Don Giovanni, Critique Of The
In Garrison Keillor’s short story ‘Don Giovanni’; the main character, Don Giovanni, is portrayed as a self centered, self serving, seducing womanizer. The story focuses on conversations held between ‘The Don’; and Figaro. In these conversations ‘The Don’; attempts to erode Figaro’s positive views on marriage. The attitude that ‘The Don’; has about women is negatively viewed by most societies, and it’s because of this attitude that he ends up at the fiery gates of hell!
The story begins by setting up, in the mind of the reader, a mental picture of an old seducer preaching his philosophies through clouds of cigarette smoke. ‘The Don’; says, ‘Figaro, my friend, a man owes it to himself to stop and consider the three advantages of single life. One, if you’re single, you can think. Two, you can act. Three, you can feel…there is no prison so deadly as a life of unnecessities, which is what marriage is.’; In most religions marriage is considered a sacred joining of two people. ‘The Don’s’; philosophy undermines the marriage ideology to the point that it is sinful to the religious community. Even if a person is not active in religion, s/he usually has a set of morals that frown upon the ‘life of a player.’;
‘The Don’s’; second downfall is his sexual habits. Any person who shares his/her bed with different partners, including the occasional married one, each night of the week, walks with a black cloud over his/her head. At one point in the story ‘The Don’; tells Figaro that ‘Some men should have two lovers, some three; it depends on the man…I am selfish, Figaro, because I have a larger capacity for pleasure than other people do…this to me is the beauty of the male existence.’;
The story takes place in Fargo, North Dakota, which is a conservative down-to-earth city. The actions that ‘The Don’; takes are considered immoral, a ‘highway to hell.’;
As proof that ‘The Don’s’; philosophies don’t match those of the society that he lives in, the author uses Figaro as a foil. Don tries to convince Figaro that the monogamous life is inferior, and Figaro attempts to redeem ‘The Don’s’; soul. ‘The life of a libertine ends badly,’; Figaro says. ‘ You get old, your teeth turn yellow, you smell like a mutt, and you have to pay women to look at you…’; This passage shows how Figaro tries to convince ‘The Don’; that the road he travels will end unpleasantly.
In the ending scene of the story ‘The Don’; is talking with Figaro instead of playing the piano (the job he was hired for). His boss walks in the door and says, ‘Time to go, Giovanni…Yer outta here. You broke the deal. Yer history. The job’s over. Move it.’; On the literal level this simply means that he is fired. The passage can also be taken symbolically. The man with ‘heavy eyelids,’; rather than being ‘The Don’s’; boss, can be viewed as hell’s gate keeper. This is made obvious when Figaro pictures the man with hooves instead of shoes. When the man says ‘Yer outta here,’; ‘here’; can be earth or life, rather than the bar. When he says, ‘you broke the deal,’; the ‘deal’; refers to man’s obligation to live within the ‘laws of decency.’;
Don Giovanni’s beliefs, though they seem to be the perfect life to him, lead to his death. To everyone around him this is obvious, but Don believes so strongly in his ways that he would rather die than be confined within the walls of marriage. This story goes beyond the individual level; it also portrays the battle between two separate belief systems. Don Giovanni may be sane in his own mind, but not in the eyes of society as a whole.