Don Juan is a fictional character created by Tirso de Molina in El Burlador de Sevilla (1630) translated in The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest. This character is the symbol of libertinism, and I chose this topic because of the great fame that has this character in my culture and because I´ve heard about him a lot and I wanted to get a deeper vision of him.
Although the figure of Don Juan is a late creation in the Western literature, it is one of the most important figures in literature. Don Juan is a distinct character type, well known even by who had never read a work in which he appears. Don Juan has been a theme so used in the European literature and is known in almost every country. Everyone knows what means if somebody is called Don Juan.
The first appearance of Don Juan, in Tirso´s work, has been followed by many other versions of the same character, made by great authors like Zorrilla, Byron, Espronceda and even Mozart.
That figure has been evolving and changing in each work. It began being Don Juan a libertine who seduces and uses women, then has been changing to seduced instead of a seducer, but although this figure has been changing, the basic story is almost the same.
The Trickster of Seville was first published in 1630, but it may have been performed early in 1616. This play is divided into 3 acts, in which is told the story of Don Juan, a Spanish libertine man.
The play opens in the 14th century, in the king´s palace in Naples. At night in that palace, the duchess Isabela has invited her lover, Duke Octavio, to her room. But the man who appears is Don Juan. She screams for help and appears Don Pedro, Don Juan´s uncle and Spanish Ambassador to Naples. Don Juan excuses himself, telling his uncle that he made that because of his youth. Don Pedro defends his nephew and leaves him to go, and Don Juan goes to Tarragona, Spain.
This is how the description of Don Juan begins, like a liar libertine, and he keeps acting like that all over the play, but we can see how he is warned to stop doing that to the women, because he will pay for it, but he answers with his famous phrase “What a long time you are giving me”, which means something like I´ve got so much time to repent.
There in Tarragona, he meets a fisherwoman named Tisbea, who is a woman who likes to make unhappy the men who pursue her, and she is described as free of the power of love. But when she meets Don Juan she falls in love with him and hopes, several times, that he is not lying (“I hope to God you are not lying”). She is cheated, seduced and abandoned, and she decides to go to see the king to find revenge.
The second act opens in the court of the king in Seville. The king is told of what happened in Naples, and he decides to marry Don Juan to Isabela and Duke Octavio to Doña Ana. Don Juan achieve to dishonor Doña Ana, pretending to be her lover The Marquis de la Mota. When her father, Don Gonzalo runs to help her, Don Juan kills him and leaves the house, giving Mota his cape. Mota is seen wearing the same cape that was wearing the murderer of Don Gonzalo and is arrested.
The third act begins in Dos Hermanas, where Don Juan assists to a peasant wedding. There he achieves to cheat on the bride and has an intercourse with her, promising to marry her. Isabela, who is looking for Don Juan, meets Tisbea, who will accompany her.
Back in Seville, Don Juan sees a statue of Don Gonzalo at his tomb and invites the statue to have dinner with him. That night, while Don Juan is having a dinner at his house, the statue appears and invites Don Juan to dinner again at Gonzalo´s tomb, where he kills him.
That´s how is described the figure of Don Juan for the first time. After that play, this figure has been reinterpreted by many authors in different countries and cultures, being one of them written by Lord Byron.
Byron´s work is an epic satire, a variation of the epic form. Is divided into seventeen cantos and. Byron leaves the 17th canto unfinished before his death. Byron produced a different figure of Don Juan not previously seen. This work, called “Don Juan”, appeared in 1824, and is a completely different character.
The story begins with the birth of Don Juan. When he is 16, Doña Julia, his mother´s best friend, is attracted to him and begins an affair. After being discovered, Don Juan is sent to Cadiz. In the travel, he is the only survivor of a shipwreck and he meets a pirate´s daughter, named Haidée. After several problems, he is sold as a slave. He is bought by a Turkish princess, but he escapes when the Russian army attacks them. After helping the Russian army, he is considered as a hero. He meets Catherine the Great and she falls in love with him. He is given all the riches he wants and is sent to England. He meets the British aristocracy and has a critical view of the society.
Between the Tirso´s and Byron´s works there are some differences, in the story of each work and how Don Juan is described.
The story told in Byron´s work is completely different to Tirso´s. Byron´s plot has nothing to do with Tirso´s. The Trickster of Seville, the story begins in Naples, trying Don Juan to dishonor Isabela. Byron´s Don Juan begins directly in Sevilla.
In Tirso´s work, Don Juan is a libertine man who cheats, dishonor women and conquer others by promises of marriage. He goes in search of new conquests until he dies. Contrary to The Trickster of Seville, Byron described Don Juan as a handsome man with a magnetic personality who doesn´t need to cheat women, he attracts them with his personal charms. He is a sweet man, innocent and simple, but he also can be sometimes heroic, for example when he helps the Russian army. Unlike the popular myth of Don Juan, Byron´s character is not an aggressive and hypocrite man.
But this character evolves and matures, even caring for a Muslim girl. The only change we can advise in Tirso´s work is the fear that he feels at the end of his life, but until that moment he keeps acting like at the beginning of the story.
In Tirso´s work, Don Juan cheats the women to seduce them. He dishonors them, leaving them with no possibility but get married, but without their virginity. He doesn´t care about the possible God´s punishment. With this two characteristics, he shows a lack of personal honor and respect for the social and moral laws. He only cares about himself.
Other difference between Tirso´s and Byron´s Don Juan is that in the work written by Byron we can see different stages of his life which we don´t see in Tirso´s work. For example, we can see that his education has prepared him for the arts of war, religion and moral instruction, but he has not received a sex education. His experience has been his teacher after left his home with sixteen years old. He is able to judge and analyze the world with a critical vision
In many versions, Don Juan kills Don Gonzalo, the father of Doña Ana, but the ending depends on which version you are reading. Byron´s work has not an end, but Tirso´s ends with the Don Juan´s death, having been denied salvation by God.
There are also some similarities between this two works. Both stories are about the life of the same character, Don Juan. In both, Don Juan is treated as a womanizer.
In both works, the honor is one of the main themes, the masculine honor and feminine integrity. Men find women integrity as an important element because if a woman doesn´t remain her virginity until her marriage, the honor of her family would be devalued.
Another theme used in both works is the sex. In The Trickster of Seville is the main theme, and is what is constantly looking for the protagonist.
Both authors also use the theme of love and the marriage, being the love more important in Byron´s work.
Certainly, these two works are completely different, only share a few themes and the basic story. Byron took the figure of Don Juan created by Tirso, but change it completely. He gave a deeper story and different feel to the main character, who acts so differently to the first Don Juan, and provided other stages of Don Juan´s life, unknown until that moment.
Nowadays, in almost every country is understood when someone is called a “Don Juan”. This character was created in the early seventeenth century, and since that moment it has become a legend. After several versions and uses of the figure of Don Juan, we have seen how it has evolved.
In Don Juan´s creation by Tirso, we can see a libertine man with no worries, and two centuries after Byron developed Don Juan giving him a philosophic sense.
It is doubtless that the character of Don Juan is, and will be, always present in every literature and culture. With every version made about him, and every that will be made, deeper and stronger will be the figure