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Las bizarrías de Belisa (1634), Lope de Vega Carpio

English title: The Gallantries of Belisa
Date written: ?1634
First publication date: 1637
Keywords: morality > honour, morality > justice-revenge, women, ideology > morality, love > desire, love > friendship, identity > gender cross dressing
Genre and type: comedy
Title information

‘Bizarrías’ is difficult to translate; it means elegant, ostentatious stylishness, and also ‘Gallantries’, or acts of gallantry


Stylish comedy with a headstrong leading lady who is endlessly inventive in her strategies to win the heart of the man she loves.


The elegant (and rich) Belisa opens the play with an exciting tale of her adventure while she was out ‘seeing and being seen’ in the stylish area of the Prado, in Madrid. She recounts how she was travelling in her coach when she saw a handsome man, Juan, set upon and outnumbered by attackers. Belisa explains that she leapt from her coach, grabbed her chauffeur’s sword, and defended him. Having saved Juan’s life, and already falling in love with him, she learns over the course of the action that the scuffle was due to his unreciprocated love for Lucinda, who has nearly impoverished him by accepting his gifts. Belisa is consumed by jealousy, dons mourning clothes and refuses to re-enter society until her friend Celia convinces her to come out. Undaunted by the fray, Juan continues to pursue Lucinda, attempting to break down her door.  One evening he finds another man, Octavio, leaving her house, and Juan wounds him in a jealous rage.

The next morning in the countryside, Belisa speaks with the Count Enrique, but she jilts him to spend time with Juan, as she enjoys his poetic way with words. When Lucinda arrives, she asks Octavio to speak with her in order to make Juan jealous, and Juan asks Belisa to stay with him to make Lucinda jealous. When Lucinda speaks to the ‘couple’, Belisa informs her that she and Juan are to be married, which sparks an argument between the two women.  Meanwhile Juan’s servant flirts with Belisa’s lady, Finea.

In the second act, Belisa sends her servant on a reconnaissance mission to inspect Juan’s house, and Finea returns with details of the furniture, down to the portrait of Lucinda hanging on the wall. Juan visits Belisa and confesses that ever since Belisa put on that ‘show’ of being in love with him, Lucinda has relented in her former coldness, crying and declaring her love for Juan, which has had the disastrous effect of killing his passion for her. Belisa coquettishly says she has a ‘friend’ she could set him up with, and after a list of gifts he’d have to make to woo this ‘friend’, including the portrait of Lucinda, she reveals that the ‘friend’ is none other than herself. Lucinda has her own plans, and convinces Enrique to pretend to woo her to thwart Belisa’s plans to steal Juan (by making him jealous), and Enrique agrees to her plans. Juan sends further gifts to Belisa, including a phoenix made of diamonds for her to wear to the local festival of St. Marcos. Lucinda visits Belisa to spin her a tale of how Juan has been visiting her house at night; Belisa, enraged, gives Lucinda the diamond phoenix and when Juan arrives, Belisa turns her back on him.

In the third act, in a street scene outside Lucinda’s house, two pistol-toting men approach Lucinda’s house; they are actually Belisa and her servant Finea in men’s clothing. Belisa has previously received a letter from Lucinda asking to borrow a dress for her wedding to Juan, which has naturally inflamed Belisa’s curiosity about Juan’s faithfulness, leading her to take on a disguise and see if Juan visits Lucinda’s house that evening. Unfortunately for Juan he has made the decision to visit Lucinda that night but only because he suspects she has been up to some mischief and wants her to stop. Octavio is also on the street; his wounds from Juan’s sword have healed, but he wants revenge for his still-damaged honour and has come to kill Juan. Belisa and Juan’s servant realise Juan is in danger at the same moment, and Belisa and Finea take Juan’s side in the street fight, which never really gets going because everyone flees at the sight of their guns. Juan cannot thank his mysterious saviours because Belisa and Finea run away before they can be recognised. At home Belisa finds that her friend Celia has hidden Count Enrique in a bedroom, but Belisa explains the situation to Juan, and they are reconciled, vowing to get their revenge on Lucinda. Juan cunningly tells Lucinda that Belisa will be happy to lend her best dress for their wedding, and will come and help her get ready. But when the Count announces that Lucinda and Juan will be married, Belisa has her revenge on Lucinda when Juan reveals that it is Belisa he will be marrying after all. Lucinda accepts that she has been duped and been the object of revenge, but consoles herself by accepting the Count as her husband. The servants are married off as well, and the play ends in multiple weddings and celebration.

  • The autograph manuscript can be found in the British Museum, Ms. 10.329.

  • Vega, Lope de. 1993. Las bizarrías de Belisa. In La Vega del Parnaso, eds. Melquíades Prieto and Esperanza Gómez, Madrid, Ara Iovis

  • Vega, Lope de. 2004. Las bizarrías de Belisa, ed. Enrique García Santo-Tomás, Madrid, Cátedra

Useful readings and websites
  • García Santo-Tomás, Enrique. 2000. ‘Tráfico barroco: urbanidad y urbanismo en Las bizarrías de Belisa de Lope de Vega’, Bulletin of the Comediantes, 52, 1, 31-53 (in Spanish)

  • García Santo-Tomás, Enrique. 2004. Introduction to Las bizarrías de Belisa by Lope de Vega, ed. Enrique García Santo-Tomás. Madrid, Cátedra (in Spanish)

  • González, Aurelio. 1994. ‘Las bizarrías de Belisa: Texto dramático y texto espectacular’. In El escritor y la escena II, ed. Ysla Campbell, pp. 143-53. Ciudad Juárez, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (in Spanish)

  • Land, Jerry Ann. 1974. ‘The Importance of the Conde Enrique in Lope's Las bizarrías de Belisa’, Romanic Review, 65, 103-15

  • Sileri, Manuela. 2007. ‘Belisa entre melindres y bizarrías: Cómo cambia la organización dramática de la comedia urbana’. In Métrica y estructura dramática en el teatro de Lope de Vega, ed. Fausta Antonucci, pp. 133-67. Kassel, Reichenberger (in Spanish)

  • Torres, Isabel. 2007. 'Las bizarrías de Belisa', Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 84, 1, 127-8

    This review of the Spanish edition of the play is actually a very handy reading of the play itself.

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

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