Don Quixote Essay

Sue Kim 29 October 2012 Honors Literature Don Quixote Essay “With these word and phrases the poor gentleman lost his mind,” (Cervantes 20). In the beginning of Don Quixote, the reader is introduced to a man engulfed in chivalric books, who soon loses his mind in the stories of knighthood. Don Quixote is labeled as an insane man by the narrator who soon proves this statement through Don Quixote’s delusions and eccentric behaviors. As the narrator describes the delusions, the narrator’s tone is overly mocking towards Don Quixote’s delusional acts.
However, ignoring the narrator’s mocking tone, Don Quixote’s foolish acts can be judged reasonable by comparing Don Quixote’s delusions to the actual situation. In Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Don Quixote is portrayed as a delusional person with a tendency of expressing eccentric behaviors; however, Don Quixote’s delusions can be judged reasonable if the audience looks at the acts of Don Quixote as a childish and immature approach to regarding things in life.
There are three types of delusions and eccentric behaviors shown by Don Quixote that can be seen as reasonable: delusions and eccentric behaviors connected with concrete objects, coincidental situations, and in situations where Don Quixote admits his madness and tries to explain his own supposed madness. The most commonly mentioned scene of Don Quixote is when Don Quixote has delusions about windmills being giants. Delusions and eccentric behaviors connected with concrete objects happen as Don Quixote sees some concrete objects as slightly different objects.

This pattern is seen when Don Quixote interprets windmills as giants. “thirty or forty of the windmills […] thirty or more enormous giants” (Cervantes 58). The audience may perceive Don Quixote as insane because he confuses two similar objects. The massive windmills’ blades are similar to the massive giants’ arms and the trunk of the windmill is similar to a giants’ body. Don Quixote’s childish actions are analogous to those of a child identifying a beautiful woman in an elegant dress as a princess.
An image of a giant is conjured when thinking of a windmill because they are so similar in appearance; therefore, an image of a princess can be conjured when seeing a beautiful woman and dress. Don Quixote also perceives a barber’s basin to be a helmet. “Do you know what I imagine Sancho? This famous piece of the enchanted helmet […] resembles a barber’s basin as you say,” (Cervantes 155). To turn a basin upside down creates an object similar to a helmet. The reader can compare Don Quixote’s ridiculous actions to the behavior of children as they have swordfights with sticks.
Don Quixote, seemingly childish and naive, can nonetheless be judged reasonable because in both the windmill scene and the basin scene, the two objects being compared had similar qualities and were seen from a childish perspective. Don Quixote also had delusions on fortuitous situations. Don Quixote’s delusional behaviors on coincidental situations can be judged reasonable because they are spontaneous. The delusions of Don Quixote are similar to the delusions that “normal” people would have. Well, [the cloud of dust] conceals a vast army, composed of innumerable and diverse peoples, which is marching toward us,” (Cervantes 126). A cloud of dust could hide anything from a small pin to a immense army. Therefore, it is reasonable for Don Quixote to believe a vast army is hidden inside the cloud of dust and rampage into the cloud of dust. Don Quixote’s belief on the cloud of dust can be related to the actions of a child as he or she imagines there is a monster underneath their bed. In both situations, Don Quixote and the child are afraid of the unknown hidden from their view.
A comparable situation happens as Don Quixote faces with two friars and a carriage on one path and has the delusion that the friars are kidnapping a princess in the carriage. “You wicked and monstrous creatures, instantly unhand the noble princesses you hold captive in that carriage, or else prepare to receive a swift death as just punishment for your evil deeds” (Cervantes 62). Don Quixote can be judged reasonable because his immature, quick assumptions correspond with those of a child as he or she immediately assumes a punishment when their full name is called.
A normal adult may not have attacked the friars, but a man with a childish mind would have shown eccentric behavior like Don Quixote. All of these delusions are acceptable if they are pursued to imitate one’s role model. Madness can be conceived if a person’s role model is also considered insane. Don Quixote explains about his insanity as, “In the same manner, Amadis was the polestar the morning star, […] the one who should be imitated by all of us who serve under the banner of love and chivalry. This being true, […] that the knight errant who most closely imitates Amadis will be closest to attaining chivalric perfection” (Cervantes 193).
Don Quixote realizes that people call him insane; thereupon, he explains that he is merely following in the footsteps of his role model, Amadis. Don Quixote’s guilelessness relates to those of a child as he or she looks up to his or her role model as the child grows up. A related situation happens in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. “Said Gawain to the king, ‘If you would, noble lord, Bid me rise from my seat and stand at your side, […] And I have asked you for it first, it should fall to me” (Pearl Poet 246).
Gawain is upraising his uncle, King Arthur. Gawain’s honor for King Arthur allows him to imitate King Arthur by asking for the task of beheading the Green Knight. All of Don Quixote’s actions can be assimilated as childish. If Don Quixote’s actions were perceived plainly as childish and immature thought process, the readers can acquire a different definition of chivalry and knighthood from Don Quixote. Chivalry and knighthood is known to be for those that are loyal and brave.
However, if Don Quixote’s chivalric, but ridiculous actions were plainly childish actions, chivalry becomes the dream of young children. Chivalry becomes an immature game played by children. Knights would not be the symbol of courage, but the symbol of playfulness and being silly. With Don Quixote’s childish perception towards chivalry and knighthood, the readers can acquire a new sense of what loyalty and courage are. Citations * Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote. New York City: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. , 2005. Print. * Pearl Poet, . Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Print.

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