Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Don Juan Tenorio

Don Juan Tenorio (hwahn teh-NOH-ree-oh), a wild young gallant whose life is so devoted to vice that he wagers his friend Mejia that he can perform more evil deeds than Mejia in a year’s time. Don Juan wins the wager but in doing so he ravishes his fiancée, Inés, kills her father, ravishes Mejia’s fiancée, and kills Mejia. Inés dies of grief. Don Juan’s saddened father establishes a cemetery containing statues of his son’s victims. Years later, when Don Juan visits the cemetery, Inés’ statue pleads with him to repent. He hesitates, but her love is so strong that she saves him just as he is about to be dragged off to Hell.

Marcos Ciutti

Marcos Ciutti (see-EW-tee), Don Juan’s villainous servant. He bribes Ana’s duenna to admit his master, and Brigida to carry a note to Inés.

Inés de Ulloa

Inés de Ulloa (ee-NEHS deh ew-YOH-ah), a novice in a convent whom Don Juan hopes to marry. Her appearance to Don Juan after her death persuades him to repent, so that at the end she can save him from Hell’s eternal fire.

Don Luis Mejia

Don Luis Mejia (lew-EES meh-HEE-ah), a gallant of Seville, engaged to Ana and killed seeking revenge for her wrongs from Don Juan.

Don Gonzalo de Ulloa

Don Gonzalo de Ulloa (gohn-ZAH-loh), comendador (knight commander) of Calatrava. His attempt to rescue Inés results in his death.

Don Diego Tenorio

Don Diego Tenorio (dee-EH-goh), who visits a Seville inn to check on his son’s bad reputation. He later establishes a cemetery containing statues of Don Juan’s victims.

Ana de Pantoja

Ana de Pantoja (pahn-TOH-hah), the fiancée of Mejia.


Brigida (BRE-hee-dah), the duenna of Inés.

Two officers

Two officers, who witness the discussion of the wager and five years later explain to Don Juan the significance of the cemetery. He invites them and the statue of thecomendador to come to dinner.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Arias, Judith. “The Devil at Heaven’s Door: Metaphysical Desire in Don Juan Tenorio.” In Hispanic Review 61 (Winter, 1993): 15-34. Analyzes the Romantic drama as a game and deals with the wager underlying the plot. Applies psychological theories of René Girard that show how the character’s behavior is an example of mimetic desire, a desire that in Don Juan is “ultimately metaphysical in nature.”

Feal, Carlos. “Conflicting Names, Conflicting Laws: Zorrilla’s Don Juan Tenorio.” In PMLA 96 (May, 1981): 375-387. Concludes that the work shows evidence of being an improvisation and enjoys an “exaggerated theatricality” because the figure was “a man in need of an audience.” Addresses the myth and compares Zorrilla’s with Tirso’s version.

Firmat, Gustavo Perez. “Carnival in Don Juan Tenorio.” In Hispanic Review 51 (Summer, 1983): 269-281. A structural study that disagrees with the author’s self-criticism of the play. Sees flaws and inconsistencies as “harmonious elements in a coherent, if unusual, design.” Concentrates on the letter motif (delivered in a prayerbook as a form of masking and unmasking) and the play’s reversal of cause-and-effect patterns (metalepsis).

Howe, Elizabeth Teresa. “Hell or Heaven? Providence and Don Juan.” In Renascence 37 (Summer, 1985): 212-219. Discusses the fact that Zorrilla’s Don Juan expects damnation but gets salvation, the reverse of the situation in Tirso. Concludes that Don Juan is the “devil incarnate [and] Satan is a logical extension of the Romantic hero, pursuing self-gratification in defiance of social restraint.”

Mandel, Oscar, ed. The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963. A full study of the figure of Don Juan, which introduces Zorrilla’s version with a thorough overview of his special treatment. Good for understanding the subsequent parodies, burlesques, and other travesties of the play in Spanish-speaking countries. The introductory essay on the legend is particularly insightful.