Identify 3 quotations that are examples of duality from La Celestina.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In any binary oppositional setting, there has to be division present.  Consciousness is torn between two aspects of being.  In La Celestina, this binary opposition is established in the work's exposition.  Calisto experiences the duality between the hope of love and its fundamental despair.  This binary condition reveals the hopes and aspirations of the individual that collide with the painful reality of being in the world.  From the garden of hope, one collides with the despair of reality.  La Rojas write of this condition:

O world, world when I was younger I thought there was some order governing you and your deeds. But now you seem to be a labyrinth of errors, a frightful desert, a den of wild beasts, a game in which men move in circles…a stony field, a meadow full of serpents, a flowering but barren orchard, a spring of cares, a river of tears, a sea of suffering, a vain hope.

The dualistic element revealed in the quote is between the perceived "order" in the world and its reality of the "frightful desert."  La Rojas' quote brings out where human beings exist in this duality, posited in a condition where hope and redemption is always met with despair and reality.  Eros collides with Thanatos in images featured like a "stony field" or "meadow full of serpents" or "flowering but barren orchard." In each of these images, the duality behind what it means to be human is evident.

Celestina herself embodies duality within love.  She seeks to unite people, but then also runs a brothel out of her home. In both, duality exists in terms of the emotional yearning for love and the physical satisfaction intrinsic to it. In speaking of love, Celestina articulates such a duality:  "It's a hidden fire, a pleasant sore, a delicious poison, a sweet bitterness, a delightful ailment, a cheerful torment, a sweet, wounded animal, a soft death."  For Celestina, love is a dualistic experience.  It encompasses both the pain and elation within it.  It is a condition of being where one endures hurt in the light of ecstasy.  The "sweet, wounded animal" and "cheerful torment" are images that only heighten this dualistic aspect of being in love.

The original title of the work might also be seen as a quote to reflect the duality intrinsic to human consciousness. Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea and the old prostitute Celestina helps to evoke how love, itself, is both comic and tragic.  There is duality in such a condition for one seeks love out of a position of tragedy.  Love is only sought because there are questions that seek answers and incompletion that seeks resolution.  The allure of comedy, where unity and harmony replace dissonance, drives the love that Calisto experiences.  Yet, through seeking this comic resolution to a tragic and incomplete state of being in the world, further tragedy emerges.  It is here in which a dualistic condition of consciousness is revealed, where the individual is poised between comedy and tragedy, hopes of unity and the reality of fragmentation.  To experience this dynamic is what it means to be in love.

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