Life is a Dream

by

Pedro Calderón de la Barca

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Astolfo Character Analysis

Astolfo is King Basilio’s nephew, Segismundo’s cousin, and Rosaura’s former lover. Astolfo is the Duke of Muscovy, and he comes to Poland to convince his uncle, whom Astolfo believes to be childless, to make him the new king. Astolfo’s cousin, Estrella, wants the crown, too, and Astolfo thinks it most advantageous if they marry and ascend the throne together. Before coming to Poland, Astolfo seduced Rosaura and left her, and while Estrella doesn’t know this specifically, she knows that Astolfo has a portrait of another woman in the pendant around his neck. Astolfo refuses to give up the portrait, which he later admits is Rosaura’s likeness. He comes to Clotaldo’s aid when Segismundo threatens to kill him, and he remains loyal to King Basilio through the uprising and resulting battle. After Basilio declares Segismundo the king at the end of the play, Segismundo orders Astolfo to marry Rosaura and restore her lost honor. Initially, Astolfo is reluctant to marry Rosaura, even though he loves her, as she does not have royal blood. However, after Clotaldo admits that Rosaura is his daughter, Astolfo quickly agrees to marry her. Astolfo is an opportunist who wants the crown at any cost—even if that means betraying Rosaura and her honor—but he also displays integrity when he saves Clotaldo’s life.

Astolfo Quotes in Life is a Dream

The Life is a Dream quotes below are all either spoken by Astolfo or refer to Astolfo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Life is a Dream published in 2012.
Act One Quotes

By Clorilene my wife
I had an unlucky son,
during whose gestation the heavens
exhausted their miracles
even before he emerged into the lovely light
from the living grave
of the womb (because birth
and death are similar).
Infinite times his mother,
amid the visions and delirium
of dreams, saw her entrails
being burst by a bold
monster in human shape;
dyed in her blood,
he was killing her, born
to be the human viper of the age.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Astolfo, Estrella
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

The day of her delivery arrived
and, the forecasts coming true
(because evil forecasts never lie,
or, if so, only belatedly),
he was born at such an astrological conjunction
that the sun, tinged with its blood,
was fiercely entering
into a joust with the moon,
and, with the earth for their barrier,
the two celestial lamps
were struggling light to light,
since one cannot say “hand to hand.”
The greatest, most terrifying
eclipse ever suffered by
the sun from the time when it bloodily
bewailed the death of Christ,
was this one: because the globe,
drowned in living flames,
seemed to be suffering
its final paroxysm.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Astolfo, Estrella
Page Number: 18-9
Explanation and Analysis:

I, referring to my books,
found in them, and in all things,
that Segismundo would be
the most insolent man,
the most cruel prince,
and the most impious monarch,
through whom his kingdom would come
to be fragmented and divided,
a school for treason
and an academy of vice;
and that he, carried away by his fury,
amid fearful crimes,
would one day set his foot
on me, and that I, surrendering
would find myself groveling before him
(with what anguish I say this!),
the gray hairs of my beard
serving as a carpet to his feet.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Rosaura/Astraea, Astolfo, Estrella
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Well, I, lending credence
to soothsaying fate,
which forecast harm to me
in dire predictions,
decided to lock up
the wild beast that had been born,
to see whether a wise man
can prevail over the stars.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Clotaldo, Astolfo, Estrella
Page Number: 19-20
Explanation and Analysis:

The third and final factor
is the realization that it was a tremendous mistake
to lend easy credence
to the predictions of events;
because, even if his nature
is inclined toward outrages,
perhaps it won’t overcome him,
since even the most dire fate,
the most violent inclination,
the most evil planet,
merely dispose our free will in a certain direction,
but never compel it in that direction.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Astolfo, Estrella
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two Quotes

Since we had been speaking
about that eagle, when you slept
you dreamt of empire,
but even in dreams it would have been proper
at that time to honor the man
who raised you with such great pains,
Segismundo, because even in dreams
good deeds are never wasted.

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Segismundo, Basilio, Astolfo
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Three Quotes

I was born, so resembling her
that 1 was a portrait, a copy of her,
not in beauty
but in luck and deeds;
and so, I won’t need
to say that, an unfortunate
heiress to her lot,
I had the same as hers.
The most I can tell you
about myself is about the lord and master who has stolen
the trophies of my honor,
the remains of my good name.

Related Characters: Rosaura/Astraea (speaker), Segismundo, Clotaldo, Astolfo, Violante
Page Number: 74-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Sire, even though fate knows
every pathway and finds
the man it seeks amid the thickness
of rocks, it isn’t a Christian
belief to say that there’s no protection against its fury.
There is, for the man with foresight
can gain victory over fate;
and, if you are not yet secure
against distress and misfortune,
create that security for yourself

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Segismundo, Basilio, Astolfo
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Life is a Dream LitChart as a printable PDF.
Life is a Dream PDF

Astolfo Character Timeline in Life is a Dream

The timeline below shows where the character Astolfo appears in Life is a Dream. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
At the palace in Warsaw, Astolfo approaches Estrella, who has just entered with her ladies-in-waiting. Astolfo flatters Estrella, comparing her to... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Astolfo reminds Estrella that their uncle, King Basilio, is childless and has no one to take... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
As Basilio enters, both Astolfo and Estrella plead their case to ascend the throne. Basilio assures them that they will... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Basilio tells Estrella and Astolfo that there are a few important factors to remember. First, Basilio loves the Polish people... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...back to prison. Lastly, if Segismundo must be returned to prison, then Basilio will join Astolfo and Estrella in marriage and present them to the people as the new king and... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Astolfo agrees to Basilio’s plan to bring Segismundo to the palace, and the people yell out... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...honor, and asks her who her enemy is. She tells him that her enemy is Astolfo, Duke of Muscovy, but she refuses to tell him why. Clotaldo tries to convince Rosaura... (full context)
Act Two
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Astolfo enters, and Segismundo greets him, but Astolfo feels that Segismundo has not given him enough... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Estrella yells out for help, and Astolfo tries to convince Segismundo to calm down, but Segismundo threatens to take his head off.... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...he is actually dreaming, but Segismundo refuses to believe him. As Basilio and Segismundo bicker, Astolfo and Estrella exit, and Rosaura enters, dressed as a lady-in-waiting.    (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Rosaura is afraid that she will run into Astolfo. Clotaldo has advised her to stay away from Astolfo and claims that he will worry... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...Segismudo threatens to kill him. Rosaura yells for help and runs from the room, and Astolfo rushes in, coming to Clotaldo’s aid. As Astolfo and Segismundo draw their swords, Basilio enters... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Basilio and Clotaldo exit, but Estrella and Astolfo stay behind. Astolfo claims that he isn’t surprised that Segismundo has behaved so deplorably, but... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...she has grown to trust her, and she tells her all about her troubles with Astolfo. He says he wants to marry her, but he wears the portrait of another in... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...true identity, and she doesn’t want to disappoint him, but she can’t hide herself from Astolfo forever. As Rosaura prays to God, Astolfo returns with the portrait and is shocked to... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Rosaura tells Astolfo that she doesn’t know what he is talking about. She only knows that Estrella has... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...a lie. She tells Estrella that when she ordered her to get the portrait from Astolfo, it reminded her that she had brought her own portrait. She had stopped to look... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Estrella orders Astolfo to give her the portrait and snatches it from his hand. She looks at it... (full context)
Act Three
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...prophecy, Clarín says, King Basilio has deprived Segismundo of his liberty and plans to make Astolfo the new king. The commoners of the kingdom have revolted and will not accept the... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
As the alarm sounds and Segismundo and Clotaldo exit the tower, Basilio and Astolfo enter. Basilio laments that his kingdom is torn and divided. Half of them are yelling... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...compassion in him. He advised her to assume a false name and stay away from AstolfoAstolfo, however, could not be avoided, and he has again offended Rosaura’s honor, so she... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...much wants to please her and restore her lost honor, even if that means killing Astolfo, but things have changed since Astolfo saved his life. When Segismundo wanted to kill Clotaldo,... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...was born later and is a “copy” of her mother in “luck and deeds.”  Now, Astolfo has stolen Rosaura’s honor, just as her mother’s honor was stolen. (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Astolfo has come to Poland to marry Estrella, and Rosaura is heartbroken. Violante convinced Rosaura to... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...the men begin to fight. As Clarín runs to hide, Basilio enters with Clotaldo and Astolfo, retreating from the fighting. Basilio’s men have been defeated by Segismundo’s supporters, and he tells... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...Basilio immediately names him king of Poland. As his first act as king, Segismundo orders Astolfo to marry Rosaura and restore her honor. Astolfo, however, is hesitant. Rosaura is not of... (full context)