Study Guide

Don Juan Canto V

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Canto V

  • Byron starts this canto like all the others—with a huge digression about life and love and poetry and blah blah. What happened to Don Juan after we left him at a slave auction in Canto IV?
  • Finally, we find out:
  • At the auction, Don Juan starts chatting with a white dude who talks about how he served with the Russian army before being captured in battle and sold as a slave.
  • Don Juan tells a little of the story about how he lived with a woman he loved and how he'll never see her again. He's impressed with how stoic the other guy is about their situation.
  • As the two are talking, a black eunuch walks up and decides to buy Don Juan and the guy he's talking to. After haggling for a while with the slave trader, he takes possession of DJ and his new buddy.
  • While the man takes DJ and his buddy away, DJ suggests that they knock the guy on the head and escape. But the buddy asks what the plan is after they've knocked the guy out, and DJ has no clue. They smell some good food at this moment too and realize that their new master is going to feed them. They decide it might be a good idea to have a nice meal before trying to escape.
  • Their keeper's name is Baba, and he takes them to a palace where he dresses them in fine clothing. Then he asks them whether they'd consider getting themselves circumcised, which would make them a lot more acceptable in this part of the world. It looks like they're in Turkey.
  • Don Juan says he'd rather be decapitated than be circumcised. Bab then commands Don Juan to dress in a woman's clothing. Don Juan refuses, but when Bab threatens to cut off his penis DJ changes his tune. By the time they're done, Don Juan looks like a pretty young woman.
  • Juan gets split up with his buddy and follows Baba to another room that contains some sort of Turkish princess.
  • It turns out that the princess (named Gulbeyaz) saw Don Juan at the slave auction and had an immediate crush on him, so she ordered her servant Baba to buy him. It turns out she's not a huge fan of being one of the sultan's five wives and kept like a prisoner.
  • Gulbeyaz throws herself at DJ, but he puts her off because he's still mourning the loss of HaidĂ©e. The princess is so mad that she wants to have DJ executed. But instead she just bursts into tears.
  • Gulbeyaz isn't crying for long before Baba comes in to announce that the sultan is coming.
  • The sultan comes in and immediately notices DJ, who's dressed in women's clothes. The sultan thinks he's a pretty girl.
  • Byron ends Canto V with a little speech about how polygamy in Muslim societies is responsible for a lot of the adultery and social problems in these societies. Way to be culturally-nuanced there, Lord B.

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