Does Don Quixote’s disregard for social convention change the rules of conduct for the other characters with whom he interacts? Argue a clear and specific thesis about how Don Quixote’s (mis)perception of reality does not affect other character’s perceptions of the social world around them.
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In the novel, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” Don Quixote’s journey along chivalric fantasies is narrated. The main character Don Quixote’s perception of reality differs from other people’s perception of reality in many ways. He has a tendency to percept regular people and objects as if they have dramatic, epic, and fantastic dimensions. Because his concept of reality is different from the others, people around him are obliged to have a standpoint towards his transformed reality.
The main character of the novel “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” is a middle-aged gentleman named Don Quixote. He has chivalrous ideals which lead him to take up his lance and sword to defend the weak, and attack the evil. After his first failure, he found a laborer called Sancho Panza who would obey Don Quixote, and in return Don Quixote promised to give him an isle, and make him the governor of that isle. Looking for adventure, and traveling along Spain, Don Quixote leaves most of his belongings to a peasant woman, Dulcinea del Toboso whom Don Quixote presumes to be a princess. On his second journey, Don Quixote cannot fulfill his ideals which require defending the weak and destroying the wicked, instead he steals from the innocent citizens, and hurt them only because he perceives them as threats to his knighthood. Don Quixote leaves a little boy to an evil farmer believing the farmer’s promise that he would not harm the boy. Sancho, the comrade of Don Quixote always suffer from Don Quixote’s misbehavior.
To realize Don Quoxite’s unrealistic fantasies, simple Sancho acts as if he is a straight man, and tries his best. Don Quixote’s friends, the priest and the barber believes that he is under the influence of a magic, and convince Don Quixote to go back home. As Sancho and Don Quixote begin their journey, Sancha lies to Don Quixote about Dulcinea. He told that an evil magic turned the princess Dulcinea to a peasant girl. When Don Quixote hears about that magic, his main goal became undoing that magic. Then Don Quixote finds a Duke and a Duchess who deceives Don Quixote on undoing the magic. They tell Don Quixote that the magic can be undone by only if Sancho whips himself for a certain time. To fulfill the requirements of undoing the magic, they build a flying wooden horse to kill a giant, the one who put spell on the princess Don Quixote loves. Shortly after Don Quixote arrives in Barcelona, the knight of the White Moon defeats him. In the end of the story, Don Quixote, in the influence of defeat, rejects the chivalrous ideals and dies from a fever.
The Priest and the Barber
Two of Don Quixote’s friends, the priest and the barber, considering that Don Quixote’s chivalrous ideals constitute a danger for him and people around him, decide to burn the books of chivalry in Don Quixote’s library. When Don Quixote is asleep, the priest and the barber burn the books. Subsequently, Don Quixote awakes and questions the absence of his books. His niece tells Don Quixote that a magician came with his dragon, and due to the hatred he has for Don Quixote, exterminated his books, and left the house with smoke. Thereupon, Don Quixote believes his niece, and rationalizes the acts of the magician believing that the magician knows that he will defeat magician’s favorite knight. Even though his niece pleads him to give up his quest, Don Quixote refuses to abandon chivalrous ideals. Don Quixote’s niece, the priest, and the barber think that Don Quixote is insane, and he should be estranged from his chivalrous ideals, and passion. To estrange Don Quixote from his way of perception of reality, his friends and his niece pretend to have the same perceptions with Don Quixote, and to convince him, they utilizes his own terminology. Their major consideration is well-being of Don Quixote. However, they do not appreciate his motives on defending the weak, and defeating the wicked. In the following chapters of the story, the barber and priest set a plan to terminate Don Quixote’s journey, and make him turn back their village. They prepare a cage, and imprison Don Quixote, and they place the cage on an ox cart.
Even though it seems like the priest is concerned on Don Quixote’s well-being, his enjoyment while Don Quixote is captivated in a cage constitutes an inconsistency. Don Quixote’s friends manipulate him to suit their purposes, even if it has physical costs to him. Therefore, behavior of the priest and the barber is not explicit. The inimical attitude of Don Quixote’s friends causes him to estrange from his chivalrous goals. Nevertheless, he cannot replace his chivalrous passion with other things with equal value. At the end of the story, Don Quixote loses his status of chivalry. After he arrives home, he regains his sanity. Thereupon, he apologizes from his friends for his misbehavior. Unexpectedly, the priest, and the barber attempts to persuade him to go after his chivalrous goals. While passing out, he leaves everything he has to his niece, his housekeeper, and Sancho. Being aware of the priest’s and the barber’s unfriendly attitudes, he does not inherit anything to them.
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Sancho Panza is the only friend of Don Quixote who is loyal, and out of greed. The position he takes towards Don Quixote’s mad world is that he is inside both his misperception of reality, and the real world. However, he criticizes Don Quixote because of his dependence of the fantasy world. Because Sancho lives between the real world and Don Quixote’s world, he can be evaluated as a bridge between both worlds, thus symbolizing the good and bad aspects of the current era and the old days of chivalry. In the beginning of the novel, Sancho is an ordinary character with a contemporary perspective to chivalrous ideals, however gradually he chooses to live honorably and happily in a simple position. He constantly questions Don Quixote in their journey allowing the reader to judge Don Quixote. In this point of view, Sancho brings dignity and a control mechanism to the story. The journey he has with Don Quixote increases his confidence, ability to solve problems. Furthermore, he proves himself that he can be a better governor than the aristocratic duke.
The Duke and the Duchess
The Duke and the Duchess encounter Don Quixote, and they are aware of the journey he had. The Duke and the Duchess treat Don Quixote according to chivalric traditions. Thereupon, Don Quixote makes sure that he is a knight errant. Don Quixote and Sancho entertain the Duke and the Duchess with their beliefs in chivalric passions. Furthermore, the Duchess deceives Sancho by acknowledging the magic on Dulcinea. The Duke and the Duchess offer a solution for undoing the magic on Dulcinea, they propose that Sancho should whip himself for 3300 times. Then they tell Don Quixote to fly with a wooden horse to slay the giants. The Duke and the Duchess prepare all the effects necessary to make Don Quixote and Sancho believe in they actually fly. Then the horse blows up, and Don Quixote and Sancho fall to ground. Apparently, the Duke and the Duchess exploit Don Quixote’s madness in the same way with others; they also cause physical harm to Don Quixote and Sancho.
There are people around Don Quixote who want Don Quixote’s wellbeing such as his niece, Sancho, and his servant, who show inconsistency such as the priest, and the barber, and who apparently exploit his madness, such as The Duke and the Duchess. The common feature of those people is that they are aware of the real world. On the other hand, interaction between Don Quixote and others bring out the evil side and good side of the people in the story. The wicked people around Don Quixote finally, discover that Don Quixote’s perception of reality matches much more than they expected, as in the case of Sancho’s governorship.
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