I’m going to be relating this once again to my anthropology class since our subjects seem to be relevant to one another in parts. In both classes we have touched upon the subject of classes, groupings of similar people in a social hierarchy. Classes are dictated by criteria, such as ‘occupation, education, and income.’ Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, Chapter 8, Section 3; That being the case in 21st century America.

Subjective Social Class Membership: 45.7% Working, 43.4% Middle, 7.3% Lower, 3.6% Upper

http://open.lib.umn.edu/sociology/wp-content/uploads/sites/173/2015/07/379e75d647480cd66c95af249b02a265.jpg Economic Classes

One can see this in the novel Don Quixote. Ranking at the top of the hierarchical latter is the duke, right below her the duchess, and underneath her and tied are the ecclesiastic and don Quixote. Even further below them are Sancho, only surpassing the help due to his status of being don Quixote’s squire. Otherwise, he’d only be among the lowest of the low, a commoner without respectable occupation, much if any education, and a measly income.

We can see this when Sancho asks of the duchess to allow don Quixote the honor of serving her.

‘”…sends me to ask Your Highness to be pleased to give [don Quixote] your consent, permission, and blessing, to put his desire into effect, which is none other-the way he says and I think-than to serve Your lofty Highness and beauty. With this permission you will be doing something that will redoundto your benefit, and he’ll consider it a great favor and a source of great satisfaction.”‘ Don Quixote,  Miguel de Cervantes, 1605 & 1615, Part II, Chapter XXX

The duchess herself acknowledges social classes when she responds:

‘”Good squire,” responded the lady, “you’ve certainly given your message with all of the details required for such missions. Get up from the ground, for a squire of such a great knight as is the Woebegone Knight, about whom we have heard quite a bit, shouldn’t be on his knees. Arise, my friend, and tell your master…”‘ Don Quixote,  Miguel de Cervantes, 1605 & 1615, Part II, Chapter XXX

The best way to understand the social hierarchy presented in the novel is by knowing the more subtle connotations that come from forms of address, tone, and body language.

Take Sancho’s kneeling for example. That is an example, outdated as it would be now, of submissive behavior shown to a member of the higher class by one of the lower class. The same can be said about the way that Sancho addresses and speaks about don Quixote. As his ‘master,’ not so much an equal but a social better.

And even though the duke and duchess both hold titles of the same theoretical amount of power and authority (they being nobility and all), due to gender inequalities, the duke, being the male, is still a social better compared to her.

This is somewhat subverted when the maidservants act out against Sancho but that itself is sanctioned resistance that in turn reinforces the overall social structure; this is called, ironically, anti-structure. Just an interesting tidbit.

Class itself, however, brings up to one of the criteria by which it is defined. First and foremost, in my opinion, is the income aspect of it all. Money has always had power. How much power may depend but power it does indeed have. The duke and duchess can put up their spectacles because they have money. This begs into question how don Quixote has afforded his trip, based on his being an hidalgo. He’s not exactly rolling in money. Just how has don Quixote managed to afford this adventure? Could this be a plot hole?