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Lord Byron-Don Juan

Don Juan” is a long comic-epic poem written in “ottava rima” (a 8 line rhrymed-stanza). It was written between 1819 and 1824. The author employs a classical language and style. The Don Juan myth had it origin in Spain. “El Burlador de Sevilla y Convidado de Piedra”, a play by Tirso de Molina, is one of the first literary works centered on Don Juan’s adventures. The main character, Don Juan Tenorio, is a seducer and a libertine man, which means that he doesn’t respect religion and social conventions. He teases the statue of an important dead man and invites it to dinner. The invitation is accepted: the statue appears during the dinner telling Don Juan he will soon fall into hell. In his comic-epic poem, Byron turns the Don Juan of the Spanish legend into a naïve, honest and kind young man who experiences extraordinary situations. So,“Don Juan” is a social satire: Byron wants to criticize the social and moral codes of his time.

Plot

In Seville, Don Juan and Donna Julia fall in love with each other. However, Donna Julia is married to an older man. Because of scandal, Don Juan has to leave Spain. He’s shipwrecked. He reached a Greek island where the beautiful daughter of a pirate looks after him. The pirate learns about their love affair and sends Don Juan to Istanbul, where he’s sold as a slave. After many adventures in Istanbul and then at the Russian court (where Catherine the Great falls in love with him) Don Juan arrives in England. The last part of the poem is about his English adventures and Don Juan represents Byron himself.

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