seduced and cruelly abandoned by Liseo in the past. Hearing this, Marcia agrees in a show of female solidarity to throw off her feelings for the treacherous Liseo. Marcia writes another note to Liseo, telling him (falsely) that the dishonoured Laura is distraught and joining a convent, when in fact she is staying with Marcia for a while. Despite receiving this note reminding him of his past transgression and reporting its effect on Laura, Liseo persists in his plan to seduce Finesa, and arranges to see her that evening. Meanwhile, Fenisa plays mind games with Marcia’s admirer, Gerardo, offering to console him now that his beloved Marcia is apparently in love with Liseo. Gerardo, loyal to Marcia, refuses Fenisa’s advances. This impresses Marcia so much that she falls back in love with him. Fenisa plans another conquest, this time with Lauro. Her admirer, Juan, sees them together and slaps Fenisa in the face.

The final act is a series of confusions of identity, impersonations and false promises. Liseo pursues Marcia, and even agrees to marry her, but this happens while Marcia is pretending to be yet another woman, Belisa, and Laura is pretending to be Marcia. Liseo sends word to Fenisa not to pursue him any more, and Fenisa is upset, but continues to hatch plans for conquering more men. At the end, Laura admits to Liseo that the news of her entering a convent had been a lie invented by Marcia, and Liseo and Laura are engaged, saving Laura’s honour. Marcia marries Gerardo, Belisa marries Juan, and Fenisa is left on her own, which Marcia says is just what she deserves.

Critical response

López-Mayhew (writing in Spanish for her Spanish edition) provides an excellent dramaturgical introduction to the play, complete with full diagrams explaining the dramatic structure and the technical attributes of the plot. She builds on the work of Williamsen (1982), and her introduction provides a full analysis of the play and its context (Zayas 2003).

Further information

Soufas dates the play’s composition between 1628 and 1632, based on historical events mentioned in the play and praise for the work given by Pérez de Montalbán in 1632 (Soufas 1997: 274). However, there is some controversy about this date, as both López-Mayhew and McGrath posit that the play was written between 1618 and 1620.

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 1905. La traición en la amistad. In Apuntes para una biblioteca de escritoras españolas desde el año 1401 al 1833, vol. 2, ed. Manuel Serrano y Sanz, pp. 583-620. Madrid, Sucesores de Rivadeneira [Rept. Madrid, Atlas, 1975]

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 1994. Comedia famosa de La traición en la amistad. In Teatro de mujeres del Barroco, eds. Felicidad González Santamera and Fernando Doménech, pp. 31-172. Madrid, Asociación de Directores de Escena de España

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 1997. La traición en la amistad. In Women’s Acts: Plays by Women Dramatists of Spain’s Golden Age, ed. Teresa Scott Soufas, pp. 273-308. Lexington, University Press of Kentucky

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 1999. La traición en la amistad: Friendship Betrayed, ed. Valerie Hegstrom, trans. Catherine Larson. Cranbury, New Jersey, Associated University Presses [Biliingual edition in English and Spanish]

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 2007. La traición en la amistad, ed. Michael J. McGrath. Newark, DE, Juan de la Cuesta

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. Comedia famosa de La traición en la amistad. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, manuscript res. 173 (the manuscript is undated).

  • Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. 1983. La traición en la amistad, ed. Alessandra Melloni. Verona, Universitá Degli Studi di Verona

  • Zayas, María de. 2003. La traición en la amistad, ed. Bárbara López-Mayhew. Newark, DE, Juan de la Cuesta

Useful readings and websites
  • Campbell, Gwyn E. 1998. (En)gendering Fenisa in Maria de Zayas's La traicion en la amistad (Online Publication)

    Available online here [Accessed July 2010]

  • Ferrer, Joshua. 2004. ‘The Community of Women in María de Zayas y Sotomayor’s La traición en la amistad.’ Master of Arts Thesis, Miami University, Spanish (Online Publication)

    Available online here [Accessed July 2010]

  • Gorfkle, Laura. 1998. ‘Female Communities, Female Friendships and Social Control in Maria de Zayas's La traicion en la amistad: A Historical Perspective’ (Online Publication)

    Available online here [Accessed July 2010]

  • Hegstrom Oakey, Valerie. 1994. ‘The Fallacy of False Dichotomy in María de Zayas’s La traición en la amistad’, Bulletin of the Comediantes, 46, 59-70

  • Larson, Catherine. 1994-5. ‘Gender, Reading, and Intertextuality: Don Juan’s Legacy in María de Zayas's La traición en la amistad’, INTI: Revista de Literatura Hispanica, 40-1, 129-38

  • Leoni, Monica. 2003. ‘María de Zayas's La traición en la amistad: Female Friendship Politicized?’, South Atlantic Review, 68, 4, 62-84

  • Leoni, Monica. 2007. ‘The Convenient Demonization of Fenisa and the Subsequent Creation of the “Other”’, Bulletin of the Comediantes, 59, 1, 149-66

  • Paun de García, Susan. 1988. ‘La traición en la amistad de María de Zayas’, Anales de literatura española, 6, 377-90 (in Spanish)

  • Soufas, Teresa Scott. 1994. ‘María de Zayas’s (Un)Conventional Play, La traición en la amistad’. In The Golden Age Comedia: Text, Theory, and Performance, eds. Charles Ganelin and Howard Mancing, pp. 148-164. West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University Press

  • Stroud, Matthew D. 1985. ‘Love, Friendship, and Deceit in La traición en la amistad, by María de Zayas’, Neophilologus, 69, 539-47

  • Stroud, Matthew D. 1995. ‘The Demand for Love and the Mediation of Desire in La traición en la amistad’. In María de Zayas: The Dynamics of Discourse, eds. Amy R. Williamsen and Judith A. Whitenack, pp. 155-69. Cranbury, NJ, Associated University Presses

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

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Maegan wrote 29 Nov 2016, 8:04 p.m.
Production history addition I'd like to note that my theatre company did a production of Friendship Betrayed in 2015 and I'd love to add information if possible!
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