Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1149
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 (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 (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, 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, 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 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.
Dudu, three girls in the sultan’s harem. Dudu, lovely and languishing, has...
(The entire section contains 1149 words.)
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