The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest
is a play by Tirso de Molina
Tirso de Molina was a Spanish Baroque dramatist, poet and a Roman Catholic monk.Originally Gabriel Téllez, he was born in Madrid. He studied at Alcalá de Henares, joined the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy on November 4, 1600, and entered the Monastery of San Antolín at Guadalajara,...
, first published in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
around 1630, though it may have been performed as early as 1616. Set in the 14th century, the play is the earliest fully developed dramatisation of the Don Juan
Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630...
The play begins in Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...
with Don Juan and the Duchess Isabela, who alone in her palace room, have just enjoyed a night full of seduction together. However, when Isabella wants to light a lamp Don Juan threatens to kill it. She suddenly realizes that he is not her lover, the Duke Octavio, and screams for help. Don Juan's uncle, Don Pedro, comes to arrest the offender. But Don Juan cleverly reveals his identity as his nephew and Don Pedro assists him in making his escape just in time. Pedro then claims to the King that the unknown man was Duke Octavio. The King orders Octavio and Isabela to be married at once, with both of them to be held in prison until the wedding.
At home, after Octavio speaks of his love for Isabela, Don Pedro comes to arrest him, claiming that Octavio had violated Isabela the previous night. Octavio, of course, had done no such thing, and starts to believe that Isabela has been unfaithful to him. He flees from Don Pedro, planning to leave the country.
By the seashore of Tarragona
Tarragona is a city located in the south of Catalonia on the north-east of Spain, by the Mediterranean. It is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and the capital of the Catalan comarca Tarragonès. In the medieval and modern times it was the capital of the Vegueria of Tarragona...
, a peasant girl named Tisbea happens to find Don Juan and his servant, Catalinón, apparently washed up from a shipwreck. She tries to revive Don Juan, who wakes and immediately declares his love for her. Tisbea takes Juan back to her house, intending to nurse him back to health and mend his clothes.
Back in Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...
, the King speaks to Don Gonzalo, a nobleman and military commander, about arranging a marriage between Don Juan and Gonzalo's daughter, Doña Ana. Gonzalo likes the idea and goes to discuss it with his daughter.
Back at the seashore, Don Juan and Catalinón flee, apparently after Don Juan has already seduced Tisbea. Catalinón scolds him, but Don Juan reminds him that this is not his first seduction, and jokes that he has a medical condition in which he must seduce. Catalinón says that he is a plague for women. Tisbea catches up with the two men, and Don Juan assures her that he intends to marry her. Tisbea is so overcome with grief and anger over what happened that she exclaims "fuego, fuego" meaning that she is burning up with hate and a desire for revenge. She is also overcome with shame at the undoing of her honor and flings herself into the ocean.
In Seville, Don Diego, Don Juan's father, tells the king that the man who seduced the Duchess Isabela was not Octavio, but Don Juan, and shows a letter from Don Pedro as proof. The King declares Don Juan banished from Seville and retracts his plans to have him marry Doña Ana. Just then, Octavio arrives, begging the king's forgiveness for having fled earlier. The King grants it, and allows him to stay as a guest in the palace. Next, Don Juan and Catalinón arrive and talk to the Marquis de la Mota, who is a womanizer nearly as bad as Don Juan. The Marquis confesses, however, that he is actually in love with his cousin Doña Ana, but laments that she is arranged to marry someone else. Mota says he is going to visit Ana, and Don Juan sends Catalinón to follow him in secret. His plans are also helped along when a servant of Ana's, having just seen Don Juan talking to Mota, asks that he give to him a letter from Ana. In the letter she asks Mota to visit her during the night, at 11 o'clock sharp, since it will be their one and only chance to ever be together. Mota comes back again, apparently not having found Ana at home, and Don Juan says he received instructions from Ana that Mota should come to the house at midnight. Mota lends Don Juan his cape at the end of the scene.
That night at Don Gonzalo's home, Ana is heard screaming that someone has dishonored her, and her father, Don Gonzalo, rushes to her aid with his sword drawn. Don Juan draws his own sword and kills Don Gonzalo. With his final breath, Don Gonzalo swears to haunt Don Juan. Don Juan leaves the house just in time to find Mota and give him his cape back and flees. Mota is immediately seen wearing the same cloak as the man who murdered Don Gonzalo and is arrested.
The next day, near Dos Hermanas, Don Juan happens upon a peasant wedding and takes a particular interest in the bride, Aminta. The groom, Batricio, is perturbed by the presence of a nobleman at his wedding but is powerless to do anything. Don Juan then pretends to have known Aminta long ago and deflowered her already, and by law she must now marry him. He goes to enjoy Aminta for the first time and convinces her that he means to marry her at once. The two of them go off together to consummate the union, with Juan having convinced Aminta that it is the surest way to nullify her last marriage.
Elsewhere Isabela and her servant, Fabio, are travelling, looking for Don Juan, whom she has now been instructed to marry. She complains of this arrangement and declares that she still loves Octavio. While travelling, they happen upon Tisbea, whose suicide attempt was unsuccessful. When Isabela asks Tisbea why she is so sad, Tisbea tells the story of how Don Juan seduced her. Isabela then asks Tisbea to accompany her.
Don Juan and Catalinón are back in Seville, passing by a churchyard. They see the tomb of Don Gonzalo, and Don Juan jokingly invites the statue on the tomb to have dinner with him and laughs about how the hauntings and promised vengeance have not yet come.
That same night, as Don Juan sits down for dinner at his home, his servants become frightened and run away. Don Juan sends Catalinón to investigate, and he returns, horrified, followed by the ghost of Gonzalo in the form of the statue on his tomb. Don Juan is initially frightened but quickly regains control of himself and calmly sits to dine while his servants cower around him. Gonzalo invites Juan to dine again in the churchyard with him, and he promises to come.
At the Alcazar, the King and Don Diego, Don Juan's father, discuss the impending marriage to Isabela, as well as the newly arranged marriage between Mota and Doña Ana. Octavio then arrives and asks the King for permission to duel with Don Juan, and tells the truth of what has happened to Isabela to Diego, who was until now unaware of this particular misdeed of his son. The King and Diego leave, and Aminta appears, looking for Don Juan since she thinks he is now her husband. Octavio takes her to the king so that she can tell him her story.
In the churchyard, Don Juan tells Catalinón about how lovely Isabela looks and how they are to be married in a few hours. The ghost of Gonzalo appears again, and he sets out a table on the cover of a tomb. He serves a meal of vipers and tarantulas, which Juan bravely eats. At the end of the meal, Gonzalo grabs Don Juan by the wrist, striking him dead. In a clap of thunder, the ghost, the tomb, and Don Juan disappear, leaving only Catalinón, who runs away in terror.
At the Alcazar, every single character who has been wronged by Don Juan is complaining to the King, when Catalinón enters and announces the strange story of Don Juan's death. All the women who have claim to Don Juan as their husband are declared widows, and Catalinón admits that Ana escaped from Juan before he could dishonor her. Mota plans to marry Ana, Octavio to marry Isabela, Tisbea is free to marry again if she chooses, and Batricio and Aminta go back home.
As a priest, Tirso creates this sinister tempter for didactical reasons. Don Juan is not solely representative of a youthful indifference; rather he is the personification of all that is sinful and evil. Lucifer, across Christianity, is known as the Prince of Darkness; likewise, Tirso’s Don Juan carries out all his seductions at night. According to biblical passages, Satan does not live in Hell but rather roams Heaven and Earth in search of victims. Don Juan, like the devil, constantly prowls the Earth for his next prey.
Christian theology also dictates that the devil cannot deceive anyone without the person’s consent. In this case, Tirso’s Trickster cannot trick any of the women without their approval. Thus, although Tirso uses Don Juan to represent the devil, he is also used in order to critique Spanish conceptualization of honor. Rather than a reflection of human interiors, honor acts as a mask of sin. Although, in a point all readers must consider, all the women don Juan chooses to dishonor--Isabela, Tisbea, dona Ana, and Aminta--are all lied to by don Juan as Juan promises to marry them but never does.
- Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0521434378.
- Bentley, Eric
Eric Bentley is a critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He became an American citizen in 1948, and currently lives in New York City...
, ed. 1984. The Trickster of Seville. By Tirso de Molina. Trans. Roy Campbell. In Life is a Dream and Other Spanish Classics. Eric Bentley's Dramatic Repertoire v.2. New York: Applause. 137-218. ISBN 9781557830067.
- Brockett, Oscar G. and Franklin J. Hildy. 2003. History of the Theatre. Ninth edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0205410502.
- Bunn, Elaine. 1998. "Tirso de Molina." In Banham (1998, 1112-1113).
- Edwards, Gwynne, trans. 1986. The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest. By Tirso de Molina. Hispanic Classics ser. Warminster: Aris & Phillips. ISBN 0856683019.
Full text of the play can be found here