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How does Don Juan reflect the romantic characteristics that places emphasis on the...

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mayflower1 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 3, 2012 at 4:42 PM via web

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How does Don Juan reflect the romantic characteristics that places emphasis on the value of the unique individual?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 3, 2013 at 7:21 AM (Answer #1)

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The value of the unique individual is upheld in this glorious poem through the way that the character of Don Juan is shown to reject the expectations of society and make his own way through life. Note how Byron presents Don Juan and the kind of challenges he has to face. He has to endure being raised by a narrow-minded mother and then being educated in a hypocritical educational system before losing his innocence and becoming thoroughly disillusioned with the world due to its false values. He however manages to use his passions and ideals, shattered as they are, to insulate himself from the pain of life and determines to live his own life free from the restrictions and control of society. This poem paints Byron's own satirical view of life and society, yet it also seems to offer some kind of philosophical approach to cope with the state of life in Don Juan's determination to live life to the full. Byron, like his hero, comes to realise that any happiness in this life is fleeting, but it should be made an important goal, and when it comes, that happiness should be exploited to the full:

A day of gold from out an age of iron

Is all that life allows the luckiest sinner.

This fine example of Romantic fiction therefore upholds the unique individual through the character of Don Juan and his path through life; disillusionment with society becomes a vehicle that is used by him to chart his own course in life and to develop his own philosophy towards the vicissitudes of human existence. Although some critics have argued Byron's philosophy of life is rather depressing, at the same time it is celebratory in the way it seeks to maximise the joys and live a life focused on pleasure.

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