Don Juan (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Don Juan (hwahn), a philanderer and scoundrel. A seducer of women of whom he soon tires, a neglecter of debts, and a dishonorer of friends, Don Juan is called on to repent. He replies by becoming a greater hypocrite than ever, continuing his evil ways until he finally offends heaven itself and is destroyed.
Sganarelle (sgah-nah-REHL), Don Juan’s valet, who hates his master’s evil acts but remains loyal to him because of fear.
Elvire (ehl-VEHR), Don Juan’s betrayed wife. Finally free of her passion for her husband, she agrees to return to the convent from which he had abducted her. She begs him to reform and escape the wrath of heaven.
Don Carlos and
Don Alonse (ah-LONS), Elvire’s brothers, who seek vengeance on Don Juan for his betrayal of their sister.
The Statue of the Commander
The Statue of the Commander, part of the tomb of one of Don Juan’s victims. Don Juan and Sganarelle ask the statue to dine with them. It accepts, thus causing Don Juan to pretend conversion and repentance. The statue reappears, threatening a terrible death for the really unrepentant sinner.
Don Louis (lwee), Don...
(The entire section is 249 words.)
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Critique (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
DON JUAN is not really representative of Molière’s work , but it holds lasting interest for the modern reader for two reasons. Written to fatten the lean exchequer of his company’s theater because of the enforced closing of TARTUFFE, as well as to please his fellow actors, it is an excellent example of the skill and speed with which Molière could turn out a play. It also departs from his usual technique in making use of the melodramatic and supernatural elements which characterized the original Spanish drama from which it was adapted. Here, as in his other dramas, Molière holds to his genius as a revealer of the hypocrisies and manners of his day, and the play brought down on itself the harsh criticism of those who had been shocked by the boldness of TARTUFFE. By the spectacle-loving Parisians it was hailed with delight.
(The entire section is 148 words.)