Life is a Dream

by

Pedro Calderón de la Barca

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Clotaldo Character Analysis

Clotaldo is Segismundo’s jailer, Basilio’s faithful servant, and Rosaura’s father. When Clotaldo is first introduced, he responds to two intruders in the secret prison and discovers that one, who unsheathes the sword Clotaldo left with his unborn child in Muscovy, is his long-lost son (since he believes Rosaura to be a man). King Basilio reveals his secret about Segismundo, and he orders Clotaldo to sedate Segismundo and bring him to the palace. Clotaldo obeys and later learns that Basilio plans to tell Segismundo that he is only dreaming, should he behave badly and need to be sent back to prison. When Segismundo wakes, Clotaldo tells Segismundo who he really is, and when he does, Segismundo threatens to kill him. Astolfo intercedes and saves Clotaldo’s life, and Segismundo is sent back to prison. Clotaldo learns that his son is actually a woman, and he tells Rosaura that he is her father. When Rosaura asks him to kill Astolfo—who stole her honor and abandoned her in Muscovy—on her behalf, he refuses. Clotaldo cannot bring himself to kill the same man who had saved his life. Clotaldo tells no one else that Rosaura is his daughter, and he imprisons Clarín to keep his secret. After the uprising breaks Segismundo out of prison, Segismundo forgives Clotaldo for treating him so badly, and he thanks him for educating him and helping him along. Segismundo spares Clotaldo’s life and swears loyalty to him, but Clotaldo won’t betray King Basilio and refuses to take up arms against him. After the uprising defeats Basilio’s soldiers and the king is forced to surrender, Clotaldo finally admits that Rosaura is his daughter, so that Astolfo will recognize her royal blood and consent to marry her. Clotaldo represents integrity and loyalty within the play, and he convinces Segismundo that “good deeds are never wasted,” not even in dreams. His morals are repeatedly tested, and he is constantly trying to do the right thing; however, he also behaves in ways that aren’t quite ethical. He seduces Rosaura’s mother Violante and abandons her, treats Segismundo poorly when he is his prisoner, and selfishly deprives Clarín of his freedom.

Clotaldo Quotes in Life is a Dream

The Life is a Dream quotes below are all either spoken by Clotaldo or refer to Clotaldo. 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

Segismundo, if you know
that your misfortunes are so great
that you died before you were born
because of a heavenly law; if you know
that these shackles are a bridle to your arrogant
fury to keep it in check,
and reins to call it to a halt,
why do you brag? Guards, lock
the door to this cramped prison;
hide him within it.

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Segismundo, Rosaura/Astraea, Clarín
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Heaven help me! What’s this I hear?
I still can’t decide whether what’s happening is
an illusion or reality.
This sword is the one that I
left with beautiful Violante
as a token that the man who bore it
girded to his waist would find me
as a loving son
finds an affectionate father.
So, what am I to do (woe is me!)
in a dilemma like this,
if the man who wears it for his benefit
is actually wearing it for his death,
seeing that he has surrendered to me
under sentence of death! What a singular
dilemma! What a sad fate!
What a changeable fortune!

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Rosaura/Astraea, Violante
Related Symbols: Rosaura’s Sword
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Besides that, if I now pay heed
to the fact that he said he had come
to take revenge for an affront, a man
who has been affronted is base.
He isn’t my son, he isn’t my son
and doesn’t bear my noble blood!
But if it was some
critical situation of the sort that no one
can avoid, because honor
is of such brittle stuff
that it is broken with a gesture
or besmirched by a puff of air,
what more can he do, what more,
on his part, as a nobleman,
than to come in quest of his honor
at the cost of so many risks?
He is my son, he bears my blood,
since he possesses such great merit!

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Rosaura/Astraea
Page Number: 12-3
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:
Act Two Quotes

I wish to determine whether heaven
(which cannot lie,
especially after giving us
such great displays of its severity
with regard to his cruel nature)
can be assuaged, or at least
mollified, and whether, overcome
by merit and wisdom,
it can go back on its word;
because man has dominion over the stars.

Related Characters: Basilio (speaker), Segismundo, Clotaldo
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

Sire, you ought to know
that you are crown prince
of Poland. If you have lived
in hiding and retirement,
it was in obedience
to the severity of fate,
which promises a thousand disasters
to this realm at such time
as the laurel of sovereignty
wreathes your noble brow here.
But, in the firm belief that your good sense
will make you cancel the planets’ decree—
because a highminded man
can resist them—
you have been brought to the palace
from the tower in which you were dwelling
while your spirits
were overcome by sleep.

Related Characters: Clotaldo (speaker), Segismundo
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

It’s true, then: let me restrain
my fierce nature,
my fury, my ambition,
in case I ever dream again.
And I will, since we exist
in such a peculiar world
that living is merely dreaming;
and the experience teaches me
that the man who lives dreams
his reality until he awakes.

Related Characters: Segismundo (speaker), Clotaldo
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
a shadow, a fiction,
and our greatest good is but small;
for, all of life is a dream,
and even dreams are dreams.

Related Characters: Segismundo (speaker), Clotaldo
Page Number: 57-8
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Three Quotes

Rise,
rise, father, from the ground;
for you must be the North Star and guide
to whom I entrust my success;
for 1 now know that I owe
my upbringing to your great loyalty.
Come and embrace me.

What are you saying?

That I’m dreaming, and that I wish
to do good, because good deeds
aren’t wasted, even in dreams

Related Characters: Segismundo (speaker), Clotaldo (speaker)
Page Number: 64-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Fortune, let me go and reign!
Don’t awaken me if I’m asleep,
and, if this is reality, don’t put me to sleep.
But, whether it’s reality or a dream,
to do good is what matters;
if it should be reality, just because it is good;
if not, for the sake of winning friends
for the time when we awaken.

Related Characters: Segismundo (speaker), Clotaldo
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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

Clotaldo Character Timeline in Life is a Dream

The timeline below shows where the character Clotaldo appears in Life is a Dream. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...same prison cell since he was born and has only had contact with his jailer, Clotaldo. “I am a man among beasts,” Segismuno says, “and a beast among men.” Rosaura claims... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
As Clotaldo moves closer, he orders the guards to kill the intruders at once. Clotaldo informs Rosaura... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...lamenting his imprisonment and lack of freedom. Rosaura and Clarín beg for their lives, but Clotaldo can’t be swayed. He again orders the guards to disarm the strangers and blindfold them.... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
As Clotaldo takes Rosaura’s sword, he is visibly affected. He asks Rosaura where the sword came from,... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
“What a sad fate!” Clotaldo thinks to himself, holding the sword in his hand. He suspects that Rosaura (who Clotaldo... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...wilderness. He declared the prison forbidden and passed stiff laws against trespassing in the area. Clotaldo has been Segismundo’s only contact with the outside world and has served as his jailer... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...and the people yell out for their prince. As Astolfo, Estrella, and the people exit, Clotaldo enters with Rosaura and Clarín. Clotaldo immediately asks to speak with Basilio, and Basilio can... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clotaldo is relieved. Now he won’t have to tell Basilio that the stranger is his son.... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...doesn’t have much of a life, but that will change after she has her revenge. Clotaldo returns Rosaura’s sword, so that she may use it to avenge her honor, and asks... (full context)
Act Two
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Clotaldo and Basilio enter the palace, and Clotaldo says that he has carried out each of... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...that he would never submit to another “of [his] own free will.” At that point, Clotaldo gave Segismundo the potion, and he fell into a deep sleep. The guards then placed... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Segismundo, Basilio reminds Clotaldo, is destined for “a thousand misfortunes and tragedies,” and Basilio wants to find out if... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...to be sent back to prison, they can tell him it was all a dream. Clotaldo claims there are many arguments that prove Basilio’s idea wrong, but it is too late... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clarín enters, and Clotaldo is reminded that Rosaura is definitely a woman. Clarín says that Rosaura has changed into... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clotaldo approaches Segismundo and asks to kiss his hand. Segismundo is even more confused. He asks... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Segismundo threatens to kill Clotaldo with his bare hands for lying to him, and a servant steps in to defend... (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 about... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...leave the room. Rosaura is frightened and is convinced she is about to die, but Clotaldo comes to her rescue. He again tells Segismundo that he is in a dream, but... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Segismundo attempts to draw his dagger, but Clotaldo holds his hand. Segismundo orders him to let go, but Clotaldo refuses until Segismundo agrees... (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... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Estrella notices Rosaura. “Astraea!” she cries, calling Rosaura by the name Clotaldo has given her disguise. Estrella tells Rosaura that in the short time she has known... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
...been forced to endure such misfortune, she cries. She doesn’t know what she should do. Clotaldo has advised her against revealing her true identity, and she doesn’t want to disappoint him,... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clotaldo, Clarín, and two servants enter, and Clotaldo orders Clarín seized and locked up. Clarín asks... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...its strength, and Segismundo wakes. “God help me,” Segismundo yells, “all the things I dreamt!” Clotaldo scolds Segismundo for sleeping all day. He claims that Segismundo fell asleep during his lesson... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Segismundo knows that Clotaldo is right, as “living is merely dreaming.” Segismundo questions what life is and decides it... (full context)
Act Three
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
As the soldiers shout and praise Segismundo, Clotaldo enters to investigate the noise. Seeing the soldiers and Segismundo, Clotaldo immediately throws himself at... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clotaldo informs Segismundo that if doing good is the theme of the day, he cannot possibly... (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... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...ahold of the uprising, she warns, or Poland is sure to be soaked in blood. Clotaldo rushes in, bringing news of the soldiers who broke Segismundo out of the tower. “[Segismundo]... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Rosaura enters and approaches Clotaldo. She says that she arrived in Poland a poor, unfortunate woman, but she has found... (full context)
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
Clotaldo tells Rosaura that he very much wants to please her and restore her lost honor,... (full context)
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
As Clotaldo and Rosaura exit, trumpets sound and Segismundo enters with Clarín and a group of soldiers.... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...palace, and 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... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Clarín falls dead to the ground, and Basilio claims that it is God’s will. Clotaldo tells Basilio that it isn’t “Christian” to claim there is no protection from fate, as... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Dreams vs. Reality Theme Icon
Morality, Honor, and Vengeance  Theme Icon
...her honor. Astolfo, however, is hesitant. Rosaura is not of royal blood, he says, but Clotaldo interrupts and claims her as his daughter. Satisfied that Rosaura is indeed royal, Astolfo agrees... (full context)