(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Sancho IV, king of Castile, is delighted with his welcome to Seville, and he is especially charmed by a black-haired beauty he catches sight of on a balcony. The alcaldes of the city identify her as Estrella Tabera, the Star of Seville. King Sancho whispers orders to his confidant, Arias, telling him to arrange for the monarch to visit Estrella the next evening. He also sends for Estrella’s brother, Don Bustos Tabera, in the hope of winning his agreement to the royal suit.

When Don Bustos is offered the command of the military post at Archidona, already sought by two veteran soldiers, the nobleman amazes the king by refusing the honor and by accepting with obvious reluctance other friendly gestures; his excuse is that he does not deserve them. At home, Don Bustos finds his sister and Don Sancho Ortiz planning their marriage. Before long the disguised king appears, but Don Bustos, pleading a house in disorder and foreseeing the possibility of a scandal, does not invite him in. Arias does succeed in entering the house, however. When he reveals his errand, Estrella indignantly refuses his request that she be kind to the king. Arias has better luck when he tries to bribe Matilde, the maid, who promises to admit the king to the house after dark.

That night, after the king has been admitted, Don Bustos returns home unexpectedly and finds the monarch there. Pretending not to believe that the intruder is the king, since a noble and just ruler would not stoop to dishonor, Don Bustos insults him as a masquerader. The angry king, with no legal way to get revenge for the insults he has endured, sends for Don Sancho Ortiz and offers to arrange the young nobleman’s marriage to anyone he chooses, in return for ridding the king of an enemy. Don Sancho is given a paper on which is written the name of the man he is supposed to kill.

In the meantime, Don Bustos, having forced Matilde to confess her treachery, hangs her from the king’s balcony. Then...

(The entire section is 806 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Bergmann, Emilie. “Reading and Writing in the Comedia.” In The Golden Age Comedia: Text, Theory, and Performance, edited by Charles Ganelon and Howard Manning. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1994. Discusses the ways that reading and writing define women’s roles in The Star of Seville. Compares the treatment of women in this play with the depiction of women in another contemporary drama.

Oriel, Charles. Writing and Inscription in Golden Age Drama. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1992. A chapter on The Star of Seville focuses on the written texts, such as letters, that appear in the play and explores their function in illuminating the code of honor.

Samson, Alexander, and Jonathan Thacker, eds. A Companion to Lope de Vega. Rochester, N.Y.: Tamesis, 2008. Twenty-one essays provide various interpretations of Vega Carpio’s life and work. Includes discussions of Vega Carpio and the theater of Madrid, his religious drama, his chronicle memory plays, his comedies, and Vega Carpio as icon.

Thomas, Henry. Introduction to The Star of Seville. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950. Calls the work one of the greatest plays of the Golden Age of Spanish drama. Analyzes the development of the king, Don Sancho, and Don Busto, whose varying understandings of the concept of honor lie at the heart of the drama.

Wright, Elizabeth R. Pilgrimage to Patronage: Lope de Vega and the Court of Philip III, 1598-1621. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2001. Chronicles how Vega Carpio used his publications and public appearances to win benefactors at the court of Philip III. Describes how his search for patrons shaped his literary work and how the success of his plays altered the court’s system of artistic patronage.

Ziomek, Henryk. A History of Spanish Golden Age Drama. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984. Briefly sketches the dramatic conflict of The Star of Seville, discusses the theme of loyalty, and comments on historical parallels.