Summary: Act XIII

Calisto wakes up hoping his night with Melibea was not a dream. He asks his servant Tristán to tell Sempronio and Pármeno to come to his room and then goes back to sleep. Sosia, the stable boy, arrives crying, telling Tristán that Sempronio and Pármeno are dead and were executed in the town square. They both wake Calisto to tell him the news. Calisto bemoans their deaths but is more concerned about protecting his reputation. They reveal that Celestina was found with over thirty stab wounds and Elicia weeping over her body. When Calisto asks if Sempronio and Pármeno killed Celestina, Tristán and Sosia answer yes and that, according to Elicia, it was because she wouldn’t share the chain Calisto gave her. Afraid to go out in public but determined to meet Melibea that night, Calisto rationalizes that Celestina and his servants got what they deserved since they were trying to scam him. Calisto plans to pretend he was ignorant of their plans or that he’s gone mad if all else fails.

Summary: Act XIV

Melibea is upset because Calisto is late. She wonders if something bad has happened to him, but Lucrecia reassures her. Sosia and Tristán set up a ladder for Calisto to climb to Melibea’s window. Melibea pleads with Calisto to be satisfied she loves him and not take her virginity, but he says he can’t suffer any longer. Melibea sends Lucrecia away. Tristán and Sosia can hear everything outside, including Melibea crying out in disappointment that she gave up her virginity for such a “brief pleasure.” Calisto asks Sosia to set the ladder so he can climb down. Meanwhile, Melibea asks Lucrecia if she heard them. Lucrecia replies no but that she hears something terrible happening below. They find Tristán crying over Calisto, who has fallen to his death. Lucrecia tells her to pretend to be suffering from something else to protect herself.

Summary: Act XV

Lucrecia wakes Pleberio to tell him that he must go to see Melibea immediately because she’s fallen gravely ill. Pleberio finds Melibea in her room and begs her to tell him what’s wrong. Melibea only cries that there’s no hope for her. Pleberio suggests there’s nothing so wrong with her that he can’t help find the remedy. She replies that she has a “fatal wound” in her heart that can only be removed with her heart itself. Pleberio tells her she’s too young to suffer such mental agony and that they should go outside for a walk. Melibea, Pleberio, and Lucrecia head to the tower, where Melibea sends Pleberio to get an instrument for her to play. She tells Lucrecia to tell her father Pleberio to stand at the foot of the tower when he returns. Melibea stands at the top of the tower shouting to her father when he returns that she is going to kill herself. She reveals everything about how Celestina interfered to bring her and Calisto together and how Calisto fell from the ladder and died after they made love. She tells Pleberio to tell her mother everything she said and throws herself from the tower.

Summary: Act XVI

Pleberio tells his wife that Melibea is dead. Weeping, he speaks about the cruelty of losing a daughter and what value all of his wealth and honor have without an heir to inherit them. He bemoans the fact that he now has no one to take care of him in old age. Pleberio says that he once had faith that there was order in the world, but now life seems to be a terrifying, chaotic place full of fools. He lists several figures in history who have lost their children but claims his loss is more devastating since Melibea killed herself for love and not for honor. Finally, Pleberio curses love itself, which he says has a gruesome power to kill. He lists Celestina, Pármeno, Sempronio, and Calisto as other victims of love besides his daughter. Pleberio ends his desperate monologue wondering why Melibea would kill herself in front of him rather than let him stop her and allow him to suffer so much.

Analysis: Acts XIII–XVI

Calisto’s character comes to an unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected, demise at the end of the novel. His impatient pressuring of Melibea for sex after she sincerely begged him to save her purity shows him to be a degenerate. Again, he could have gone through the proper channels to win Melibea honestly, but marriage is not what he’s after. He is young and wants quick passion, at whatever cost. Furthermore, Calisto’s preoccupation with his reputation after learning his servants were killed shows him to be undeniably heartless, even with the reality that his servants were scamming him. Calisto has a one-track mind focused on one goal—to sleep with Melibea—which also serves to demonstrate the novel’s theme that love disturbs the mind and makes it obsessed.

The novel also shows how the noble class treats its servants as disposable commodities and as quickly gained as they are lost. Right after Sempronio and Pármeno are executed, Tristán and Sosia step in seamlessly to replace them. They aren’t as skilled or knowledgeable as Sempronio and Pármeno, however; neither has much wisdom to share with Calisto, and the ladder they place for Calisto to climb to Melibea’s window fails and causes Calisto’s death.

The novel shows how women’s bodies are commodities as well in the characters’ world. Women of all classes, upper and lower, use their bodies to gain power, standing, or love in the world. Celestina trades in women’s bodies for income and security as well as getting her co-conspirators on her side. She uses Areúsa’s body to get Pármeno on her side and Elicia to maintain some power over Sempronio, who is in love with Elicia. Elicia and Areúsa in return trade their bodies for Celestina’s care and protection. Elisa and Areúsa love her like a mother but also need her negotiating skills to get clients. Furthermore, Elisa and Areúsa also use their bodies to maintain their hold over their lovers. Elicia uses jealousy to try to stir Sempronio up, and Areúsa uses her body to maintain a relationship with a client who treats her like a wife and gives her some level of security.

Even Melibea trades her body for something. When she begs Calisto to be satisfied with her attention and stop short of making love to her to protect her chastity, her plea falls on deaf ears. Since she’s overcome with love, she allows him to sleep with her out of desperation to keep his love. Since Melibea is a member of the protected upper class, she isn’t as skilled as Elicia and Areúsa in knowing how to play with men’s affections to keep them interested. She immediately worries she’s lost Calisto’s love when she sends Celestina away for the first time, not confident that she’ll be able to maintain it whether she gives him her body or not. Furthermore, her body is literally owned by her father—her chastity is a commodity for her family, and without it, her family’s name is ruined and her ability to get married and provide an heir is lost. When she laments that she has been despoiled for “such a brief pleasure,” the reader sympathizes with her, for she truly has lost everything.

Finally, Pleberio, in his lament over Melibea’s death, voices the novel’s central theme: the exploitation of the class system and how love, a wild and destructive power, serves to expose it. Pleberio has just watched his daughter commit suicide in front of him, thinking her life is over because both her chastity and lover are gone. Pleberio realizes all his wealth could not prevent the devastating loss of his daughter. He also realizes that all his years and having the luxury of living well into old age haven’t prevented him from his life ending in misery, either. Pleberio has come to the end of his life, rich but devastated and without an heir. Celestina’s statement earlier in the novel, when she told Melibea that being rich comes with its own problems, has been proven true. As Celestina said, wealth doesn’t prevent one from loss and it only brings worry and problems. Conversely, the poor may suffer, but they don’t stand to lose as much as the wealthy when things go wrong.

Wealth also can’t prevent one from heartbreak. Melibea suffers heartbreak over the loss of Calisto, and Pleberio suffers heartbreak over the loss of his daughter. Love is shown to be a powerful and destructive force for everyone in the novel, regardless of class or status. For Celestina and her co-conspirators, love is something that can be used for profit and gain. For Melibea and Calisto, it is a perilous force that can lead to their demise. Love exposes the naivete and vulnerability of Melibea and Calisto, who are led astray by romantic notions of love as a part of the protected upper class with no real-life experience in such matters, and love exposes the savage greed that exists between those of the lower classes just to survive. The novel shows how love, in its wild, destructive nature, cares for no one. It can be a sickness that ravages the body, mind, and soul if not handled correctly.