(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Sancho, a poor peasant, is in love with an equally poor girl, Elvira, the daughter of a farmer named Nuno. When the old man gives Sancho permission to wed his daughter, he insists that Sancho also secure the consent of Don Tello, master of all the surrounding lands, and of Don Tello’s sister, Feliciana. In obedience to Nuno, Sancho goes with Pelayo, a swineherd, to the castle to ask his lord’s approval of the marriage. Both Don Tello and his sister Feliciana readily give their consent and their blessing, and they declare that they themselves will attend the wedding.

When Don Tello sees the beautiful Elvira, however, he is filled with such passion for her that he decides to postpone the wedding and take Elvira to satisfy his own lust before giving her to Sancho for his wife. Dismissing the priest, he tells the assembled guests that the wedding must wait until the next day. Sancho and Elvira feels themselves already married, however, since the priest heard them declare their true love for each other, and Sancho plans to go to Elvira’s room that night. When Elvira opens her door, she confronts not her lover but Don Tello and his attendants, all masked, who carry her off to the castle.

Sancho and Nuno, learning of this betrayal, are ready to die. Nuno cautions Sancho not to despair, however, for he knows his daughter will die rather than lose her honor. Nuno knows his daughter well. Although Don Tello pleads with her and threatens her, she will not give herself to him. Feliciana begs him to remember his good name and his honor and not to force the girl.

Sancho and Nuno, going to Don Tello, pretend that they hear but cannot believe that he stole Elvira away. Don Tello pretends also that he is outraged at such a story and would whip those who tell such lies to defame his honor. However, when Elvira enters the room, Don Tello flies into a rage and orders Sancho and Nuno beaten to death. They flee for their lives. Don Tello vows that he will force Elvira to submit to him or be killed. Again Sancho wants to die, but once more Nuno persuades him that there is still hope. He sends Sancho and Pelayo to the court of Alfonso, the king of Castile, for the king is a good man and well known for his justice in...

(The entire section is 913 words.)