Formally, Tirso de Molina’s theater follows the dramatic norms established by his older contemporary, “the father of Spanish theater,” Lope de Vega Carpio . Like Lope de Vega, Tirso valued variety and thus produced a diverse collection of plays ranging from serious biblical histories to frivolous comedies about courtship. Like Lope de Vega, he violated classical decorum by including in even his most serious dramas some humor—often in the form of a stock character known as a gracioso (clown). Tirso also followed Lope de Vega’s practice of writing his plays in a mixture of verse forms and organizing the action in three acts; like Lope de Vega, he deliberately disregarded the dramatic unities of time and place, which sought to limit a play’s setting to a single place and decreed that its action should occur in a single day.
Without departing from the norms established by Lope de Vega, Tirso endowed his plays with an individual style. One notices in his works, for example, a fondness for incorporating humor based on rustics’ mispronunciation of Spanish. One also notices a surprising lack of interest in the theme of honor or reputation—a theme recommended by Lope de Vega as particularly appropriate for drama because of its power to arouse the audience. Thus, Tirso never wrote a “wife-murder play” such as Lope de Vega’s El eastigo sin venganza (pb. 1635; Justice Without Revenge, 1936) or Calderón’s El médico de su honra (pb. 1637; The Surgeon of His Honor, 1853), works that dramatize a husband’s need to kill his wife in order to protect his reputation.
Because “wife-murder plays” generally appear to endorse (at least superficially) Spain’s bloody honor code, Tirso’s neglect of the genre is significant. It is quite likely that he found plays dealing with the honor code distasteful because of his sympathy for society’s victims and his concomitant antipathy for its victimizers. Such an attitude is clearly evident in his theater, which is fond of dramatizing a victim’s recovery of his lost estate or the visitation of retribution on the proud and mighty who abuse their power. The role of women in Tirso’s dramas is particularly interesting. Rather than portray women as passive victims of an unjust social code, Tirso excels in the portrayal of female characters who act with intelligence and decisiveness in order to control their destinies in difficult circumstances.
The Bashful Man at Court
This attitude is already apparent in one of Tirso’s earliest works, The Bashful Man at Court, which (like many Golden Age plays) strikes a modern reader as a jumbled combination of rather remotely related plots. The central action revolves around the courtship of Magdalena, a duke’s daughter, and her secretary Mireno (the bashful man at court), whom both Magdalena and Mireno believe to be of peasant stock but who is actually the son of the Portuguese duke Pedro de Coimbra, who has lived for twenty years in exile after being wrongly accused of treason.
Two obstacles stand in the way of Magdalena and Mireno’s romance: his shyness and the supposed difference in their social stations. The first of these is overcome by Magdalena, who, behaving in a manner typical of many of Tirso’s female protagonists, uses initiative and ingenuity to encourage Mireno to overcome his timidity and to declare his interest in her. The second obstacle is resolved by an unexpected public announcement from Lisbon that Mireno’s father’s name has been cleared, thus allowing his father to reveal his true identity to him—and to Magdalena’s father. Although this rather abrupt deus ex machina detracts somewhat from the drama’s ending, Tirso handles it in a way that emphasizes the play’s underlying psychological intention. Thus, Mireno, who has used the more noble sounding name of Dionís while in Magdalena’s employ, discovers that his name is indeed Dionís. Through Mireno/Dionís, Tirso implies that an individual can attain his true, more noble identity only when he is able to overcome the limitations that he places on himself.
Except for the noble background of its characters, The Bashful Man at Court resembles a Spanish Golden Age genre referred to as the comedia de capa y espada, or cloak-and-sword play . These plays, which derive their name from the costume worn by the actors playing the leading male roles, have complicated plots dealing with the courtship of one or more sets of middle-class youths who devise ingenious measures to overcome the obstacles to their love. The young protagonists frequently resort to disguise and other forms of deception, which often backfire with comic results. Though there are frequent duels, they never produce serious results, since cloak-and-sword plays (seventeenth century Spain’s equivalent to the modern situation comedy) invariably end happily with at least one wedding.
Marta la piadosa
Such plays provide a natural framework for Tirso to create female characters endowed with ingenuity and initiative, and the protagonist Marta of Marta la piadosa (pious Martha) is a nice illustration of how he uses the opportunity to its fullest advantage. Marta, who is in love with Don Felipe, deftly overcomes almost overwhelming obstacles to their marriage. When her father decrees that she must marry a wealthy old man named Urbina, she circumvents this decision by feigning religious vocation. Moreover, she uses this same feigned vocation as grounds to have Don Felipe, disguised as a Latin teacher, visit her regularly. With Felipe’s help, she maneuvers her sister Lucía (who is also in love with Felipe) into a relationship with Urbina’s son. The play thus ends, typically for the genre, with multiple weddings.
Don Gil of the Green Breeches
Probably Tirso’s best cloak-and-sword play, Don Gil of the Green Breeches again centers on the clever maneuvers of a quick-witted and active female protagonist, Doña Juana, who, having been courted and abandoned by Don Martín, assumes a series of false...
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de, Tirso Molina
Tirso de Molina 1580?-1648
(Born Gabriel Téllez) Spanish playwright of the Golden Age.
Tirso de Molina was one of the four most famous and revered playwrights of Spain's Golden Age. De Molina was a disciple of the first, most famous, and most prolific of these dramatists, Lope de Vega. Although he is supposed to have written nearly 400 plays, not all are assuredly his writings, and today less than 90 are extant. Because de Molina's plays range from the highly comic to the tragic and because he wrote as much to serve principle as to please an audience, comparisons to Shakespeare are common. De Molina's greatest contribution to both life and letters is Don Juan, the character who first appeared in El burlador de Sevilla (1630; The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest).
De Molina was born Gabriel Téllez in Madrid around 1580. His parentage is uncertain, but he was probably the illegitimate son of a duke, a status that might account for de Molina's complaints about his lack of social position, the injustice of certain social conventions, and his dislike of nobility and hierarchy. He studied at the universities of Alcalá and Guadalajara. In 1601 he joined the large and noble Mercedarian Order in which he held high office, winning prestige as a theologian and acting as the Order's chronicler. In 1613 he relocated to Toledo, becoming a friar, and later moved to Santo Domingo. In 1621 de Molina traveled to Madrid, where he wrote a great many of his plays. He gook part in the literary celebration in 1622 for San Isidro—presided over by Lope de Vega—but did not win any prizes for the poetry he submitted. In 1625 de Molina was banished from the Junta de Reformación for alleged obscenities and was transferred to a remote friary in Trujillo where he served as Prior for three years. He was told never to write further plays or poems, and it appears he mostly followed this edict since most of his plays appear to have been written from 1605–1625, the latter being the date of his reprimand. At Trujillo, he served as official chronicler of the Order. During the thirties he was in Barcelona, Madrid, and Toldedo, and was again banished to a friary in Soria, where he became its Prior from 1645–47. He is said to have written three to four hundred plays in his lifetime. He died in Almazán in 1648.
De Molina initially depended greatly on his renowned contemporary, Lope de Vega, whose influence is evident in one of de Molina's earliest plays, Los lagos de San Vicente, (1607; The Miraculous Lakes of Saint Vincent) which closely imitates de Vega's Santa Casilda. The progression from imitation to mastery can be seen in de Molina's body of work, which came to include comedies, tragedies, historical plays, and novels. De Molina is best known for his religious plays, the most significant of which are El burlador de Sevilla and El condenado por desconfiado(1624; Damned for Despair). El burlador is attributed with introducing the theme of Don Juan into European literature. Later, this theme became famous in world literature through Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. De Molina also wrote many serious plays inspired by stories from the Old Testament, including La venganza de Tamar (1634; The Vengeance of Tamar). As a playwright of the Golden Age, de Molina had to concentrate on amusing his audience despite his serious subject matter. Don Gil de la calzas verdes (1611; Don Gil in Green Breeches), in which de Molina uses the convention of women disguised as men, and El vergonzoso en palacio (1612; The Shy Young Man at Court) are among his most spirited comedies.
The traditional, yet adventurous themes and memorable characters de Molina created throughout his career undoubtedly contributed to his literary significance during and since the Golden Age. His El burlador de Sevilla is generally considered his masterpiece, although his religious play El condenado por desconfiado also is much admired. His comedies employing the comic device of women disguised as men, including Don Gil de la calzas verdes and El vergonzoso en palacio, are admired for the depth of characterization given the female characters. His historical drama, La prudencia en la mujer (1622; Prudence in a Woman), depicting the reign of Queen Maria, garnered critical praise for its insight into Spanish politics and morality. Another strong female character of de Molina is the protagonist of Marta la piadosa (1615; Pious Martha), in which a woman employs deceitful tactics to flummox the rigid patriarchal establishment in order to marry the man of her choosing. His religious plays are often thought to be imitative and less successfully accomplished than the similarly themed plays of Lope de Vega. In fact, de Molina is considered second only to de Vega as the era's most significant writer.
Los lagos de San Vicente [The Miraculous Lakes of Saint Vincent] 1607
El melancólico [The Melancholiac] 1610
Don Gil de la calza verdes [Don Gil in Green Breeches] 1611
El vergonzoso en palacio [The Shy Young Man at Court] 1612
Los cigarrales de Toledo [The Country Houses of Toledo] 1621
La prudencia en la mujer [Prudence in a Woman] 1622
El condenado por desconfiado [Damned for Despair] 1624
La huerta de Juan Fernandez 1626
El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra [The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest] 1630
La venganza de Tamar [The Vengeance of Tamar] 1634
Antona García 1635
Las quinas de Portugal [The Arms of Portugal] 1638
SOURCE: “Tirso de Molina,” in Hispania, Vol. XXXII, No. 2, May, 1949, pp. 131-40.
[In the following essay, Wade discusses de Molina's life and work, focusing on how he used his genius to serve humanity.]
Tirso de Molina (born Gabriel Téllez) died in 1648. The tercentenary of his death has occasioned a rebirth of interest in him and his work. Indeed, the resurgence of Tirsian scholarship began some years ago, in Spain, England, and the United States. The appearance of Doña Blanca de los Ríos' long-awaited volume on Tirso1 was a climactic event that will have scholarly repercussion for years to come. The volume is the first of two which will contain...
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SOURCE: “Tirso de Molina's Old Testament Plays,” in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Vol. XXVII, No. 107, July-September, 1950, pp. 149-63.
[In the following essay, Metford examines de Molina's religious background, which compelled him to write about the Old Testament, and how his knowledge of the human mind transformed his plays into works of art.]
Like most dramatists of the Golden Age, Tirso de Molina tried his hand at adapting for the stage stories from the Old Testament. Three comedias of this type, acknowledged to be his, survive, but it is conceivable that he wrote others in collaboration, or that some from his pen now pass under the name of other...
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SOURCE: “Love, Comedia Style,” in Kentucky Romance Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1, 1982, pp. 47-60.
[In the following essay, Wade discusses how priests and other officials of the church wrote erotic Spanish comedies during the Golden Age in spite of the fact that moralists of the time opposed the subject.]
The “aesthetics of the folk”1 have determined not entirely but in large part the nature and content of literature. Thus when the folk affirm that all the world loves a lover, that the course of true love never runs smooth, or that love makes the world go ’round, the aphorisms, like those of similar nature, help to make understandable the inevitable...
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SOURCE: “Love, Matrimony and Desire in the Theatre of Tirso de Molina,” in Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vol. 37, No. 1, Summer, 1985, pp. 83-99.
[In the following essay, Sullivan concludes that the totality of de Molina's true views on love cannot be determined from his plays.]
Tirso studies have been historically bedevilled by a range of problems so various and intransigent that scholars have been understandably reluctant to address large aspects of his drama (such as the theme of love) with any confidence. I am referring to the almost total absence of firm dates of composition for the comedias (despite Ruth Lee Kennedy's lifelong efforts) and the...
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SOURCE: “The Monarch/Mother in the ‘Comedias’ of Tirso de Molina,” in Crítica Hispánica, Vol. 9, Nos. 1-2, 1987, pp. 39-49.
[In the following essay, Chittenden studies the development of female characters in de Molina's plays, outlining their roles and comparing them with one another.]
As critics have frequently noted, the presence of the madre in the comedia is very rare. As a matter of fact, among the 256 female characters in the 61 plays that we know to have been written by Tirso de Molina, there are only 15 madres whose role as a mother plays a significant part in the development of the drama. Reigning female monarchs are likewise...
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SOURCE: “Tirso de Molina's Idea of ‘Tragedia,’” in Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vol. 40, No. 1, Summer, 1988, pp. 41-52.
[In the following essay, Darst concludes that de Molina's use of the word tragedia is more in line with Medieval Latin tradition than Aristotelian precepts.]
Tirso de Molina's authorship of more than 80 extant dramas makes him the most prolific playwright of his time after Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Tirso's plays cover the entire spectrum of dramatic groups, which modern critics have labelled with generic names like comedias de costumbres, comedias de capa y espada, comedias de santos, comedias mitológicas,...
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SOURCE: “New Clothes, New Roles: Disguise and the Subversion of Convention in Tirso and Sor Juana,” in Romance Languages Annual, Vol. 1, 1989, pp. 500-04.
[In the following essay, Larson considers the implications of cross-dressing in the comedies of de Molina and Sor Juana.]
In an article on role change in Calderonian drama, Susan Fischer reminds us that that the “essence of the theater is change—the theoretically temporary metamorphosis of an actor into a character he is to portray onstage” (73). What we find in any number of Golden Age plays is the literalization of that metaphor, in which characters assume other roles in addition to those assigned by the...
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SOURCE: “Tirso de Molina and the Other Lopistas,” in Theatre in Spain, 1490-1700, Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 115-39.
[In the following excerpt, McKendrick overviews the plays of de Molina.]
Tirso de Molina's world, by contrast with Lope's, is a world peopled by the unusual and the extreme, even bizarre. Tirso de Molina was the pseudonym of a Mercedarian monk called Fray Gabriel Téllez (c. 1584-1648).1 The greatest of Lope's disciples, although their personal relationship was neither close nor particularly good, he was writing plays by the mid-1600s and within a few years had become one of Spain's major dramatists. He more or less...
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SOURCE: “Religious Melancholy (Tirso),” in Melancholy and the Secular Mind in Spanish Golden Age Literature, University of Missouri Press, 1990, pp. 37-63.
[In the following excerpt, Soufas concentrates on de Molina's El condenado por desconfiado and its character Paulo who, in Soufas' essay, clearly defines the seventeenth-century understanding of religious melancholy.]
In truth it was melancholy that the devil breathed into Adam at the time of his fall: melancholy which robs a man of his ardour and faith.
St. Hildegard of Bingen
The epigraph above calls attention to the...
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SOURCE: “Did Tirso Employ Counterpassion in His Burlador de Sevilla?” in Hispanic Review, Vol. XX, No. 2, April, 1952, pp. 123-33.
[In the following essay, Marni considers the question of whether or not counterpassion (the principal that considers if a punishment fits a crime) was used in de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla.]
The spiritual damnation of Don Juan by Tirso de Molina posed no problem either to the famous Mercedario himself or to his contemporary fellow-Christians. For them it was a simple matter of dogma. Divine justice dooms unrepentant mortal sinners to everlasting punishment.1 But does not Don Juan express repentance?...
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SOURCE: “El Burlador, Don Giovanni, and the Popular Concept of Don Juan,” in Hispania, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2, May, 1955, pp. 173-77.
[In the following essay, Sedwick concludes that neither de Molina's El burlador nor Mozart's Don Giovanni ultimately define the concept of Don Juan.]
Tirso de Molina's Burlador de Sevilla is, among other things, a drama of the collective erotic subconscious, a Renaissance glorification of manly beauty and individual courage, and a baroque theological tragedy. [A paper read at the 36th Annual Meeting of the AATSP, New York, December 29-30, 1954.] Mozart's Don Giovanni portrays a burlador...
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SOURCE: “El Burlador de Sevilla: A Tragedy of Errors,” in Philological Quarterly, Vol. XXXVI, No. 1, January, 1957, pp. 61-71.
[In the following essay, Wardropper presents an in-depth discussion of de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla.]
“Todo este mundo es errar.”1
The point about Tirso's Don Juan is, not that he is a profligate, but that he is a deceiver, a source of error. He broadcasts burlas about Spain and Italy. Burlas are contrived engaños, the opposite of veras. In Part I of Don Quixote the knight is the victim of a series of engaños, more or less fateful...
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SOURCE: “Tirso's Don Juan and the Opposing Self,” in Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring, 1981, pp. 3-7.
[In the following essay, Hesse examines the possibility that the characters Don Juan and Catalinon in de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla may represent a single psychological entity.]
Some years ago Otto Rank studied the psychological interdependence of master and servant in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni.1 He views the Don and his servant Leporello as a single psychological entity. In his role as confidant, companion and servant, Leporello makes all kinds of admonitions which Don Giovanni permits because he has need of him. What...
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SOURCE: “Hell or Heaven? Providence and Don Juan,” in Renascence, Vol. XXXVII, No. 4, Summer, 1985, pp. 212-19.
[In the following essay, Howe compares de Molina's The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest to Zorilla's Don Juan Tenorio, concluding that although the Don Juan plays have very different endings, Don Juan receives the proper punishment in both.]
In Spanish theater, a reversal of the protagonists' expectations marks the two principal plays which feature Don Juan Tenorio as the hero. In the seventeenth-century version by Tirso de Molina, The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest, Don Juan pursues his anarchic pleasures confident...
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SOURCE: “The Roots of Desire in El Burlador de Seville,” in Forum for Modern Language Studies, Vol. XXII, No. 3, July, 1986, pp. 232-45.
[In the following essay, Evans discusses how de Molina, through his characters and language, exposes the cruelty and horror of human desire in El burlador de Sevilla.]
El burlador de Sevilla shares with Tirso's other plays a preoccupation with stereotypes of role and gender, but whereas, say, in El castigo del penséque, La mujer por fuerza, and La firmeza en la hermosura his focus is on viragos and timid or inept men, in this play attention is fixed primarily on an ideal of virility that had...
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SOURCE: “Language and Seduction in El Burlador de Seville,” in Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vol. 40, No. 2, Winter, 1988, pp. 165-80.
[In the following essay, Mandrell analyzes the language of El burlador de Sevilla, focusing on de Molina's concerns with how the linguistics of the play affected seventeenth-century Spanish society.]
Critical wisdom holds that the four seductions in Tirso de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra are important in an external, referential sense and in an internal, structural one, that they serve to prove a point regarding Spanish society in general as well as to establish the structural frame and...
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SOURCE: “Doubles in Hell: El Burlador de Sevilla Y Convidado de Piedra,” in Hispanic Review, Vol. 58, No. 3, Summer, 1990, pp. 361-77.
[In the following essay, Arias examines why both Don Juan and the Commander perish in de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla, concluding that the violence committed by the Commander in the name of God is no more than Don Juan's violence committed in vain.]
Tirso de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (c. 1630) is a play with a deceptively simple happy ending. After sinning against society and against God throughout the four adventures that compose the dramatic action, Don Juan finally meets...
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SOURCE: “The ‘Burlador’ and the ‘Burlados’: A Sinister Connection,” in Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vol. 42, No. 1, Summer, 1990, pp. 5-22.
[In the following essay, Conlon examines the role of Don Juan in de Molina's El burlador de Sevillasuggesting that Don Juan's lack of motive or purpose in his cruelty towards women indicates that he symbolizes all male characters.]
El burlador de Sevilla begins with an error or, more precisely, a misidentification. In a darkened passageway of the palace of the king of Naples, Lady Isabela, who has just become Don Juan's first conquest in the play addresses the Burlador as “Duque Octavio.”...
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Bushee, Alice. “The Five Partes of Tirso de Molina,” Hispanic Review III, no. 2 (1935): 89-102.
An article focusing on the rarity of de Molina's Partes.
Green, Otis H. “New Light on Don Juan: A Review Article,” Hispanic Review IX, no. 4 (1941): 89-102.
A review of Josquín Casalduero's book Contribución al estudio del tema de Don Juan en el treatro español, which takes a very broad, scholarly look at the theme of Don Juan.
Halstead, Frank G. “The Attitude of Tirso de Molina Toward Astrology,” Hispanic Review IX, no. 4 (1941): 89-102.
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Molina, Tirso de
Tirso de Molina 1580?-1648
(Born Gabriel Téllez) Spanish playwright.
Tirso de Molina is regarded as one of the greatest dramatists of the Spanish Golden Age and is best remembered for his play El burlador de Sevilla (c. 1626; The Trickster of Seville), which introduced his best-known character, the seducer Don Juan, to European audiences. Influenced greatly by the most famous and prolific of Spain's Golden Age playwrights, Lope de Vega, Tirso excelled in writing comedias, dramas combining tragedy with burlesque humor and often questioning many of the time-honored social and moral traditions of the age. Tirso wrote what many consider to be Spain's greatest religious play, El condenado por desconfiado (c. 1624; The Man Condemned for Lack of Faith). Although critics continue to debate the authorship of some of the 400 plays Tirso is reputed to have written, several of his eighty surviving plays are praised as equaling the greatest work of Shakespeare, especially in regards to plot and character development. Outside his native Spain, Tirso's legacy rests almost completely with his character Don Juan, whose sexual escapades have been reinterpreted famously in Moliere's play Dom Juan, ou Le Festin de Pierre, Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, and numerous films.
Few facts in Tirso de Molina's early life are certain. Born Gabriel Téllez in Madrid around 1580, Tirso may have been the illegitimate son of a duke, a social stigma which might account for Tirso's rebellious nature and scorn for nobility, hierarchy, and social convention. He studied at the universities of Alcalá and Guadalajara, and in 1601 he joined the Mercedarian Order, where he gained high rank as a theologian and as the order's official historian. In 1613 he moved to Toledo, became a friar, and wrote a number of plays, mostly religious and philosophical in nature. In 1621 Tirso returned to Madrid, where he wrote a great number of his comedias. In 1622 he submitted poetry for a literary celebration presided over by Lope de Vega but did not win any awards. In 1625 Tirso was banished to a remote friary in Trujillo for alleged obscenities, and he was ordered to desist from writing further plays or poetry. He appears to have mostly followed this edict, yet in 1630 his most famous work, El burlador de Sevilla, was published. During the 1630s Tirso lived in Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo. Toward the end of his life Tirso again ran afoul of his religious order and was banished to a friary in Soria, where he served as prior from 1645 to 1647. In 1648 Tirso died in Almazán.
Much of Tirso's early drama is indebted to his renowned contemporary, Lope de Vega, father of the Spanish dramatic form known as the comedia. One of Tirso's earliest plays, Los lagos de San Vicente (c. 1607; The Miraculous Lakes of Saint Vincent) clearly imitates Lope's Santa Casilda. As Tirso continued to experiment with a variety of dramatic genres, including comedies, tragedies, and historical plays, however, he began to develop a voice uniquely his own. Believing that the most successful way to write plays was to compose according to public taste, Tirso developed three-dimensional characters who despite their moral scruples could make an audience laugh. Even though Tirso's drama usually contained a great deal of the moralizing undercurrents common to plays written and produced during the Counter-Reformation, he added a new secular element, most commonly a critique of decadent nobility and social mores. Often Tirso's plots revolve around manipulative lovers intent on dominating or deceiving their victims. In El burlador de Sevilla Don Juan takes great satisfaction in seducing women, not only for sexual gratification, but also for the simple enjoyment of competitive deceit. As great as Don Juan's moral transgressions are, his most egregious crime may be disgracing his status as a nobleman. Tirso's greatest religious drama, El condenado por desconfiado, concerns itself with questions of free will versus divine determinism by contrasting an evil man who gains faith and is granted salvation with a pious hermit who is damned when his faith wavers. Among Tirso's best-known historical dramas, his Las hazañas de los Pizarros (1631; The Pizarro Trilogy) is remembered for its attempt to rehabilitate the family name of the disgraced Pizarro family, conquerors of Peru, and for its depiction of Native Americans in Spanish drama.
The overwhelming majority of critical attention given to Tirso's dramatic work is reserved for his masterpiece, El burlador de Sevilla. The psychological complexity of its main character, Don Juan, has elicited great praise, both as one of the earliest examples of a villainous hero and for the dramatic tension at the conclusion of the play, in which the great seducer is finally confronted by the ghost of the man he has murdered. A great deal of scholarly debate has emerged centering on whether or not Don Juan was actually able to seduce his final victim, Doña Ana, resulting in competing arguments of how to interpret the play's ultimate message. El condenado por desconfiado is usually considered the greatest of the religious plays of the Spanish Golden Age, its religious and philosophical underpinnings propelled by an engaging and realistic story line. Although several critics have complained that Tirso's drama contains a misogynistic streak, more commonly his work is praised for its bold and strong female characters, many of whom prove to be more clever or daring than their male competitors. In the end, most critics agree that Tirso's originality lies in his thematic concerns, challenging the established social, religious, and political institutions of his age.
Los lagos de San Vicente [The Miraculous Lakes of Saint Vincent] c. 1607 (play)
El vergonzoso en palacio [The Shy Young Man at Court] (play) 1611
La elección por la virtud [Elected for His Virtue] (play) 1612
Tanto es lo de más como lo de menos [Enough is as Good as a Feast] (play) 1612
La ninfa del Cielo [The Heavenly Nymph] (play) 1613
Santa Juana (play trilogy) 1613-14
¡Tan largo me lo fiáis! [What Long Credit You Give Me!] (play) 1616
Los Cigarrales de Toledo [The Country Houses of Toledo] (prose miscellany) 1621
Privar contra su gusto [The Reluctant Favorite] (play) c. 1621
El melancólico [The Melancholiac] (play) 1622
La prudencia en la mujer [Prudence in a Woman] (play) 1622
La venganza de Tamar [The Vengeance of Tamar] (play) c. 1623
El condenado por desconfiado [The Man Condemned for Lack of Faith] (play) c. 1624
El amor médico [Love Turned Doctor] (play) 1625
El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra [The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest] (play) c. 1626
*Amazonas en las Indias [The Amazons of the West Indies] (play) 1631
Quien no cae no se levanta [Who Never Falls Never Rises] (play) 1628
*La lealtad contra la envidia (play) 1631
*Todo es dar en una cosa (play) 1631
Deleitar aprovechado [Pleasure with Profit] (prose miscellany) 1632
Historia general de la Orden de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes [History of the Mercedarian Order] (church history) 1639
*These three works comprise Las hazañas de los Pizarros (The Pizarro Trilogy).
SOURCE: Green, Otis H. “Notes on the Pizarro Trilogy of Tirso de Molina.” Hispanic Review 4, No. 3 (July 1936): 201-25.
[In the following essay, Green argues that Tirso's trilogy Las hazañas de los Pizarros is designed to rehabilitate the family name of the Pizarros, principal conquerors of Peru.]
The reader of the three plays which comprise Tirso's trilogy Las hazañas de los Pizarros1 is at once struck by the fact that the historical material is treated in a manner differing widely from that employed in La prudencia en la mujer.2 As Hartzenbusch remarked in 1842,
… son tres...
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SOURCE: Halstead, Frank G. “The Optics of Love: Notes on a Concept of Atomistic Philosophy in the Theatre of Tirso de Molina.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America LVIII, No. 1, Part 1 (March 1943): 108-21.
[In the following essay, Halstead analyzes Tirso's philosophical arguments in El amor médico regarding the connection between vision and love.]
Somewhat more than a century and a quarter past, Dugald Stewart, philosopher and critic second only to Sir William Hamilton, wrote:
In considering the phenomena of perception, it is natural to suppose that the attention of philosophers would be directed,...
(The entire section is 6410 words.)
SOURCE: Allain, Mathé. “El burlador Burlado: Tirso de Molina's Don Juan.” Modern Language Quarterly XXVII, No. 2 (June 1966): 174-84.
[In the following essay, Allain argues that El burlador de Sevilla is “a carefully constructed aesthetic whole in which form and content are inextricably united.”]
It was Tirso de Molina, a devout Mercenarian priest, who introduced into Western literature the figure of the archlibertine, Don Juan Tenorio. Rakes there had been aplenty since the Satyricon and the Golden Ass, but Tirso gave the libertine a new dimension when he added the defiant invitation to the dead to the traditional stories of sin...
(The entire section is 4380 words.)
SOURCE: Wade, Gerald E. “The Character of Don Juan of El burlador de Sevilla.” In Hispanic Studies in Honor of Nicholson B. Adams, edited by John Esten Keller and Karl-Ludwig Selig, pp. 167-78. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1966.
[In the following essay, Wade analyzes the character of Don Juan, concluding that the trickster's lone virtue is his courage.]
If measured by its progeny in world literature, El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra is the most important play of all time.1 Surprisingly, no book of criticism has been written about the play; one may contrast Hamlet, for example, about which many...
(The entire section is 4650 words.)
SOURCE: Lundelius, Ruth. “Tirso's View of Women in El burlador de Sevilla.”Bulletin of the Comediantes 27, No. 1 (Spring 1975): 5-14.
[In the following essay, Lundelius views the moral weakness of the four women Don Juan seduces in El burlador de Sevilla as proof of Tirso's misogyny.]
That Tirso brought before his audiences a rich variety of feminine dramatis personae, whom he often drew with a certain rare verve and empathy, is now little more than a critical cliché. But a bolder view, first propounded around the turn of the century by that untiring enthusiast of Tirso, Blanca de los Ríos, would align Tirso with the more extravagant admirers...
(The entire section is 5025 words.)
SOURCE: González-del-Valle, Luis. “Doña Ana's Seduction in El burlador de Sevilla: A Reconsideration.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 30, No. 1 (Spring 1978): 42-5.
[In the following essay, González-del-Valle argues that Doña Ana was not seduced by Don Juan in El burlador de Sevilla, observing that to interpret the play otherwise would call its moral and thematic unity into question.]
For a number of years there has been a controversy concerning Doña Ana's seduction by Don Juan in Tirso de Molina's El Burlador de Sevilla. Among those critics who do not think Don Juan was successful in the consummation of the sexual act with Doña Ana are M....
(The entire section is 1661 words.)
SOURCE: Rodríguez, Alfred. “Tirso's Don Juan as Social Rebel.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 30, No. 1 (Spring 1978): 46-55.
[In the following essay, Rodríguez concentrates on Don Juan's pattern of “social defiance” in El burlador de Sevilla.]
Ortega y Gasset's identification of Don Juan with vital authenticity—with that fundamental exigency of life that makes all impediments to its fulfillment, whether imposed by reason or society, cause for rebellion—clarified this literary creature's myth-figure status:
Tal es la ironía irrespetuosa de Don Juan, figura equívoca, que nuestro tiempo va refinando, puliendo, hasta...
(The entire section is 4540 words.)
SOURCE: Ruano de la Haza, Jose M. “Doña Ana's Seduction in El burlador de Sevilla: Further Evidence Against.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 32, No. 2 (Fall 1980): 131-33.
[In the following essay, Ruano de la Haza argues that Don Juan's actions in El burlador de Sevilla suggest that Doña Ana was not seduced by the infamous deceiver.]
Was Doña Ana physically seduced by Don Juan? In attempting to answer this question, two articles, published in the pages of this journal, have arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions.1 This was probably inevitable, for Tirso has left us with little positive evidence on which to found our assumptions. On...
(The entire section is 1035 words.)
SOURCE: Martin, Eleanor Jean. “A Consideration of the Role of Honor in Tirso de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla.” Kentucky Romance Quarterly XXVII, No. 3 (1980): 273-80.
[In the following essay, Martin argues that critics have been incorrect to depict Don Juan as the only villain in El burlador de Sevilla; society and its notion of honor, she insists, are also partly to blame for the social disorder caused by Don Juan's actions.]
The mention of El burlador de Sevilla immediately brings to mind the plight of four women, deceived and dishonored by the villainous, unscrupulous, immoral Don Juan. The protagonist's mockery of women's honor is...
(The entire section is 3772 words.)
SOURCE: Singer, Armand E. “Don Juan's Women in El burlador de Sevilla.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 33, No. 1 (Spring 1981): 67-71.
[In the following essay, Singer questions the conclusion drawn by Ruth Lundelius and others that El burlador de Sevilla clearly shows Tirso's misogyny, arguing instead that the play should be seen as an expression of men's desire to conquer women.]
Psychological analysis, Freudian or otherwise, is a mark of our introspective age.1 Recent years have seen several attempts to probe into the character of Tirso's burlador (notably two articles by Gerald Wade2) and to penetrate the nature of the...
(The entire section is 2201 words.)
SOURCE: Conlon, Raymond. “Enrico in El condenado por desconfiado: A Psychoanalytical View.” Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos X, No. 2 (Winter 1986): 173-82.
[In the following essay, Conlon makes use of Freudian theory about the connection between a person's conception of God and the relationship with one's father to examine the character of the bandit Enrico in El condenado por desconfiado. Conlon argues that “Enrico, like the rest of humanity, simply has no choice but to use his father as a model for the divine, and, therefore, to assume that his divine Father will be as tolerant as his human one.”]
A pesar del hecho...
(The entire section is 4288 words.)
SOURCE: Hathaway, Robert L. “The Proto-Tenorios in Tirso's Santa Juana, II-III.” In Tirso's Don Juan: The Metamorphosis of a Theme, edited by Josep M. Sola-Solé and George E. Gingras, pp. 45-55. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988.
[In the following essay, Hathaway finds in the final two plays of Tirso's Santa Juana trilogy early versions of the Don Juan character that would become fully developed in the playwright's most famous work, El burlador de Sevilla.]
In her edition of Tirso's Obras dramáticas completas, Doña Blanca de los Rios included within her introduction to the three Santa Juana plays a...
(The entire section is 3381 words.)
SOURCE: Trubiano, Mario F. “The Theological Disputes and the Guzmán Affair in El burlador and El condenado: Theological Preoccupation or Satirical Intention?” In Tirso's Don Juan: The Metamorphosis of a Theme, edited by Josep M. Sola-Solé and George E. Gingras, pp. 95-105. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988.
[In the following essay, Trubiano views El burlador de Sevilla and El condenada por desconfiado as reflective of contemporary debates regarding the relationship between free will and divine grace.]
The problem of whether the “new” man, novus homo, was truly endowed with free will even...
(The entire section is 3328 words.)
SOURCE: Resina, Joan Ramon. “What Sort of Wedding? The Orders of Discourse in El burlador de Sevilla.” Modern Language Quarterly 57, No. 4 (December 1996): 545-78.
[In the following essay, Resina argues that El burlador de Sevilla reflects the growing social instability of early seventeenth-century Spain.]
As an age of transition between social paradigms, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were eminently characterized by destabilization and efforts at containment. At the beginning of the period early bourgeois individualism set off internal wars and revolts that shook all of European society. The growing emphasis on order and integration revealed...
(The entire section is 13025 words.)
SOURCE: Abraham, James T. “The Other Speaks: Tirso de Molina's Amazonas en las Indias.” In El arte nuevo de estudiar comedias: Literary Theory and Spanish Golden Age Drama, edited by Barbara Simerka, pp. 143-61. Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1996.
[In the following essay, Abraham deconstructs Amazonas en las Indias, the second play of Tirso's Pizarro trilogy, in order to demonstrate how the playwright privileges European culture and negates that of Native Americans.]
The encounter between Europeans and the native peoples of America provides much material for debate and analysis by scholars in all areas of study. Perhaps no other event...
(The entire section is 7452 words.)
Agheana, Ion Tudor. The Situational Drama of Tirso de Molina. New York: Plaza Mayar Ediciones, 1972, 135 p.
Full-length study concentrating on Tirso's artistic individuality.
Cabrera, Vicente. “Doña Ana's Seduction in El burlador de Sevilla.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 26, No. 2 (Fall 1974): 49-51.
Presents several critics' arguments for whether or not Don Juan seduced Doña Ana in El burlador de Sevilla, and concludes that Doña Ana was indeed seduced, which proves thematically important when Don Juan's day of reckoning finally comes.
Darst, David H. The Comic...
(The entire section is 604 words.)