Byron is oddly poised on the borders of the modern understanding of boredom. His
own awareness of boredom and its intricate intertwining with light-hearted play seems
to have been heightened during the writing of the English cantos of Don Juan, with the
result that a ludic dialectic between play and boredom can be readily observed in these
cantos. This essay seeks to sketch the contours of this paradoxical relationship by looking
at three images that frequently appear towards the end of Don Juan – bubbles, butterflies
and bores – arguing that Byron's experience of boredom simultaneously threatens but
also undergirds his most playful poetic modes.