The Tragic Woman: Female Victimhood in the Cinema of the Spanish Civil War



One of the central differences which delineated the opposing sides of the Spanish Civil War was their differing views on gender roles within society. As such, a study of gender iconography within the cultural representation of the Spanish Civil War promises to prove rewarding in terms of achieving a more comprehensive understanding of the cultural legacy of the War. This paper takes as its focus the cinematic representation of the War, in particular in the Anglophone world, and argues that the representation of gender in Spanish Civil War cinema maps on to the central memory-narrative – that of loss. Female characters are almost always used to symbolise the apparently inevitable defeat of the Republic. This paper examines the way female characters are thus appropriated to symbolise a national defeat, and argues that the consequences of this mode of representation are particularly problematic – both for gender iconography, and for other progressive political movements.


cinemaSpanish Civil Warfilm studiesvisual artsSpainmemoryvictimhoodbodies
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 62-79
  • DOI: 10.18573/ipics.53
  • Published on 1 Mar 2011
  • Peer Reviewed