Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337

The twelve novellas in the collection, which Miguel de Cervantes contrasted to the loose morals of the popular Italian novellas, include a range of characters from Europe and North Africa, as well as Spain.

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Pedro de Rincon and Diego Cortado:

The longest piece in the group is “Rinconete and Cortadillo,” a picaresque tale of two 14-year-old boys, Pedro and Diego. Meeting en route to Seville, the boys join forces in a life of petty crime; their initial combined venture is to cheat a mule driver at cards. In the city, they enter a school for criminals run by Monipodio (on whom reputedly Charles Dickens’s modeled Fagan in Oliver Twist).

Tomas Rodaja:

The melancholy, demented Tomas is the titular character in “Doctor Glass Case,” a social satire. Although a servant, Rodaja attended classes at the University of Salamanca, where his masters were students, and he even earned a degree. Brilliant but emotionally vulnerable—the latter as the result of a failed love affair—he expresses his fragility through his belief that he is literally made of glass. Struggling to reconcile emotion and intellect, Rodaja realizes he must chart a new path. After joining the military, he is killed in Flanders.

Theodosia:

Two standard tropes, the disguised lover and the mixed-up pair, sustain the plot in “The Two Damsels.” Theodosia, setting out to locate the suitor who she believes had jilted her, disguises herself as a man to facilitate her travels. After he4 brother recognizes her, he joins in the quest; together they encounter another disguised female—in search of the same fiancé. When Theodosia is successfully reunited with her lover, her brother pairs up with the other young woman.

Cornelia:

In “The Lady Cornelia,” the lady of the title is an innocent damsel seduced and abandoned by a villainous Italian duke. Cornelia, believing the duke will marry her, loses her virtue to him and has a baby. This child ends up with two Spanish students, who engineer the couple’s marriage for the sake of the child.

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