Characters Discussed

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Pedro Crespo

Pedro Crespo (PEH-droh KREHS-poh), a farmer of Zalamea whose story was first told in a play by Lope de Vega. He is a candidate for mayor in the approaching elections. Because he is wealthy, his house is selected as lodgings for Captain Ataide, who is leading his troops to Guadalupe. Although he is a commoner, he is a proud and independent man.

Juan Crespo

Juan Crespo (hwahn), his son, who wants his father to refuse hospitality to the Spanish soldiers. Later, he suspects the trickery of Captain Ataide and is almost killed for drawing a sword against him in defense of his sister. Saved by the arrival of Don Lope, Juan decides to enlist under his banner and march away with him.


Isabel (EE-sah-behl), the daughter of Pedro Crespo. Upon the arrival of the soldiers, she hides in the attic, where she is discovered by Captain Ataide, who kidnaps her. After his death, she enters a nunnery.


Inés (ee-NEHS), Isabel’s cousin, who hides with her in the Crespo attic.

Don Álvaro de Ataide

Don Álvaro de Ataide (AHL-vah-roh deh ah-TI-deh), a captain and the leader of a company of soldiers billeted in Zalamea. Curious about Isabel’s beauty, of which he has heard, he schemes to see her. After his troops leave Zalamea, he sneaks back to the village and with the help of Rebolledo abducts her and violates her. She is rescued too late by her brother. When Crespo, now mayor, orders the captain to make amends by marrying Isabel, Ataide refuses with the declaration that she is beneath him. Crespo orders him jailed. In jail, he is slain by an unidentified assailant.


Rebolledo (rreh-boh-YEH-doh), a military veteran who, in return for permission to operate official troop gambling, helps Captain Ataide in his schemes. Learning from a servant about Isabel’s hiding place, he fakes a quarrel with the captain and, fleeing, leads him to the attic where Isabel and Inés are hiding. Later, he helps kidnap Isabel and ties up Crespo when he attempts to rescue his daughter.

A sergeant

A sergeant, also ordered by Captain Ataide to aid in the abduction plot.


Chispa (CHEES-pah), Rebolledo’s mistress, who accompanies the troops and encourages them by singing marching songs. She disguises herself as a man to help Rebolledo seize Isabel.

Don Lope de Figueroa

Don Lope de Figueroa (LOH-peh deh fee-gehr-OH-ah), the commander of a Spanish regiment, who has an eye for pretty girls but a wounded leg that makes them safe with him. He turns the captain out of Crespo’s house and lodges there himself. He wins Crespo’s friendship by protecting him, as well as Isabel’s pity by displaying his battle wounds.

Philip II

Philip II, the king of Spain, who is on his way to Portugal with his army. He does not arrive in Zalamea in time to free Captain Ataide, who already has been garroted in his cell. When he does arrive in the village, however, the king declares the punishment just and appoints Crespo perpetual mayor of Zalamea.

Don Mendo

Don Mendo (MEHN-doh), a down-at-the-heels squire who yearns for Isabel.


Nuño (NEWN-yoh), Don Mendo’s picaresque servant.


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Calderón de la Barca, Pedro. Calderón de la Barca: Four Plays. Translated and with an introduction by Edwin Honig. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961. Honig’s introduction and Norman MacColl’s appendix provide illuminating context for understanding Spanish drama of the period.

Gerstinger, Heinz. Pedro Calderón de la Barca . Translated by Diana Stone Peters. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1973. Discusses...

(This entire section contains 208 words.)

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another of the play’s central themes: order and disorder, and how order is needed to limit human passions. Argues against the play’s being unique among Calderón’s works. Bibliography.

Hesse, Everett W. Calderón de la Barca. New York: Twayne, 1967. Describes The Mayor of Zalamea in terms of genre (it is a costumbristic play) and theme (honor). A good starting place for the study of Calderón. Bibliography.

Maraniss, James E. On Calderón. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1978. Stressing Calderón’s sense of “order triumphant,” Maraniss moves through the canon examining the structural integrity of each play, the symmetry of the plots, and the repeated ideas of social order.

Parker, Alexander A. The Mind and Art of Calderón: Essays on the Comedias. Edited by Deborah Kong. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Discusses historical allusions in the play. Notes and index.




Critical Essays