Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 274

The principal theme of Tirso de Molina's play could be simply stated as "crime doesn't pay." The specific crime is that of the deception and, largely, the abuse Don Juan inflicts upon women. In the course of the play four women are seduced or raped—from the text it is not exactly clear which, though in each case Juan's technique is one of deception, cruelty and abandonment.

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A secondary theme is the general corruption and amorality of the court and the upper class. Don Juan uses his privileged status to intrude on a wedding in the country, take the place of the bridegroom and seduce the bride Aminta. He seduces a poor fisherwoman and abandons her. He mistreats his servant Catalinon as well. The other nobles at court seem, at least somewhat, to have the same reckless and disregarding attitude about women as Juan does. Apart from the issue of sexual morality, the author seems critical of the court in the one scene in Act I where matters of state are discussed. Don Gonzalo gives the Spanish king a report on his diplomatic mission to Lisbon in such detail that it almost suggests parody. But one has to be careful about interpreting this in the light of our own beliefs rather than the spirit of the time in which it was written, 400 years ago. The same is true of the basic religious theme of the story. The climax, in which Don Juan is dragged to hell by the animated statue of the murdered Don Gonzalo, is probably intended as an absolutely serious message about divine retribution for misdeeds, something well deserved by Don Juan.

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Critical Essays