Here is an exercise in tragic corruption and decadence in 19th century Portugal (some respite from the 20th century American South). Father Amaro's chief sin was in ever believing that his celibacy and his landlady's daughter Amelia's virginity ever had any value in his society. Both are only shadow members of their circles until they are engaged in an affair that involves every trick of ecclesiastical and secular hypocrisy. As their virtue corrodes, they are exalted for their pretenses and gathered close by his superiors and her social equals. Her return to scruples triggers the tragedy -- a flickering of conscience and she is dead, their child dead, and Father Amaro has learned the difficult lesson of his superiors. Henceforth, he will confess only safely married women. The translation is excellent and the author's tricks of lighting a somber stage with satire makes for pleasantly uncomfortable reading.