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Abstract

This essay examines the limiting gender roles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as depicted through the detailed account of Catalina de Erauso, a Spanish woman who ran away from a convent. Disguising herself as a man, Catalina eventually journeyed to Chile, joined the militia, and took part in fighting against the native peoples of the region. Noted as being an exemplary warrior in the midst of battle, she was not detected as a woman until she exposed herself. By taking historical context into account, this essay argues that patriarchal society’s view of women is what enabled Catalina to impersonate a man so successfully. As women were stereotyped as characteristically similar and, therefore, interchangeable, they were underestimated and overlooked in these roles.

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