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Don Juan


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AT: The Statue at the Feast/ at the Banquet; The Stone Guest; The Libertine A: Molière Pf: 1665, Paris Pb: 1683 Tr: 1665 G: Trag. in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: Sicily, mid-17th c. C: 13m, 4f, extrasDon Juan, having abducted Dona Elvira from a convent and seduced her with promises of marriage, has now abandoned her. Sganarelle, Don Juan's servant, warns Dona Elvira's squire Gusman of his master's immorality. When Elvira arrives, Don Juan claims that his sense of morality will not allow him to enter into marriage with her. While travelling to his next intended sexual conquest, his boat capsizes and he is rescued by a peasant, whose fiancée he is about to seduce when he has to flee from armed men. Don Juan and Sganarelle hide in disguise in a forest, where Don Juan courageously rescues a nobleman from robbers. When he turns out to be Elvira's brother Don Carlos, the latter repays Don Juan by abandoning his pursuit. In the tomb of the Commander, whom he killed, Don Juan encounters the old man's statue and jokingly invites him to dine with him. Returning to his lodgings, Don Juan remains impervious to pleas by his father and Dona Elvira to reform. At last, however, Don Juan tells his father he has repented. In fact, as he confides to Sganarelle, he has discovered that a religious front is the best cover for licentiousness. The statue appears and leads Don Juan into hell as punishment for his misdeeds. Sganarelle is dismayed that he will not now get his wages.

AT: The Statue at the Feast/ at the Banquet; The Stone Guest; The Libertine A: Molière Pf: 1665, Paris Pb: 1683 Tr: 1665 G: Trag. in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: Sicily, mid-17th c. C: 13m, 4f, extras

Based on Molina's The Trickster of Seville, Molière's version is extraordinary in that it does not have the cohesion of Molina's version (let alone observing the neo-classical unities): the good are not rewarded as in Molina (Elvira returns to her convent, Don Juan's father is duped), the scenes are episodic, characters are introduced without preparation (the relationship to the Commander is not explained). Perhaps most innovatory in this spectacular version, complete with shipwreck and hellfire, is the way theatrical spectacle and implied morality are cynically commented on by Sganarelle, who was played by Molière himself.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Molière (1622—1673) French dramatist


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