In June 1676, Thomas Otway’s Don Carlos enjoyed a great success at the Duke’s Theatre and, if the play’s characterization as domestic tragedy limits its scope, still it works as a magnifying lens on its political essence. Don Carlos is built on a thick web of glances, reflecting a vicious perspective on reality, which becomes the centre of distorted power. The clash between truth and make-believe leads to the misinterpretation of private truth which dims the public qualities of farsightedness and prudence of the king. Solomonic parallelisms, mastered by the first Stuart monarch earlier in the century, prudence and caution, indeed associated to vision by Thomas Elyot in Tudor times, are reversed until the rejection of the symbols of kingship as darkness itself wraps the king’s head. His eyes eventually reveal their human frailty and so does the Stuart golden age while the Restoration compromise already shows disturbing cracks.
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