Don Quixote Book I
Miguel De Cervantes’ Biography
Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish novelist born in 1547. Cervantes is best recognized for writing Don Quixote; however, he is also the author of many other notable pieces of literature. Yet, his finest novels were written after the age of 65, including Don Quixote. He was also a soldier who fought in the Battle of Lepanto where he was seriously wounded. Miguel de Cervantes was raised in a family with financial problems, and even during adulthood he couldn’t make enough money to have a comfortable life. He died in 1616, 12 years after written Don Quixote, for which he never received any monetary compensation (McCrory, 2014).
A developmental theory that can well describe Cervantes’ development, is Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory, which argues that cultural engagement connections demonstrates the social environment significant influence as a vital foundation of development (Daneshfar & Moharami, 2018).
Prenatal development through childhood
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was the fourth child of Rodrigo De Cervantes, a Surgeon, and Leonor de Cortinas, from who little is known. His parents got married in 1542, and it’s very probable that Leonor’s parents disapproved the union. During the days prior to Cervantes birth, the family was already struggling with financial hardship, due to Rodrigo’s multiple debts and lack of customers (McCrory, 2014). It is probable that Rodrigo’s inability to get customers on his profession as a surgeon, or stable housing, resulted in significant amount of stress for Leonor. Psychological stress throughout pregnancy has been presumed to be a teratogen (DiPietro, 2012). For example, researchers have discovered that life stressor during pregnancy can result in low birth weight (Su et al., 2015). Other researchers have suggested that prenatal exposure to maternal stress have an important part in the development of the fetus’s brain. Symptoms related to stress are common during pregnancy and constitutes a neurobehavioral disorder risk factor. These infants, are more likely to be born with disorders as, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder, major depression and schizophrenia (DiPietro, 2012).
Maternal prenatal stress it’s known to have negative outcome on the child development after birth, in particular on children behavioral outcome. Studies have proposed that, capability to pay attention of children during developmental evaluations, is associated to the degree of stress experienced by the mother throughout the gestation period. Additionally, mothers who conveyed experiencing significant amount of stress during pregnancy, have a tendency to report feeling the same amount of stress after delivering the baby, and tent to perceive parenting as stressful, at difference of those women who didn’t reported any stress during pregnancy (DiPietro, J. A. (2012).
Cervantes was born in 1547 in Alcala de Henares, Spain. During his childhood, the family moved several times, first to the city of Alcala, then Valladolid, Cordoba, Sevilla and finally Madrid, as his father looked for better clientele (McCrory, 2014). Several studies suggest that there is a delicate stage during childhood, usually the first five year, when increased domiciliary mobility can have a damaging outcome on the child’s mental health later in life. Having to move from a house to another can be consider a life stressful event. It has been hypothesized that a disruption of family routine can be detrimental for the child later behavior, especially if the move is not voluntary. In addition, it has been found that excessive mobility during the first years of life is linked to increased externalizing issues. Recent studies propose malleability of intellectual functions associated with adverse environmental factors during childhood through adulthood. Stable housing helps the child cultivate important connections with peers, neighbors in the community, and teachers who can be a factor to the child good socio-emotional development. Moving constantly, could have disturbed these defensive relationships and increase the chance for exposure to hostile environments. Frequent moves have shown to limit the ability of families to accumulate and use age-appropriate enhancement resources and deprive housing conditions can limit parent’s devoted space to involve kids in learning (Rumbold et al., 2012).
The Cervantes family also relayed on the generosity of family and friends for housing in many occasions. In 1551 they rented a house in Valladolid, which Rodrigo was unable to afford and a year latter was forced to request a loan. Unable to pay back the loan, Rodrigo was arrested and the family loss all personal belongings (McCrory, 2014). One significant barrier to healthy child development is inadequate housing. Also, parental economical and emotional stress can make them less available to talk and get involve in mutual exchanges essential for linguistic development. In the other hand, because children remain engaging spatially in spite of environmental commotion, nonverbal task progress more consistently (Fowler et al., 2015).
It’s known that Andres, Cervantes’s older brother, die during infancy (McCrory, 2014). The loss of a child at any age, is a difficult experience. Studies have found that siblings of children who die are at risk for externalizing and internalizing problems when compare to other kids. Quality studies have shown that siblings grief can have lifelong negative outcomes, as feelings of isolation and social withdrawal with peers and at home. For example, in a study, siblings of kids who die reported feeling different from peers as result of their experience. Also, peers’ interest and activities may result less important for them after the death of a brother or sister. They also reported feeling guilty, depressed and anxious. In the same studies, parents reported their kids having lower social activity and higher withdrawal than peers. Additionally, the parents reported sleeping and nightmares problems (Field & Behrman, 2003).
Adolescent Development through Adulthood
Due to the family’s constant domiciliary move, little is known about Cervantes childhood and teenage years. Some believed that he studied in a Jesuit School (McCrory, 2014). Scholars propose that religious education aid children develop morality, because of what they are taught, but some others have suggested that this type of education only facilitates the conditions for it, providing skillful teacher that can contribute to such development, but this development could equally be acquire at home. Moral development, can result from religious education grounded integration. However, for this to happen, the school should maintain a whole school perspective on values that includes not only the students, but also the teacher and staff (Thanissaro, 2010). During his days at the Jesuit School, he was also introduced to basics of syntax and vocabulary, and exposed to theatre during schooldays, which facilitated to grow an interest for theatre in him (McCrory, 2014). Studies suggest that art have a positive impact on adolescents. For example, studies shown higher standardized test scores on individuals who studied theater, than peers who didn’t. These results suggest that art studies result on positive developmental outcome that extend beyond adolescence into adulthood (Foster & Jenkins, n.d).
At the age of 19, Cervantes left his family. Some argue that he was forced to run out of Spain due to legal problems, after getting involve on illegal dueling, in which he wounded another man (McCrory, 2014). It’s important to remember that Cervantes faced many adversities during childhood and adolescence developmental stages, due to financial and housing issues of the family. Studies have shown that individuals who experience this type of adverse situations, may react differently to emerging adulthood challenges and may be at risk for problems that hinder their abilities and performance during the transition to adulthood (Marcotte, 2008). In regards to Cervantes’s legal problem, developmental theories suggest that emerging adults have less self-control which leads to less interpersonal motivations to refrain from risk taken behaviors (Smith, Cleeland & Dennis, 2010).
The Spanish empire was growing outside its territorial border during the time Cervantes was presumably running from justice, which gave him the possibility to experience other cultures during his time abroad. Also, at age 23 he enlisted as a soldier and traveled while fighting in several battles (McCrory, 2014). All this travel allowed him to experience people, culture and things that writers consider essential for their education. Recently, neuroscientist and psychologist have started to investigate how traveling can potentially affect mental change. Results of different studies suggest that experiencing new smells, language, sounds, sights and sensations, increase cognitive capabilities and the ability to create new connections (Maddux, Adam, & Galinsky, 2010). It was during adulthood that Cervantes wrote his most famous novels, poetry and plays, which are filled with intellectual satire and expressions (McCrory, 2014).
During the time that Cervantes served as a soldier, he received several injuries, as the one that left him with only partial use of one of his hands. He subsequently fought in the battles of Corfú, Navarino, and Tunis, in which he was capture, spending five years in prison (McCrory, 2014). Despite the multiple support that the military provides for a successful transition to adulthood, the augmented physical and psychological risk of service, could diminish independence and impair interpersonal relations, endangering the transition to adulthood. Military service during war exposes the individual to mental health and physical disabilities, as the one experienced by Cervantes. Also, transition to civilian work could be difficult due to cognitive injuries suffered during service (Kelty, Kleykamp & Segal, 2010). Many argue that enlistment and delinquent behavior are positively linked, since service is an attractive alternative for delinquents to mark their transition to adulthood and distant themselves from delinquent behavior (Teachman & Tedrow, 2014), which could explain why Cervantes enlisted during the time he was apparently running from justice (McCrory, 2014).
In 1580, at the age of 33 and after finishing his military service, the life of Cervantes took a turning point. He got marry with Catalina de Palacios in 1584 at age 37, but didn’t conceive any children. It’s known that Cervantes had an affair during his marriage, with a woman with who he conceived a child (McCrory, 2014). A useful framework for predicting marital infidelity can be found on the attachment theory, which argues that lovers develop psychological representations of the availability of their significant others, that results on solid behavioral and cognitive patterns of reacting to them. Individuals who develop an insecure attachment style, tend to believe that significant others are less available to them and behave accordingly. While those with secure attachments believe that significant others are available and respond in view of that. Those who develop increased level of attachment anxiety are unsure of their significant others availability and manage by latching on to partners and looking for reassurance. Those who develop increased levels of attachment avoidance, are uncertain of their significant others availability and deal with it by evading actions that encourage intimacy. Both types of insecurities could be linked to infidelity during marriage. Those with elevated levels of attachment anxiety, frequently feel as they haven’t met their needs for intimacy in their relationships and seek sex in order to meet these needs with another lover by means of infidelity. They are also more sexually permissive and are less devoted to relationships (Michelle, Levi & James, 2013).
Just like his father before him, Cervantes had problems attaining income through his selected occupation and remained extremely poor until the publication of Don Quixote in 1605. Cervantes lived his last years in poverty, having to depend on the help of his only daughter for subsistence, due to the fact that his books didn’t sell well until after his dead (McCrory, 2014). Physical and involved care need is possible the most extreme type of dependency during late adulthood, but it only occurs if an older person is weak, sick or handicapped (Schröder-Butterfill & Fithry, 2014), as in the case of Cervantes.
Theory relevant for Cervantes’s Development
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory, can well describe Cervantes’ development. The theory contends that cultural engagement associations proves the social environment important impact on childhood development. Culture, which is transmitted from parents to children, and social relations are very important to cognitive development. (Daneshfar & Moharami, 2018). This theory could also explain how Cervantes’s early education in art and theater, and multiple trips abroad, allowed him to experience people, cultures and things that influenced his socio-cultural development.
A Significance Of Social Communication in Cervantes’ Novels
There are seven billion people on the earth. Each divided somewhere among the habitable continents of the world, most congregating in sociocultural conglomerates, yet each an individual. When people deliver motivational speeches they sometimes emphasize that each of us is unique, with a unique skillset, organization of cells, rhythm of heartbeat, DNA, and finger prints. In this way, everyone builds and creates their sense of selfhood from multiple principles which leaves us with a world full of countlessly different people. This sense of selfhood and identity are drawn from various cultural, social, and traditional backgrounds. Identity is also a direct result of a person’s past and their present action. Self-declaration or roles that an individual bestows upon his or herself are the most important in defining and establishing an identity. To consider oneself as important and valid, as worthy and memorable and many other traits are the sense of self developed through the concepts of self.
The first modern novel, The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote De La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, offers complex insight into identity by demonstrating the foundations of self-hood. From the novel the conceptual principles that a self must possess power, autonomy, and authority can be drawn. Acting as a knight errant Don Quixote discovers a true sense of self that deviates from social norms and material possessions. He embarks on a famous journey to create his own identity. Using imitation as his guide Don Quixote exposes the parts of himself that were potentially suppressed in his life as a mere hidalgo. Sancho Panza also serves to highlight these ideas of self-concept.
A true self must have power or the ability to obtain goals despite opposition. Don Alonso Quixano did not have very much power, he was wealthy and in good standing with the community, a quiet man with a large empty house and only one close relative, his niece. He did however have autonomy, the ability to make decisions without asking permission from anyone, demonstrated by his freedom to sell his land to acquire books at the start of the novel. He had little legitimate authority over anyone and was very much absorbed in the societal norms. In contrasts Don Quixote had a lot of power because he was a knight defending the code of chivalry and nothing could stop him from obtaining his version of justice. He obtained authority through a use of force, creating a stronger sense of self-worth.
Clearly Don Quioxte’s methods extended well beyond the societal norms as everyone he came across and even the narrator describes him as a mad man. Yet it is the combination of power, autonomy, authority, and deviance that made Don Quixote such a memorable figure. The less powerful Alonso Quixano may have been using this new identity to become memorialized. Memorialization is a primary determinant of self-worth, especially for men, who unlike women often are not fulfilled in memorialization through childrearing. Being remembered after death is a power that knights errant and immensely wealthy men possessed and because Don Quixano could not be immensely wealthy he uses the authority of his new identity to create a name for himself.
Sancho Panza is the average Spaniard; a family and a small farm, in a small village. He embodies the average man, with very little power, no autonomy, and definitely no authority. “This left Sancho as content as the priest was amazed at his simplicity and at the hold his maters nonsense had taken of his imagination, because Sancho really did believe that Don Quixote was going to become an emperor,” (Cervantes 264.)Sancho’s identity lies in his possessions and when he learns that through Don Quixote he can acquire more possessions he follows Don Quixote loyally. “Sancho appeared in the middle of this conversation and was plunged into thought and confusion when he heard that knight errants had fallen out of fashion and that books of chivalry were a pack of arrant lies; and he decided that he’d better wait and see how this latest trip of his master’s turned out, and if it didn’t turn out as well as expected, he’d leave him and go back home to his wife and his children and his everyday labors,” (Cervantes 294.)Yet somewhere between the windmills, Dorotea’s giant, and his defeat by another knight that Sancho’s identity became wrapped up in Don Quioxte’s. The adventures offered this farmer a kind of authority that he had never previously possessed and he still questioned Don Quixote but his loyalty never faltered.
The complex characters in the contemporary novel Beloved by Toni Morrison discuss key features of identity composition. The character Sethe introduces the concept of self that is based on past experiences, traumatic experiences, and declared roles. Denver possesses no past self and shows how identity can be determined in the present. Paul D exemplifies the role of self-reflection and reemphasizes the importance of declared roles in building a secure self-concept. Each character, even Beloved, provides a new insight into the ideas that fill and consume the main character Sethe as her identity is insecure throughout the piece.
Sethe’s self-declared best thing is her children, specifically Beloved, the child she killed. Does she have a self if the best part of her was killed? Paul D seems to think so. Yet as Sethe is introduced at the start of the novel she has no desire to possess a future. Because Sethe declares Beloved to be her best thing she places her role as mother as her most major component of selfhood. “The best thing she was, was her children. Whites dirty her all right, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing-the part of her that was clean,” (Morrison 345.) This would be typical of most women yet there seems to be no other declared roles, after Halle’s death Sethe lost the part of herself that identified as a wife and as a woman. This is dangerous as her child Denver cannot understand her mother’s past and fears her; it is her duty as a mother to provide Denver with a future. Sethe’s conceptions of her past are shaped by the trauma of rape, death, loss, and regret. She only truly begins to remember the happier parts of her past as Beloved brings them out of her, yet when Beloved becomes the confirmed symbol of Sethe’s darkest memory Sethe shrinks away with guilt and Beloved seems to feed off her regrets.
This invasion of the past into their lives is the catalyst for Denver’s self-development. Because she is no longer constrained by the fear of her mother or obsessed with gaining attention from her sister, Denver can now leave the house that has been her only constant. She can worry about herself and her mother like a normal teenager. Denver can take action in the present because she is an individual entity, separate from her sister and mother. She acquires food for her family this shows her that she has power and autonomy. With the community helping her she can overcome and gain authority over the household.
Sethe’s rape was the beginning of a major change in her identity. Not needing to possess a self as a slave she had learned to take things as they come and enjoy daily life. Upon marrying Halle she realized that she was a woman with her own feelings, her own thoughts, and her own happiness. She admired Halle and was proud to be his wife and being the wife of a good man meant that she was a good woman. She further proved her prowess as a wife by having children. Her first two children were now toddlers as she planned her escape with Halle. However her plans became more urgent after she was raped and her assailants pillaged the breast milk meant for her children. Something broke in Sethe and she “died” there and rested in the butter that Halle smeared on his face. “I have felt what it felt like and nobody walking or stretched out is going to make you feel it too. Not you, not none of mine, and when I tell you you mine, I also mean I’m yours. I wouldn’t draw breath without my children… My plan was to take us all to the other side,” (Morrison 281.) So Sethe became “milk enough for all” a vessel for her Denver, and the milk her Beloved would need.
Paul D is the model for how some men compartmentalize their emotions; storing them up to “feel” them at a later date. He does this to protect his beating heart, his identity, and to lock away the negative parts of his past. Because of this method of concealing the past Paul D can live in the present and have current action and a present self-identity. With no strong attachments to anything that he can identify himself by, he establishes his own criteria for selfhood. His technique of self-examination is crucial at novel’s end when he reminds Sethe that she is her best thing. Paul D is always thinking about things silently, watching, trying to be what Schoolteacher said he could never be and what Mr. Garner said he was, a man. His self-declaration as a man was tainted when he felt the uncontrolled pressure to have sex with Beloved, he did not want to, yet he did. Once he reassesses himself as a man Paul D could return to Sethe and save what was left of her.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a masterful work about the social, political, traditional, and paternal constructs of the identity. Okonkwo bases his sense of self on perpetuating opposing traits to his father’s. Without a paternal guide Okonkwo adopts the traditions of his culture and its definitions of masculinity as his paternal guide. Rejecting anything that did not correlate with the clan’s definition of a man Okonkwo became a man of action. So we must do what our fathers would never have done…We must bale this water out now…Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war… They had broken into tumult instead of action… He wiped his machete on the sand and went away,” (Achebe 205.) He was of high regard and had many titles, wives, and yams, each showing his status in his society.
When the politics of Umuofia begin to change and a new government appears Okonkwo’s political identity is challenged. Because his society is not responding to this threat traditionally or in a masculine way Okonkwo’s aggression and pride in his village are diminished. “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak,” (Achebe 61.) Okonkwo was a man intent on upholding tradition and he killed Ikemefuna to prove to himself how important his traditions were to his identity. His clan deemed his overall behavior to be exemplary. Yet his son feared him. Nwoye was effeminate. He was still young and had childish ambitions and whims. He was not ready or interested in following in his father’s footsteps because his father had never shown him kindness. In this way Nwoye did not have a father and when the missionaries arrived he was willing to take God as his father, a benevolent father.
In all the novels each author lays the foundations of identity in the sense of community, social influence, tradition, past experiences, and selection of declared roles. With a sense of community comes a collective decision on the values and definitions of identity. With the past comes a need for balance, retention of things that merit the identity and a release of things that slay the concept of self. With roles come responsibility but the main responsibility is to be true to self. Establishing a name, procreating, accumulating material possession and locking the heart away are a few mechanisms used to perpetuate an infinite selfhood, a legacy that will not die with the individual. Understanding and using these mechanisms properly can produce a strong self-concept and a high self-esteem. There are seven billion people on the planet and only one person that everyone identifies as “I”.
Symptoms Of Mental Disorder in Don Quixote Novel
Don Quixote, an avid reader of medieval literature, can often be found pillaging groups of Franciscan monks, charging windmills, or attacking armies of livestock. Though some may justify Don Quixote’s peculiar actions, as he is merely on a quest to fulfil his dream to become a chivalric knight errant, any person learned in the field of psychology would use these abnormal behaviors as symptomatic support for a schizophrenic diagnosis. Cervantes utilized humanistic models to analyze society at a level so low, it had yet to be researched in depth by scholars at the time: mental illness.
The story of Don Quixote took place in 1615 in Spain, though the concept of schizophrenia as a mental illness did not begin to take shape until Dr. Emil Kraepelin, a German doctor often referred to as the founder of modern psychiatry, created the term “dementia praecox” in 1887. This term can be translated to “early dementia” and claims that this type of psychotic behavior could be attributed to a disease in the brain. The name of the modern diagnosis, “schizophrenia”, was coined in 1911 by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. The term derives from the word schizo, meaning split, and phrene, meaning mind: this alluded to the observation that schizophrenic patients experienced fragmented thinking, which is an accurate summation of Don Quixote’s methods of thought.
In order to receive a schizophrenic diagnosis, Don Quixote must display symptoms consistent with those listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). He must display at least two of the following symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, or negative symptoms. Negative symptoms include negative emotional range, poverty of speech, decreased interest or drive, and increased inertia. One of these two displayed symptoms must be either hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech. Furthermore, symptoms must be present for at least six months, with one month of active symptoms. The symptoms must cause social or occupational deterioration issues which cannot be attributed to another condition.
Don Quixote satisfies the first criteria, as he mainly displays hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized behavior. Hallucinations are sensations that appear to be real when, in fact, they are only present in the individual’s mind. Though hallucinations can be perceived through any of the five senses, the two most common in schizophrenic patients are auditory and visual. Throughout the text, Don Quixote is plagued by a plethora of hallucinations that manifest themselves simultaneously as auditory and visual.
One example of these hallucinations is when he comes across two opposing armies of men. He and Sancho travel to higher ground to gain a better vantage point to watch the anticipated battle take place. Don Quixote began describing to his squire many specific individuals on the opposing armies in fantastic detail: he described their armor, color schemes, weapons, and history (128). Though the scene was not extremely clear, as the armies were kicking up a great deal of dust, Sancho was not convinced that these were in fact armies. “Senor, may the devil take me,” his squire explains, “but no man, giant, or knight of all these your grace has mentioned can be seen anywhere around here… I don’t hear anything except the bleating of lots of sheep” (129). Don Quixote is not convinced by this counterargument, and instead acts impulsively in attacking the armies. As a result, he kills over seven sheep and is attacked by the shepherds (130). The fact that Don Quixote’s hallucinatory experiences are vivid enough for act on is a strong indication of his severe schizophrenic symptoms.
Furthermore, Don Quixote also displays delusional behavior as a symptom of schizophrenia. A delusion can be characterized as firmly held ideas that provide no logical evidence; they are often bizarre and fantastical. This behavior is exemplified, as he is under the impression that a great sorcerer—his mortal enemy—is out to destroy him. When he and Sancho encounters a group of “giants”, though they are merely windmills, Don Quixote states the following of his foe:
“I think, and therefore it is true, that the same Freston the Wise who stole my room and my books has turned these giants into windmills in order to deprive me of the glory of defeating them: such is the enmity he feels for me; but in the end, his evil arts will not prevail against the power of my virtuous sword” (59).
Throughout the text, Don Quixote is convinced that many of the negative events that he encounters can only be attributed to the sorcerers that are determined to destroy him. Though Sancho often attempts to appeal to his master using logical rhetoric, Don Quixote is resolutely convinced that these claims are genuine.
Disorganized behavior, which Don Quixote also displays, impacts a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks, as well as their ability to interact appropriately with the people around them. One type of disorganized behavior displayed is a lack of inhibition and impulse control. Don Quixote, convinced that all his actions are justified by his duty to uphold the code of chivalric knights, too often acts without prior thought. In one scene, Don Quixote spots what he assumes to be a knight wearing the helmet of Mambrino, though it is only a barber traveling on a donkey with a basin on his head. Holding fast to his chivalric delusions, he acts: “And when he saw the poor gentleman approaching, without saying a word to him, and with Rociante at full gallop, he attacked with lowered pike, intending to run him through” (154). Though in this particular scene, the barber was able to flee the scene safely, Don Quixote’s impulsive action oftentimes results in harm to other people—a clear sign of the severity of his schizophrenic tendencies.
The second criteria of diagnosis states that two of the symptoms displayed must be either hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech. As Don Quixote displays both hallucinations and delusions, he also satisfies the second criteria of schizophrenic diagnosis.
The third criteria states that symptoms must be present for at least six months, with one month of active symptoms. Don Quixote set off on his chivalric quest in 1615, and he died soon after his return in 1616. Thus, it can be assumed that his journey, which consisted of his most pronounced active symptoms, lasted longer than one month. Furthermore, the first chapter of the text states that for a long period of time prior to his journey, he was engrossed in the delusions of knighthood.
“His fantasy filled with everything he had read in his books, enchantments as well as combats, battles, challenges, wounds, courtings, loves, torments, and other impossible foolishness, and he became so convinced in his imagination of the truth of all the countless grandiloquent and false inventions he read that for him no history in the world was truer” (21).
Using this introductory chapter as a guideline, it can be presumed that from time Don Quixote began spending night and day engrossed in this alternate reality to the time he returned to his village upon concluding his adventure as a knight, a period of at least six months passed. Therefore, he satisfies the third criteria for a schizophrenic diagnosis.
The final criteria states that the symptoms must cause social or occupational deterioration issues which cannot be attributed to another condition. Cervantes states that Don Quixote spend his days reading novels about knighthood from dawn until dusk day after day. Though he sometimes conversed with the locals in his village, this conversation consisted only of aspects of his novels, indicating that there is a high level of social decline in his behavior. More explicitly exemplified, however, is Don Quixote’s high levels of occupational deterioration. “..this aforementioned gentleman spent his times of leisure—which meant most of the year—reading books of chivalry with so much devotion and enthusiasm that he forgot almost completely about the hunt and even about the administration of his estate” (20). Cervantes continues by stating that Don Quixote became so engrossed in his fantasy, he sold acres of his arable land in order to purchase more books of chivalry. He had no job, aside from his self-administered task to read as much as possible, and therefore had no income, aside from selling portions of his estate. With this fulfillment of the final criteria, Don Quixote can, with reasonable and sufficient support, be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Critics may argue that Don Quixote is not schizophrenic and does not possess any type of psychological illness, but is instead experiencing a midlife crisis. This crisis develops from thoughts of unsatisfaction with one’s own life and the desire to change one’s surroundings as soon as possible. In the novel, Don Quixote was at the perfect age to experience a midlife crisis, was unsatisfied with his current situation, and changed his life in a hurry. However, this refutation does not account for the illogical delusions and disorganized behavior, as well as the auditory and visual hallucinations, Don Quixote experiences on several occasions throughout his journey. Consequently, I argue that although he may have been experiencing a midlife crisis, this is subordinate to the fact that he displays enough symptoms to be clinically diagnosed with schizophrenia.
One of the main themes of Don Quixote is that belief is a choice and your perception determines your reality. In order to exemplify this type of perspectivism to his readers, Cervantes created a character that displays this characteristic to an absolute extreme. Don Quixote is not simply thinking positively in order to better his life, he is adhering to delusions of grandeur in the effort to fulfill his destiny of becoming a knight errant. By presenting a character that displays this theme to such an extreme, readers are better able to recognize the theme and become inspired to apply it to their own lives.
Though Don Quixote displays sufficient symptoms to be clinically diagnosed with schizophrenia, this does not detract from the main themes and ideologies that Cervantes conveys in the text. It is this humanistic presentation of the lowest level of society, those with mental illness, which was so unique to literature at the time Cervantes published this novel in the 17th century. This “ultimate and most sublime work of human thinking” can be argued to be the catalyst for all fictional literary works concerning mental illness from the 17th century forward (citation). Because of this, I argue that, though fictional, Don Quixote was one of the first case studies of a psychological individual with schizophrenia, and that his symptomatology may have been used to develop the ideas that contributed to Kraepelin’s classification of “dementia praecox” in the 19th century, which thereby supplemented Bleuler’s research and classification of the modern illness, schizophrenia, in the 20th century.
A Delusional Perspective And Honorable Chivalry by the Main Character In Don Quixote By Miguel De Cervantes
In Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, the major motifs portrayed throughout the novel are honorable chivalry and the delusional perception of which Don Quixote views the world as enchanted. On several accounts throughout the story it becomes apparent that despite being delusional, Don Quixote reveals many positive qualities such as honor and chivalry. He displays courage, loyalty and determination throughout his many adventures, even when it is obvious that his perception of the world is from an impractical standpoint. Don Quixote de la Mancha drives himself mad out of the misapprehension that the world he lived in should be one as full of adventure as what he had read so much about in his books of knights and chivalry. Rather than coping with the idea that he was living in the traditional norm, he decided to view life in different more eccentric terms and create an enchanted world in which he was a knight errant setting off to find many significant adventures to proclaim honor. Although Don Quixote creates imaginative fascinations involving his absolute love and devotion to Dulcinea, his quests and adventures that he pursues, and in the more trivial every day encounters, he demonstrates many noble and chivalrous attributes despite his madness.
Upon declaring his state as a knight errant, Don Quixote asserts that he must have a great lady in which he may preform honorable deeds in the name of. Aldonza Lorenzo, a peasant farm girl whom Don Quixote loved yet hardly knew became renamed in his mind as the Dulcinea del Toboso whom Don Quixote praised and dedicated his every endeavor in the name of her honor. When Don Quixote later runs across a group of merchants, he requested to have them confess the ultimate beauty of Dulcinea, without even ever seeing what she looked like. “Everyone stop right now and confess that there’s no more beautiful a maiden in the world than the empress of La Mancha, the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso! (42-43).” Although his demand was not fulfilled, and the beauty of Dulcinea not formally recognized by the group of merchants, they left him beaten with a broken lance and face down in the dirt however Don Quixote remains confident and loyal in his devotion to his ideal lady. When Don Quixote talks to Vivaldo about his love that he serves, he speaks of Dulcinea del Toboso in the most thoughtful and compassionate terms. “Her rank must be at least that of a princess… her beauty superhuman, since in her are made real all the impossible and chimerical attributes of beauty that poets give to their ladies (101).” Again, Don Quixote speaks of Dulcinea as though she is his inspiration and reason for living, despite the fact that she is only a common peasant and knows nothing of him.
Through his journey, Don Quixote comes across many adventurous quests, which seem of high importance, however is essentially another way his self-deceptive way of thinking creates significance out of ordinary situations. When Don Quixote first sets off, he crosses paths with the farmer beating his shepherd, thinking that the farmer is a knight, and that he is in fact doing good for the young boy by confronting the farmer about paying the boy, he actually makes it worse as the farmer continues to beat the boy harder after Don Quixote leaves. The Famous scene with the Windmills that Don Quixote mistakes as giants, is another prime example of how Don Quixote misconstrues reality in hopes of getting rich and clearing the earth of evil. Granted the fact that Don Quixote is imagining the windmills as evil giants, he continues to follow his brave notion to attack them. This bold action is still deemed necessary, even after his defeat and his conclusion that they must have been changed into windmills by the enchanter who stole his books at the last minute in order to take away Don Quixote’s glory of conquering them. The next major wrong that Don Quixote plans to right, was the incident with the Monks, carrying a lady to meet with her husband, who he mistakes for enchanters kidnapping a princess. “I have to right this wrong with all of my might (68).” Even when Sancho tries to inform Don Quixote that the situation is not in fact what he believes it to be, Don Quixote stays strong by his word and tells him that he was not wrong and that Sancho knows “little about the subject of adventures (68).” For this episode Don Quixote gets a split ear, and no justification of correcting any wrong that was ever done. When Rocinante is beaten by a large group of Yanguesan muleteers, Don Quixote daringly insisted that he and Sancho should fight them because they would surly win. “I’m worth a hundred (116).” Although they lose this battle, and Don Quixote resolves that is was only because he drew his sword toward to men without a noble ranking status that he was defeated. Don Quixote again thinks he will have a chance to show off his strength and fearlessness when he inaccurately concludes that two large clouds of dust that came from sheep where actually two armies at battle with one another, in which he would take as a challenge. Although Don Quixote feels that this is an ultimately heroic act, he actually ends up killing several sheep and is rewarded by having stones thrown at him by the shepherds, knocking out his teeth. Don Quixote feels that it is his job “to set forced actions right and succor and aid poor wretches (180).” This being true, he decided to help free a group of prisoners because they were taken by force. Even after he is warned by Sancho, he disregards his advisement and goes on to break them loose, remaining loyal to his knightly purpose. Don Quixote is again, met with an insult regardless of his good intentions.
Throughout the entire story of Don Quixote, he countlessly transforms the mundane into the eccentric. At every possible chance of stimulating the world through his eyes by converting his surroundings into the more fascinating, Don Quixote takes advantage of. From the beginning, he decides that he must come up with a better name for himself, his mistress Dulcinea del Toboso, and Rocinante. His horse was only a skinny old mare, but in his head, Rocinante was the finest steed that ever was. Sancho Panza was a poor, illiterate, stubby man, who Don Quixote would have as his faithful and suitable squire. Don Quixote mistakes inns for castles, and innkeepers for knights. Any lady that he may come across seems to him a fair princess that should be graciously served as such. When Don Quixote sees the barber with a basin on his head to protect him from the rain, he assumes that it is a great knight wearing a Mambrino’s helmet and is determined to get it from him. When he does, and Sancho laughs at him for wearing the basin, he makes the explanation that it was in the wrong hands, and had been melted down into a basin; however it was still a magnificent Mambrino’s helmet, in another form.
All the way through Miguel De Cervantes’ novel of Don Quixote, it should be noted that Don Quixote always had an elucidation for the unordinary and made things much more enchanted than they were in reality. Although he was evidentially an irrational madman due to a considerable amount of reading literature of tales of chivalrous knights and courtly romance, Don Quixote expressed many noble characteristics such as honor to his word, devotion to his love, and loyalty to his proclaimed knighthood in every aspect from his love to his many adventures and to the trivial particulars he faced on a daily basis.
The Concept of Liberty in Servantes’ Novel
In the Prologue to Don Quixote, Cervantes presents his protagonist as a “dry, shriveled, whimsical offspring… just what might be begotten in a prison, where every discomfort is lodged and every dismal noise has its dwelling” (41). But if conceived in an Iron Age of limited religious, social, and intellectual freedoms as the product of Cervantes’s own poverty and privation, Don Quixote liberates himself through his transformative capacity, first of his will and imagination and later of his reason. Alongside this is the parallel tale of the squire’s own pilgrimage to personal freedom. Cervantes uses the characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to advance his argument for liberty in literature and society, and when this is not possible, in the individual.
Don Quixote can be read not as an “invective against the books of chivalry” but as an invective against the abuse of literature (46). As Part I opens, Don Quixote has “stumbled upon the oddest fancy that ever entered a madman’s brain,” one that moves him to take up arms as a knight-errant and venture out into the world, “redressing all manner of wrongs” (59). He is enslaved to a chivalric fiction, though this is a fiction of his own narration: he chooses what he sees, turning inns into castles, wenches into ladies-in-waiting, and giants into windmills. To the point of fault, Don Quixote is irreverent not only to the constraints of society but to its demands; thus, his liberty develops only as his idealism begins to wane in Part II. Here, Cervantes continues to manipulate the motif of conflicting authorship and duality of characters to establish his quarrel between reality and fantasy.
As Don Quixote begins to recognize that his life is descending into a staged presentation of himself, his defiance grows. He shows less willingness to serve for the enjoyment of others, for the Dukes and Duchesses and Don Antonios of the world. As he writes in his letter to Sancho Panza, “when it comes to the point, I must comply with my profession rather than with their pleasure” (895). In a faintly concealed assertion of Cervantes’s own authorial liberty and command, Don Quixote acts in defiance of the actions set forth in the false sequel by Avellaneda, who has brought the knight to Saragossa. Don Quixote proclaims, “For that reason, I will not set foot in Saragossa, and so the forgery of this new historian shall be exposed to the eyes of the world, and mankind will be convinced that I am not the Don Quixote of whom he speaks” (953). Don Quixote asserts his freedom by refusing to be merely a character proposed by another, losing his own identity in the process. However, at this point, he is still not truly free but only a character proposed by himself.
It is in his death, when all delusion releases him, that Don Quixote’s liberty achieves its highest form. He dies as his own master, who, “though he was conquered by another, nevertheless conquered himself” (1038). It is not the contrivance of the “Knight of the White Moon” that ultimately frees Don Quixote but rather his own mind; he dies renouncing his knight-errantry and with his judgment “clear and unfettered” (1045). Should the Don’s journey therefore be viewed simply as one that takes him from the bondage of living in an idyllic past to the freedom of an “unfettered” mind Cervantes seems to suggest otherwise, passing his final judgment on Don Quixote through the mouthpiece of Sansn Carrasco, who writes in the epitaph for the hero’s tomb:
He reck’d the world of little prize
And was a bugbear in men’s eyes
But had the fortune in his age
To live a fool and die a sage (1049).Both the life of the fool and the death of a sage are acts of Don Quixote’s own free will; it is his immense fortune, in an Iron Age that constrains ideas, to have lived and died both. The novel takes the knight from an imaginative liberty that “reck’d the world of little prize”to a liberated and rational reality. Cervantes believes that both types of liberty embodied by Don Quixote, of the imagination and of reason, have value for the reader in claiming one’s life as one’s own. Earlier in the novel Sansn tells the knight that “his life did not belong to him, but to all those who needed him to protect them in their misfortunes”554). But in his defiant life and defiant death, when those around him are hesitant to relinquish him and to end the charades, Don Quixote proves that his life does belong to himself, both as the Knight of the Rueful Figure and as Alonso Quixano the Good. He is its sole author as the knight and its sole savior as Alonso.
But the novel is not just the romance of a strong individual character, Don Quixote, who affirms the possibility of freedom in a constraining environment. Within Cervantes’s treatment of the theme of liberty are many layers that support and articulate the others. Although Cervantes does profess an explicit goal to overthrow “the ill-based fabric of these books of chivalry” through his satire of the genre, he tries to reconcile this with his belief that literature can be liberating to the reader (47).
This is accomplished not only through his account of Don Quixote as an imaginatively liberated figure but also through Sancho Panza, who discovers his freedom along the way and forces us to reflect on our own. As Sancho Panza sets out in Part I, Cervantes describes him as a “laboring man . . . with very little wit in his pate,” a “poor wight”who is coerced into playing the role of squire for Don Quixote (95). Yet, even as Sancho sets out, his subsequent development is foreshadowed by the image Cervantes gives us of Sancho astride “his ass like a patriarch” (96). The image at this point in the novel is comical, but should not be dismissed because it prefigures Sancho’s move to grasp the autonomous rule of his own, if humble, domain.
This move is symbolically represented by Sancho’s forsaking of his governorship and return to Dapple, the “friend and partner of [his] toils and troubles” (909). As Sancho says, “Make way, gentlemen, and let me return to my former liberty. Let me go in search of the life I left, and rise again from this present death” (909). Sancho would rather “rest under a shady oak in the summer and wrap [himself] up in tough sheepskin in winter, at [his] own sweet will, than lie down, with the slavery of a government, in holland sheets”(910). The squire recognizes the sweet drudgery of ruling himself. If he follows Don Quixote now, it will not be because of ambition but because of his “own sweet will;” because, as he tells the squire of the Knight of the Wood, “love him as I love the cockles of my heart, and I can’t invent a way of leaving him, no matter what piece of foolishness he does” (613).
Sancho’s association with the Don has not only brought him to an understanding of his own personal liberty, but it gives him something of the imaginative liberty the knight fiercely displays. No longer the “poor wight,” Sancho in his ingenuity deceives his master in the adventure of the fulling-hammers and later transforms a peasant girl into Lady Dulcinea by invoking the knight’s own panacea of enchantment. When Ricote questions the possibility of Sancho’s governorship of his island by telling him, “Hush, Sancho, islands lie out in the sea; there are none of them on the mainland,” Sancho replies, “Why not?”(917). In this single statement, Sancho incorporates both his master’s defiance and his insistence on the sovereignty of his own will.
But Sancho’s pilgrimage is not simply one toward self-awareness. It also encompasses Cervantes’s subtle criticism of his time, an era of oppressive class structures and limited speech. In Part I, Cervantes presents a disturbing episode of the whipping of the servant-boy Andrs that is left unresolved and worsened by Don Quixote’s involvement. This is a dark portrait both of the destructive potential of Don Quixote’s delusion and the incorrigibility of the provincial social structure. The knight’s renunciation of his disillusion solves the first problem, but what of the second? Cervantes offers some resolution in Part II, when Don Quixote attempts to whip Sancho in order to disenchant Dulcinea. The possibility of physical violence in this scene is reminiscent of the violence suffered by Andrs.
Sancho overpowers the Don, who cries, “How, traitor! Do you dare raise a hand against your master and against the hand that feeds you?” Sancho replies, “I neither mar king nor make king. I only defend myself, who am my lord. If you promise me, master, that you’ll let me alone and not try to whip me, I’ll set you free” (956). In this parable of the reversal of roles, Cervantes indulges in a type of wish fulfillment where the limits on freedom “here the fabricated norms of knight-errantry but also the norms of a hierarchical society” disintegrate. As Sancho questions authority and asserts his own basic rights, Cervantes questions the limits on human freedom in society even while conceding that these limits exist.
The suppression of speech is a secondary target of Cervantes’s social commentary articulated through Sancho. Don Quixote tells Sancho,”you must abstain and curb your desire for so much talk with me in the future, for never in any of the innumerable books of chivalry I have read have I found a squire who talked to his master as much as you do to yours” (196). But although Don Quixote takes his squire to be “a perverter of good language,” Sancho recognizes that his words, even when lacking in precision and laced in proverbs, are no worse than the “balderdash” his master spouts about knight-errantry and enchantments (661, 693).
“I know you, Sancho,” replied Don Quixote, “so, I pay no heed to your words.”
“No more do I to yours,” said Sancho, “even though you beat me or kill me for those I’ve spoken or mean to speak if you don’t correct and mend your own” (693).
Sancho’s unwillingness to compromise his free speech leaves the reader of Don Quixote with a lasting consciousness of and appreciation for Sancho’ speech in all its idiosyncrasies. Because the squire’s words persist, the series of exchanges between master and squire on the matter of speech are not merely humorous, but testify to the triumph of speech over a force that threatens to suppress it, a force not nearly as restraining as the literary censorship of the Spanish Inquisition but suggestive of it. Through the course of the novel, Sancho develops an awareness of his own worth and autonomy, circumvents the master-servant relationship, and makes a case for freedom of speech. Cervantes presents Sancho’s journey to freedom with a bittersweet longing that this could be the case for each “poor wight”(95).
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are complementary characters that together express Cervantes’s commitment to the cause of liberty, both in society and in literature, where ideas should be given free reign. Don Quixote’s journey shows that both the imagination and the mind are liberating “if one can have the fortune both “to live a fool and die a sage”(1049). Sancho brings this concept further, illustrating that the individual can liberate himself. As Don Quixote leaves the castle of the duke and duchess, he turns to his squire and says, “Liberty, Sancho, my friend, is one of the most precious gifts that Heaven has bestowed on mankind…
For liberty, as well as for honor, man ought to risk his life, and he should reckon captivity the greatest evil life can bring” (934)2E Perhaps this is the attraction of knight-errantry to Don Quixote: the disciplined rule of self and the crusade to emancipate the oppressed. His is that “noble mind . . . ranging freely” in the castles of his imagination before coming home and liberating itself (935). But if Don Quixote breaks free from the prison in which he was conceived, perhaps Sancho does so even more. Throughout the novel he advances his personal liberty, and when he returns to La Mancha, the reader remembers the image of the squire atop “his ass like a patriarch”(96). But this time the image is not just a caricature but an affirmation of the fiercely individualistic freedom he has found and that is available to us all.
Courtly Love vs. Real Love in Don Quijote: Cervantes’ View
One recurring motif in Don Quijote is love relationships that develop between males and females and the many different consequences these relationships can have. In fact, most of the “stories” found within the text of the novel are driven in some way by the force of love. The actions of Don Quijote himself are all supposedly spurred on by his love for his lady Dulcinea del Toboso, a woman whom he incidentally has never physically met. Throughout the course of the work, Cervantes seems to be criticizing the notions of courtly love and how it would function in real society, saying that the idealistic belief in courtly love does not translate well into the real world2E Love, to Cervantes, cannot exist under false pretenses and phony emotions; it should be based on genuine feelings of compassion and exist only between two individuals who share an equal bond of respect and understanding.The first significant story where love plays a major role is the tale involving the shepherdess Marcela and how her incredible beauty inflames the desires of those around her. The former student Grisostomo falls in love with this lady due to her other-worldly beauty; a physical attraction that stems only from the desire of sexual gratification and is not rooted in any type of actual human love between two people. Eventually, Grisostomo’s feelings grow so strong that they induce him into a state of extreme despair that he eventually perishes from. While such a situation may seem far-fetched today, Cervantes is perhaps over-dramatizing events so as to effectively satirize some of the concepts and ideas about love that might have been prevalent in his time.It is made clear in the telling of the story that Marcela tried in no way to lure the desires of men onto her heavenly body or cause them to fall hopelessly in love with her. In telling the story to Don Quijote, Pedro says, “No, she was so careful about her honor that, of all those who wooed and courted her, not one ever boasted, and in truth not one of them could have boasted, that she’d given him even the tiniest, smallest prospect of getting what she wanted.” (66). The acknowledgment of this statement should automatically render all complaints against Marcela’s coyness as absurd; she does not entice the men to love her so thus she should not be blamed for any of the consequences of their physical attractions.Those who pine for Marcela become so consumed by their obsessions that they fail to see where the blame lies for their anguish and falsely place it on Marcela’s shoulders. Just a few sentences after his previous statement of how Marcela never leads her suitors on, Pedro adds, “And yet, living this way, she does more damage, here on this earth, than if she carried the plague, because her pleasantness and her beauty draw the hearts of those who deal with her, and then they court her, and they love her, but her scorn and honesty drives them to despair, and they don’t know what to say to her, except to call her cruel and ungrateful, and other things like that, which is in truth how she acts.” (66). Because of this attitude towards her, many of the people place guilt on Marcela for the death of Grisostomo, sometimes even acting as if what she did to him was tantamount to murder. On pg. 67, one of the men refers to her as “the murderous shepherd”, while Grisostomo’s best friend Ambrosio does not hesitate to pin the burden of responsibility on Marcela’s shoulder. He says, “It was here…where Marcela that last time so scornfully, so bluntly put an end to it, and drove him to finish off the tragedy of his miserable life” (72).Though many would blame Marcela for the death of Grisostomo, Cervantes subtly criticizes the actions of her suitors by portraying them as irrational and sometimes pathetic. Clearly he does not try to evoke pity from us over Grisostomo’s fate; instead he uses his death as an instrument for which to illustrate the pit-falls and ridiculous consequences that can result from courtly love or love based merely on physical desire. The words of Marcela herself seem to speak most reasonably and illustrate plainly Cervantes view on the matter. Marcela defends herself, exclaiming, “Heaven…has made me beautiful—so very beautiful that you are moved…but I do not understand how, because it is loved, that which is loved for its beauty is obliged to love whoever loves it” (77). Marcela then goes on to define the difference, in her eyes and probably Cervantes, between love and desire. She says, “…for everything beautiful does not inspire love…Some beauty is good to see, but does not give rise to affection…And according to what I have heard, true love is not divisible, and must be voluntary, not forced.” (77). Marcela clearly does not love those who love her, nor does she attempt to augment the desires of those who love her. She therefore can not be blamed for the demise of Grisostomo; the man was a victim to his own false view of love.The love between Cardenio and Luscinda is perhaps the best example in the novel of what Cervantes thinks true love should be. The affection between these two people is mutual, as Cardenio says when relating his story to Don Quijote and Sancho: “I loved, longed for, and adored this Luscinda almost from the moment I was born, and she loved me, with all the innocence and simple good will of childhood.” (144). When Don Fernando treacherously steals Luscinda from Cardenio, Cardenio goes crazy and becomes a tormented soul who lives his shattered existence in the Sierra Morena mountains. His afflictions parallel those of Grisostomo, who also suffered much when he was denied the one he adored. However, Cardenio’s situation is different because Luscinda actually loves Cardenio back. Because of this, Cervantes does not let Cardenio endure a similar fate as Grisostomo and instead allows him to get his beloved Luscinda back.The character of Don Fernando serves to show the destructive power that false love can have, as it is his inability to control his desire that leads to such anguish for Cardenio, Luscinda and Dorotea. At first, Don Fernando much desires Dorotea, telling her that he is in love with her and asking her to give in to his desires. His feelings of love for her cannot be genuine though, for as Dorotea explains, “And he had barely so much as seen me when, as he told me afterwards, he fell every bit as madly in love with me…” (181). These feelings Don Fernando had were of lust, and it was these desires that drove him to trick Dorotea to sleep with him if he promised his hand to her in marriage.Don Fernando’s desire is next turned towards Luscinda, whom he treacherously steals from the clutches of his friend Cardenio and marries. This marriage is not destined to survive either because true love is not involved; the feelings Don Fernando has for Luscinda, great as they may be, are based more on lust than love, and Luscinda cannot return the affection because her love goes out to Cardenio.Things work out in the end between all these characters because Dorotea convinces Don Fernando that she is the one who should belong to him. She makes the claim that love must exist between two people who share equal affections for each other: “And if you think about it, how much easier it will be to bend to your will someone who adores you, rather than trying to guide someone who hates you to love you instead.” (250). So in the end, Luscinda ends up with Cardenio and Dorotea ends up with Don Fernando; pairings that satisfy the course of what true love demands.Though it does not function within the actual events of Don Quijote, the priest’s reading of “The Story of the Man Who Couldn’t Keep from Prying” is crucial in analyzing the novel in terms of Cervantes view on love. This is a rather tragic story that clearly illuminates the danger of wanting a woman to match one’s vision of courtly love as a true, perfect lover. Anselmo asks his best friend Lothario to make passes on his wife Camila in an attempt to test her faithfulness and loyalty. Anselmo has no reason to suspect Camila of being dishonest, he simply wants to satisfy his own vision of a flawless woman. The consequences of this are disastrous; Lothario inadvertently falls in love with Camila and becomes her lover. When Camila suspects that Anselmo might find out about the affair, she and Lothario run away, leaving Anselmo with the ashes of the love he once had. He, just like Grisostomo, dies from the anguish that he bears, though he does in the end realize the folly of his ways. The last words he writes are: “A stubborn, stupid wish has taken my life. Should Camila happen to hear of my death, let her know that I forgive her, because there was no need for her to perform miracles…” Anselmo’s realization that people do not need to be perfect to be capable of sharing a meaningful bond of love is the message that Cervantes is trying to get across.Stories of love and desire abound within the context of Don Quijote. All these tales are united by the common theme that true romantic love can only flourish in relationships of equality and with genuine feelings of affection and compassion. All characters who confuse love with desire or become blinded by a vision of an old-fashioned courtly love wind up suffering. Characters who base their romantic love on genuine feelings of affection and care are the ones that find happiness. Cervantes is attacking the antiquated notions of courtly love in which people can say they love each other without truly knowing one another and in which woman are expected to adhere to rigid and impossible standards. He favors a warmer vision of romance where true love can exist only when it is imbued with the qualities of real human emotions and feelings.
Complimentary Antagonists: How Don Quixote and Sancho Panza Construct Their Own Reality
Don Quixote is among the most influential novels ever written. It explores a myriad of imperative themes that profoundly effect human nature. Such gargantuan themes include the shifting boundaries of truth and illusion, how society views justice and morality, and the eternal quest for love. Yet, underling all of these paramount themes are the interactions and follies of two seemingly simple, yet sensationally labyrinthine characters. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are, perhaps, the most convoluted, and at the same time, lucid main characters within literature. Both of these characters are present in every one of us, we all posses the conflicting qualities found in Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra carefully constructs these two characters to personify both the basic human themes of idealism and realism, and has them underscore and epitomize the larger question of reality. Cervantes makes evident the maturation and mutations of real life people, while satirizing chivalry and traditional epic form. Cervantes is able to take fairly basic situations, and elevate them to epic proportions with the use of Don Quixote’s imagination. These epic stories differ from the traditional epic stories of Homer and Virgil, in that, the heroes in this novel fail. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas is glorified throughout the epic. Cervantes strives to show that this glorious life is impossible for a real life human. Cervantes clearly displays his two heroes failing, occasionally succeeding, and more importantly, he shows them changing.Don Quixote is an extremely complex character, emblematized by his skewed notions of reality”the world as nothing he did prize” (Cervantes 939). Throughout the novel he sees the world only in the mirror of his beloved chivalric romances. He thinks that flocks of sheep are an enemy army, that seedy inns are if fact magnificent castles, that unattractive and overweight women are princesses, and that windmills are actually giants. However, through out all of his constructed actions he maintains an extremely high spirit and courageregardless of how backwards it may be. Perhaps most consequentially, the Don is a fantastic idealist, who views all things within the clouded telescope of his very own magnanimous preconceptions. Perchance Don Quixote is insane? Yet Cervantes builds the Don to force the reader to constantly challenge what is real and what is just the dream of a senile old Spaniard. Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s fundamental opposite. In almost every regard, they are so unlike each other. Sancho serves as the Don’s squire. With his peasant wit, common sense, and proverbial speechhe is the antithesis of his irrational master. At first recognition it seems that Sancho is a simple man, illiterate and content with such simplicities as eating and drinking, yet still maintaining his sense of what is reality and what is fiction is. Even the physical appearances of the two counter each otherwith Quixote tall and thin, and Sancho short and fat. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza learn from each other throughout the novel. Quixote has the unrealistic visions of earlier epic heroes, while Sancho appears to be the pillar of sanity. However, Sancho is always quick to support any of Quixote’s visions. In fact, Quixote and Panza learn so much from each other that throughout the novel, both characters seem to be rubbing offlittle by little, on each other. By the end of the novel the two characters, in effect, fuse into each other, with the Don spitting out proverbs, and Sancho obsessing over the chivalric code. A prime example of the two characters, and their primarily antagonistic interaction is clearly portrayed in chapter XXI of part I. Don Quixote mistakes a barber and his basin for a sought after golden helmet. Sancho first thinks to tell Quixote the truth, but then resists, allowing Quixote to thrive in his “chivalrous and errant fancies” (Cervantes 162). “Why! That is Mambrinos helmet, said Don Quixote. ‘Stand aside and leave me to deal with him. You will see how, so as to save time, I shall complete this adventure without uttering a word, and the helmet I have so much desired will be mine” (Cervantes 161). Don Quixote views the world in which he resides as a continual adventurewith palaces, and armies, and maidens. This is a direct result of him attempting to pattern his life in accordance with the events of the chivalrous books that he was born out of. When Sancho hears Quixote call the basin a golden helmet he began to laugh, knowing that Quixote’s imagination had taken over to a once again ridiculous state. Yet, when Don Quixote asks Sancho “at what are you laughing at?” (Cervantes 162), Sancho eloquently covers his error with the corrective excuse of:”It makes me laugh”, he replied, “to think what a bighead that pagan must have had, who owned that head-piece. It’s like nothing so much as a barber’s basin. Just like it, it is” (Cervantes 162).Don Quixote, fully aware that this basin was not actually a golden helmet, chooses to use his imagination to dream up an adventure. Much of this can be attributed to his previous readings of many chivalrous books, for he seeks a sort of refuge inside the imaginary world of these books. From this, it could be said that Don Quixote is quite mad. However, Quixote can not be judged like a regular human being, but rather as an irrational and delusional meta-individual (Rosenburg, lecture). In Quixote’s world, this basin truly is the lost golden helmet of Mambrino. This vision is as realistic to Quixote as the fact that the helmet is truly a barber’s basin is to Sancho. Sancho at fist, mildly mocks Quixote, but then decides to play along. Both of these characters personalities are antagonistic of each other; however, they serve to influence one another. It must be remembered that the two characters work as a unit and are constantly changing. Don Quixote views the world in which he resides as a continual adventurewith palaces, and armies, and maidens. This is a direct result of him attempting to pattern his life in accordance with the events of the chivalrous books that he was born out of. Sancho serves as the check to the fictitious persona of the Don. This is exemplified with another exchange within chapter XXI.Upon obtaining the brass basin, Sancho Panza is considering taking the “dapple-grey steed that looks like a grey ass” (Cervantes 164). With this suggestion, Don Quixote immediately analyzes the situation in terms of the codes of chivalry:’It is not my custom’, said Don Quixote, ‘to plunder those who I conquer, nor is it the usage of chivalry to take their horses and leave them to go on foot, unless the victor has lost his own mount in the fight, in which case it is lawful for him to take the beaten knight’s as won in fair combat. Therfore, Sancho, leave the horse, or ass, or whatever you would have it to be… (Cervantes 164)Sancho, of course, humors the Don after his speech, yet remains realistic in his desire to obtain a new ass, by again telling the Don that, “Really the laws of chivalry are very strict, if they don’t even stretch to letting one ass be swapped for another” (Cervantes 164). This interchange further illustrates the antagonistic, yet at the same time, symbiotic relationship of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They are both dependent upon one another, yet in exactly converse fashions. Later in the novel, Sancho Panza and Don Quixote adjust their mentalities so drastically, that in some instances they seem to switch personalities. Chapter LXXIV in part II of the novel seems to best elucidate this. In a stark transition from the beginning of the novel, and from the original characterization prescribed by Cervantes, Sancho Panza becomes the one thriving in “chivalrous and errant fancies” (Cervantes 162). Sancho becomes the ridiculous one by attempting to convince Don Quixote, while on his death bed, that he should continue to be a knight errant. “Don’t be lazy, look you, but get out of bed, and let’s go out into the fields dressed as shepards, as we decided to do. Perhaps we shall find the lady Dulcinea behind some hedge, disenchanted and as pretty as a picture” (Cervantes 937)This death scene displays Don Quixote’s change as well. Quixote leaves his fantastic world after realizing that his life had been a ridiculous one. He becomes frantic to prove, before his death, that he is now sane. He recognizes the fact that he has learned from his mistake of indulging too deep into the world of fantastic chivalry. Acknowledging this bitter truth about himself, Don Quixote denies his past madness in a final affirmation that life is a complete dream and that death is the moment of reality. Only then can the Don die completely. “Don Quixote, who admidst the compassionate tears of all present gave up the ghostthat is to say, died (Cervantes 939).Through Cervantes’ construction and deconstruction of both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, a newfound notion of what it is to be human is reached. With idealistic aspirations and visions, and realistic measures to keep them countered, it seems that anything is possible. The Don’s and Sancho’s recognition of these goals, as out of reach as some of them were, proved to be essential to their realization that to be human and not archetypes, it is imperative to change. Quixote and Sancho turn out to be real characters, their faults and actions resemble those of a real human. The process of learning, changing, and maturing is a realistic representation of every individual. Yet, as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza didthrough each other facilitates every individuals personal quest to find his own reality. This is, perhaps, the most significant human process of them all.
The Balance of Power: A Struggle for Interpretation in Don Quijote
It is difficult to read more than one or two pages of Don Quijote de la Mancha without coming across an example of the union (or conflict) between the extraordinary and the mundane. Indeed, Cervantes uses this juxtaposition repeatedly as his principal comic device, generally at the expense of poor, mad Don Quijote, whose overzealous perception of the ordinary world around him drives the novel. At the same time, the squire Sancho Panza consistently comes down on the side of reality – but only when immediately faced with the obvious error of his master’s sensory perception of the world. That is, Sancho accepts and even appears enthralled by Quijote’s eloquent description of the chivalric life, but when faced with either the absurdity or potential peril of action according to the knightly code, he turns back to what he knows: the safe, everyday world with which he is familiar. As we will see, this schema becomes especially apparent in the contiguity of and seeming discontinuity between Chapters 20 and 21. These two chapters seem to run in opposite directions: while Sancho dominates the first with his aborted story and his secretive defecation, Quijote takes over the second with his excitement at Mambrino’s helmet and his high-minded narration of the knight’s life. Yet these ostensibly incongruent aspects of the chapters do fit together, in the manner outlined above, when seen in light of the adventure of the fulling-mill in Chapter 20. It all starts with an unknown noise in the night, which sparks a battle between our two heroes for the supremacy of interpretation.Don Quijote and Sancho respond to the noise in characteristically opposing ways. Excitement rushes into the heart of the knight, who considers the eerie noise a prime opportunity for him to demonstrate his honor: “Yo soy aquel para quien están guardados los peligros, las grandes hazañas, los valerosos hechos” (p. 179 ). Quijote sees such mysterious danger as his destiny, and he repeatedly says that he would welcome a heroic death during his adventures if God’s wills it, even giving Sancho instructions in case he does not return. Though his master’s impassioned outline of his duties moves Sancho to tears, the squire maintains his preference for survival over principle, fearing the dual prospect of both losing his friend and facing the terrifying noises alone.Because Don Quijote holds fast to his sense of duty, Sancho must underhandedly steal domination of the chapter from him in order to prevent him from going off in search of danger. In order to do so, Sancho ties Rocinante’s feet together, rendering the horse immobile, and Don Quijote reluctantly resolves to wait until dawn. Sancho offers to entertain his master until sunrise by telling him stories, thus taking usurping control of the dialogue and the chapter from Don Quijote. Above Quijote in this hierarchy of power, however, sits the historian-narrator who truly oversees the story. Throughout the text, the narrator supports Don Quijote, not necessarily by agreeing with the mad knight’s interpretations, but by accepting their plausibility and never deriding him for his lunacy. The narrator reads his history fully expecting Quijote’s experiences to mirror those of other caballeros andantes, and he repeatedly extols the knight, calling him “luz y espejo de la caballería manchega” (92), for instance. We must thus consider him idealistic like Quijote, tied to chivalric conventions despite his protagonist’s repeated misinterpretations. He does not always agree with the mad knight’s interpretations, to be sure, but he also never derides his subject for his lunacy. It is fitting, then, that Sancho’s initial attempt to exert influence over the flow of events should include the narration of a competing story, a story that deals with shepherds rather than knights-errant. Sancho thus usurps power not only from his immediate master but also from his narrator.Though the historian-narrator comes down on Quijote’s side of this central conflict, the biting satire of chivalric romance throughout the novel suggests that Cervantes himself supports Sancho. From this viewpoint, the narrator becomes a sort of straw man that Cervantes has set up as a vehicle of irony. Sancho’s usurpation thus acquires a double meaning, first as a means by which the squire can keep his master from going off in search of danger, and second as a means by which the author can insert his sarcastic voice into a false history. Though Sancho’s story does not necessarily reflect Cervantes’ own literary preferences, the forced break in Don Quijote’s pseudo-chivalric romance does square with the author’s low opinion of the genre.Although Sancho’s explicit intention in telling his story is merely to divert his master, it quickly becomes clear through the style and content of the tale that he is simultaneously trying to calm himself down. The tale begins:’En un lugar de Estremadura había un pastor cabrerizo, quiero decir que guardaba cabras; el cual pastor o cabrerizo, como digo de mi cuento, se llamaba Lope Ruiz; y este Lope Ruiz andaba enamorado de una pastora que se llamaba Torralba; la cual pastora llamada Torralba era hija de un ganadero rico, y este ganadero rico…’ (182)Stylistically, by doubling each name or occupation – as an object of one clause and the subject of the next – Sancho gives his story a deliberate pace, a repetitive beat that serves to pacify him, just as a stable rocking motion soothes a crying baby. When Quijote complains about the monotony of this manner of storytelling, Sancho justifies it by claiming, “De la misma manera que yo lo cuento…se cuentan en mi tierra todas las consejas, y yo no sé contarlo de otra, ni es bien que vuestra merced me pida que haga usos nuevos” (182). These “usos nuevos,” though explicitly referring to storytelling conventions, also refer obliquely to ways of thinking, of perceiving the world, and, in this particular adventure, of acting in the face of potential threat. “Mi tierra,” then, describes the source not only of Sancho’s literary style but also of his interpretation of the unknown noise. He tells this kind of story at this particular point in the novel specifically to distract himself from the possibility that Quijote is right – and to remind himself of his old customs and his home, where he would feel safe, where strange noises in the night would always have innocent explanations.After Don Quijote cuts Sancho’s story short, the squire suddenly feels the urge to defecate. Though explicitly a normal physiological process, the timing of this particular urge makes it clear that, subconsciously, Sancho is still trying to remove himself from the terror of the unknown by falling back into the mundane. Cervantes makes this implication plain through Quijote’s initial reaction to the awful smell: “Paréceme, Sancho, que tienes mucho miedo” (186). Don Quijote has tried to reassert his dominance over the course of events by stopping Sancho’s story and trying again to ride Rocinante; his literary usurpation foiled, Sancho must now try a less linguistic, more animalistic approach in order to maintain interpretive control. If his pastoral story ran counter to Don Quijote’s chivalric romance, the undignified act of defecation serves as a polar opposite to the glorious deeds of knights-errant. Indeed, if we were to graph the progression of chivalric honor in these two chapters, this short scene of Sancho’s defecation would surely mark the nadir.When morning comes and our two protagonists find that the actual source of the strange noise has been a fulling-mill, we learn that both were incorrect in their shared assumption of a menacing origin. Yet, while Sancho is thrilled to find such an ordinary machine as the cause of the noise, the sight enrages Don Quijote. Looking at Chapter 20 figuratively, we could say that, when the noise was still unknown, a struggle began between Quijote and his squire to determine what would be the cause; Sancho won this struggle by tying Rocinante’s legs together, by telling his story in his chosen style, even by defecating – in short, by refusing to allow Don Quijote to control the chapter. Quijote’s anger at the sight of the fulling-mill, though, leads him to reassert his dominance over both Sancho (“es menester hacer diferencia de amo a mozo, de señor a criado y de caballero a escudero,” 190) and the course of the novel. Indeed, as we will see, Chapter 21 is dominated by Don Quijote; after the shame of Chapter 20, the knight jumps at the opportunity to use Mambrino’s helmet to reestablish his vision.Don Quijote and Sancho do argue briefly at the start of Chapter 21 over whether the approaching man is wearing the helmet – an argument that, placed chronologically as the border between two opposing spheres of influence, encapsulates the juxtaposition of these two chapters and the greater conflict between realism and idealism throughout the text. Incredulous at Sancho’s questioning, Quijote asks his squire whether he does not in fact see a knight approaching with a golden helmet on his head. Sancho responds, “Lo que veo y columbro…no es sino un hombre sobre un asno, pardo como el mío, que trae sobre la cabeza una cosa que relumbra” (192). This “no es sino” construction perfectly describes Sancho’s way of thinking and perceiving: he sees ‘nothing but’ a man with something glittering on his head, and so he cannot make the leap to claim that it is Mambrino’s helmet. When Sancho brings up the recent fulling-mill adventure in the course of his doubting, Don Quijote quickly quiets him: “Ya os he dicho…que no me mentéis, ni por pienso, más eso de los batanes” (192). The knight is certainly aware of his previous misinterpretation, but he refuses to let it alter his interpretation of the approaching man or of his knightly duties. He simply wants to strike it from memory, both his and Sancho’s, and Sancho does indeed drop his objection. Of course, unfortunately for poor Don Quijote, the misadventure of the batanes did make it into the historian-narrator’s manuscript, and on to the reader.After Sancho cedes the argument, the historian-narrator himself steps in with a few sentences telling the ‘true story’ of the barber and his basin. Yet this truth is of no consequence, for two reasons. First, any rational reader would assume from the start that Sancho was right and Quijote wrong; we do not need the narrator to tell us so. This section could easily be eliminated without confusing any readers as to the actual identity of the approaching man’s hat. Secondly, and more importantly for our purposes, what the man actually wears has no impact on the balance of interpretive power between Quijote and Sancho. Sancho has already surrendered, and Quijote has assumed control again.At first glance, this short interruption by the narrator seems to support the squire’s interpretation by confirming the inaccuracy of Don Quijote’s interpretation. A closer look, however, shows us that the real point of this paragraph is not to point out errors but to explain them matter-of-factly, conceding but not belaboring Don Quijote’s misconceptions – and therefore not betraying the narrator’s affection for chivalric romance and his whimsical protagonist. Writes the historian-narrator, “Ésta fue la occasion que a don Quijote le pareció caballo rucio rodado, y caballero, y yelmo de oro; que todas las cosas que veía con mucha facilidad las comodaba a sus desvariadas caballerías y malandantes pensamientos” (192-3). As always, though he admits Don Quijote’s madness, the narrator defends his interpretation as potentially correct. That it is not correct in this case falls not on the narrator’s shoulders, for he only passes on to us a manuscript he supposedly found, but on Cervantes’; by forcing his narrator to recount further proof of Quijote’s madness, the author is obviously supporting Sancho’s sensible view of the approaching man. In other words, the substance of this paragraph (the true story of the basin) comes from Cervantes and thus backs Sancho, while the form of its narration represents the voice of the historian and thus absolves, if not supports, Don Quijote’s view of the world.Back on the road, Sancho asks his master what good comes out of chivalrous deeds performed anonymously, without official fanfare or widespread accolades. This simple question allows Don Quijote to return to the helm of the novel. He tells his squire that he must wander the countryside and build up a reputation before he can go to court and receive his just due – which he defines elaborately as including a lovely princess, a place in the royal army, and eventually succession through marriage to the throne itself. Quijote explains, “No lo dudes, Sancho…porque del mesmo y por los mesmos pasos que esto he contado suben y han subido los caballeros andantes a ser reyes y emperadores” (199). We see in this sentence that Quijote details the process at least partly to convince Sancho of his understanding of how things work. In Chapter 20, Sancho demonstrates his dudas; Quijote thus takes the opportunity in Chapter 21 to tell him, “No lo dudes.” By the end of Don Quijote’s impressive speech, he has indeed won over the squire, such that the chapter ends with Sancho yielding control back to his master and Quijote accepting that mantle: – Quédese eso del barbero a mi cargo – dijo Sancho – , y al de vuestra merced se quede el procurar venir a ser rey y el hacerme conde. – Así sera – respondió don Quijote.Y alzando los ojos, vio lo que se dirá en el siguiente capítulo. (202)The reason for the juxtaposition of Chapters 20 and 21 thus boils down to a simple shift in power, just one swing in the novel’s central conflict over interpretation. To borrow language from modern history, Chapter 20 falls under Sancho’s sphere of influence. He tries to ‘will’ the strange noise to be harmless and ordinary, and he succeeds – after the chapter’s caesura, constituted as it is by Sancho’s calming story and the mundane activity of defecation, the origin of the noise can only turn out to be ordinary. Enraged at his own misinterpretation and Sancho’s uncontrolled laughter at his master’s failure, Don Quijote pounces on the next available opportunity, that of the barber’s basin, to reassert his understanding of the world and reclaim control of his servant and his story. Thus Chapter 21 comprises Don Quijote’s sphere of influence in this scheme. Though Sancho’s character is more interesting than he may seem at first, the novel must remain Quijote’s story to go on for more than thirty chapters as it does – without his repeated misunderstandings, there would be no adventures. In other words, stepping outside the novel, Cervantes must allow Quijote’s misinterpretations – and the historian’s sympathetic narration of them – to drive the plot in order to show how silly they are, how pernicious fantastic works of fiction can be to one’s rationality.
A Reasonable Idealist
During the late Middle Ages, the ideals of chivalry and honor emerged as the dominant themes in literature. Romantic tales of gallant knights and courtly love captured the imaginations of medieval readers, and this influence carried over into the Renaissance and early modern Europe. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these romantic medieval values clashed with the new emphasis on reason. The influence of both sets of values is seen in the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes’s novel, Don Quixote. In this work, Cervantes presents the idealistic character of Don Quixote, who is deluded by chivalric ideas of heroism and valor. Don Quixote sets out to reform the world along with his sensible companion Sancho Panza. After an ill-starred career as a knight-errant, Don Quixote renounces his ideals and is restored to excessive sensibility. At the same time, Sancho Panza champions the very ideas that Don Quixote comes to reject. Through his use of names and through the naÔve ideals of Don Quixote and his subsequent exchange of beliefs with Sancho Panza, Cervantes reveals the need for a proper balance between the extremes of idealism and rationalism.The subject of names is a prevalent one in Cervantes’s work. Cervantes begins the work with the peculiar declaration, “In a certain village in La Mancha, the name of which I do not choose to remember,” Don Quixote makes his residence.1 The anonymity of the village parallels Cervantes’s ambiguity when discussing Don Quixote’s real name. He explains that he “is said to have gone by the name of Quijada, or QuesadaÖthough it is most likely that he was called Quijadas.”2 Cervantes’s deliberate manner of “forgetting” and his vagueness in relating Don Quixote’s real name contrasts sharply with Don Quixote’s own naming of things. In taking on his new role as knight-errant, he assumes the name Don Quixote de la Mancha, which, according to him “reveal[s] his lineage and honor[s] his fortunate country.”3 In fact, “Quixote” signifies the armor that a knight wears to protect his thigh. In choosing this inglorious name, the title character shows his distorted sense of what is admirable. Don Quixote also selects the “satisfactory name, Rosinante, for his horse,” connoting a hack or nag.4 Furthermore, when he selects a “healthy, buxom, country wench” to fall in love with, he gives her the name Dulcinea del Toboso, which he regards as “romantic, musical, and expressive, like the names he had chosen for himself and his horse.”5 With such bizarre names that do not suit their subjects, Don Quixote’s skewed perspective on life is shown. While Cervantes goes to one extreme and decides to forget the name of a town, Don Quixote intentionally picks out ridiculous names for himself, his horse, and his lady. With the absurdity of these extremes, Cervantes asserts the necessity of finding the middle ground.With the name of Quixote, the title character is presented as a comical, ludicrous figure. Cervantes refers to him often as the “poor gentleman” who has “lost his senses” and who has the “brain of a madman.”6 During his time as a knight-errant, Don Quixote travels far and wide “seeking adventures” and “righting wrongs.”7 In his mission to save the world, Don Quixote is inspired by the books he read of knights, chivalry, and honor. Everything he does is modeled on these romantic stories, into which Don Quixote immerses himself completely. He explains to Sancho Panza that “knights-errant are not permitted to complain of any wound they receive.”8 But he permits his squire to complain, as he “had not read anything to the contrary in his books of knight-errantry.”9 Another instance of Don Quixote’s reliance on the model of his books occurs when “[stays] awake thinking of his Lady Dulcinea” because he “read about those knights-errant who passed many sleepless nights in woods and deserts remembering their ladies.”10 Thus, Don Quixote shapes his whole life around the fictional accounts of imaginary figures and renounces control of his own life. During his adventurous journey, this would-be knight is accompanied by his “squire,” Sancho Panza. This devoted servant is much more temporal than his master, and Sancho revels in such pleasures as plentiful food and a luxurious slumber. Sancho Panza shows his practicality when he warns Don Quixote of the foolishness of some of his missions. When Don Quixote plans to attack the perceived giants in “fierce and unequal combat,” Sancho implores him to “see correctly” that the “giants” are merely windmills.11 In addition to bestowing rational advice on his master, Sancho puts his trust in God, saying at various points, “God’s will be done,” and “Lord have mercy upon us.”12 While Don Quixote puts his faith in his tales of chivalry, Sancho relies on God for mercy and guidance, and with his rational behavior represents a great contrast to the senselessness of his master.The traits of master and servant are reversed, however, when Don Quixote is defeated in battle and returns home to renounce all his previously held beliefs. Suffering a severe sickness, Don Quixote is eventually restored to consciousness, and he at once declares that God is merciful and that he is now “cleared of those dark shadows of ignorance that clouded [his] understanding from incessant reading of those detestable books of chivalry.”13 This startling reversal in thought causes his friends to think that his “sudden and easy transition from madness to sanity [is] a certain signal of his approaching death.”14 Cervantes thus equates sanity with death: at a time when most people begin to lose their minds, Don Quixote is at his most rational. Another drastic transformation occurs in Sancho Panza. Upon seeing his master renounce his beliefs, Sancho entreats him to once again espouse chivalric ideals. Sancho encourages him to “Get up andÖgo walking in the fields” with the hope that “behind some bush [they] may find Lady Dulcinea.”15 It is now Sancho who defends the absurd ideas that once deluded Don Quixote. It is unusually easy for both characters to exchange beliefs; Cervantes is therefore expressing the impossibility of remaining faithful to extreme beliefs such as those Don Quixote and Sancho Panza hold at different points in their lives. The logical conclusion, thus, is to find a middle road to which one can hold firm.The balance between idealism and reality is often difficult to find. The struggle to reach a middle ground is illustrated in Miguel de Cervantes’s novel, Don Quixote. Through the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Cervantes illustrates the challenges individuals face to balance their lives with a mix of idealistic and rational thought. Cervantes establishes this struggle through the issue of names. In Cervantes’s forgetting the name of the village and in Don Quixote’s deliberately giving absurd names to things, the folly of adopting extreme notions is shown. Cervantes follows with examples of excessive idealism and rationalism. In connecting sanity with death, Cervantes seems to dismiss rational thought as pointless. But his portrayal of Don Quixote’s foolishness in his knightly adventures also illustrates a kind of futility. And in the two characters’ reversals at the end, Cervantes reveals that it is worthless to only adopt a single way of thinking. The two ends of idealism and pragmatism, however, must both exist in a person’s life. If not for Sancho’s rationalism, Don Quixote’s journey would have been quite difficult. Likewise, without Don Quixote’s fantasies, Sancho’s life would have lacked entertainment. Such a story as Don Quixote’s would not exist if not for the imagination; at the same time, it would be ridiculous to accept this story as truth and not consider it from a realistic point of view. Through this charming, yet sobering, tale, Cervantes illustrates that a proper balance between idealism and practicality must be achieved, and that without both principles, life is fruitless.
The Planned Disappearance of Don Quixote
In her essay “Don Quijote’s Disappearing Act”, Anne J. Cruz argues that Don Quixote’s death can be predicted, and as early as Part 1. Her thesis is that the first and second parts of the novel can be understood thus: “ […] Don Quijote’s final disappearing act confirms his irrevocable subsumation into his own text.” (Cruz, 840). Cruz’s idea has caused much discussion and controversy, and many are divided upon their agreement with it. This statement is not true, as it neglects the writing of the “False Quixote”, as Cervantes’ response to this hoax was to end the possibility of any future Don Quixote stories. Cervantes chose to kill Don Quixote to regain control of the fictional world he had created, in retaliation against any who sought to misappropriate his creation.
At the end of Part 1 of Don Quixote, Cervantes gives a hint towards Don Quixote and Sancho’s next sally: “Don Quixote left home [and] he went to Zaragoza and took part in some famous tourneys held in that city” (Cervantes, 445). He finishes the novel with the line, “Forsi altro canterà con miglior plectio.” (Cervantes, 449), which is a quote originally from Orlando Furioso. This sentence translates to: “Perhaps another will sing in a better style”, which many interpreted as an invitation to others to continue the writing. Sometime between the publishing of the First and Second part, this invitation was taken up, and a fraud wrote a counterfeit sequel to Don Quixote, known as the “False Quixote”. Cervantes learned about this book while he was writing the Second part, and mentioned it immediately in his writing. In the novel, while Don Quixote and Sancho are traveling to Zaragoza after leaving the Duke and the Duchess, they approach an inn to stay for the night. At the inn, they hear two people reading from the False Quixote. Don Quixote confronts them about the book when he hears them say that in the story he renounces his love for Dulcinea. They then discuss how much of a lie the book is, and how many mistakes it contains. To end their conversation, Don Quixote states “I shall not set foot in Zaragoza, and in this way I shall proclaim the lies of this modern historian to the world”,(Cervantes, 849) and changes his destination from Zaragoza to Barcelona.
This is the first time that Cervantes refers to the “False Quixote” in the novel, and it carries a powerful meaning. By changing their destination, he is discrediting the “False Quixote” in its entirety by showing that it is untrue, and that Don Quixote and Sancho will do as much as they can to prove its fraudulence. After they leave the inn, on their new path to Barcelona, Sancho bumps into something hanging from a tree. Realizing that this object was human legs and feet, a terrified Sancho runs to Don Quixote, who in response calmly says “[…] these feet and legs that you touch but do not see undoubtedly belong to outlaws and bandits who have been hanged […] which leads me to think I must be close to Barcelona,” (Cervantes, 851). Don Quixote and Sancho then find themselves surrounded by a group of thieves who rob them, but eventually take them in and travel to Barcelona with them. While with the robbers, Don Quixote and Sancho witness robbery and murder, sharply contrasting the law-enforcing knight Quixote practiced previously. A significant change can be seen in the mood of the book, after Cervantes found out about the publishing of the “False Quixote”. He changed the path of the novel, metaphorically and literally, through changing their destination of city, and changing the entire tone of the novel. This is where Cruz’s argument was incorrect, as Cervantes was not planning for Don Quixote’s death since Part 1, he only planned for it after learning about the “False Quixote”.
While writing the Second Part of Don Quixote, Cervantes was beginning to fall quite ill. He had type 2 diabetes, according to the modern physician Antonio López Alonso, a disease that was unknown of at the time. As the novel approached an end, his condition worsened, and in the book Miguel de Cervantes, by Barbara Parker and Duane Parker, they say that “when Cervantes wrote about the death of Don Quixote at the end of Part II, he may have anticipated his own death as well,” (Parker, 96). After seeing one fraud copy of the novel being released, Cervantes couldn’t allow another one to be published after his death, and so he prevented it in the safest way he could: by killing off Don Quixote, and not allowing the opportunity for any more novels.
Upon his deathbed, Don Quixote recounts the items of his will to those surrounding him. After leaving money to Sancho, he gives his estate to his niece, however with a constraint: if his niece marries, “she marry a man [who] does not know anything about books of chivalry” (Cervantes, 938). If she were to marry him nonetheless, she would then lose all that was left to her in the will. By saying this, Cervantes is not only killing off Don Quixote himself, but also using him as a tool to renounce all future books of chivalry. Cervantes was worried about more than just someone stealing the Don Quixote name, but someone stealing the idea of comedic chivalric novels. Through Don Quixote’s final will, he was able to ensure that any of these books would be looked down upon, and he can be assured no future novel would attain the popularity of the “False Quixote”.
On the basis of this evidence, Cervantes did not plan to kill Don Quixote since the First Part of the novel, and that is where Cruz was incorrect. She failed to acknowledge the darker turn taken by the novel after Cervantes learnt about the “False Quixote”, and coupled with his own worsening health, he knew he had to kill off Don Quixote before any other books could be made.