Spain's Lope de Vega (1562-1635) was possibly the most prolific playwright of all time, writing some 2,000 plays, 425 of which survive. The Dog in the Manger is one of his most famous.
The title of the play is an allusion to a fable by Aesop, in which a dog prevents cattle from eating hay which cannot be enjoyed by the dog himself. In de Vega's hilarious and sexy comedy, the beautiful Countess Diana does not express desire for her attractive secretary Teodoro until after he seduces her lady-in-waiting Marcela. Diana then decides she must have him for herself, even though he is apparently beneath her station. She runs hot and cold on him, as he does on Marcela. Meanwhile, two of Diana's jealous suitors scheme to get Teodoro out of the way by plotting his murder.
Will Diana and Teodoro ever be able to fully realize their true love at last? Can anyone save Teodoro from a violent death? And what of Marcela? Will she find a love she can call her own? Scheme follows scheme and plan follows plan as lovers long for each other's arms.