Guzmán de Alfarache

by Mateo Alemán

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Guzmán de Alfarache

Guzmán de Alfarache (gewz-MAHN deh ahl-fah-RAH-chay), a rogue who early learns he must trick or be tricked. He lives by his wits in Spain and Italy until caught and sentenced to life imprisonment as a galley slave. Winning a pardon by revealing the slaves’ conspiracy to seize the vessel, he determines to lead an exemplary life.

Don Guzmán

Don Guzmán, his father. Cheated by a partner in Genoa, he recovers most of his money in Seville. When he becomes rich, he buys an estate in San Juan de Alfarache and takes a mistress, whom he eventually marries. Addicted to gambling and high living, he dies penniless.

A muleteer

A muleteer, who teaches Guzmán the world’s crookedness.

Two friars

Two friars, who hire animals from the muleteer.

A constable

A constable, who arrests and severely beats Guzmán, thinking he is a thieving page.

An innkeeper

An innkeeper, who hires Guzmán and teaches him to cheat travelers.

A captain of soldiers

A captain of soldiers, with whom Guzmán plans to travel to Italy.

Don Beltrán

Don Beltrán (behl-TRAHN), Guzmán’s uncle in Genoa, who orders the servants to beat his nephew. The boy gets revenge by tricking him out of jewelry.

A cardinal

A cardinal, who thinks the fake sores on Guzmán’s legs are real and who gives him money and a job. He soon discharges Guzmán for stealing.

The French ambassador

The French ambassador, who hires Guzmán for intrigues.


Sayavedra (sah-yah-BAY-drah), a supposed friend who rifles Guzmán’s possessions but later helps him cheat the rich of Florence.

Alexandro Bentivoglio

Alexandro Bentivoglio (ah-layk-SAHN-droh behn-tee-BOH-glyoh), a thieves’ fence.

Guzmán’s first wife

Guzmán’s first wife, who is not the heiress she pretends to be.

Guzmán’s second wife

Guzmán’s second wife, who helps him rob wealthy men and then deserts him for an Italian sea captain.


Soto (SOH-toh), a fellow galley slave of Guzmán who plots the seizure of the ship. In revenge for a previous wrong committed against him by Soto, Guzmán reports the plot, and Soto is executed. The grateful ship’s captain frees Guzmán from the oars.

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