Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date



In biblical literature, the devil serves as an archetype of evil. He appears as a deceptive serpent, a roaring lion and a vanquished dragon. Each one of the great charlatan’s faces serves to add levels of meaning to this complex character. Like biblical authors, Hispanic authors have incorporated this archetype in their own literary works in distinct ways, taking advantage of its complexity and levels of meaning. During the Middle Ages in Spain, Gonzalo de Berceo incorporated the devil as a figure of deception and enmity in Los milagros de Nuestra Señora. Two centuries later, in the Spanish baroque period, Tirso de Molina displayed the evils of the famous Don Juan in El Burlador de Sevilla through his diabolic characterization. In the nineteenth century during the Latin American romantic period, Esteban Echeverría wrote “El matadero,” translating this archetype to a social group to denounce the Rosas Federation. Each explicit or implicit diabolical representation furthers the authors’ social commentary within their own literary contexts. To understand the literary character of the devil in all of its complexity, this work investigates three specific literary cases, two from Spain and one from Argentina, which affirm the archetype’s flexibility and efficacy as a literary tool of moral, social, and political messaging. The result is a destructive figure with a malleable monstrous face that has the capacity to adapt itself across time and geographical space to any historical context.


This work is a senior thesis completed in December 2019 as part of the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.