Don Juan and Sganarelle: Equally as Toxic to Society

In Moliére’s masterpiece, it is easy to notice the overbearing presence of religious satire and chauvinistic tendencies of the drama’s protagonist.

However, the relationship between Don Juan and his valet, Sganarelle, is what interested me most as I read this play. Despite the obvious moralizing tendencies of his thought, Sganarelle puts himself at the mercy of his master again and again. Don Juan addresses such cowardice when Sganarelle dresses as a doctor to avoid harm in the woods.

Obviously, it is not easy for a servant to leave his master, especially one as rich as Don Juan. Sganarelle’s reaction to his master’s death indicates the primary conviction he has to Don Juan and his family. Payment is central to the relationship between the two characters. Sganarelle cares not for the death of his master, or the moral judgement, which many think might lead to his satisfaction. However, Don Juan’s death leads only to the complaint:  “I am the only unlucky one. My wages, my wages, my wages!” Sganarelle’s concern is base, caring only for his money and not for the satisfaction of the destruction of a wicked man.

It is with this action that I can say Sganarelle is equally as immoral and unjust as Don Juan. His hypocrisy is blatant, as he parades around saying “Oh what a man,” and pontificating about what a horrible master he serves, he does nothing to modify his situation. When given the opportunity to stand down his master, he quivers beneath his shadow. Additionally, Sganarelle owes his debtors just as Don Juan does.

Therefore, it is through the character Sganarelle, which Moliére portrays the equal ungodliness of lord and common man. The satire of those who disregard religion against those who would use it as a blanket to cover their own sins (i.e. Sganarelle).

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About Chris DiBari

Chris is a student at Brooklyn College and Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. Born in Illiniois, Chris has lived in a number of different places including: Newport, RI, Key West, FL, Chesapeake, VA, Pittsburgh, PA, Warren, NJ, and currently lives in Brooklyn. He is living in the dorms, but soon hopes to leave and move to a different part of Brooklyn. Chris is undecided in his major, but has passions in the social sciences, and next semester hopes to take a few more history classes. Chris is currently pursuing his goal of becoming a United States Marine Corps officer through the Platoon Leader's Class option and applying to the United States Naval Academy.