Mia Cooper (mcc3939)
8 April, 2019
Ending on Disillusionment
Throughout Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes, the narrator forces the reader to question the story being told, just as the narrator forces Don Quixote’s contemporaries to question their lifestyles and principles through consistent commentary on Don Quixote’s madness. The development of his madness, including brief moments of lucidity, pushes the story forward, thus it is ironic that sanity causes Don Quixote’s death rather than madness. The novel ends on a note of disillusionment, with Don Quixote’s return to sanity and denouncement of knight-errantry, cementing the novel’s commentary on madness and imagination as being necessary to live a fulfilling life. Quixote’s death marks not only the death of the fictional knight conceived by Alonso Quijano, but also the death of Quixote’s imagination, illustrating the significance of its loss from the world.
Without Don Quixote’s firm belief that he is a knight-errant, there would be no story to tell — all of his ingenious acts of madness and adventures stem from his unyielding belief in his fantasy world. His madness is the primary driving force of the plot, with Don Quixote insisting on the reality of his alternate world until the end. In the prologue of Part II, the narrator states he has “chronicled these ingenious acts of madness,” confirming Don Quixote’s madness and implying that madness is a central theme of the story itself (466). The narrator heavily emphasizes Quixote’s madness at almost every major plot point — such as the windmills he mistakes for giants, the abductors who are merely friars, and the duel with the lions — all of which highlights how the story simply wouldn’t exist without Quixote’s acts of madness.
The narrator calls attention to the importance of Don Quixote’s imagination at the onset of the novel, by characterizing him as a farmer whose only entertainment comes from reading chivalric tales since he is at leisure “most of the year around” (367). These vague details about his life as a farmer provide the sense that his life is mundane and filled with boredom. The narrator continues that he “was in the habit of reading books of chivalry with such pleasure and devotion as to lead him almost wholly to forget the life of a hunter and even the administration of his estate,” suggesting Quixote’s obsession with chivalric tales provided him an escape from his reality, and leads him to take on an alternate reality (367). In his imagination, he becomes Don Quixote de La Mancha, knight-errant, an alter ego that gives purpose to his otherwise mundane life.
Throughout both parts of the novel, nearly every character who encounters Don Quixote mocks him by calling him mad, including his best friend Sancho Panza. Despite his characterization, in the second part of the novel it becomes evident that other characters appreciate his imagination and it seems to endear him to those around him. Sancho Panza may stand by Don Quixote...