The Animal Within: Chivalry, Monstrosity, and Gender in Renaissance Spain
Thinkers moved more closely to the Greco-Roman view that saw humans along a continuum with animals, with the potential of lowering themselves to the bestial level by their actions. Frequently, ugly features were presented in animal terms horse-teeth, rat's eyes, donkey's ears, dog's snout, so that along with deformity one can add the element of inappropriateness the juxtaposition of the human and the bestial. Arthurian romance to have the knight fight against "mauvaises coutumes", and as the motif of conversion will become prevalent in posterior books of chivalry, mirroring the colonial politics of the Spanish empire. Spanish discourse on monstrosity, writes del Ro Parra, is characterized not by a much hailed scientific underdevelopment in the Iberian Peninsula, or a particular emphasis on religiosity, but by the coexistence of many approaches to monstrosity. Gender plays a crucial role in the presentation of the monsters, either in their conception or in their gestation.