“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
-Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Having read Don Quixote already, I came into the class with a singular and preconceived notion of Don Quixote as a character. I previously saw him only as a delusional elderly man and I perceived his story as a tragic comedy of sorts. This class enabled me to see Don Quixote in a new light. There are multiple interpretations of what is truly going on in Don Quixote’s head and whether or not he is a madman. However, the interpretation that stuck with the most was the concept of Don Quixote as a dreamer. Although there is certainly evidence that points to the idea that Don Quixote is a fool, it is inspiring to view him as an imaginative man with a dream.
From the outset, Don Quixote is described as somewhat of a madman. After Don Quixote decides to pursue knight-errantry, Cervantes writes, “So, having lost his wits, he came up with the strangest idea ever concocted by a crazy man, and that was that he thought it right and necessary, both to increase his honor and to serve the republic, to roam the world on horseback, dressed in his armor, seeking adventures” (23). Many people fail to see the courage and imagination necessary to venture out of their physical and mental comfort zone to pursue something no one else can see or understand. Don Quixote is inspiring in his ability to maintain his vision despite the others’ denial of its existence. Many great leaders throughout history experienced similar situations. Although Don Quixote’s quest is not ultimately for the good of humanity and is more of a personal dream, his attitude of persistence and his imagination can be applied elsewhere and teach the reader valuable traits.
Additionally, his unreciprocated commitment to the imaginary Dulcinea del Toboso can certainly be interpreted as delusional, but is far more interesting when seen as genuine faith and loyalty. Before going up against a lion, Don Quixote states, “Fear, at least…will have made it seem larger than half the world. Stand back, Sancho, and leave me alone, and if I should die here, you know our long-standing agreement—you’ll go to Dulcinea…and I’ll say no more” (627). Even when his own life is on the line, Don Quixote thinks only of Dulcinea and her fate, prioritizing her over himself. Another instance in which this can be seen is when Don Quixote was sleeping at the Duke and Duchess’s castle and “he heard someone opening the door to his room with a key, and he immediately thought that the enamored maiden had come to assail his chastity and induce him to betray his fidelity to Dulcinea del Toboso” (849). On his “Hero’s Journey”, Don Quixote is constantly confronted by challenges and temptations, yet remains persistent in his quest and loyal to his beloved (despite the question of her existence).
Because of his dreamer attitude, Don Quixote seems to complete his quest and establish a legacy. After his death, Cervantes writes, “This is the end of the ingenious hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha, whose village Cide Hamete Benengeli refused to declare, so that all the towns and villages of La Mancha might contend among themselves to adopt him and claim him as their own as did the seven cities of Greece for Homer” (1033). Cervantes draws a parallel between Cide Hamete and Homer, consequentially implying a parallel between Odysseus and Don Quixote. This cements Don Quixote’s status as a heroic dreamer and suggests that his legacy will be similarly impactful, which it is.