Don Juan

Don Juan (or Don Giovanni) is a legendary fictional libertine, whose story has been told many times by different authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra, is a play by Tirso de Molina, published in Spain around 1630, and set in the 14th century. Evidence suggests it to be the first written version of the Don Juan legend. The other main work in Spanish literature about this character is Don Juan Tenorio, a play written in 1844 by José Zorrilla.

The name is sometimes used figuratively, as a synonym for "womaniser", especially in Spanish slang.

The Don Juan legend

In the legend, Don Juan is a roguish libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women and (in most versions) enjoys fighting their champions. The main force of the legend revolves around his either raping or seducing a young woman of noble family, and killing her father. Later, he encounters a statue of the father in a cemetery and impiously invites it home to dine with him, an invitation the statue gladly accepts. The ghost of the father arrives for dinner and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the cemetery. Don Juan accepts and goes to the grave where the statue asks to shake Don Juan's hand. When he extends his arm, the statue grabs him and drags him away to Hell.


Most authorities agree that the first recorded tale of Don Juan is El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest) by Tirso de Molina. Its publication date ranging from 1620 to 1625, depending upon the source, although it appeared in Spain as early as 1615. Don Juan is an unrepentant womanizer who seduces women either by disguising himself as their lovers or by promising marriage. He leaves a trail of broken hearts, angry husbands, and outraged fathers; finally slaying a certain Don Gonzalo. Later, when invited to supper in the cathedral by Don Gonzalo's ghost, he accepts, not wanting to appear a coward.

Depending upon the particular rendition of the legend, Don Juan's character is seen from one of two perspectives; a simple, lustful womanizer and cruel seducer who gets sex wherever he can, or a man who genuinely loves every woman he seduces, with the gift to see the true beauty and intrinsic value of every woman. The early versions of the legend of Don Juan always portray him in the former light.

Other Don Juan literature

Another, more recent version of the legend of Don Juan is José Zorilla's (1817-1893) nineteenth century play Don Juan Tenorio (1844) wherein Don Juan is a villain. It begins with Don Juan meeting his old friend Don Luís, and the two men recounting their conquests and vile deeds of the year past. In terms of the number of murders and conquests (seductions), Don Juan out-scores his friend Don Luís. Outdone, Don Luís replies that his friend has never had a woman of pure soul; sowing in Don Juan a new, tantalizing desire to sleep with a Woman of God. Also, Don Juan informs his friend that he plans to seduce his (Don Luís's) future wife. Don Juan seduces both his friend's wife and Doña Inés. Incensed, Doña Inés's father and Don Luís try avenging their lost prides, but Don Juan kills them both, despite his begging them not to attack, for, he claims, Doña Inés has shown him the true way. Don Juan becomes nervous when visited by the ghosts of Doña Inés and her father; the play concludes with a tug of war between Doña Inés and her father, for Don Juan, the daughter eventually winning and pulling him to Heaven.

In Aleksandr Blok's poetic depiction, the statue is only mentioned as a fearful approaching figure, while a deceased Donna Anna ("Anna, Anna, is it sweet to sleep in the grave? Is it sweet to dream unearthly dreams") is waiting to return to him in the fast-approaching hour of his death.

In the novella La Gitanilla (The Little Gypsy Girl), by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the character who falls in love with the eponymous heroine is named Don Juan de Cárcamo, possibly related to the popular legend.

The 1736 play titled Don Juan (Don Giovanni Tenorio, ossia Il Dissoluto) was written by Carlo Goldoni, a famous Italian comic playwright of the time.

In Phantom of the Opera, the title of the opera written by the Phantom is Don Juan Triumphant. In the musical Les Misérables, in the song "Red and Black" Grantaire compares Marius to Don Juan.

The Romantic poet Lord Byron wrote an epic version of Don Juan that is considered his masterpiece. It was unfinished at his death, but portrays Don Juan as the innocent victim of a repressive Catholic upbringing who unwittingly stumbles upon and into love time and again. For example, in Canto II he is shipwrecked and washed ashore an island, from where he is rescued by the beautiful daughter of a Greek pirate, who nurses him to health: a loving relationship develops. When her pirate father returns from his journey, however, he is angry and sells Don Juan into slavery, where, in turn, a Sultan's wife buys him for her pleasure. Lord Byron's Don Juan is less seducer than victim of women's desire and unfortunate circumstance.

Moreover, according to Harold Bloom, the Edmund character in King Lear, by William Shakespeare, anticipates the Don Juan archetype by a few decades, while intellectual philosopher Albert Camus represents Don Juan as an archetypical absurd man in the essay The Myth of Sisyphus (1942). In Philippine literature, Don Juan is the protagonist of the Ibong Adarna story, who, though portrayed in a good light, is known to have a weakness for beautiful women and tends to womanizing, having at least two simultaneous relationships (Doña Maria, Doña Leonora, Doña Juana). George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman also is a Don Juan play; described by Shaw in its preface.


In Castilian Spanish, Don Juan is . The usual English pronunciation is, with two syllables and a silent "J". However, in Byron's epic poem it humorously rhymes with ruin and true one, suggesting that it was intended to have the trisyllabic spelling pronunciation .

Chronology of works derived from the story of Don Juan

Also there is a book from Jozef Toman with name The life and death of don Miguel de Manara.

Both the Flynn and Fairbanks versions turn Don Juan into a likeable rogue, rather than the heartless seducer that he is usually presented as being. The Flynn movie even has him successfully foiling a treasonous plot in the Spanish royal court. Shaw's play turns him into a philosophical character who enjoys contemplating the purpose of life. Beers' play turns him into a poetic, epic character recoiling from the debasing popular image of womanizer and cheap lover.

Further reading

External links

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This article is based on "Don Juan" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia ( It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: