Idealization and chivalry made manifest by the actions of Don Quijote and other men in Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes.
Bruce T. Holl writes, ‘in a lonely place whose name does not matter there was once a man who spent his life evading women in their concrete form. He preferred the manual pleasure of reading.’1 It is the chivalric books that Don Quijote reads that are a catalyst for his idealization of women. These women mentioned in this essay also display stupidity since they are fooled by Don Quijote’s idealism. On the other hand, Zoraida and Marcela are examples of two characters that do not submit to the idealism displayed by Don Quijote and other men in the novel. The power of Don Quijote’s creativity and thus idealism is described by Perry J. Powers: ‘Don Quijote’ …creates [for] himself, with the word “rocinante’…a charger out of a nag, and with the magic of ‘dulcinea’ he creates the love which is to be the soul of his new existence.’2
It is clear from the outset that Don Quijote implements his own ideals of courtesy and gallantry upon women. When Don Quijote addresses these ‘wenches’ he says: ‘-Nunca fuera caballero, de damas tan bien servido, como fuera don Quijote, cuando de su aldea vino: doncellas curaban dél; princesas...’3 Given that these women are of common heritage it is strange that Don Quijote should talk of them in this manner. This lack of sensitivity to his surroundings does not go unnoticed by these women as they can only respond to him in a rather befuddled way. Their thoughts are conveyed to use by the narrator: ‘las mozas, que no estaban hechas a oír semejantes retóricas no respondían palabra; solo le preguntaron si quería comer alguna cosa.’4 The girls don’t know what to make of Don Quijote’s gesture and therefore he only confuses them. It is ironic that Don Quijote should make all this effort at gallantry when he himself cannot achieve the matter at hand: namely feeding himself. Miguel de Cervantes writes: ‘Pero era materia de grande risa verle comer, porque, como tenía puesta la celada y alzada la visera, no podía poner nada en la boca con sus manos si otro no se lo daba.’ Don Quijote’s attempts at gallantry make him a laughing stock. He cannot sensitize himself to his surroundings, the people he meets or deal with life’s practicalities.
Don Quijote inflicts his own idealized perception of Dulcinea del Toboso upon the merchants standing close by. Don Quijote demands that the merchants confess that Dulcinea del Toboso is the most beautiful empress of ‘la Mancha.’ Don Quijote requires the merchants to show the same gallant courteousness to her that he would. Don Quijote expects that other people should conform to the same preconceived ideas about Dulcinea that he holds. This is especially ironic since it is implied that Dulcinea is not very aesthetically pleasing. Mary Teresa Roades writes, ‘When Don Quijote commands two merchants to admit Dulcinea is the most beautiful woman in world, one of them suggests that she may be blind in one eye…’5 As a result, he causes others to respond in a rather mocking manner. One merchant says to Don Quijote: ‘Señor caballero, nosotros no conocemos quién sea esa buena señora que decís; mostrádnosla: que si ella fuere de tanta hermosura como significaís, de buena gana y sin apremio alguno confesaremos la verdad por parte vuestra nos es pedida.’6 Don Quijote goes on to say that he expects these men to believe that Dulcinea is as beautiful as he says she is without having seen her. He says: ‘la importancia está en que sin verla lo habéis de creer confesar, afirmar, jurar…’7 The merchant’s inability to believe Don Quijote’s affirmation of Dulcinea’s beauty infuriates him. He then embarrasses himself and falls off his horse. Bruce T. Holl describes the incompatibility of Don Quijote’s ideals. He mentions the ‘antithetical ideals of the characters’8 in Don Quijote. Certainly in this chapter, Don Quijote’s ‘antithetical ideals’ cause him to embarrass...
Romance and Realism in the Interpolated Stories of the Quixote, 1982
Journal articles accessed through a database
Kallendorf, H., 2002
Powers, p.,1950. Varieties Of Experience In Don Quixote. The Journal of General Education, [online] Available at: [Accessed February 2014]
Roades, M., 1949
Simerka, B., and Weimer, C., 2005. Adapation. Hispania, [online] Available at:< http://www.jstor.org/stable/20063079> [Accessed February 2014]
Toll, B., 1989
Books with one author
De Cervantes, M., 2002
Raffel, B., 1999. Don Quijote. New York: Norton & Company, Inc.
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