Canto of Don Juan

Byron emphasizes on the satiric nature of his poem in a didactical manner. The poet uses mock epic to satirize poetic conventions. In Canto 1 of Don Juan, he chooses a hero for his tale. The mythical and familiar figure of Juan is set with a Spanish dimension (Raitt, 1983)

“In Seville was he born, a pleasant city, /

Famous for oranges and women-he /

Who has not seen it will be much to pity”

He criticizes the use of standardized metric form of poetic conventions. He also mocks the moralistic philosophy of past times. The poet utilizes a mixture of lyricism with irony of context or language as a major generic dislocation in the poem. His trust in satire allows him to form an argument against famous poets and philosophers. The poet acknowledges that romanticism is not honest, what is honest is seeing reality for what romanticism represents. He develops an emotional irony that invites the reader to feel a sense of sympathy or repulsion (Saglia, 2000).

Byron satirizes poetic convention, the poets of his time and ancient philosophers by including the emotions of the audience. He sides with libertinism and rejects the generic predictability of poetry and ancient philosophers. The poet replaces such renowned poets with a satire that is true to life. He highlights the moneymakers who are the real giants of modern culture.

At the finale of the Julia episode, poet digresses to discuss the essence of this work. “My poem is an epic, and is meant to be,” and Byron enumerates the well-known features of the epic. He is making fun of the customary regulations of the epic set on Aristotle’s Poetics. Byron sets out to depict the establishments and religion and to picture the social and political image of the times that make the epic modern. He deals with each aspect of society – serious or frivolous. The most important quality in the poem is its continually altering mood and tone, its sudden changes from depth to frivolity and tenderness to irony.



The poem begins with words “I want a hero.” But is Don Juan actually hero or antihero? He is a parody of the romantic hero – putty in lady’s hands, terrorized by angry husband, caught in comical situations. So, is there yet something attractive about him? And is he at least partially likeable for the things that make him unusual hero? In Canto 1 of the poem, “Don Juan” is able to establish the genealogy of an antihero who allows audience to witness his behaviors and exploits. The poet satirizes the reliance upon beauty instead of truth and displays one of the best deconstruction of romanticism.

By incorporating important and recognizable ideas from previous periods, Byron investigated and either accepted or rejected their conclusions, and used his own interpretations as a response to the wild emotional obsession of his romantic colleagues. Byron was not a transitional poet who stood on the edge between romanticism and neoclassicism. He used both genres to make an approach, which was his personal. Canto I creates a bridge between the neoclassical and romantic characteristics by putting them into discussion and resistance with one another.