The action unfolds in the late XVI or early XVII century. on four continents, everywhere where Spain has any possessions or where it is trying to conquer something else, and also on the sea, that is, the giant scene of this voluminous five hundred pages, the play is the whole world, the whole universe. It consists of four “days”, that is, four actions. The drama “Satin’s shoe” was created explicitly with a glance at the tradition of Christian mysteries, where tales of saints, martyrs, angels were transferred to the stage. Here, too, there are saints and angels among the characters, and the play is as monumental as the mysteries were often.
All the action of the play is preceded by a scene fulfilling the function of the prologue. In the middle of the desert ocean, at an equal distance from Europe and from America, a fragment of a shipwreck is floating with a Spanish mission monk, a member of the Jesuit order, who was crucified on a stump from the mast. The Jesuit pronounces a deathbed monologue, where first. thanks God for all his sufferings, and then asks him to let his brother Rodrigo de Manacor experience a great passion so that, after going through all the trials, he eventually comes to God.
Apparently, the Almighty condescended to the request of the Jesuit, since by the time of the beginning of the main action of the play, Rodrigo and Donja Prusa, the second main character, have long been in love with each other. Two of them are
Meanwhile, Mogador already has one commandant, Don Escamillo, a man who has long been in love with Prues, who has repeatedly suggested that she quit her husband and go there, to Africa, to the realm of the fiery element, which is very kind to his rebellious nature. The meaning of Pruse’s appointment is to help him control it, since Dona Escamillo has long been suspected that he is breeding treacherous plans and is even going to embrace Islam. Therefore, the mission of Pruse is to protect the Spanish possessions from the attacks of the Moors and to keep this potential renegade from infidelity, and itself from sinful desires. Thus, Prusa’s passion goes to the good. The same thing happens with Rodrigo de Manacor. Appearing for the first time on the stage, he, in dialogue with the Chinese, performing with him the functions of a servant, says that for the sake of satisfying his passion for donje Pruse, he is ready to crush all obstacles. But because of the contradictory behavior of Pruse, the circumstances develop in such a way that his passion remains unsatisfied, he directs all his energy to conquering new lands for Spain. And Prues is now transformed for him into a “guiding star”. Spain in those days was inclined to consider itself the center of the Christian world and extremely successfully carried out its aggressive policy. Striving to take possession of the whole planet, and such superhuman tasks could not but tempt the possessed by the idea of the absolute of conquistadors like Rodrigo. The material interests of Spain, expressed in its colonialist practice, coincided with its spiritual and ideological interests. Hence the attempt to spread the Christian religion to the whole world. Roderigo personifies in the eyes of Claudel the idea of conversion to Catholicism of the whole Planet. But in order to seize the souls of people, it is not enough to subdue them by force of arms. For the idea of Christianity to triumph so that the spirit becomes stronger than military force, it is necessary, after going through trials, to get over it. This is what happens with Rodrigo. And Pruse is becoming an instrument for his conversion and at the same time of his improvement. The king, learning that in the newly conquered America ripens the Troubles, appoints Rodrigo the viceroy of the Spanish overseas territories. Rodrigo shows his shrewd nature: he demands that Pruez be returned from Africa. Then he resigns himself, but before going to America, makes an attempt to see Pruey, floats to Mogador. However, Prues orders him to set out on his own. And Rodrigo obeys, despite the torments of jealousy, realizing that to him, in order to earn the love of Pruse, it is necessary to transform his passion into something spiritual. Their mystical marriage should take place in heaven. Unsatisfied human love becomes a means of knowing divine love. Rodrigo begins to understand that true love should not isolate man from the world, but, on the contrary, should open wide the gates of the Universe before him. Thanks to Pruse, he gradually realizes his responsibility and the meaning of his mission. Having abandoned the hope of ever possessing a beloved physically, he is increasingly coming closer to her in spiritual terms. Their mystical marriage should take place in heaven. Unsatisfied human love becomes a means of knowing divine love. Rodrigo begins to understand that true love should not isolate man from the world, but, on the contrary, should open wide the gates of the Universe before him. Thanks to Pruse, he gradually realizes his responsibility and the meaning of his mission. Having abandoned the hope of ever possessing a beloved physically, he is increasingly coming closer to her in spiritual terms. Their mystical marriage should take place in heaven. Unsatisfied human love becomes a means of knowing divine love. Rodrigo begins to understand that true love should not isolate man from the world, but, on the contrary, should open wide the gates of the Universe before him. Thanks to Pruse, he gradually realizes his responsibility and the meaning of his mission. Having abandoned the hope of ever possessing a beloved physically, he is increasingly coming closer to her in spiritual terms.
The action is transferred to Naples, then to Prague, there are more and more new characters, dramatic scenes alternate with the buffoonery. And in the meantime Don Pelago dies, and Pruez has to marry Escamillo, and precisely at the moment when the apostasy of the latter becomes an accomplished fact when he secretly accepts Islam, taking the name of Oshali. Pruehsa tried to resist his harassment, but he manages to convince and implore her, for, as a true Christian, she must think not only about saving her own soul, but also about saving the soul of her neighbor, in this case the soul of Escamillo. Moreover, the renegade demands from her that she finally forgot Rodrigo, would refuse even a spiritual connection with him. After long hesitations, Pruse agrees to bring this sacrifice.
And just at this moment, Rodrigo receives a letter from Prusa, which the young woman trusted the sea ten years ago at the time of desperation and in which she asked him for help. Rodrigo equips the ship and sails from America to Africa, drops anchor before Mogador. Esquamillo, frightened, thinks that the Spaniards went to war with him, and sends his wife to Rodrigo’s ship. He would now be ready to give up Prueza, if only the attackers spared the city. However, after passing the very path of giving up everything for the sake of spiritual values, Pruse wants to achieve such absolute rejection from Rodrigo. Thus, Rodrigo again, for the umpteenth time, is being tested. Pruehs encourages him to give up everything fleeting to get everything eternal. And Rodrigo again resigns himself to fate – agrees with the arguments of Pruse. He lets go of Pruez, says goodbye to her now forever,
Thus, the interrogation of Rodrigo took place. Now he renounces his role as a conqueror. And falls out of favor with the king. After all, he left America without permission and is not going to return there. It takes another ten years. Doña Pruysa died. Rodrigo lost one leg in Japan. Now he is floating on an old inferior ship, manufacturing and selling images of saints. The daughter of Prueza nurtures plans for the liberation of Spaniards captured by Arab pirates and held in Africa, and her fiancé John of Austria sends the king to fight against the Turks. The King uses rumors that the Invincible Armada allegedly did not perish at all, but, on the contrary, defeated the English fleet in order to play Rodrigo, who is hated by him because of his independent behavior. He even appoints him viceroy of England, as if this country suddenly became a colony of Spain. And Rodrigo falls for the bait, begins to dream, as will “expand the world” and establish in it cosmic harmony. However, the king eventually throws jokes aside and gives Rodrigo a slavery to the first soldier, who is in turn inferior in return for his nun-ragman. At the end of the play, Rodrigo’s behavior, as well as his speeches, are simply ridiculous from the point of view of ordinary common sense. The former conquistador looks like a jester. Through all these oddities it is found that he loses contact with the world of people. But this simultaneously means that, freed from the stereotypes of human logic, becoming essentially a holy fool, Rodrigo becomes a divine person. He is ridiculous, but he is peaceful. In this way, in the struggle for his soul, the earthly forces and the powers of heaven, the sky overcomes. According to the plan of Claudel, the fate of Rodrigo is an allegory of human destiny, formed in accordance with the logic of divine providence that is inaccessible to reason.