The family myth and the rhetoric of silence in the early post-war theater of Spain: Jardiel Poncela, Buero Vallejo, and Sastre.
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This thesis studies how playwrights in the first two decades of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain created an alternative discourse to counteract the repressive Nationalist narrative. Focusing on three plays, Enrique Jardiel Poncela’s Eloísa está debajo de un almendro (1940), Antonio Buero Vallejo’s Historia de una escalera (1949), and Alfonso Sastre’s La mordaza (1954), this investigation examines two techniques: the dismantling of Franco’s family rhetoric and traditional gender roles and the construction of a rhetoric of silence. Through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of hidden polemic and the rhetoric of silence as studied by Janet Pérez and others, the innovative ways these playwrights used the fascist discourse and strict censorship laws to their advantage stand out clearly. These playwrights respond to tyranny and undercut the Francoist Regime by producing rich, multi-layered literary works with multi-layered meanings, creating a “silent” space for dialogue.