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Use of Irony to Portray Morality in Lord Byron's Don Juan Essay

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Use of Irony to Portray Morality in Lord Byron's Don Juan


In Don Juan, George Gordon, Lord Byron, diverges from his name-sake characterization with an un-Byronic hero, Don Juan. The poem has been viewed as nihilistic and immoral. Actually there is plenty present in the first canto to show morality and hope for humanity. The poem should be viewed as the author intended: "a satire on abuses of the present state of Society, an not an eulogy on vice..." (Bostetter 9). Don Juan is a satire and therefore the morals present are shown in an ironic way. If fact, he wrote in such an obvious ironic fashion that it is hard to imagine the message was lost on many. His ironic theme is based on what people think and what they actually do. In effect it is the masks people wear in public view and carelessly toss away in private. Hence he shows the immorality in society through their hypocrisy.

The poem begins from the narrator's point of view. The narrator guides Juan's story and plays an important role because from his perspective we can see the reasons behind so many of the "immoral" circumstances in the poem. He begins with a search for a hero. After a search in his present time he states: "The age discovers he is not the true one" (Byron 5). He cannot find a hero in his time but he does acknowledge the existence of hero's in the past. "Brave men were living before Agamemnon" (Byron 33). Therefore he may be pessimistic about his time but not for the whole of humanity. Byron utilizes irony often, and it usually is through the narrator that the irony is drawn out. The narrator is detailing a background on Juan's parents and tells that they quarrel often. He says that it is no business of his that they quarrel. "I loathe that low vice cu...


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... theme than morality is demonstrated when the effects of a restrictive education on a youth are shown? Byron, the best supporter of his work said: "I maintain that it is the most moral of poems; but if people won't discover the moral, that is their fault, not mine" (Trueblood 87). While he may overstate the morality of his poem, he does write the truth, the morality is there if one cares to find it.

Works Cited

Bostetter, Edward E., Ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Don Juan. NJ:Prentice Hall, Inc. 1969.

Byron, George Gordon. Don Juan The Norton Anthology of English Literature The Major Authors, 6th ed. New York:W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1996.

Rutherford, Andrew. Byron A Critical Study. CA:Stanford University Press 1961

Trueblood, Paul Graham. The Flowering of Byron's Genius Studies in Byron's Don Juan. New York:Russell & Russell 1962.


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