Byron’s Don Juan Essay, Research Paper

Byron’s Don Juan

One writer who has not recieved nearly enough credit for his works is

George Gordon, who later became known as Lord Byron. This is the man who wrote

his own poetical version of Don Juan. Don Juan is a man who is known for being

able to arouse the desires of women and to love every one he meets. This Don

Juan can be viewed, however, as a loosely disguised biography of Byron.

Lord Byron’s father, Captain John, has ancestors that go back as far as

the Buruns in the time of William the Conqueror. Back in this time it was very

common for people to marry their own cousins. Captain John was married three

times and was considered to be very smooth with the ladies.

Byron was born on January 22, 1788 in London, and the following year he

and his mother moved to Aberdeen, Scotland. His father soon followed, but it

wouldn’t be long before he would disappear to France and end up dying in 1791.

It was just as well because his parents never got along very well.

In Lord Byron’s early years he experienced poverty, the ill-temper of

his mother, and the absence of his father. By 1798 he had inherited the title

of 6th Baron Byron and the estate of Newstead Abbey. Once hearing this news, he

and his mother quickly removed to England.

All of Byron’s passions developed early. In 1803 he had his first

serious and abortive romance with Mary Chaworth. At the age of15 he fell

platonically but violently in love with a young distant cousin, Mary Duff

(Parker 10). He soon had another affair with a woman named Mary Gray. Soon

hereafter he was involved with many liaisons with such women as Lady Caroline

Lamb and then Lady Oxford.

Then just as Byron was beginning to live his life the way he had always

wanted to, his mother dies in 1811. The following year he became immensely

fashionable and notorious. By 1813 he had began another affair with his half-

sister Augusta. Continuing his search for the woman of his dreams, he marrys

Anabella Milbanke in 1815 and has a daughter the same year.

The next year Lady Byron leaves him to visit her parents and never

returns. Separation papers are signed and he begins another liaison with Claire

Clairmont. The following year(1817), they have a baby named Allegra. Not too

long after this he falls in love with yet another woman, named Marianna Segati.

His next love happened two years later, Countess Teresa Guiccioli. Many

say she was his last love and his first. Byron met Teresa at an evening party.

They soon began meeting secretly because she was married to Count Alessandro

Guiccioli. She had auburn curls, large lovely eyes, beautifully shaped

shoulders and arms, and an abundant bosom. She was completely intrigued by

Byron’s beauty. Maybe they both felt that fate brought them together. It was

customary in the code of serventismo for a married woman to have a lover and

the husband wasn’t allowed to be jealous. Count Alessandro did know about

Teresa and Byron’s love for each other, but never spoke of it (Trueblood 99).

After this liaison ended, Byron’s life began to exhale love and devotion

in vast quantities. Then his daughter, Allegra, and one of his close friends,

Shelley, died in 1822. Two years later Lord Byron himself died. His body was

then brought to England and buried in family vault at Hucknall Torkard near

Nottingham. At his death he was the most famous poet in Europe and the most

notorious sexual adventurer.

Lord Byron was a professional poet. His letters and journals prove his

concern to be the best poet around and to be famous was consistently deep and

serious. Ambition for power and popularity came first and remained always the

principle reason for writing. Byron had a great range of interests and

experiences of ideas and emotion than your average man ever did (Boyd 4).

Don Juan is, all-in-all, a legendary lover. Familiar with the Don Juan

legend, Byron deliberately altered the traditional character and made him the

innocent victim of womankind. He experiences love by natural disaster, slavery,

war, the court, and the aristocracy. Its two main epic themes are love and war

(Joseph 74).

The first two cantos of the poem Byron wrote were published without an

author or a publisher. Many thought the poem was novel and powerful, and caused

great misgivings for Byron’s publisher. Others hoped for the poem to be

discontinued. The first sample of Don Juan got a very mixed reception. Byron’s

publisher, Murray, told him the poem was too outrageously shocking and to revise

it. He did not listen to Murray. He believed in what he had created and he

wanted to continue it.

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