ARTL 2 - Question Was Catalina de Erauso a man or a woman...

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Question: Was Catalina de Erauso a man or a woman? Explain why. Lieutenant Nun is a controversial memoir and autobiography following the life of Catalina de Erauso, an audacious and intrepid woman who lived her life in the façade and demeanor of a 17 th century man. While she began her journey with intentions of keeping her identity unknown to those searching for a missing daughter and escapee, the line between her masked disguise and evolving masculinity is blurred. Throughout her lifetime, Catalina’s masculinity progressively developed as she continued to acquire stereotypical male characteristics by becoming increasingly violent, destructive, and emotionally unattached with every passing experience. Catalina now not only dressed the part but wholly assumed the masculine role with complete exterior and mental embodiment of the male persona. While her only feminine qualities can be accredited to her innate physical anatomy, Catalina’s complete psychological transformation and digression towards male tendencies illustrated her true existence as a man rather than a woman. Born of a Basque heritage in the Guipuzcoa province of Spain, Catalina de Erauso was placed at the age of four into a Dominican convent where her training to become a nun would begin. The most significant change and turning point in Catalina’s life came when the spontaneity of an opportunity to escape the convent arose. With quick wit and wiliness, she broke free from the convent as a fifteen year old girl and entered the world outside her monastery walls as a man disguised in a suit of clothes she had fashioned for herself from the garments on her own back. She confidently leapt into society taking job opportunities first as “a page with the king’s secretary” (Erauso, 5) and from there began her progression into the masculine line of work. With every occupational role or position that Catalina took on, she became increasingly more masculine and gradually adopted male characteristics as her own, rendering her almost
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indistinguishable from an actual man. She signed on as a ship boy on her Uncle’s galleon, joined
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This essay was uploaded on 10/21/2007 for the course ARLT 100g taught by Professor 02:00-03:20pm during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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ARTL 2 - Question Was Catalina de Erauso a man or a woman...

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