(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In Naples, Italy, Don Juan Tenorio deceives Isabela by impersonating her lover, Duke Octavio, under the cover of darkness. After Isabela tells Don Juan that she wants to light a lamp, he confesses to her that he is not Duke Octavio. Isabela screams, and Don Juan is apprehended. He is permitted to escape, however, by his uncle Don Pedro Tenorio, the Spanish ambassador.

During a voyage to Spain, Don Juan is shipwrecked on the coast and is rescued by a fisherman’s daughter named Tisbea. When Don Juan regains consciousness in Tisbea’s arms, he begins to conquer this woman of the lower class. He ardently declares his love, discredits arguments regarding the inequality of their social stations and the responsibilities of marriage vows, and finally obtains her consent to his desires by promising to marry her. Don Juan has ordered his servant, Catalinón, to prepare their horses so that they can escape quickly after he has tricked the young woman. Catalinón repeatedly warns his master that he will some day have to face the consequences of his actions, but Don Juan answers him with the refrain, “That is a long way off.” There are also references to fire: the flames of passion and the burning of Tisbea’s hut.

Upon arriving in Seville, Don Juan discovers that the king has arranged his marriage to Doña Ana, the daughter of Commander Don Gonzalo de Ulloa. Doña Ana, however, is already in love with her cousin, the Marqués de la Mota, with whom she schedules a nightly meeting. Don Juan intercepts a letter containing a message for the Marqués de la Mota to meet Doña Ana at eleven o’clock, wearing a colored cape. The deceiver changes the hour of the meeting to midnight, trades capes with Mota, and arrives at Doña Ana’s at eleven o’clock. Although this rendezvous appears to contain the elements of a master deceit, it causes Don Juan’s demise, for Doña Ana becomes aware of the treachery and screams, alerting her father. The commander fights a duel with Don Juan and is killed. Don Juan departs rapidly from Doña Ana’s home and travels to a small village where a peasant woman named Aminta is going to marry a man named Batricio, who thinks that the presence of this nobleman is a bad omen for his wedding.


(The entire section is 918 words.)