Don Juan: That Guy Your Mother Warned You About

Don Juan is a smooth-talking, sly, never-changing womanizer who believes only in his romantic conquests. His love of romance and his lack of morals make him an unsavory character to all but those who catch his eye. Those who do, however, find him intoxicating, despite his myriad moral shortcomings. In short, Don Juan is that guy that your mother warned you about.

Straight from the beginning of the play, we learn of Don Juan’s philosophy on life, which is basically to love everything (and everyone) that comes his way, and that he has an uncanny ability to make this a reality. This philosophy of freedom may sound appealing, that is, until he reveals that he has married multiple times and once he grows tired of one woman, he moves on to the next one. Act II, Scene IV has a prime example of the man in action, as he convinces both Charlotte and Mathurine–at the same time, mind you–that they are the only one he will marry. While impressive, this shows that Don Juan clearly is not the type to settle down for the long haul.

Another one of Don Juan’s major “bad-boy” traits is his refusal to believe in that which he cannot explain. Throughout the story, Don Juan denies the existence of Heaven and Hell, despite the pleas of his faithful valet. Ever the non-believer, Juan even fails to take the hint that Heaven is trying to warn him to repent when a statue of a man he killed comes to his house for dinner. When a man is so hard-headed as to question a sign as clear as that, he’s clearly the type of guy a girl would want to steer clear of.

What’s more, Don Juan is a bit of a lowlife. Sure, he’ll tell you he loves you and that he will give you the world, but he might have a hard time doing that when he’s in debt to his friend Mr. Dimanche. He may pay the man lip service, but that’s as far as his payment goes, and he uses his smooth talking to constantly quell Dimanche out the door for as long as he can. It seems that Don Juan is not the type to pick up the tab.

On top of that, Don Juan’s father, Don Louis, is ashamed of his son’s life, and only hopes that he will see the error of his ways. So what does Don Juan do? He feigns reform just to get the old man off his back. He may pretend like he’s a changed man, but this is the type of guy who will never change for anyone. He doesn’t own up to his flaws, blaming his hypocrisy on “society,” saying that “hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtues,” (Act V, Scene II) showing that this is clearly a man who will never learn.

The worst part about Don Juan is that despite all of his flaws, he is an inherently lovable character. His antics delight the reader and his devil-may-care (and indeed he does, as evidenced by the books ending) attitude lends itself to allow a slight overlooking of his flaws. In both his world and to his readers, then, it seems that Don Juan is the Original Player: clearly a despicable dog of a man, but irresistible nonetheless.

-Jon Farrell