Out of the Wings

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La celosa de sí misma (1622-1623), Tirso de Molina

English title: Jealous of Herself
Date written: from 1622 to 1623
First production date: sometime between 1622 and 1631
Keywords: morality > honour, identity > class/social standing, identity, identity > gender, family > marriage, love > relationships, love > desire
Genre and type: comedy

Magdalena is jealous of herself because she dresses up as another woman, a rich Countess, who steals the heart of her fiancé, Melchor. Although the ‘other woman’ is really Magdalena in disguise, Melchor loses interest in the real Magdalena and she must contrive a way to win him back.


The plot revolves around the scheming of Magdalena, who is in love with Melchor. They are engaged, but have never met. The play begins just after Mass; Melchor eagerly awaits the sight of his future bride for the first time. He goes to the church, and there he encounters a veiled lady. After glimpsing only her hand, he falls in love. He does not know that the veiled lady is really his fiancée, Magdalena. Her purse had been stolen by a thief during Mass, and Melchor retrieves it. He and the veiled lady agree to meet so he can return the purse the next day. With his head full of visions of the lovely hand of the veiled lady, Melchor goes and meets his fiancée, Magdalena. When she sees her intended husband, she realises that the handsome stranger who loved her hand is really her own fiancé, and she praises her good luck without giving her identity away. Melchor does not recognise Magdalena’s hand, and he finds her ugly, saying that in comparison to the lovely hand he kissed at church, this hand is but a ‘clump of plaster’. He fails to realise they are the same hand and the same lady, scorning his fiancée in favour of the veiled lady.

In act 2, Magdalena claims that she has nagging suspicions about Melchor, as she is concerned that a man who could give his heart away to a stranger in church may not be a faithful husband. This causes her to be jealous of herself, as she is jealous of Melchor’s amorous behaviour to her as the veiled lady. She plans to play a trick on him to test his loyalty. Magdalena dresses up in the veil again, and meets Melchor at church as they had arranged. There she tells Melchor that if he really loves her (as the veiled lady), he must leave Magdalena and come to stay at her house instead. Melchor gladly agrees.

Meanwhile, Melchor’s servant, Ventura, pays a squire to find out the identity of the veiled lady, and the squire invents a title for her: the Countess of Chirinola, saying that she comes from Naples. When pressed, Magdalena (as the veiled lady) agrees that this is her name, and in this disguise she becomes known as the Countess. Melchor begs to see more of her body or face, having only seen her hand, and she reveals one eye to him, and then the second. He finds her eyes extremely beautiful, an irony since he had already seen these eyes when he met the real Magdalena, and had then called them ugly. In this play Melchor’s love is bound by context and perception.

Magdalena’s neighbour, Angela, wants to steal Melchor as she is in love with him. She bribes Melchor’s servant to tell her what has been going on between Melchor and the veiled Countess. Magdalena, claiming to be a ‘good friend’ of the Countess, tells Melchor that the Countess has asked her to relay the message that she has been urgently called back to Naples to marry a cousin, a matter of family duty. As he has abandoned Magdalena and the Countess has abandoned him, Melchor is left alone and wants to return to his homeland of León.

In act 3, Melchor and Ventura have not yet left for León, and it is a good thing too, because a squire comes with a letter from the Countess saying she wishes to see him. Magdalena’s servant betrays the whole story to Angela, and suggests that Angela dress up as the veiled Countess in order to steal Melchor away. The servant gives Angela a purse very like that of the Countess, to prove her identity. Angela meets Melchor at the church and he accepts her as the Countess, even when she shows him an eye and it is blue, while yesterday the veiled Countess’s eyes were brown. The ‘real’ Countess, Magdalena in a veil, enters and sees the impostor, and they debate which one of them is the true Countess. Angela shows him the purse as ‘proof’ that she is the real one, and Melchor accepts this. But Magdalena shows him an eye and the strings from the cut purse that was stolen in church, and he also accepts these as proof, so all is confused.

Melchor agrees to meet the Countess/Magdalena in the early hours, and he appears in the street below her bedroom balcony window. This scene requires vocal dexterity of the actress, as Magdalena pretends to be both the Countess and ‘herself’ speaking from the inner room. Angela appears in the street and claims to be the ‘real’ Countess, saying she was the one who dressed up as the veiled lady and won Melchor’s heart, but Magdalena trumps this by revealing her own disguise and showing the real purse and her hand, which Melchor admits was the one that so enraptured him from the start. Melchor is engaged to Magdalena, Angela reluctantly agrees to marry Jeronimo, and the servants are married to each other. It is a happy ending for Magdalena, the only person who is marrying someone she truly loves, but the question is left open as to whether Melchor will truly be happy with the woman he only loved when he thought she was someone else.


This play relies heavily on its source play, Tres mujeres en una, by Fray Alonso Remón, according to some critics (see Vázquez 1998).

Critical response

This is one of Tirso de Molina’s bold comedies from the capa y espada (cloak-and-dagger) genre for which he has often rightly been praised and was famed in his day.

Further information

The published edition of 1631 indicates that La celosa de sí misma had been performed by that time. It is thought to have been put on by the playwright Vallejo, who managed a theatrical company between 1621 and his death in 1644 (see Nebrera’s introduction in Tirso de Molina 2005).

  • Tirso de Molina, 2005. La celosa de sí misma, ed. Gregorio Torres Nebrera. Madrid, Cátedra (in Spanish)

  • Tirso de Molina, 1981. La celosa de sí misma; La jalouse d'elle-même, ed. and trans. into French by Serge Maurel. Poitiers, University of Poitiers (in Spanish and French)

  • Tirso de Molina, 2005. La celosa de sí misma, ed. Gregorio Torres Nebrera. Madrid, Cátedra

  • Tirso de Molina. 1627. La celosa de sí misma. In Doze comedias nuevas del maestro Tirso de Molina (Primera parte). Francisco de Lyra, Seville

Useful readings and websites
  • Arellano, Ignacio, et. al. 2004. Tirso de Molina en la Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico. Cuadernos de Teatro Clásico, 18. Madrid, Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (in Spanish)

  • D'Antuono, Nancy. 1998. ‘Tirso de Molina and Italy: La celosa de sí misma and Its Italian Counterpart’, Romance Languages Annual, 10, 2, 525-8

  • Smith, Dawn. 1998. ‘La celosa de sí misma: A Comedy in Spite of Itself’, Romance Languages Annual, 10, 2, 827-31

  • Stoudemire, Sterling A. ‘Dionisio Solís’s refundiciones of plays (1800-1834)’, Hispanic Review, 8, 305-10

  • Tirso de Molina. 1824. La celosa de sí misma, comedia en 3 actos, del maestro Tirso de Molina y refundida por Dionisio Solís. Cádiz (in Spanish)

  • Vázquez, Luis. 1998. ‘La originalidad ingeniosa de La celosa de sí misma de Tirso en relación con el manuscrito previo de Remón Tres mujeres en una’, in El ingenio cómico de Tirso de Molina: Actas del 2 Congreso Internacional, eds. Ignacio Arellano, Blanca Oteiza, Miguel Zugasti. pp. 325-38. Madrid, Grupo de Investigación del Siglo de Oro (in Spanish)

  • Wade, Gerald E. 1971. ‘La celosa de sí misma de Tirso de Molina’. In Homenaje a William L. Fichter: Estudios sobre el teatro antiguo hispánico y otros ensayos, eds. David Kossoff and José Amor y Vásquez, pp. 755-63. Madrid, Castalia (in Spanish)

  • Wade, Gerald E. 1982. ‘Love, Comedia Style’, Romance Quarterly, 29, 1, 47-60

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Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 21 January 2012.

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