The Dog in the Manger – Term Paper

Dog in a Manger Story

Aesop’s Fables presents the “dog in a manger” as a moral story that describes any churlish behavior among people or selfish behavior as exhibited by the dog which would not let anything near the manger keeping it all for himself. The story has further been presented in different ways such as theater play which involved a sharp twist of cynicism and musical language. Directed by Jonathan Munby, the play unleashes different explanation of the “dog in a manger”; placed in the 17th century, Naples. The play has different key characters such as Diana who holds a key position of power as a key theme in the play. Additionally, Diana’s role exemplifies the equality theme by demonstrating the ability of women to rise to power and equal place in the society. This essay will describe the existing balance between passion and intellect as presented in the character of Diana, her strength and the underlying message relating to equality, power, and womanhood.

    The theatric representation of  Aesop’s fable “a dog in the manger,” uses the character of Diana, the Countess of Belfort who represents dog guarding the hay and preventing other animals to enjoy the same. Diana is presented as an arrogant queen with no wish to love but only takes the opportunity to take Teodoro, her secretary after discovering his love for Marcela. According to the story, Diana’s love is based on the play’s theme “love made from envy.” The character of Diana demonstrates a balance of passion and intellect since her actions show both aspects. For example, Diana seeks attention and prevents the happiness of others; however, she shows a balance between passion and intellect by her ability to know what she wants.; ; ;Additionally, Diana manages to live with false honor despite her passion which is exhibited by how she dictate letters to Teodoro. The character of Diana also demonstrates her ability to balance between passion and intellect based on her love for Teodoro and how she evaluates her love for a commoner. The play states” Diana remembers Teodoro is not noble enough to love,” which presents her intellectual ability and balance with her passion for love (De Vega, 2009). Diana also shows some sense of honor which limits her ability to reveal her true feelings which create a fix between her passion and role in class.

; ; Diana’s strength lies in her ability to balance her passion and intellect as well as her ability to control others. Based on the fact that she is in power, Diana can influence people’s lives as well as their choices such as Teodoro. Diana also has a strong sense of pride and honor. The story states “Countess Diana holds a position of power and secretly loves her secretary, Teodoro” (De Vega, 2009). However, her pride and sense of honor limit her ability to show her love and feelings for someone beneath her level or a commoner. Diana further states ” a noble birth regards low-born things with shame…”; (De Vega, 2009). She fails to achieve her love and establish better relationship since she feels that her social class differs from Teodoro making him not a suitable suitor.; Her strength also lies in her commitment to her goals or desires which also motivates her actions such as preventing the existing relationship between Teodoro and Marcela as well as live with a false honor. Diana’ active abilities and influence of power create a chance for her to act like the “dog in the manger” which involves preventing others achieve what she couldn’t be satisfied with such as love.

Hire a custom writer who has experience.
It's time for you to order amazing papers!

order now

Dog in a Manger Play

; ; The play presents key message relating to the themes of womanhood, equality, and power as exemplified in the character of Diana. The play clearly demonstrates the theme of womanhood based on the strong character of Diana and Marcela with actions such as open seduction and jealousy which characterizes womanhood. Diana fakes her love for Teodoro to prevent the relationship with Marcela her lady-in-waiting which presents the aspects of love and relationship that defines the modern woman. However, the play fails to demonstrate the positive values of womanhood such as their role in the society or families. The play only provides the negative aspects of womanhood such as influencing relationship breakups. However, it presents some aspects of positive values such as the desire to have families or companion as exhibited by the relationships established among characters such as Diana and Marcela.

; ; On the other hand, the play provides fundamental issues that relate to the themes of equality through the characters involved such as Diana. Equality aspect refers to access to same rights such as leadership, opportunities and family roles among others. The theme is demonstrated by different characters in the play, which enhances understanding of the current society changes and areas requiring change such as power positions or women role. For example, the society has for a long time experienced poor treatment and inequality issues to the female gender. However, the play demonstrates a shift in the equality aspect as the female sex appears to have an equal place in the play. Diana is an example of characters who hold powerful positions in the society, which is contrary to the held beliefs and misconceptions that women cannot hold power positions. In this regard, the play reveals that there is an actual equality between both female and male genders in the society in context. Diana shows how women are equal with men by having a powerful position and having the ability to influence or make decisions on behalf of others which was previously a role of men. The play presents the message that there is a need for equality as well as providing women similar rights with men.

; ; The play also shows the theme of power, which is applied in both a positive and adverse way. The power theme can further be understood by evaluating the character of Diana who is the most powerful among the characters. However, Diana uses her power to influence decisions as well as promote adverse effects to others. For example, she uses power to prevent the relationship between Teodoro and Marcela and instead take Marcela’s position. As a queen, her power cannot be disputed; hence, the play demonstrates less resistance from the actions taken by Diana. In this regard, power theme is used negatively rather than an aspect to promote peace and unity in the society. Diana fails to demonstrate a quality leadership role despite being in the authority as she uses her position to prevent others from achieving their dreams or objectives. The power themes relate to “the dog in the manger” story which suggests that Diana limits others from achieving happiness or satisfaction due to her power and fails to get the same happiness (De Vega, 2009). The message that can be derived from the power theme shown by Diana is that power can influence negative outcomes as act two shows the plot to abduct and kill Teodoro. The play also indicates that it’s somehow difficult to apply the major themes such as power and equality since Diana presents negative aspects of the themes.


De Vega, L (2009). The Dog in the Manger. Shakespeare Theatre Company. Retrieved from