“Dom Juan or The Feast with the Statue”, analysis of a comedy by Molière

The comedy “Dom Juan or The Feast with the Statue” was written by Molière in 1665. It is a classical literal adaptation of the medieval Spanish legend of a libertine named Dom Juan. In his play, the French playwright makes a relentless and, at the same time, objective analysis of the image of a European nobleman who lives for body pleasures and love games.

Molière endues Dom Juan with not only the most common flaws of the society but also with external charisma and some peculiar values. The author presents his hero as a passionate, straightforward, and honest within his personal desires person. Moliere’s Dom Juan does not believe in God, but he reverently respects the laws of logic and bank on that two plus two is four. He spits upon the public morality, but admires the feminine beauty and is ready to marry anyone who has stolen a way into his heart. Dom Juan is honest with his valet Sganarelle like with no one else. Though Dom Juan doesn’t listen to his advices, he always asks Sganarelle’s opinion about his behavior and way of life. The protagonist of the comedy has also some kind of noble honor: he rushes to help Dom Carlos beyond a shadow of doubt and fear, when he sees a gentleman being attacked by three robbers. At the same time, Dom Juan handles people who have lower social position without gloves: he does not hesitate to use the money of his creditor Monsieur Dimanche and turns him into the streets without a single penny when he tries to return his money back. Dom Juan gives a peasant Pierrot some slaps in the face when he rallies to the defense of his bride Charlotte’s honor. And this is in spite of the fact that Pierrot saved him from death in the depths of the water.

However, for all its ambiguity, the main character steers a steady course to the Hell throughout the development of the action. The main problem of Dom Juan lies in the fact that he gets so ingrained with his inner dissolute essence that he cannot overcome it, even when he faces the obvious signs sent to him by the sky. The hero minds neither the statue which has come alive, nor the ghost of the woman – they only surprise him a little. Dom Juan is more afraid of physical death than of spiritual one. A ghost, which cannot be run through with a sword, does not frighten him as much as the brothers of the seduced Donna Elvira, who decided to defense the honor of their sister. That’s why Dom Juan decides to fall back on the last means of rescue – hypocrisy. Pretending to be pious, “the reclaimed sinner” tries to bring his father on his side. Though the hero has wished death upon him until recently. According to Dom Juan, the whole society is obsessed by sins, and only hypocrisy allows people to live in harmony with their passions and not be afraid of the social condemnation.

The artistic background of the comedy involves not only the dispelling of vices and the classic punishment of evil, particularly Dom Juan. In the “The Feast with the Statue” Molière shows the depravity of the whole society, from the upper classes to the lower: Dom Juan leads a dissolute life; Donna Elvira falls for sinful passion and betrays her vows to God; Sganarelle indulges the unbridled lifestyle of his master despite his deep faith in the sky; peasant Charlotte quickly forgets about her beloved bridegroom when a better catch looms on the horizon.

Only Donna Elvira makes good and returns to the fold of faith, after she has erred out of naivety and refused the unworthy, earthly love for preference of virtuous love that requires the salvation of even the most deluded of all possible souls – the soul of Dom Juan. The image of Donna Elvira in the “The Feast with the Statue” involves lyrical, and in many ways, tragic motifs. Her monologues addressed to Dom Juan (one – irate and exposing, another – reverential and all-forgiving) are full of endless sensuality and fine expressions.

The comic beginning of “Dom Juan” relates to the artistic image of Sganarelle. The valet of the protagonist constantly gets into ridiculous situations: he gets lost in the conversation with his master and doesn’t know what to answer his wife Donna Elvira; he doesn’t want to face certain death for the sake of Dom Juan, but at the same time he is afraid of losing his job; he tries to snatch a piece from his master’s plate and still remains hungry, as other servants follow his example. In conversations with Dom Juan, Sganarelle reveals the impudence of his master, but cannot defend his own opinion. He seems shy and ridiculous in his pathetic attempts to steer the protagonist onto the path of true. The ending of the comedy could be called tragic, but for Sganarelle: after the statue of the commander sends Dom Juan to the Hell, the valet begins to moan about the salary which has not been received.

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