Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Sancho (SAHN-choh), a poor peasant of Spain who loves an equally poor girl, Elvira. Before he can marry her, she is abducted by the feudal lord, Don Tello. Sancho goes with Nuño, her father, to the castle to say they cannot believe a nobleman guilty of such a crime. They witness the lord’s evidence of outrage at such rumors, then Elvira appears to reveal his villainy. Sancho and Nuño flee to escape being beaten to death. Sancho gives in to despair in spite of Nuño’s certainty that his daughter would die rather than lose her honor.


Elvira (ehl-VEE-rah), the daughter of Nuño, a poor farmer. Because she loves Sancho deeply, when their wedding is delayed she agrees to let him visit her room, for they have already taken their vows before the priest. When she opens her door, she sees that the man waiting there is Tello, not her lover. Firm in her reverence for virtue and honor, she will not yield to him, but he later forces her. Then, with her honor lost, she declares that never again will she know joy.

Don Tello de Neira

Don Tello de Neira (TEH-yoh deh NA-rah), the feudal lord whose consent must be obtained before the marriage of his peasants. In the case of Sancho and Elvira, he agrees to the wedding before he sees the beauty of the girl, then he lusts after her. He decrees the postponement of the...

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The King, the Greatest Alcalde Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Chandler, Richard E., and Kessel Schwartz. A New History of Spanish Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1961. An excellent survey of the development of Spanish drama. Provides a helpful explanation of Vega Carpio’s art.

Hays, Francis C. Lope de Vega. New York: Twayne, 1967. Acquaints English-speaking readers with the life, career, and the new dramatic art of Vega Carpio’s comedies. Contains an effective formula for comprehending the elements of Vega Carpio’s comedies.

Northup, George Tyler. An Introduction to Spanish Literature. 3d rev. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960. A helpful presentation of the Spanish comedia. Includes a chapter devoted to Vega Carpio and his dramatic school.

Peers, Edgar Allison. Spanish Golden Age Poetry and Drama. Liverpool: Institute of Hispanic Studies, 1946. Chapter 2 discusses the role of the Spanish peasant in Vega Carpio’s The King, the Greatest Alcalde.

Vega Carpio, Lope de. Four Plays by Lope de Vega. Translated by John Garrett Underhill. Westport, Conn.: Hyperion Press, 1978. Contains an English translation of The King, the Greatest Alcalde that is mainly in verse. The volume has an introduction and critical essay by Jacinto Benavente.