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Theatre / Don Juan

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Don Juan, or The Feast with the Statue (Dom Juan, ou le Festin de pierre in French) is a comedic play by Molière which takes its influence from the legend of Don Juan. Molière's Don Juan begins the play by breaking the heart of Dona Elvira, who he pressured into leaving her convent to marry him just a few months earlier. Don Juan has a habit of letting his heart go where it pleases, and his latest fancy is a peasant girl. Or rather, two peasant girls. He drags his valet, Sganarelle, along with him as he works to win both their hearts at once. Unfortunately for him, the fact that he has insulted the chaste Elvira's honor has driven her brothers after him — and his wanton loving leads ghosts to warn him of the fate of his mortal soul.

Don Juan is, characteristic of Molière, an attack on hypocrisy, infidelity, and, at one point, doctors. All that, and it's funny, too!

Don Juan provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Moralizers, for Don Juan.
  • Byronic Hero: Don Juan. Ironically, he's actually more Byronic than Lord Byron's take on him.
  • The Casanova: Don Juan, natch.
  • Dirty Coward: Sganarelle
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Don Juan's ultimate fate.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Don Juan rescues a man in the woods attacked by three highwaymen, purely because three to one is cowardly. He turns out to be a brother of a woman he seduced, out for his blood.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Don Juan refuses to believe in the supernatural, even after a statue speaks to him. It's not so much disbelief as a refusal to repent.
    Don Juan There is something in this that I don't quite understand; but come what may, it won't be said I'm capable of repentance.
  • Funetik Aksent: The peasants speak in an Île-de-France accent in the French version, and... something uncultured in every translation.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Don Juan's monologue about what is essentially adultery for fun and profit.
  • Hypocrite: By the play's end, Don Juan eschews his brash lifestyle for a life of subtle dishonesty.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The Statue and the Spectre come to tell Don Juan to repent, a la Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • Painful Rhyme: Frequently used and just as frequently lampshaded - it starts with pronouncing the protagonist's name as Joo-wan and goes from there.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sganarelle tries to give Don Juan one at several points throughout the play, but his cowardice gets the better of him until the very end of the play. Don Juan's father Don Louis, on the other hand, succeeds very well on the first try.
    Don Louis: I would have more respect for the son of a street-porter who was an honest man, than for the son of an emperor who lived like you.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The play begins with Sganarelle arguing to Gusman the benefits of snuff, before switching abruptly to the main plot.
  • Servile Snarker: Typical of Molière, Sganarelle has his moments.
  • The Confidant: Sganarelle. That's precisely what Don Juan keeps him around for.