Provide a close-reading analysis of act V, scenes 1 and 2 of Dom Juan or The Feast with the Statue by Molière.

In Molière's Dom Juan, act V, scene 1, Dom Juan makes a pious speech to his father pretending to have seen the error of his ways. In scene 2, he reveals to Sganarelle, in a long speech in praise of hypocrisy, that he was completely insincere and fully intends to continue in his career of sin. He will, however, take the precaution of hiding his corruption more carefully.

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In Molière's Dom Juan, scenes 1 and 2 of act V are both fairly short, but the speeches they contain, particularly those made by Dom Juan himself, are long and detailed enough to make a true close reading quite an extensive piece of work.

Your analysis of scene 1 should concentrate on the hypocritical speech Dom Juan makes to his father, Dom Louis, in which he pretends to be a reformed character. Note his use of hyperbole and references to Heaven, as well as the imagery of blindness and seeing to describe the awakening he claims to have had. This is a way of subtly excusing his past behavior (since it was not his fault that he was blind) as well a contrasting it with his current pious state of mind.

In scene 2, Dom Juan is in dialogue with Sganarelle, and promptly declares the falsehood of all the professions of virtue he made in the previous scene. Not only does Dom Juan repudiate any claim to being virtuous, he is angry with and scornful of Sganarelle for believing that he might have been sincere. This time, the most significant speech in the scene is honest, but it is about hypocrisy, a "fashionable vice" which according to Dom Juan, passes for a virtue. Having outlined how central hypocrisy is to society, Dom Juan describes in some detail how he will use hypocrisy to accomplish his aims:

This is the true way to do with impunity all that one wants. I will establish myself as a censor of others, judge badly of all, and have a good opinion of none but myself. Let someone once cross me, however little, and I will never pardon him but will rather quietly send him the gifts of an inveterate hate.*

Sganarelle responds with a sanctimonious speech full of platitudes and gnomic warnings which provides a sharp contrast to the urbane rascality of Dom Juan's words.

*Translation by Brett B. Bodemer

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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