Discussion Questions: The Celestina

The Celestina

If you liked the story of Calisto, Melibea, and Celestina and would like to continue exploring the language of this work, click here  for a bilingual edition.

Named a tragicomedy for its clever characters and ill-fated love, this ‘novel in dialogue’ has been deemed seminal by scholars of Medieval Spanish literature for its great influence in modern works. It’s exemplary of the transition of the Spanish tragicomedy from late medieval to modern periods.

Discussion Questions

  1. Although it might read like a play, some of the characters’ dialogue is quite long and didactic. How does the dialogue of the novel suggest to the reader what kind of play this is? How does it affect the reader’s perception of genre? (Especially, when plays were quite common and popular in this period.)
  1. How does the novel portray romance or courtly love? Explain how the characters are engaging, reversing, or adhering to classical or medieval notions of lovers.
  1. Think back to the Pleberio’s lament. Consider how he alludes to classical, religious, and literary models. Overall, how does the play reject or reaffirm these models? For what purpose do you think the author does this?
  1. As the title character, Celestina provides much of the parody and action. She’s completely the opposite of Melibea, the traditional heroine. With her witchy, mysterious trinkets and deceptive behavior, how does this old bawd come out as the central anti-heroine?
  1. How does this work use satire and irony to move the play from a comedy to a tragedy?

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