I have really enjoyed delving into part two of the novel, Don Quixote de La Mancha, as well as looking at continued themes and the development of characters. The character I find most intriguing in part two is Sancho’s wife, Teresa/Juana. We see her transform from an almost completely silent figure to an active participant in the dialogue. This blog post will discuss what it is that Cervantes may mean by changing her character and name.
“Nay, then, husband,” said Teresa; “let the hen live, though it be with her pip, line and let the devil take all the governments in the world; you came out of your mother’s womb without a government, you have lived until now without a government, and when it is God’s will you will go, or be carried, to your grave, without a government. How many there are in the world who live without the government, and continue to live all the same, and are reckoned in the numbers of the people. The best sauce in the world is hunger, and as the poor are never without that, they always eat with a relish.”
This paragraph I find extremely enlightening, and the reason for Juana ‘becoming’ Teresa. This change in name is Cervantes’s declaration of her change in character. Rather than being a ‘fly on the wall’ as Juana, Teresa is an active character, expressing a clear opinion.
Her message, I believe, is Cervantes’s way of stating the ‘common’ views of the day regarding class and positions throughout one’s life. It was the typical standpoint that one should be contented with their place in society. Whether that place was at the bottom lower class where servants and laborers stood, or right at the top with the royalty, one was expected to stay in the place where they were born, know their limits and expectations, sticking to them at all times. When one crossed the lines of class, it was considered with disgust, even outrage. In using Teresa to state this common opinion, Cervantes is then able to counteract and speak out against the norms through Sancho’s responses and actions.
“By my faith,” replied Sancho, “if God brings me to get any sort of a government, I intend to make such a high match for Maria Sancho that there will be no approaching her without calling her, ‘my lady’.”
Speaking of his daughter in the above quote, Sancho Panza seeks to elevate himself and his family in status and position. This theme of revolutionary ideas is a continued motif from part one of the novel. Using seemingly innocent conversations such as the above between Sancho and his wife, Cervantes is able to slip in new ideas concerning class, women’s’ positions, acceptance of new literature, as well as statements regarding political upheaval during that time period in Spain.
Overall, I think that part two is going to be a continued treat to read. Already, the dialogue and scenes have brought new developments to characters we may have seen before as uninteresting. They have also continued to serve our author’s purpose in pinpointing problems and promoting new ideas in Spanish political and cultural society. I look forward to the future chapters with interest.