Celestina

by Fernando de Rojas

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Analysis

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Although she remained chaste for most of her life, Melibea is harshly punished for eventually having sex with Calisto. She and Calisto regularly meet in her orchard, a spot which might be interpreted as a sort of Garden of Eden—and they are corrupted just as Eve and Adam were. We can certainly read the play as an indictment of the unorthodox (for the time) way their relationship develops. Melibea is ultimately disloyal to her family, disobeying her parents and engaging in dishonest behavior, and she dies as a result.

The play can also be read as a commentary on loyalty and morality in general. Calisto's servants—Sempronio, Parmeno, and Sosia—are horribly disloyal to him, working with Celestina, either for financial gain or to secure the sexual favors of a woman. However, Celestina's disloyalty to Sempronio and Parmeno also results in her own murder. Celestina runs a brothel and tries to swindle and manipulate people for money. When you break it down, there aren't really any moral characters in this play (with the exception, to twenty-first-century readers, of Melibea, perhaps). Everyone is morally corrupt, at least by the standards of the time, and most of them are roundly punished with death for their moral transgressions. In many ways, the play reads like a fable: a story that offers a clear set of morals. Don't dishonor your family. Don't cheat and manipulate people. Don't be disloyal and dishonest.

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