The Romantic Don Juan

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Beginning with Tirso de Molina’s “El Burlador de Sevilla,” and lasting through to present day with Douglas Carlton Abrams’s, “The Lost Diary of Don Juan,” the Don Juan legend has survived many centuries. Evolving with the change in times, the Don Juan character has transformed and adapted to each society. Defining society as well as art and literature, the Romantic movement swept across Europe during the nineteenth century. In this time of instinct, mystery, ambiguity, delirium and abyss, the idea of the romantic hero emerged. Don Juan captured this aspect and evolved to embody the romantic ideals. “The Romantic Don Juan is more adult and less naïve. He still has tremendous energy, but that energy is channeled by the consciousness of an ideal, or at least of a defined goal” (Mandel 22). Through the writings of Zorrilla, Byron, and Kierkegaard, it is apparent Don Juan has matured, ultimately becoming more calculated in his actions, thus embodying the principles of a romantic hero.
Romanticism is defined as a movement opposite to Classicism which shifted Western attitudes in relation to art and human creativity (Brians). The movement started as a response to the Enlightenment. Based on the rejection of previous societal rules, its foundation was built on the response to emotion over reason. Pure logic and rationalism were deemed insufficient to solve the present problems. Among the romantic ideals, self-expression played a key role. Liberty and individual freedom were also the main focus points. Romantics redefined the idea of morality, questioning the concept of absolute good and evil. Out of this movement and new principles the notion of the romantic hero was born, “a literary archetype referring to a character that rejects established norms and conventions, has been rejected by society, and has the self as the center of his or her own existence” (Wilson 246). The
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