Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Well-Educated Mind: Don Quixote

Blame my generation, but Don Quixote reminds me of Daffy Duck, in knight's armor, with an inflated egocentric imagination. Porky Pig could very well be Sancho Panza, riding a mule and doting on DQ.

I am currently on chapter 19, and DQ has fought windmills he believed were giants, struck unsuspecting carriers with his lance, promises a kingdom to his squire Sancho, charged a group of 20 men when his lanky old horse tries to get frisky with their mares, mistaken a less-than-attractive wench for a beautiful goddess (nevermind her stale fish breath), attacked two groups of sheep he thinks are armies, and vomited all over Sancho's face when poor Sancho checks his mouth for missing molars. 

Oh, DQ, what is wrong with you?

Despite this being a hilarious and engaging read, I can't help but feel duped as a reader. Don Quixote behaves this way, it has us believe, because he read too many books. But I suppose deeper in his psyche he has been unsatisfied with reality. Why else do people make up elaborate stories and adventures to surround themselves?

What I am left wondering is:

  • Why are some people just playing along with his crazy antics?
  • Why does Sancho believe him at times, especially about his island-kingdom, while other times he thinks he's loony, like when he charges at the sheep?
  • Why doesn't Sancho confront him on his fantasies or, better yet, go back to his wife and children?
  • Is Don Quixote truly mad or is he fantasizing to the extreme?

1 comment:

  1. The missing link for you, I think, is that Cervantes was writing Don Quixote to make fun of the popular, serious knight stories of the day, especially Amadis of Gaul. Read the sonnets at the beginning and note who they are written by--they're all fictional characters popular in chivalric writing of the time.

    I'm also working on the Well Educated Mind reading list. Good luck to you in your journey!