'the Characters in Le Cid Are Extremists Prepared, at Whatever Cost, to Live Up to Their Convictions.' Do You Agree with This Comment on the Play?

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  • Topic: Pierre Corneille, Le Cid, Love
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  • Published : April 16, 2011
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'The characters in Le Cid are extremists prepared, at whatever cost, to live up to their convictions.' Do you agree with this comment on the play?

“Pierre Corneille’s Le Cid focuses on a legendary hero of eleventh-century Spain and his feats of heroism, chivalry and honour. But a more pervading element of this play, one that is acted out by not only the protagonist but many other characters is that of sacrifice” . Having been set in the Seventeenth Century it was “adapted to the heroic ethic that Corneille recognised in the French nobility of his own generation...where the pundonor (a punctilious concern with personal and family honour) provided one of the predominant themes of Golden Age drama” . In this essay I will look at a selection of characters who appear to have strong convictions; if they live up to said convictions, they are, as the comment describes, “extremists prepared, at whatever cost, to live up to their convictions”. Let us begin by defining an “extremist”. I consider an extremist to be a person who stands by their opinions or views beyond reasonable limits, be it political or, in the case of this book, love and honour. While this applies to many of the characters in Le Cid, I believe that it does not apply to all. The first sacrifice to happen in Le Cid is that of Don Diegue. While he, himself, does not live up to his convictions (being that he had lost a duel, and was dishonoured), he is willing to sacrifice the life of his own son, Don Rodrigue, in order to restore family honour. By sending his son to fight his duel for him, it could be argued that he may be an extremist; however he does not live up to his own convictions. Don Diegue was aware that he would not be successful in a duel with Don Gomes (having already been disarmed once) and so he forced his son to live up to his convictions for him. Due to this act of cowardice it is clear to me that Don Diegue is not an “extremist prepared at whatever cost to live up to their convictions”....
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