Study Guide

Don Juan

by Lord George Gordon Byron

Don Juan Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Don Juan

Don Juan (JEW-awn), the young son of Donna Inez and Don Jose, a hidalgo of Seville. He is a handsome, mischief-making boy whose education, after his father’s death, is carefully supervised by his mother, who insists that he read only classics expurgated in the text but with all the obscenities collected in an appendix. He is allowed to associate only with old or ugly women. At the age of sixteen, he learns the art of love from Donna Julia, a young matron. The ensuing scandal causes Donna Inez to send her son to Cadiz, and from there to take ship for a trip abroad. The vessel on which he is a passenger sinks after a storm. He experiences a romantic interlude with the daughter of a Greek pirate and slave trader. He is sold to the Turks and takes part in the siege of Ismail, a Turkish fort on the Danube River. He becomes the favorite of Empress Catherine of Russia, and he is sent on a diplomatic mission to England, where he becomes a critical observer of English society.

Donna Inez

Donna Inez (I-nehz), Don Juan’s mother, a domineering and short-sighted woman who first tries to protect her son from the facts of life but later rejoices in his good fortune and advancement when he becomes the favorite of Empress Catherine of Russia.

Don Jose

Don Jose (hoh-SEH), Don Juan’s father, a gallant man often unfaithful to his wife, with whom he quarrels constantly. He dies while his son is still a small boy.

Donna Julia

Donna Julia, Don Juan’s first love, a woman of twenty-three married to the fifty-year-old Don Alfonso. She is forced to enter a convent after her irate husband discovers his wife and her young lover in her bedchamber. In a long letter, written on the eve of Don Juan’s departure from Spain, she professes her undying love for him.

Don Alfonso

Don Alfonso, the cuckold husband who discovers Don Juan hiding in a closet in his wife’s bedroom.

Haidée

Haidée (HI-dee), the second love of Don Juan. A tall, lovely child of nature and passion, she finds him unconscious on the seashore following the sinking of the ship on which he had sailed from Spain. Filled with love and sympathy, she hides and protects him. This idyllic island romance ends when Lambro, her pirate father, returns from one of his expeditions and finds the two sleeping together after a great feast that Lambro has watched from a distance. Don Juan, wounded in a scuffle with Lambro’s men, is bound and put aboard one of the pirate’s ships. Shortly afterward, Haidée dies, lamenting her vanished lover, and his child dies with her.

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(The entire section is 1149 words.)