English 2403/World Literature
October 27, 2017
Formal Essay No. 1
“Imagination in Don Quixote and A Midsummer Night's Dream”
William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes are two of the most influential writers in the world that have been compared by scholars for centuries. It is commonly believed that the two men died on the same day, April 23, 1616. However, that is not entirely accurate as England followed the Julian calendar and Spain followed the Gregorian calendar. Although they did not die simultaneously, the fact that the deaths of the two writers fell on the same date in their countries’ respective calendars is truly remarkable. Shakespeare and Cervantes are known for their revolutionary contributions to literature that would inspire countless writers for centuries. Earlier works such as The Odyssey and the Bible were simply cautionary tales and stories of heroes overcoming physical endeavors. Shakespeare and Cervantes, however, introduced the concept of incorporating emotional matters into works of literature. One common motif that can be seen with both Shakespeare and Cervantes alike is the role of imagination in literature. Imagination and fiction are important concepts in both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cervantes’s Don Quixote alike, taking on the forms of the dream sequence and the power of one’s imagination to manipulate certain aspects of his or her life.
The dream sequence is defined as a brief intermission from a work of literature in which a character has a dream, vision, flashback, etc. This technique can be used to explain the thoughts, fears, or desires of a character and advance the plot. Cervantes utilizes the dream sequence in Part Two: Chapter XXIII of Don Quixote; Don Quixote falls asleep in Montesino’s cave and claims to have woken up in a beautiful meadow, approached by an elderly man who said that he was Montesinos. Montesinos tells Don Quixote that he has ripped out the heart of Durandarte, pledging to give it to his wife. He claims that Merlin had cast a spell on everyone in the cave, trapping everyone inside. There was a prophecy that said that Don Quixote would be the one to break the spell and liberate all those in the cave.
Don Quixote claims to have been in this cave for three days, while Sancho and Basilio’s cousin tell him that he had only been gone for an hour at most. Don Quixote is persistent and tells them that he knows what he has seen with his own eyes, to which Sancho replies “You were well enough here above in your full senses, such as God had given you, delivering maxims and giving advice at every turn, and not as you are now, talking the greatest nonsense that can be imagined” (Sancho, Ch. XXIII) Since Don Quixote had been lost in his wild imagination upon beginning his new life as a knight-errant, he could most definitely have been dreaming all of these events while he slept in the cave and mistaken them for reality, like he does with every other adventurer t...