Don Giovanni, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, follows the endeavors of a libertarian, sexual deviant, and elite member of society, Don Giovanni. Even when threatened to repent by a statue of the Commendatore, come to life who he murdered previously in the play , he remained steadfast in believing and insisting that his actions were not wrong with the result that he is eternally damned to Hell. Elvira denounces him in densely populated streets, revealing his treachery without regard to how the proclamation might negatively affect her own social status. However, we see her struggle with her continued physical attraction to Don Giovanni, despite her understanding of his malice. This response seems to identify the roles of the characters well, yet a closer reading of the libretto reveals that Don Giovanni does not in fact have the sense of agency that he thinks that he may have, and the effects of the social expectations on Giovanni are more profound than he is aware. Thus, Miller believes that Don Giovanni operates with the knowledge that his actions are not being influenced by how society is structured, or societal morals. Miller analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of other characters in comparison to the Don, and specifically references agency in Don Ottavio and Donna Elvira. However, he finds Ottavio dependent on a social system in all his actions constrained by its structure, and he praises Elvira for moving fluidly without regard to societal norms and principles. While his interpretation offers interesting insight into the characters in the opera, it is both incomplete in its analysis and assumes too much about Don Giovanni. Miller assumes that Don Giovanni, as a domineering sexual predator, is attacking the weakest link of society, the relation between men and women. This assumption additionally implies that Don Giovanni does not follow any societal rules in his conquests, making it the ultimate attack on society. Therefore, why does Don Giovanni keep a list of his sexual conquests? Why, then, would he need to prove it to people other than himself? Surely, if he craved only intercourse, he would simply have intercourse without making a record. In fact, the recording of his sexual encounters seems to be a way to prove his masculinity through sex, a way for men in many societies to prove their masculinity, ergo their worth, in that society. If his goal were in fact to break societal rules, he would not waste his time with this list, as it would only enforce the implementation of another societal norm. It is possible to conclude that Don Giovanni does not have the agency that Miller believes he has, and his decisions, at least with regards to sex, are being influenced by societal norms and expectations of masculinity. For example, an interesting observation might have been that Don Ottavio, through his social restraints, can be interpreted as sexually repressed. His every action seems to be designed to please his fiancee, Donna Anna, and not because he wants the outcome himself. His decisions are not his own and thus, his fate, at least in the course of events in the opera, is to be led on a wild goose chase for sex with Donna Anna that he can seemingly never get. Let the bitter memory be, o dearest! Additionally, Don Ottavio is the only tenor in the entire cast, evoking imagery of the castratis, men who, as boys, were forcibly castrated so their voice never dropped. In this sense, Don Ottavio is castrated, forcefully removed from the world of any sexual viability, both in the libretto by Donna Anna, and by the casting of his character. She is not afraid to seem crazy so that the truth about Don Giovanni can come to the surface. Sbe also has a somewhat healthy dialogue with herself and others about her sexuality. Her self-realized sexual desire for Don Giovanni and her realization of his cruel nature are constantly at odds with each other, and never really give in to each other, either. Do not pound in my breast! Donna Elvira is once again being seduced by Don Giovanni, despite her knowledge of his deceit. Donna Elvira, as the only character who can be seen to have complete self agency, represents her sexuality in a way that is more realistic, yet less harmful in general to herself and others. Other characters, like Don Giovanni and Don Ottavio, confirm that with a lack of complete self agency, expressions of sexuality can be either harmful to others or harmful to themselves. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. April Copy to Clipboard Reference Copied to Clipboard.
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