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Don Juan Tenorio: Drama religioso-fantástico en dos partes (1844), José Zorrilla

English title: Don Juan Tenorio: A Religious-Fantasy Drama in Two Parts
Notable variations on Spanish title: Don Juan Tenorio
Date written: 1844
First publication date: 1844
First production date: 28 March 1844
Keywords: morality > vice-virtue, violence > murder, violence > cruelty, violence > revenge, ideology > morality, ideology > religion and faith, power > use and abuse, women
Genre and type: melodrama, romance

Don Juan refuses to give up his womanising. He goes through life destroying reputations, laughing at those who beg him to change his ways. Don Juan may think he's invincible, but his wicked deeds will catch up with him one day.


Don Juan Tenorio is divided into two parts, which take place in a single night, but five years apart. In the First Part, the amorous rake Don Juan meets his friend Don Luis to settle a bet: which of the two could do more harm, kill more men, and seduce more women in the course of a year. Don Juan wins the bet, but Don Luis challenges him to seduce a novice nun. Don Juan accepts, and also adds Don Luis' new wife - Doña Ana - to the bet. Unfortunately for Don Juan, he is engaged to be married to Doña Inés, and her father has found out about the sordid bet between Don Juan and Don Luis. Consequently, Don Juan's future father-in-law Don Gonzalo vows he will never let his daughter marry such a rogue. Don Juan laughs off the older man's anger and sets about seducing Inés. He also manages to seduce Don Luis' wife Ana, much to his friend's anger. The first part of the play ends in a dramatic encounter between Don Juan, Don Gonzalo and Don Luis. Don Juan kills both men and flees, vowing never to change his womanising, murdering ways.

The second part of the play takes place five years later. Don Juan has been pardoned for his crimes and returns to Seville. Here, he discovers that a cemetery has been constructed in the Pantheon at his large home. Life-like statues of Don Luis, Don Gonzalo and - tragically - Doña Inés stand in memory of the deceased. Surrounded by memories of his former crimes, Don Juan has visions of ghosts and thinks the statues are coming to life. Characteristically, however, he disregards the strange goings on. One night, he invites his friends Centellas and Avellaneda to dine at home with him. He ends up fighting with his friends, and is then led by the ghost of Don Gonzalo to the gates of hell. Don Juan's fate looks certain, as he is about to be dragged into the underworld to atone for his crimes. At the last moment, however, the ghost of Doña Inés appears and pleads for clemency. Don Juan is saved from hell, and he and Inés rise up to heaven.


Don Juan Tenorio is a reinterpretation of the classic tale of Don Juan, legendary rake and womaniser. Zorrilla's play owes a great debt to Tirso de Molina's seventeenth-century drama El burlador de Sevilla (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest). In Tirso de Molina's play, Don Juan is struck dead by the ghost of Don Gonzalo and has no opportunity to beg forgiveness for his behaviour.

Critical response

Don Juan Tenorio is the longest-running play in Spain. Traditionally, it is performed every All Saints' Day in Madrid theatres. Since 1984, the city of Alcalá de Henares has staged the play every year as part of its annual Don Juan de Alcalá festival.

  • José Zorrilla. 2002. Don Juan Tenorio. Alicante, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, http://bib.cervantesvirtual.com/FichaObra.html?Ref=7428&portal=0 [accessed August 2012]. This is a digital reproduction of the 1974 edition published by the Real Academia Española. (Online Publication)

  • Zorrilla, José. 1975. Don Juan Tenorio. Madrid, Espasa Calpe

  • Zorrilla, José. 1979. Don Juan Tenorio. Madrid, Cátedra

Entry submitted by David_Arbesu on 7 August 2012 and last updated by Gwynneth Dowling on 17 August 2012

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