(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

When Don García returns home from his studies at the University of Salamanca, he learns that on the death of his brother Gabriel he became the heir to the family estates and fortune. His father, Don Beltrán, also provides him with a shrewd and cynical servant, Tristán. Don García’s tutor has already reported that the young man is given to one great vice: lying. Later, his discerning servant agrees. The son’s habit naturally worries his father, himself a man of great honor. Though Don Beltrán admits that regard for truth is uncommon at the court of Spain, he hates the vice of lying above all others, and he vows to break his son of the habit.

During his first day in Madrid, Don García indulges in his usual practice after meeting two attractive women in the shopping center of the city. Taking his cue from Tristán’s remark that the women of Madrid are money-mad, the young gallant tells them that he is a wealthy man from the New World. Though he has been in Madrid hardly a day, he assures one of the women that he has worshiped her from afar for a year. Unfortunately, Don García has misunderstood the information purchased from the women’s coachman by Tristán; he thinks that the woman he wants to marry is Lucrecia, but the object of his attentions is really her friend Jacinta.

More lying follows when Don García meets his friend Juan de Sosa, a young man in love with Jacinta but rejected as her suitor by her uncle until he acquires a knighthood. This time, falsely claiming responsibility for a serenade and banquet the preceding night, Don García finds himself challenged to a duel by Juan.

In the meantime, hoping to get his son married off before all of Madrid learns of his habit of lying, Don Beltrán, after giving him a lecture on the value of truth, tells Don García that he has arranged for Don García’s marriage to Jacinta, niece of Don Beltrán’s old friend Don Sancho. Because Don García thinks that it is Lucrecia whom he loves, he promptly invents a prodigious lie about his marriage to a lady of Salamanca. He declares that while visiting her one night, he was discovered by the lady’s father, and so to save her...

(The entire section is 890 words.)