Last Updated on July 23, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 514
Don Juan is a deeply subversive play whose main character willfully distorts traditional Early Modern ideas concerning religion as well as interpersonal relationships and obligations. He is a deeply destructive, deeply predatory personality whose beliefs and behaviors introduce conversations around themes of emotional and romantic manipulation, religion (as well as irreligion), and the willful breakdown of the traditional order (both social and moral).
Emotional and Romantic Manipulation
Don Juan is deeply manipulative and romantically predatory. He is perhaps most famous for his Casanova tendencies, seducing one woman after another, enticing them into marriage, and then moving on to the next. Moliére presents this situation from all sides of this predicament: in Don Juan, we see the self-serving romantic predator, driven by his own hedonistic impulses; in Elvire, we see a past lover tossed aside; and in Charlotte and Mathurine, we see two women caught up in his current seductions, unaware of his dishonest intentions.
Religion versus Irreligion
Religion also plays a critical theme in Don Juan, and a large part of the play involves various conversations where religion and irreligion are played out against one another. Indeed, Don Juan himself is deeply irreligious (and this is understood as a key contributor to his Epicurean tendencies). He does not believe in God or religious teachings on moral obligations and will mock those who do (such as in his encounter with the beggar, where he tries to bribe the beggar into swearing).
At the same time, there are those around him who are religious. His servant, Sganarelle, often pleas with him to repent of his blasphemies and adopt more proper behavior (though, given his purely selfish reaction to his master's damnation, one might wonder whether Sganarelle is truly as religious as he claims to be), while Elvire pleas with him to change his ways, fearing for the fate of his soul. Meanwhile, Don Juan's attitude to religion goes beyond merely being a nonbeliever—he actively manipulates the religious beliefs of...
(The entire section contains 514 words.)
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