La Celestina

Title: La Celestina

Author: Fernando de Rojas

Genre: Tragicomedy/drama

Publication Date: 1499

Page Length: Unknown

La Celestina, written by Fernando de Rojas, is a tragicomedy/drama that is considered one of the most significant works of Spanish literature. This 15th-century novel tells the story of a young man, Calisto, who falls in love with a woman named Melibea, and his attempts to win her heart. The novel explores themes of love, lust, deceit, and the corrupting nature of desire.

The story begins with Calisto, a handsome young man who is infatuated with Melibea, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy businessman. Calisto employs the services of a matchmaker named Celestina to help him win Melibea’s affection. However, Celestina uses her powers of persuasion to manipulate and deceive both Calisto and Melibea, leading to tragic consequences.

Celestina, a manipulative and cunning woman, is the main antagonist of the story. She is a go-between, a matchmaker, who initially helps Calisto and Melibea get closer. However, her greed and desire for wealth and power lead her to turn against the two lovers, and she ultimately causes their downfall.

The novel is divided into three parts, each of which explores different aspects of the story. In Part I, the reader is introduced to the main characters and their motivations. Calisto becomes infatuated with Melibea after seeing her in her garden, and he seeks the help of his friend Sempronio to win her over. Sempronio recommends that Calisto hires Celestina, a notorious matchmaker, to help him. Celestina agrees to help, and through her manipulation, she manages to bring Calisto and Melibea together.

In Part II, the story takes a darker turn as Celestina’s greed and desire for power leads her to turn against the lovers. Celestina convinces Sempronio and another character, Pármeno, to join her in demanding payment from Calisto for their services. When Calisto refuses to pay, Celestina not only reveals his relationship with Melibea to her father, but she also turns him in to the authorities, causing him to be imprisoned and executed. Melibea, consumed by grief, dies in her sorrow.

Part III explores the aftermath of the tragedy. The characters who survive the tragedy try to come to terms with the events and find a way to move on. Calisto’s servant, Sosia, and a friend of Melibea’s family, Lucrecia, both act as moral compasses throughout the story.

One of the most notable aspects of La Celestina is the language used by Rojas. The novel is written in vernacular Spanish, making it accessible and relatable to the common people. Rojas uses realistic dialogue and vivid descriptions to bring the characters and settings to life.

The novel explores themes of love, lust, and desire, and how these emotions can be both beautiful and destructive. Calisto’s desire for Melibea leads him to take extreme risks, including hiring a matchmaker and breaking societal norms, ultimately leading to his downfall. Melibea’s love for Calisto leads her to trust him and believe in his promises, despite the warnings of those around her, leading to her tragic demise.

The character of Celestina is also noteworthy, as she represents the corrupting nature of greed and the dangers of using manipulation to attain power. Through her actions, she illustrates how individuals driven by greed and power can cause significant harm to those around them.

In conclusion, La Celestina is a significant work of Spanish literature that explores themes of love, lust, greed, and the corrupting power of desire. The novel is divided into three parts, each of which explores different aspects of the story, and is written in vernacular Spanish, making it accessible to all readers. Through its vivid descriptions and realistic dialogue, La Celestina brings the characters and settings to life, creating a lasting impact on Spanish literature.