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Don Rodrigue

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Don Rodrigue, the Cid, the leading warrior in the cause of the king of Spain against the Moors. He is faced with the major conflict of the drama: his filial obligation to vindicate the honor of his father, who has been insulted by Don Gomès, against his love for Don Gomès’s daughter, Chimène. Rodrigue is brave, the fiercest and most valiant soldier in the kingdom. His love for Chimène, on the other hand, shows his gentle nature. When he is confronted with his conflict between love and honor, between personal happiness with Chimène and preservation of his family honor at the cost of his love, he chooses honor. After he has killed Chimène’s father, Rodrigue offers himself as a sacrifice to Chimène’s vengeance. By the end of the drama, he has defeated the Moorish army, has fought a duel, and has received the king’s permission to wed Chimène.


Chimène (shee-MEHN), Rodrigue’s lover, the daughter of Don Gomès, who insulted the honor of Rodrigue’s father. Like her lover, she endures the main conflict of the drama. Her love for Rodrigue clashes with her duty as a daughter of Don Gomès to seek revenge on his killer. Although she loves Rodrigue deeply, she must subdue that emotion and act as reason dictates and the social code demands. That code requires that she hate Rodrigue and pursue a means to seek his death. Thus, she defiantly holds love at bay. Like Rodrigue, she gives up her personal happiness for the cause of honor and filial responsibility. She pleads with the king to arrange a duel between Rodrigue and Don Sanche, a young knight who loves her. Hoping that the young knight will kill Rodrigue—yet hoping also that he does not—she promises to marry the winner. When Rodrigue returns victorious, having spared the life of his opponent, Chimène’s conflict is at its pitch: She is happy that Rodrigue has survived, yet as a daughter of the slain count, she spurns Rodrigue’s love and his final offer to surrender himself to her. the play ends with Chimène refusing to marry Rodrigue as she proclaims her anguish over her conflicting desires.

Doña Urraque

Doña Urraque (dohn-YAH ur-RAHK), infanta of Castile. She also endures the thematic conflict of love and honor. She loves Rodrigue, yet she knows that because he has no royal blood, she must not think of marrying him. Like the historical Queen Elizabeth I of England, the infanta must put the demands of the country and the court before her own desires. With this resolve, she hides her love for Rodrigue and encourages his own love for Chimène, thus deepening her anguish and the anguish of the lovers themselves. She is Chimène’s confidante, her other voice, a kind of alter ego who insists that Chimène should renounce her vengeance and marry Rodrigue.

Don Gomès

Don Gomès (dohn GOH-mehs), the count of Gormaz, Chimène’s father. He is a vain, self-important courtier whose preference by the king prompts him to insult his rival, Rodrigue’s father. Although Don Diègue is a much older man, the count slaps him, boasting of his own valor and strength. When Diègue, in disgrace, exhorts his son Rodrigue to vindicate him, Rodrigue confronts the count and offers battle. Although boastful and hotheaded, the count is no coward. He fights Rodrigue and meets his death honorably.

Don Diègue

Don Diègue (dohn dyehg), Rodrigue’s father, once Spain’s greatest warrior. Old and enfeebled, he feels slighted by the king’s preference for Don Gomès. His injured pride provides a key to the motive of revenge and is the source of the conflict between love and honor.

Fernand, Don

Fernand, Don, the first king of Castile. He understands the conflict between love and honor facing the characters. As head of state, he seeks to mediate the problems in the interest of Spain. His emotions have little to do with his actions. He is thus a voice of reason, calling for order...

(The entire section contains 2154 words.)

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Critical Essays