Study Guide

Don Juan Gender

By George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron

Gender

In a poem where Byron makes women into sexual aggressors and Don Juan into a passive lover, there are bound to be some interesting points about gender roles and sexual education. For starters, Byron intentionally reverses the traditional stories that portray Don Juan as an adult male who travels around seducing women. The Don Juan in Byron's tale plays a traditionally feminine role by being passive while all sorts of women try to conquer him sexually. By doing this, Byron shows us how absurd it is to think that one gender is naturally more sexual or aggressive than the other. These types of stereotypes shift throughout history and there's no good reason to believe that men are naturally this or women are naturally that when it comes to sex.

Questions About Gender

  1. Do you think that Don Juan endorses the idea that gender behavior is learned instead of genetic? Why or why not?
  2. How does our understanding of Don Juan's gender change when we see him dress up as one of the sultan's female slaves?
  3. Why do you think Byron decided to make his version of Don Juan young and passive when it comes to sex? What effect could this have had on his readers?

Chew on This

In Don Juan, we learn that gender is as changeable as a suit of clothes.

Don Juan reminds us that, no matter how a person acts or appears, their gender is fixed from the day they're born.

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