Characters Discussed

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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 (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.


Lambro (LAM-broh), Haidée’s father, “the mildest-manner’d man that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.” Returning from one of his piratical expeditions, he surprises the young lovers and sends Don Juan, wounded in a fight with Lambro’s men, away on a slave ship. Later, he regrets his hasty action when he watches his only child die of illness and grief.


Gulbeyaz (GEWL-beh-yaz), the sultana of Turkey. Having seen Don Juan in the slave market where he is offered for sale, along with an Italian opera troupe sold into captivity by their disgusted impresario, she orders one of the palace eunuchs to buy the young man. She has him taken to the palace and dressed in women’s clothes. Even though she brings her strongest weapon, her tears, to bear, she is unable to make Don Juan her lover.

The sultan...

(This entire section contains 1149 words.)

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of Turkey

The sultan of Turkey, the father of fifty daughters and four dozen sons. Seeing the disguised Don Juan in his wife’s apartments, he orders the supposed female slave to be taken to the palace harem.


Baba, the African eunuch who buys Don Juan at the sultana’s command. He later flees with Don Juan and John Johnson from Constantinople.




Katinka, and


Dudu, three girls in the sultan’s harem. Dudu, lovely and languishing, has the disguised Don Juan for her bed fellow. Late in the night, she awakes screaming after a dream in which she reached for a golden apple and was stung by a bee. The next morning, jealous Gulbeyaz orders Dudu and Don Juan executed, but they escape in the company of Johnson and Baba.

John Johnson

John Johnson, a worldly Englishman fighting with the Russians in the war against the Turks. Captured, he is bought in the slave market along with Don Juan. The two escape and make their way to the Turkish lines before Ismail. Johnson is recognized by General Suwarrow, who welcomes him and Don Juan as allies in the attack on Ismail.


Leila, a ten-year-old Muslim girl whose life Don Juan saves during the capture of Ismail. He becomes her protector.

General Suwarrow

General Suwarrow, the leader of the Russian forces at the siege and taking of Ismail.


Catherine, the empress of Russia, to whose court Don Juan is sent with news of the Turkish victory at Ismail. Voluptuous and rapacious in love, she receives the young man with great favor and he becomes her favorite. After he becomes ill, she reluctantly decides to send him on a diplomatic mission to England.

Lord Henry Amundeville

Lord Henry Amundeville, an English politician and the owner of Norman Abbey. Don Juan meets the nobleman in London, and the two become friends.

Lady Adeline Amundeville

Lady Adeline Amundeville, his wife, who also becomes Don Juan’s friend and mentor. She advises him to marry because she is afraid that he will become seriously involved with the notorious duchess of Fitz-Fulke. During a house party at Norman Abbey, she sings a song telling of the Black Friar, a ghost often seen wandering the halls of the abbey.

The duchess of Fitz-Fulke

The duchess of Fitz-Fulke, a woman of fashion notorious for her amorous intrigues. She pursues Don Juan after his arrival in England and finally, disguised as the ghostly Black Friar of Norman Abbey, succeeds in making him her lover.

Miss Aurora Raby

Miss Aurora Raby, a young Englishwoman with whom Don Juan contemplates matrimony. She seems completely unimpressed by his attentions, and he is piqued by her lack of interest.


Pedrillo (peh-DRIHL-oh), Don Juan’s tutor. When the ship on which he and his master sail from Cadiz sinks after a storm, they are among those set adrift in a longboat. When the food runs out, the unlucky pedagogue is eaten by his famished companions. Although Don Juan considers the man an ass, he is unable to eat the hapless fellow.


Zoe (ZOH-ee), Haidée’s maid.

Lady Pinchbeck

Lady Pinchbeck, a woman of fashion who, after Don Juan’s arrival in London, takes Leila under her protection.




Critical Essays