Essay Book and Reference Guide
By EMRE GURGEN
Essay 8: The Generation of the Renaissance in Don Quixote de la Mancha: How the Spirit of Classism, Chivalry, and Christianity Bypassed Medievalism and Led to an Enlightened Code of Modern Values.
Cervantes dramatizes the ideas and practices of the Renaissance in the “Quijote” a number of ways. One, by reviving classics in many fields, Cervantes generated a sense of excitement about ideas from the past: a vision of classical simplicity that would lead men to study the achievements of classical scholars to find foundational solutions to the present. Two, he shows readers that the printing press introduced new and unmistakable sign of a new Renaissance spirit in Spain’s political, intellectual, and social life. Three, by noting changes in how books were produced and sold during the Renaissance, Cervantes suggests how feudalism gradually transitioned to capitalism during the early modern era. Fourth, by presenting the Renaissance axioms of esthetics (i.e. its sense of proportion, symmetry, beauty, and perfection) Cervantes marks the rough transition from medieval to modern thought. Fifth, by presenting the Renaissance ideal of universal education, Cervantes notes how the Renaissance improved on the culture of the Middle Ages. Sixth, by highlighting the Renaissance ideal of realistic literature, Cervantes portrays the emerging Iberian Renaissance psychology in the “Quijote.” Seventh, Cervantes also shows readers that during the Renaissance the willingness to question previously held truths and search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific advancements. Eighth, by weaving together many different literary genres in his book, Cervantes invents the modern practice of novel writing, which was first practiced during the Renaissance. Ninth, by showing the Renaissance focus on worldly not just spiritual matters, Cervantes illustrates how medieval Christian values were adjusted to a more this worldly spirit. Tenth, Cervantes[EG1] shows how the spirit of chivalry lead to the Renaissance gentlemen of the modern age by teaching him politeness and self-control. Eleventh, Cervantes notes the emergence of the modern Spanish state by referencing many different legal proceedings and legal language in the “Quijote.” Twelfth, patronage[EG2] in Cervantes’s view is not only great for the production of art but to him it is a political strategy. One of the keys to understanding the Renaissance. Thirteenth, Cervantes further shows that the Renaissance deferred to the vernacular, not Latin, as a suitable language for works of beauty and weight. Fourteenth, by chronicling and praising grand achievements of real life men from our classical past, Cervantes not only furnishes brilliant examples of Renaissance men in action he also suggests how these great men merit high-honor in the march to civilization. Fifteenth, to address the lazy spirit that led to the decline of the Spanish Republic, Cervantes tried to encourage a new sense of energy and dynamism by noting the problems of the dissipated age he was writing in. Sixteenth, by[EG3] popularizing art forms used during the Renaissance, like the pastoral eclogue, for example, Cervantes ministered to society’s modern spiritual needs. Seventeenth, Cervantes also shows readers the Renaissance fascination with the individual human being, thus conveying a humanist approach to the subject of the Renaissance. Eighteenth,Cervantes[EG4] reflects that during the Renaissance new ideals of humanism sparked a religious reformation by changing the way people viewed their relationship with God. Nineteenth, Cervantes reminds readers that during the Renaissance people advanced themselves more by their ability than by their lineage. And finally, Cervantes draws in additional readers, like former feudal lords, for example, by showing chivalry yielding to the Renaissance in a funny way. In all these ways, Cervantes notes in the “Quijote” the progress made during the Renaissance towards the modern age.
Essay 4: Good Politics In Sancho Panza’s Governorship: How an Intelligent Commoner Refines Into A Great Governor Through A Series Of Jokes That Turn Earnest.
In an attempt to rehabilitate criminals so that they are fit for society Sancho Panza holds out hope to lawbreakers to inspire them to reform. During one instance, for example, when a constable approaches him “clutching a young man” by the collar, instead of finding him guilty of wrongdoing and enjailing him, Sancho Panza questions him to find out why he ran from the law, what he was doing out on the streets and what his trade-craft is (816). The youth replies that he ran away “to avoid answering all of the questions the authorities always ask;” that he was outside to “take the air” and that he “weaves iron lance heads” by profession (816). Sensing that there is more to this “clever young lad’s story” then his witty answers Sancho Panza threatens to “take him to where he will see with his own two eyes how wrong he is” (817). To avoid jail the boy asserts:
“let’s be reasonable and come to the point. Suppose you have me taken to prison, and there they clap me in fetters and chains, and stick me in a [lightless] dungeon, and threaten the jailer with an enormous fine if he lets me out, and then suppose he obeys all of his orders – regardless of all that, if I don’t want to sleep, and I decide to stay awake all night long without closing an eye, will you be capable, with all of your power, of making me sleep if I don’t want to?”
In light of the young man’s age, for the “good straight answers that he gives,” because he is innocent of any egregious guilt, coupled with the fact that he is honest, at least, and fairly “witty,” too, Governor Panza releases him with a stern-warning “that from now on [he mustn’t] make fun of the authorities [because] other [police officers] that [he] comes across [may] make [him] pay for [his] japes with a cracked skull” (816, 818). Besides administering judicial clemency here, Sancho Panza inspires model prisoners to reform their characters by giving funds to the repentant so that their time in rehabilitation is eased a bit. This, he does, by adding “thirty [extra reals to a gambler’s fine] for penniless prisoners” (815). Moreover, to lighten the load of reforming criminals, Don Quixote counsels Sancho Panza to “lead [model inmates] to expect an early release” for good behavior and to “visit the prisons” often for “prisoner comfort” so that with constructive attention deserving convicts are fitted for freedom (835). These penal actions prove that while Sancho Panza is prepared to enforce the full rigor of law, especially if lied to, he can still be merciful, at times, if the occasion suits clemency. In sum, Sancho Panza has some sympathy for repentant prisoners hence he appeals, at times, to their better angels, by being merciful.
Because lawman Panza treats prisoners with punishment, yes, if necessary, but also with moderation, if warranted, and because judge Panza adjudicates many cases with well-reasoned theory and swift practical dispatch he inspires “all those present [with] astonishment,” like, “the man, [for example], who was recording his words, deeds and movements [and] couldn’t make up his mind whether to regard him as a simpleton or as a sage:” Or, another man, for instance, who was “struck with amazement at his new governors verdicts and decisions” (789, 791). Even the Duke’s butler is “astounded to see that a man as untaught as [Sancho Panza] can make so many observations full of wise maxims and good counsel, so different from what is expected from [his] mind” (814). Besides drawing forth “amazement [from] all those who know [him]” induced from hearing him “speak with such elegance,” a messenger, too, is astonished by Sancho Panza’s trenchant mind and exclaims: “It is precisely as my lord governor says and as far as a full understanding of the case goes, his account leaves nothing to be desired or open to doubt” (812, 833). Such startling personal reactions to Sancho Panza’s character and decisions refutes his widely held popular reputation as a doddering country bumpkin thereby earning him the startled esteem of witness onlookers, of all stripes and varieties, who witness concrete and significant evidence of his quick and accurate mental judgment.
Essay 1: Cervantes’s Treatment of Religious Extremism in Don Quixote de La Mancha: The Opening of a Free Society.
When Sancho Panza refuses to whip himself for Dulcinea the idea arises that each person has an individual soul that they should administer with freewill and a good conscience not by mental compulsion or physical force. This concept becomes clear when Don Quixote threatens to tie Sancho Panza to a tree to flog him yet Merlin objects by saying: “the worthy Sancho must take his lashing of his own free will, not by force” (729). Since Christianity teaches each man that he should save his own soul and never give up hope of his own salvation, Sancho Panza is told to choose for himself when deciding what to do. So when Don Quixote “tries to scourge [Sancho Panza his squire] pins him to the ground [with] his wrists held down [to remind him that] lashes have got to be voluntary, not forced, and right now [he] doesn’t feel like lashing himself.” (892). Chastened by Sancho Panza’s physical self-defense, “Don Quixote swear[s] [on] his life [to] not lay a finger on Sancho Panza and to leave it to him to choose with absolute freedom” what to do (893). This statement suggests Cervantes’s primary thesis that each person has a sovereign soul that they can choose to prepare for the afterlife, or not. It is up to them. Belief in God, infers the author, has to come from within not from without. Sancho’s reluctance to whip himself for God coupled with Merlin’s defense of religious freedom suggests that faith-based self-devotion must not be compelled but chosen, if it must, by one’s own mind.
Essay 1: The Formation of True Love in Don Quixote De La Mancha: How Characters Are Led Into Marriage For Romance Not Marriage By Arrangement.
The action of Don Quixote focuses on bringing together many different couples in order to ask the question: “How do we merit true-love and give it in return?” As such, the novel consists, in part, on a series of courtship and sexual tales where characters marry not by arrangement, as expected, but for romantic love, instead. Therefore, in place of marrying for usefulness or convenience, as was typical in 17th century Spain, Cervantes was intent on transitioning the domination-submission pattern of medieval marriages―where the female is a house keeper, lust satisfier, and child begetter―to the love-based pattern of modern marriages, typified by a joining of desires and a merger of personalities. Thus, he defines marriage not as a “master-servant, owner-property connection” but as a relationship of friends where each partner tries to please and advance the other. As such, man’s motives for selecting a wife in Don Quixote are not those of “a householder in search of a housekeeper, but those of a human being in need of emotional satisfaction.”
This new emotional significance of marriage, in turn, is marked by philosophic speculations about the meaning and importance of romantic love, especially in relation to conjugal happiness and stability in marriage. Simply put, since Cervantes sees true love as the best way to choose a spouse and build a marriage, he argues that we need not be trapped by the marital customs that prevail in any given time. Rather, “by upsetting traditional patterns of tribal law and traditional society, [Miguel dramatizes unions that] bring new order and [breathe] new life into a stale social system."
By challenging the traditional view that marriage is a useful alliance defined by indissoluble law, clanship ties, and social pressures, Cervantes shows readers that any intimate partnership should be defined by a generous wish to give, benefit, and succor the beloved. This is why he diminishes the patriarchal, land-based, economic view of marriage, replacing it with the “romantic conviction that for each individual in society there is a right one out there waiting to be found.”
This one-person-theory, in turn, is combined with Cervantes’s belief in free choice: it is up to men and women alike to choose the right person based on feeling the real thing. On this view, “every unmarried person [should not only] wait or search until [their soul mate] is located” but also they should at last marry for romantic love; not lifelong maintenance, if they want to live a healthy mental life.
Economic marriages, on the other hand, void of love, esteem, and affection, are discouraged by Cervantes when he shows readers that they are largely a manifestation of parental greed likely to create unstable unions. And unstable unions, according to Cervantes, leads to jealousy and infidelity as domestic space becomes the source of discord and anger that spreads from the bedroom to the streets. In brief, marriage for any reason other than love―such as a political alliance or a family fortune―is frowned on by Cervantes when he shows that such unions are defined by mercenary tactics that often lead to marital discord.
Aside from painting a picture of married life as “a vehicle of love and emotional security,” Cervantes encourages parents to not allow their daughters to select their husbands among evil and base suitors but rather to propose several good candidates and then give them free choice amongst these.
Short of suggesting that parents should revel in their parental authority over their children by declaring who they should and should not marry, Cervantes reasons that parents should train their sons and daughters to virtue and modesty from an early age so that they do not fall victim to unscrupulous rakes who concoct “their plans, feign their emotions, and play their parts,” with convincing plausibility, so that they can “seduce and abandon without compunction.”
Unsurprisingly, in this regard, Cervantes advises parents to guide and mold the growing characters of their children so that they learn to choose their spouses wisely.
Another aspect of romantic-love that Cervantes examines in Don Quixote relates to “how a person can differentiate true-love from false lust since they look the same by producing the same tears, sighs, and groans.”
How, Cervantes wonders, if thoughts and actions are often incongruous, can we know if a lover speaks the truth about his feelings? This question, in turn, leads to broader considerations about the nature of true-love: Like the concern, for example, that the appearance of a relationship actually corresponds to its’ reality: Or the idea that one can conquer lustful relationships by the avoidance and repudiation of powerful emotions that are impulsive and fickle in nature. Instead of acting on the basis of whim-driven, mercurial passions that are subject to sudden ups-and-downs―usually, without rhyme or reason―Cervantes counsels his readers to think out, in full dimension, whether they feel a tender affection for someone because of who they are and what they represent or whether they feel a strong desire to have sex with someone because of their esthetic appeal. If, Cervantes reasons, the latter is true, and a relationship is purely physical, than the remedy for a young lady is to keep busy in a productive activity apart from idle infatuation, so that she thinks not of a boy-toy, or some other adolescent crush, but about finishing the job at hand instead.
Another question that Cervantes asks and answers in Don Quixote is whether “physical attraction is a necessary component of romantic love?” If one’s good looks, in terms of their body weight, physical fitness, self-grooming, dress-style, and how they carry themselves, influences their esthetic appeal to others. To answer this question Cervantes infers that “when you fall in love with a person, you don’t fall in love with a disembodied spirit but with a whole person including their physical appearance.”
To Cervantes, looks matter, since they convey a person’s basic attitude towards themselves. For this reason, how his characters present themselves physically says a lot to their prospective romantic partners. Thus, posture, clothes, and grooming become a significant criterion for considering whether two people are well-suited for each other, or not. That said, however, Cervantes counsels his readers against “the belief that looks are everything. That one should spend their lives in front of a mirror trying to look [perfect.]”
While Cervantes emphasizes that pride in one’s physical appearance is an important element of partnership formation, he also stresses that physical beauty is not everything since there are two kinds of beauty: “beauty of the soul and beauty of the body,” which, to Cervantes, are both equally important (877). In short, Cervantes shows us that “an interesting phenomenon often occurs regarding looks: when you ardently love your partner’s soul, your partner looks more physically beautiful to you.”
Yet another aspect of true-love that Cervantes explores in Don Quixoteis how good communication between partners fosters a sense of closeness, understanding, and compatibility. By talking to, listening, and observing each other in diverse situations, characters in Don Quixote learn what is important to one another and why, thereby determining if a potential spouse is right for them, or not. What’s more, the whole process of “asking questions, and listening closely,” as shown in Don Quixote, “establishes an atmosphere of receptiveness” in a partner’s mind, which, in Sancho Panza and Teresa Panza’s case, creates a “positive mindset of change”.
Most importantly, by writing letters, crafting poems, and communicating constantly, couples in Don Quixote keep their love for one another alive. In sum, it is through “active listening and assertive speaking skills” that partners come to understand one another’s life context, which, in turn, enables them to identify and resolve any potential sources of conflict.
Also, throughout the novel, there are close friendships of habit between husband and wife, as is the case with Sancho Panza and Teresa Panza, for example. This commonality of identity, and interpenetration of life habits, in turn, shows readers that “with a romantic soul mate you get a mirror of yourself that even a close friend cannot provide.”
In a word, Sancho Panza and Teresa Panza have compatible habits of action, which, in turn, enables them to not only maintain a feeling of “mutual togetherness” with one another but “psychological closeness” to each other as well, thereby exemplifying that a hallmark of companionate love is the merger of personalities: with the cohabitation of male and female as characteristic of a romantic friendship.
Indeed, in this regard, conjugal love between Sancho Panza and Teresa Panza owes its existence to the cohesive power of habit, shared experience, and, above all, a similar outlook on life.
Finally, Cervantes shows his readers that in some cases, “living alone―in an unmarried state―unattended and unaccompanied by others” is the best option for a young lady. Accordingly, Miguel counsels his readers against forming hasty unions based on an arrangement where “property, inheritance, family, and a title (if there is one) are important constituents.”
In fact, Cervantes reasons that his characters should wait until they are genuinely attracted to and care for a potential spouse: an individual with whom they find a complementary degree of companionship and a comfortable sense of fitness and with whom sensations of love derive from the recognition of these values. Thus, Cervantes shows us that sometimes “remaining single and [learning] to support oneself is better than becoming the wife of a dissipated man.”
Essay 6: How Cervantes Unites Christians and Muslims In Don Quixote De La Mancha: Bridging the Gap.
...Cervantes also unites Christians and Muslims together in perceptual externalities by giving Christians and Muslims similar clothing, like body postures, and congruent outward demeanors. For example, when a landed aristocrat named Don Fernando enters a road-side inn he is accompanied by “four [of his Christian servants] riding on horseback [with] Arab-style stirrups” (778). Likewise, when Sancho Panza introduces Don Quixote to a Christian peasant she “jumps onto [her] horse [like an] Arab in one leap” (549). In fact, when this peasant lass finally mounts her steed she seats herself on a “great and tall Arab-style saddle” in Islamic style (551). Cervantes also links Christians and Muslims together in outward deportment by having them perform similar bodily motions. For example, Sancho Panza “bends over in the form of a Turkish bow” to express his respect for Don Quixote (121). Also, when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza meet Don Diego de Miranda, Sancho Panza wants to “kiss” his hands “because” to his “mind” the knight of the green topcoat is “the first saint riding in Arab-style [he has] ever come across in all the days of [his] born life” (586). And when Sancho Panza travels to Barataria to govern his island “he rides a mule with Arab-style short stirrups” (778). By cross-dressing Spaniards and Moors in Arabic outfits―and by giving his Christian characters body postures reminiscent of good Muslims―Cervantes relates Christianity and Islam into a constructive synergy, where their common external appearance signals their mutual internal identities.
Essay 3: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’s Relationship: Foils that Evoke the Best in Each Other.
In return for Sancho Panza’s perceptual corrections, Don Quixote helps him improve his public speaking skills. This, he does, by correcting his misspeech, by expanding his conceptual vocabulary, and, above all, by teaching him to use a precise economy of words so that he formulates what he is (or is not) going to say with concision. When Sancho Panza, for example, confuses one word for another, or uses one term in place of another, or expresses a mismeaning, Don Quixote detects these verbal mistakes, right away, and corrects them fast. For instance, when Sancho Panza says handfuland not handle, Don Quixote says: “I think you mean to say handle nothandful” (175). Later when Sancho Panza says that his wife is “designed” to let him go Don Quixote supplies the right word “resigned,” (527). Even though Sancho Panza objects to Don Quixote’s linguistic corrections by saying: “I’ve already asked you once or twice not to correct my words if you understand what I mean by them,” eventually he agrees that it would save them both time-and-effort if he willingly “accept[ed] everything” said to him to “learn” what he is “taught” (527). As the story progresses, Sancho Panza is more receptive to verbal correction for he “promise[s] to [consider his speech] before utter[ing] a single inappropriate or ill-considered word” (696). So when Don Quixote swaps “proportion” for “abortion” “resolve” for “dissolve” “palfrey” for “poultry” “critic” for “cricket” and “longinquity” for “longdrinkity,” Sancho Panza either agrees with what he “ought” to “have said” or asks for the definition of a new concept to learn its’ precise meaning (528, 536, 547, 612, 683). After learning what “eructate” means, for example, he uses “eructate” instead of “belch” (771). This, then, is how Sancho Panza not only learns to use the right words in the correct order but this is also how he broadens his vocal range of speech.
Essay 5: How a Female Peasant Makes Good In Society: Dulcinea as a Model of Inspiration For Aldonza Lorenzo and A Source of Encouragement for Don Quixote.
...Besides inspiring Don Quixote with a sense of constancy for her person, Dulcinea also inspires him with the courage that he needs to perform many brave acts of chivalry. For example, when he battles an enormous windmill-giant he “commend[s] himself with all his heart to his lady Dulcinea [and] charge[s] [forth at] top speed” (64). Again when Don Quixote mistakes the thuds of six-alternating fulling hammers for the plops of an oncoming ogre he “implores [Dulcinea] to favour him in [his] dreadful enterprise” (162). Likewise, Don Quixote conveys his enthusiasm for Dulcinea when he asks Sancho Panza if he “realiz[es] the might[ty] [strength] that [she] infuses into [his] arm” (276). Evidently, Dulcinea’s identity heightens Don Quixote’s physical strength, and amplifies his fighting prowess, because through bravery he wins her heart, sustains her admiration, and enhances her respect for him. Just thinking of Dulcinea while battling “enlighten[s] [his] mind and strengthen[s] [his] heart, so that [he is] unequalled in intelligence and in courage [because] nothing in life makes knights errant more courageous than being favored by their ladies” (533). Since Don Quixote thinks that success in battle comes not just from the strength with which a force is applied but also the intelligence with which smart-power is exercised, his love for Dulcinea strengthens his muscles and elevates his mind so that he bests his foes with a winning strategy of potency plus reasoning translated into triumph. Put another way, Dulcinea encourages Don Quixote to deploy his muscles and actuate his mind on her behalf to win battles aplenty − even against ferocious beasts. This is why he “freverently commends himself to his lady Dulcinea” to give him the strength he needs to defeat an uncooperative lion (595). Besides Don Quixote’s rash, or delusional, or foolhardy acts for Dulcinea, he also performs sane acts of courage for her which have more positive results: like when he frees a poor farmer laborer named Andres from being flogged by his paymaster; like when he jousts Tosilos to compel him to keep his promise to marry Donna Rodriguez’s daughter; like when he frees a chain-gang of outlaws who are tortured, lash stroked, and sent to the galleys for minor crimes; like when he brandishes his sword to protect a beautiful shepherdess named Marcela from importunate advances; like when he upholds true-love by battling rich Camacho’s friends in favor of poor Basilio’s suit; like when he tries to block an armed clash between two villages who feud over a petty, “donkey-bray,” misunderstanding. These examples prove that Don Quixote “has performed, do[es] perform and shall perform the most famous deeds of chivalry that have been witnessed, are [now] witnessed and shall be witnessed in the world,” all for Dulcinea del Toboso (49). In short, Dulcinea inspires Don Quixote to enact a wide variety of brave feats―some foolish some not―to bring positive growth to Cervantes’s fictional world of 17th century Spain.