The Memoir Lieutenant Nun Written By Doña Catalina De Erauso History 171 Essay

912 words - 4 pages

Wil Madura
History 171
The Memoir Lieutenant Nun written by doña Catalina de Erauso tells a very interesting story about a young Spanish female and her adventures throughout Spain and in the new world. In the beginning her family wants her to become a Nun but she has different plans, which consist of her running away from the convent and attempting to find somewhere to make her fortune by passing as a male. Catalina’s story is very interesting because it gives readers another perspective of exploration with a focus on self-discovery in the seventeenth century emphasizing on how passing as a male is the only thing that allowed her the ability to explore. Throughout the memoir Catalina continuedly reminisces about clothing, and it begs the question is she doing this consciously or not. All throughout her journey clothing plays a large role not only in her travels but also in her personal life. Throughout Catalinas journey clothing plays a huge role in showing who Catalina is and what she stands for.
The first instance where Catalina shows who she really wants to be is when she escapes the convent and disguises herself as a man. This part in Catalinas transformation from a woman to man involved stepping over the boundaries in cultural roles and changing her clothing from one style to another. As a woman, she wore a bodice and petticoat, but in order to disguise herself as a man, she cut these items into a pair of breeches. [footnoteRef:10254] This immediately shows how much material culture plays a role in Catalinas life because it shows that it truly helps her change her identity into who she wishes to be. By transforming her clothes, she shows how her disposal of her nun’s habit expresses her discomfort towards her old life and her desire to escape its grip. Throughout her journey Catalina has some instances where marriage becomes a possibility and receives clothing as gifts. These young women wanted to marry a successful and capable man that they see because the title of wife was a step up in the societal hierarchy. [10254: de Erauso, Catalina. Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997, 4]
In one potential marriage Catalina is sent “a suit of good velvet, twelve shirts, six pairs of Rouen breeches, a collar of fine Dutch linen, a dozen handkerchiefs, a two hundred pesos in a silver dish- all of this a gift, sent simply as a compliment, and having nothing to do with the dowry itself”. [footnoteRef:6851] The clothing she receives shows the hierarchy of men and how much women wanted to be married to gain a higher social...

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