Fuenteovejuna Summary and Study Guide

Lope de Vega

Fuenteovejuna

  • 41-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 18 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a former professor with both an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing
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Fuenteovejuna Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 41-page guide for “Fuenteovejuna” by Lope de Vega includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 18 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Class Struggle and Women’s Rights.

Plot Summary

Fuenteovejuna, by Lope de Vega, first published in 1619, takes place and is based on true events that occurred in Spain in 1476. The play opens in Amalgro, where Commander Don Fernán Gómez de Guzmán is meeting with Grand Master Don Rodrigo Téllez Girón to push him to back King Alfonso, rather than Ferdinand and Isabella, in the battle for Spain and take Ciudad Real. Guzmán pledges his soldiers and tells Girón that he is currently staying in the town of Fuenteovejuna (literally “sheep well”).

In Scene Two, we move to the town, where we discover that the townspeople dislike the Commander, who treats them monstrously, and that they wish him not to return. At the end of the scene, however, the Commander’s captain, Flores, returns to inform them of their victory at Ciudad Real. In the next scene, the people all praise the Commander and offer him gifts; after they leave, the Commander attempts to persuade Laurencia and Pascuala, two peasants introduced in the previous scene, to stay, in order to sleep with him, but they escape. In the following scene, Ferdinand and Isabella learn of the fall of Ciudad Real, and they resolve to rescue it from the Grand Master’s control.

In the final scene of Act One, Laurencia and Frondoso, who are secret lovers, are talking in the woods when they spot the Commander, who is out hunting. Frondoso hides, and the Commander, unaware he is there, attempts to rape Laurencia. However, Frondoso picks up the Commander’s crossbow and forces him to allow Laurencia to leave. Frondoso then takes the crossbow and also leaves.

Act Two opens in the town square with Esteban, the mayor and Laurencia’s father, and Alonso, his alderman, discussing crops. The Commander enters with Flores and Ortuño, his sergeant, in order to persuade Esteban to convince his daughter to sleep with him. Esteban rebukes him. The Commander orders everyone to leave, then complains to Flores and Ortuño about the town; Cimbranos, one of his soldiers, arrives to inform him that Ferdinand and Isabella are attempting to take Ciudad Real.

In Scene Two, Mengo is walking Laurencia and Pascuala home when Jacinta runs to them begging for their help in escaping the Commander; Laurencia and Pascuala run away, leaving Mengo to defend her, but Mengo is whipped and Pascuala is taken to be a prostitute for the soldiers. In Scene Three, Frondoso, who has been in hiding, returns to ask Laurencia to marry him; she accepts, and her father assents. In the next scene, outside Ciudad Real, the Commander and his forces are retreating, having been badly beaten; the Commander suggests to the Grand Master that he should transfer allegiance to Ferdinand and Isabella. Back in Fuenteovejuna, in the final scene of the act, the townspeople are celebrating the wedding of Laurencia and Frondoso when the Commander returns and arrests them both.

Act Three opens with the men of Fuenteovejuna holding a secret meeting, in order to determine what to do; Laurencia, impatient, barges in and convinces the men to rise up against the Commander, then the women to do the same. At the Commander’s residence, the Commander is about to hang Frondoso when the townspeople arrive; he releases Frondoso, asking him to quell the crowd, but he instead joins him. The townspeople barge in and kill the Commander and everyone else inside—or so they believe.

Scene Four opens in Ferdinand and Isabella’s court; Flores, who hid and survived the event, tells them of the town’s uprising and begs for their assistance; they promise to investigate, sending a judge and soldiers to assist. Back in Fuenteovejuna, the townspeople are celebrating the death of the Commander; realizing that there will be an investigation, they settle on the story that it was the fault of Fuenteovejuna itself. Meanwhile, Grand Master Rodrigo hears of the events, but is cautioned against retaliating against the town himself; he instead decides to beg for the forgiveness of Ferdinand and Isabella.

Later, in Fuenteovejuna, the magistrate and the soldiers torture the townspeople one by one, but all stick to the story; he eventually gives up, determining that he will never learn who killed the Commander. He and the townspeople return to Ferdinand and Isabella, who have just forgiven and accepted Grand Master Rodrigo. The magistrate explains that no one would give him any information; therefore, they would have to either convict them all or pardon them all. The townspeople, wishing to speak, then tell them about the cruelty of Ferdinand and Isabella. At the end, they decide to pardon them all and agree to rule the town themselves until a new Commander is put in place.

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Act One