The Butler Is The Countess Trifaldi (Dolorous Duenna)
General Background: The Duke’s butler, with the help of his master and mistress, creates the adventure of the Countess Trifaldi, otherwise known as the Dolorous Duenna. After plotting their joke together, the butler enters a garden dressed as the countess of Trifaldi, led by her squire: Trifaldin of the White Beard.
Trifaldi’s Story: As soon as Trifaldi draws up to the Duke, the Duchess, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza, she drops to her knees and begins telling her tale in a rough and coarse masculine voice. Addressing the Duke as his “most powerful lord,” the Duchess as an “exceptionally lovely lady,” and the assembled host as “eminently wise company,” Trifaldi beseeches them to listen her story with brave breasts so that they will know what to do. After Sancho Panza assures the Dolorous Doyenne that Don Quixote will listen to what she says with a sympathetic ear to figure out what is best to be done, Trifaldi tells us that she comes from the famous Kingdom of Kandy and that she is the longest serving and most eminent doyenne of a Queen named Maguncia. But, alas, Trifaldi regretfully recalls that she allows Queen Maguncia’s daughter—a princess named Antonomasia—to have intimate, carnal relations with a bold inamorato named Don Clavijo, before marriage. Trifaldi then informs readers that Queen Maguncia only learned of her daughter’s intent to marry Don Clavijo, at the last moment, by a certain “swelling in her stomach.” So sudden is this news, Trifaldi tells us, and with such grave import, that Queen Maguncia is plunged into a deep state of sorrow and dejection, which she never fully recovers from. So intense is her grief, in fact, that she dies from a broken heart after only three days. To complete her story, Trifaldi recalls that when a wicked giant named Malambruno learns of Queen Maguncia’s death, he turns princess Antonomasia into a “brass monkey” and Don Clavijo into a “fearsome crocodile,” challenging Don Quixote to defeat him in mortal combat to reanimate the pair. Then, Malambruno draws a scimitar from beneath its’ sheath, grabs Trifaldi by the hair, and threatens to slice her head off. But before Malumbruno can execute her, the Dolorous Duenna, though frightened to death, summons the courage to speak such words to Malambruno, and so many of them that he suspends the killing for a moment, electing, instead, to have her suffer a long-drawn out punishment tantamount to an “unending civil death.” At this moment, Trifaldi narrates that the “pores on her face open-up as if needles were pricking her all over,” and a beard grows on her countenance, which keeps growing back, no matter what she tries. Then, Trifaldi expresses her sorrow by asking: “where a Duenna with a beard can go? Or what she can do when she displays a face like a forest? Or, what father and mother can take pity on her? Or, who will help her in her plight?” At the conclusion of her doleful lament, Trifaldi swoons and faints and collapses to the ground. Later, she is revived by Don Quixote’s vow that he will remove the curse cast upon her, “even if he has to go to the land of the Moors to pluck his own beard out.” Upon hearing this assertion, the Dolorous Duenna suddenly recovers from her fainting fit, sits bolt upright in eager expectation, and says that the distant echo of Don Quixote’s valiant promise is enough to bring her out of the midst of her swoon and restore her sharp senses to her. Trifaldi then concludes her tale by beseeching Don Quixote to put his gracious promise into effect posthaste, despite the perils he must face.
Trifaldi’s Dress: Trifaldi dresses up in the finest unnapped black flannel with a skirt tail with three pointed trains borne by three pages. Dressed in mourning, the butler and his three pages form a geometrical figure comprised of three acute angles made by three points. This spiky dress earns the butler the title of the countess of Trifaldi, which is the same as saying the countess of the Three Skirts.
Trifaldi’s Name: Besides being named after the triangle formed by her dress, Trifaldi is nicknamed the Dolorous Duenna since she is accursed with a long beard that always grows back no matter what she does. Indeed, when Queen Maguncia’s wicked cousin, an evil giant named Malambruno, learns of the role that the Dolorous Duenna plays at his kinswoman’s death, he casts an evil spell on Trifaldi that darkens her silky smooth face with the coarse bristles of a magical beard. This, in turn, distresses the Dolorous Duenna since other people are repulsed by her visage. As such, the Dolorous Duenna is in a state of constant mourning signified by her black dress, woeful laments, and lugubrious tears.
Another name that is mentioned, yet not taken up, for the Countess Trifaldi, is the Countess Lupine, because of the “many wolves” bread in her earldom. Since it is “established practice that lords and ladies [are often] named after what is most abundant on their estates,” Cide Hamete El Benengeli, the Muslim narrator of “Don Quixote,” thinks it only right and proper that the Countess Trifaldi be redubbed the Countess Lupine after the many wolves bread in her kingdom. Though this appellation is entertained for a moment, the Dolorous Duenna forgoes the title of the Countess Lupine for the Countess Trifaldi, instead, since she thinks that the novelty of her fine pointed skirts supersedes the wild life of her kingdom.
Trifaldi’s Twelve Duennas: Before Trifaldi introduces herself to the Duke and Duchess of Aragon, she is accompanied by twelve duennas that precede her at a processional pace. Standing to either side of Trifaldi during her introduction, her twelve Duennas “form a human column through which her ladyship passes.” In sum, when Trifaldi addresses the Duke and Duchess of Aragon she is flanked by a squadron of twelve mourning Duennas whose faces are covered with closely woven black veils.
Trifaldi Is Queen Maguncia’s Duenna: Trifaldi is Queen Maguncia’s longest-serving and most eminent duenna since she is charged with bringing-up and tutoring Queen Maguncia’s daughter—the beautiful Princess Antonomasia.
Trifaldi Faults Herself For Not Being The Vigilant Doyenne She Should Have Been: Since Trifaldi is Queen Maguncia’s most trusted Duenna, she faults herself for succumbing to the tactics that Don Clavijo takes to procure her goodwill and secure her affections. In Trifaldi’s mind, instead of being “a firm custodian of the keys to the fortress of princess Antonomasia’s virtue,” as she should have been, she is won over by the gifts, poems, and flattery of a private knight and gentleman, who falls madly in love with her ward. Coaxed by Don Clavijo’s presents, songs, and compliments, Trifaldi succumbs to his personal charms, many skills and accomplishments, along with his fulsome praise.
How Trifaldi Is Won Over By Don Clavijo: To procure Trifaldi’s goodwill, Don Clavijo praises her fine mind, gives her goodwill gifts, and sings her exquisite poems. He even arranges for her to overhear him singing a song about being content and well-adjusted in the face of overwhelming grief. Since Don Clavijo words are consistent with Trifaldi’s inner-most thoughts, his poems “seem to her prettier than pearls and his voice seems sweeter than syrup.” After singing other verses and ditties and poems of all kinds—especially those that are “enchanting to listen to and amazing to read, since they make your very soul leap and dance and laughter frolic about inside you and make your whole body go a-tingle”—Trifaldi is ready to lend Don Clavijo a willing ear.
Trifaldi Encourages Don Clavijo To Marry Princess Antonomasia: Trifaldi insists that before Don Clavijo “beds the tender-hearted young maiden under her care” he make an honorable pledge to marry her when the time comes. Since Trifaldi feels that marriage must always be the outcome of any romantic affair she takes a hand in, she feels satisfied with her obligation to protect her tender young ward.
How Trifaldi Matches Princess Antonomasia With Don Clavijo: Trifaldi manages to keep Princess Antonomasia’s and Don Clavijo’s affairs hidden and secret since the disparity of their rank—Princess Antonomasia is the heiress to a Kingdom while Don Clavijo is a private knight—places obstacles in their path. But when their romantic liaison is speedily revealed by a “certain swelling in Princess Antonomasia’s stomach,” Trifaldi arranges—on the strength of an iron-clad written contract—for Don Clavijo to marry princess Antonmasia at an appropriate time and location.
Trifaldi And The Kingdom of Kandy: Trifaldi explains that the Kingdom of Kandy, her homeland, is roughly “five thousand leagues away,” give or take a couple of leagues. But, “in a straight line, [by air,] it is three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven leagues” distant.
Trifaldi’s Explanation of Clavileno the Swift: Trifaldi tells Don Quixote about Malumbrino’s promise that “whenever fortune sends the dolorous duenna a knight and liberator he himself will send a mount that will be much better and have fewer faults than the ones you hire, because it is that very same wooden horse on which the brave Pierres carries off the fair Magalona: a horse controlled by a peg in its forehead that acts as a bridle.”
Originally posted 2019-12-24 13:54:59.
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Originally posted 2020-02-15 19:47:02.