"All Comedies Are Ended By A Marriage"

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Last Updated on June 3, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

Context: Don Juan is a long poem in sixteen cantos and an unfinished seventeenth, written in ottava rima, and loosely held together by a chronological narrative of Don Juan's travels and adventures. The narrative, however, is insignificant in comparison with the numerous satiric digressions on all aspects of life and literature (see "Nor at the years/ Which certain people call 'a certain age'"). Cantos II-IV concern Juan's idyllic love affair with Haidée, daughter of a Greek pirate, after his shipwreck in Canto II. The romance ends tragically in Canto IV when Juan is sold into slavery and Haidée dies with her unborn child. Canto III begins with a commentary on woman's first love, and on the inevitable failure of marriage. In Stanza 5 are the lines: "'Tis melancholy, and a fearful sign/ Of human frailty, folly, also crime,/ That love and marriage rarely can combine." Byron's frequent strictures on marriage are an outcome of his own unsuccessful marriage with Anne Isabella Milbanke on January 2, 1815. The marriage ended on April 21, 1816, and Byron left England forever on April 25. In context, the quotation reads:

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All tragedies are finish'd by a death,
All comedies are ended by a marriage;
The future states of both are left to faith.
. . .

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