Don Juan is what we would call in today’s society, a “player”. He knows how to manipulate women and he lifts their hearts up with the idea of marriage and then quickly leaves them as soon as he becomes bored. Don Juan believes uses the excuse that all women should have their beauty appreciated by him and that he should not confine himself to commitment. Throughout the play, Don Juan’s servant, Sganarelle, (who also attempts to teach Don Juan morality) points out that the action of cheating on women and abusing their emotions is a direct violation of the contract between man and the heavens. He tells Don Juan that surely the heavens will become angered and seek revenge against him.
As the play continues, Don Juan performs various selfish actions, most importantly:
-Stealing a country girl away from her fiancee
-Breaking women’s hearts after telling them he is to marry them
-Asking a poor man to beg for money and to swear his allegiance against God
-Lying directly to his father by saying he reformed his ways
-Mistreating his servant and abusing the trust of others.
Don Juan sets himself up on a downward spiral of lies, deceit and manipulation which is immorally correct. His great ability to control situations allows him to escape the consequences of these actions, and he lives his life by destroying the dreams of others. Eventually, Sganarelle, foreshadows the demise of Don Juan after he lies to his father, saying that a talking statue that they saw was a direct indication that the heavens wanted Don Juan to change his ways. Don Juan dismisses these claims and instead goes to eat dinner with the statue. This results in Don Juan being dragged to hell for his actions against the heavens and Sganarelle living without a payment for his services.
The moral of Don Juan is one of morality, faithfulness and religious belief. At the time this was written (1665), religion played an important part in society and women did not have any power unless they were married. By promising marriage to women and then leaving them, Don Juan ruined their lives because a woman’s status was defined through marriage. If a woman was not married, she was not considered powerful in these societies. Don Juan basically teased the women into happiness and then left them. The strong religious beliefs of the time prohibited lies about marriage because marriage was a Christian sacrament to be honored. Any act mocking marriage or acting against it would anger the heavens and thus the offenders were thought to have sinned and would face the consequences. Don Juan highlights the idea of a religious vow being broken and a punishment being enacted. The play ends with educating the reader that they should be faithful, or else they may truly be damned for life (as the women were when they were refused marriage).