(Critical Survey of Literature, 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.