Don Juan Tenorio

by José Zorrilla y Moral

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 604

Don Juan Tenorio is a play written in the 1800s by José Zorrilla. The main characters of the play include those bolded below:

Don Juan Tenorio is the protagonist of the story. At the start of the play, he is a young man with a penchant for excitement and thrill. He is also incredibly charismatic and charming, traits that along with his intelligence, help him to often be cunning and sneaky. These traits are easily displayed early on in the play, as it opens with Don Juan and his friend Don Luis determining who won a bet they previously made. The bet was a challenge to see which of them men could seduce the most women and kill the most men over the course of a year. Don Juan won on both counts.

Upon learning that he has lost the bet, Don Luis' pride is slightly hurt, so he challenges Don Juan once more, telling him to try to seduce a woman who is about to become a nun. Don Juan not only accepts the challenge but also ups it, saying that he will both seduce a future nun before she takes her vows and seduce an engaged woman before she gets married. He boasts that the engaged woman he will seduce will be Don Luis' own fiancé, Doña Ana.

Don Juan himself is engaged at this point, and his future father-in-law, Don Gonzalo, overhears the entire conversation between Don Juan and Don Luis about this new bet. Naturally, he is angered by the conversation, so he immediately calls off his daughter's wedding. Furious and afraid for his daughter, Doña Inés, he takes her to a convent to keep her away from Don Juan. This, however, only serves to allow Don Juan to fulfill both aspects of the bet at once as he sneaks Doña Inés out of the convent and sleeps with her.

At this point, Don Juan realizes he is in love with Doña Inés and tries to convince her father, Don Gonzalo, to allow them to marry. After Don Gonzalo and Don Luis mock Don Juan for his sensitivity, he kills both of them and flees the country, abandoning Doña Inés in the process.

Five years later, Don Juan returns to his home to find out that Doña Inés died of sorrow shortly after her father's murder. Don Juan for once feels remorse and prays for forgiveness to a statue of Doña Inés. As he prays, the statue comes to life and tells Don Juan that she made a deal with God to bind their souls together, meaning the decisions Don Juan makes not only affect his own salvation but will also determine whether Doña Inés is sent to heaven or hell. She tells him his time on earth is limited, and until he dies, she will be waiting in purgatory.

Don Juan then meets two of his old friends, Centellas and Avellaneda, and the three spend the evening drinking and eating together. Avellaneda and Centellas eventually pass out from the drinks, and when they awake, they accuse Don Juan of having drugged their drinks, leading to an argument and a sword fight. Centellas kills Don Juan, and just as his soul is about to be pulled to hell, Doña Inés reaches down from purgatory and saves him. The two are then presumably able to enter heaven together.

In summary, the main characters of Don Juan Tenorio include Don Juan, Don Luis, Don Gonzalo, Doña Inés, Doña Ana, Centellas, and Avellaneda.

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