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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 209

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This is the story of a young nobleman known as Don Juan, who is used to duels, partying, and seducing his way around Sevilla. He has won numerous duels and broken the hearts of many women. However, his duel with Don Luis Mejia, also a risk-taker like his opponent, proves to be the turning point of his life. As they are discussing the details of the duel in a tavern, Don Juan's father and the dad of the girl he wants to marry are present, though in disguise. Don Juan's father is ashamed of his son, after finding out what he does with his free time, and disowns him, while his fiance's father cancels the marriage and send his daughter to a convent. Regardless, Don Juan continues with the duel. He first sleeps with Don Luis's fiance, before 'stealing' his fiance, Ines, from the convent. Towards, the end of the novel, he is pursued by an angry Don Luis and Don Gonzalo (Ines's father). To protect himself, Don Juan murders the two men and escapes from Sevilla. His fiance dies shortly afterwards due to shock and disappointment. Don Juan returns to Sevilla years later, still feeling guilty for his past actions. It ends with his repentance before he dies.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1313

It is the carnival season in Seville, and the Laurel Tavern is a strange place in which to find gallant young Don Juan Tenorio, when the streets outside are filled with masked merrymakers. He is there with his servant, Marcos Ciutti, to keep a rendezvous with Don Luis Mejía, another gallant, with whom he strikes a wager as to which of them could do the most harm in the next twelve months. That night the bet is to be decided.

Don Gonzalo de Ulloa, the father of the girl whom Don Juan hopes to marry, goes masked to the inn, for he wants to hear with his own ears an account of the wild and villainous deeds attributed to his prospective son-in-law. Don Diego, Juan’s father, joins him, masked as well. Several officers, friends of Don Juan and Mejía, are also loitering in the tavern to learn the outcome of the wager, which was discussed in the city for months. Mejía appears promptly, just as the cathedral clock is striking eight.

Good-humoredly, the rivals compare lists of the men they slew in duels and the women they cruelly deceived during the year. Don Juan is easily the victor. Because his roster lacks only two types of women, however, a nun and the bride of a friend, he wagers that he can add both to his list within a week. Fearing that his rival has an eye on Ana de Pantoja, whom he is planning to marry, Mejía sends his servant to call the police. Angered by the evil deeds of which Don Juan boasted, the comendador announces that he will never consent to the young scoundrel’s marriage with his daughter Ines. Instead, the girl will be kept safe in a convent. Don Diego disowns his son.

A patrol appears to arrest Don Juan on Mejía’s accusations. Other guards summoned by Ciutti take Mejía into custody at the same time.

Through the influence of powerful friends, Mejía is soon freed. He hurries at once to the house of Ana de Pantoja, where he persuades a servant to let him into the house at ten o’clock that night. He intends to keep Don Juan from attempting an entrance. When Ana appears at the balcony, he tells her his plan, and she acquiesces to it.

Don Juan, also released from custody, overhears their conversation, which gives him the idea of impersonating his rival in order to get into Ana’s room. Ciutti already bribed Ana’s duenna to secure the key to the outer door. To make sure that Mejía is out of the way, Ciutti also hires several men to impersonate the police patrol. These bravos seize Mejía and bind him.

Don Juan next interviews Brigida, the duenna of Ines, and bribes her to deliver a note to the girl in the convent. When the old woman reports that her charge is in love with Don Juan, although she never saw him, the gallant decides that he has time to go to the convent and abduct her before the hour for him to appear at Ana’s house.

At the convent, Ines listens abashed as the abbess praises her godliness. Perhaps she was once like that; now she no longer looks forward to taking holy orders. Half-frightened, half-eager, she keeps thinking of Don Juan. The appearance of Brigida with the note upsets her still more, so that when Don Juan appears suddenly at the door of her cell she collapses in a faint. It is easy for him to carry her off in her unconscious state. Don Gonzalo, worried by the young man’s boasting and reports of conversations between him and Brigida, arrives at the convent too late to save his daughter. Ines remains unconscious while Don Juan takes her to his house beside the Guadalquiver River. When she comes to, Brigida lies to her, telling her that Don Juan saved her life when the convent caught on fire.

Don Juan returns after he successfully enters Ana’s room. Mejía, seeking revenge, comes in pursuit. Don Gonzalo, hoping to rescue his daughter, also appears at the house. Enraged by their insults, Don Juan shoots Don Gonzalo and stabs Mejía. Then he jumps into the river to escape from police who are hammering at his front door. Abandoned by Don Juan, Ines returns to the convent and dies of grief.

Five years later, a sculptor is putting the finishing touches to the Tenorio pantheon. On Don Diego’s orders, the family mansion was torn down and the grounds turned into a cemetery for his son’s victims. Lifelike statues of the three chief ones—Mejía, Don Gonzalo, and Ines—gleam in the moonlight. Patiently, the sculptor explains his labors to a stranger, who eventually terrifies the craftsman by revealing himself as Don Juan.

Repentant, Don Juan kneels before Ines’s monument and begs her to intercede with God for mercy. When he looks up, her statue disappears from its pedestal and Ines herself stands beside him, sent reincarnate from heaven either to bring him back with her to salvation or to be damned with him throughout eternity; he has until dawn to choose their fate. Don Juan, unable to believe that what is happening is real, thinks it a trick of crafty priests.

When two officers who five years before witnessed the outcome of his bet with Mejía come into the graveyard, he laughs at their fear of ghosts; fear has no entry to his heart. After inviting his old acquaintances to have supper with him and hear the story of his adventures, with rash bravado he also extends his invitation to the statue of Don Gonzalo. Only the comendador’s presence at the table, Don Juan says, will convince him of a life beyond the grave. The statue keeps its stony silence.

While the trio sit drinking at the table, they hear the sound of knocking, each time nearer, though all the doors are bolted. Then into the room stalks the statue of Don Gonzalo, to tell the skeptic about the life eternal that can be realized through God’s mercy. The officers faint, but Don Juan is so courteous a host that before the statue disappears through the wall it invites him to a similar banquet in the cemetery.

Still unconvinced that one moment of repentance can wipe out thirty years of sin, Don Juan refuses to be moved when Ines appears to persuade him to make the right choice. Half believing that the whole affair is a joke concocted by the sleeping officers, he shakes them back to consciousness and accuses them of using him for their sport. They in turn charge him with drugging them. The argument ends in challenges to a duel.

In the half light of early morning, the statues of Ines and Don Gonzalo are still missing from the pantheon of the Tenorio family when Don Juan, melancholy because he killed his old friends in the duel, appears to keep his appointment. His knock at the comendador’s tomb transforms it into a banquet table that parodies his own bountiful spread of the night before. Snakes and ashes are the foods, illuminated by the purging fire of God, and ghostly guests crowd around the board. Although Death is on his way, Don Juan still refuses to repent as Don Gonzalo’s statue once more tells him about the redeeming power of heaven.

As Don Juan’s funeral procession approaches, Don Gonzalo seizes the sinner’s arm and prepares to drag him off to hell. At that moment Don Juan raises his free arm toward heaven. Ines appears and she and Don Juan, both saved, sink together into a bed of flowers scattered by angels. Flames, symbolizing their souls, mount to heaven.