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Frisch’s Don Juan

At least initially, Frisch’s Don Juan is not presented in research papers in the same manner as Moliere’s Don Juan.  In fact, research papers show that for much of the play, Don Juan does not appear any more licentious or cavalier in his treatment of women than many of his counterparts. Frisch’s Don JuanOne of the first points of making a comparison between Frisch and Moliere’s work is in determining whether Frisch’s Don Juan immediately exhibits the same shameless hypocrisy and blame setting on women for his propensity for indiscretion, which he does not.  Rather, he is presented and perceived by most every character, whether they know his true nature or not, as an honorable man. Frisch’s Don Juan is a polar opposite of Moliere’s.

Don Juan and Romanticism

This departure from romanticism and the embracing of the intellectual is representative of German nationalism at the time Frisch wrote Don Juan. The quest for women replaced by the quest of knowledge illustrates that the German archetype is a man of ideas and noble character. One can hardly imagine Moliere’s Don Juan receiving the praise that Frisch’s does. Frisch initially presents a Don Juan who seems more bewildered by his desire for a woman that he has only seen from afar and is unsure if it is Dona Anna rather than deliberately choosing another over his bride-to-be.  This characterization is markedly different from Moliere’s Don Juan who blatantly and irreverently lies to Dona Elvire that he can no longer lover her for pure and sincere reasons. Unlike Shadwell’s Don Juan, Frischi’s play does not end in Don Juan’s physical death but rather the death of his freedom.

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