(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

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...

(The entire section is 1313 words.)