Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Question of the Week (9/24/10)

While rightly upholding moral idealism, Quixote wrongly attempts to perpetuate outmoded customs and traditions and thus becomes a living anachronism. The message of Cervantes is that while one should embrace eternal truths, he should not wear the mantle of yesterday in upholding them. Cervantes adopted this motif as the central theme of his novel when he began writing Don Quixote as a parody and satire poking fun at escapist, unrealistic, romantic novels of the past that still enjoyed a large following in his time. But after Don Quixote and Sancho Panza began to come alive as endearing characters battling a flawed, passionless, and sometimes corrupt society, Cervantes downgraded this theme in favor of promoting the humanity of Quixote and Panza. Cite examples from the text which support the view that the main characters are more endearing in their nature than satirical. How is the late fifteenth century Spanish society in Don Quixote reflected in our contemporary society with regard to the cruelty in our world? Which theme do you think is more prevalent in the text?


Don't forget to bring your rough draft to class on Monday.
Don Quixote Essay Topics

1. What is the function of the prologue to Don Quixote? How does it compare with other prologues you've read? What kind of a book does the author claim he has written? What is the point of his conversation with the intelligent friend?

2. What is the function of travel in Don Quixote? Why do Don Quixote and Sancho need to leave La Mancha for their adventures to occur? How does the role of the journey in this text compare with other texts where journeys play a central role? What happens when the two return?

3. What is the role of the imagination in the narrative? What is the relationship between imagination and the "real" world? Why do characters imagine things to be different than they are? Are some fantasies more valid than others?

4. What is the role of romance in Don Quixote? How does this text play on the conventions of romance as you've experienced them in other texts? Pick one episode and describe the way it revises the stock characters and situations of chivalric romance.

5. What is the role of reading in this text? In what ways is reading dangerous or corrosive? Does the narrative endorse those characters who criticize the reading of romances? Or is the narrative voice more critical of their position? What is the relationship between reading and imagination? Are some kinds of reading valorized over others?

6. What is Sancho Panza's role in the narrative? Why is it important for Don Quixote to have a companion? What part does Sancho play in his adventures? What is the relationship between Sancho's social class and the parts he plays?

7. To put the question more broadly, how does this narrative deal with issues of social class? What kind of a person is Don Quixote? What is the relationship between his class position compared to the courtly life he is so nostalgic for? What are the differences among social classes drawn by this narrative?

8. Pick one important passage and analyze it in detail, commenting on its significance to the work as a whole.

9. Pose your own question and answer it. Include the question at the top of your paper.

17 comments:

Hudson Schuchman said...

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza seem to have a more endearing personality in my opinion because of two main reasons. The first is that they adopt a partially childish demeanor because of how they act. They act out their "Chivalric" and "Knightly" duties in a comedic fashion which displays them in a softer manor. Another thing that I believe contributes to the appearance of their more childish personalities is that there is a contrast between Quixote and the other people he meets. The people he meets tend to be more negative than positive and often bring up topics that are more heavy than the comedy of a crazy "knight" that Quixote always brings to the reader. I find that it makes Quixote seem all the more crazy when he is put next to and compared to a normal person of the time. You can relate this to the modern world in the same way. When you put a playful child (which Quixote acts like) next to people who have a more realistic and less playful attitude, people will gravitate to liking the child more.

Haiti quilter said...

I agree with hudson that DQ and Sancho have a sweet personality most of the time. I feel like sancho especially emanates a endearing personality. He does and says very funny things. "When Sancho reached his master, he was so exhausted and faint that he could hardly sit on his ass.(168)" I think that DQ seems very innocent because everything he does seems so silly and avoidable. DQ personality seems some-what like a little kid because of his child-ish imagination and his insistence that what he believes is actually true. ""The strange language of the knight was not understood by the ladies and this, added to his uncouth appearance, increased their laughter.(p. 65)" In the world today when somebody has ideas that seem childish or different we usually treat them as if they are less intelegant just because they are differnet.

Oren said...

I think that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza speak even more to the reader because of the society that they lived in and where they had their adventures. The society in which they reside is based on social class, and is seemingly harsh and sarcastic to those who travel outside of what is considered proper. In this case Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are such people because they are trying to being back they ways of knighthood and chivalry, and equality. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, in addition to going outside of the social guidelines, are also portrayed in the book as being lovable and endearing characters: Don Quixote with his funny sense of chivalry and kindness, and Sancho Panza with his gruffness and his aptness to fall asleep or get drunk. In my opinion, I think that Don Quixote is even more lovable because of his air of naivity and hs compulsiveness, "He, on his part was resolved to go in search of the shepherdess Marcela and offer all the service in his power." I think that his quote really shows how comic he is and how he gave a small speech to the other shepherds to not go follow Marcela, when his will go and search for her.
I also agree with Hudson in saying that Sancho Panza and Don Quixote act out their knightly and squire roles comedically, but not on purpose. It is how they are normally, grotesque comedic contrasts to the people they encounter.

anthony said...

I agree with Hudson that their childishness makes them more endearing. Don Quixote at times seems like a child playing dress up and Sancho just follows him and for some reason beleives everything he says, which really makes Sancho just as childish. He's like a child beleiving in santa the way he goes along with everything DQ says. Another thing that I think makes them less satiricle is that they always lose all their battles in an embarassing fasion, like when Sancho is being thrown up and down in the blanket and DQ is mad but he can't get over the wall because of all his broken ribs. This contributes to them looking childish because they are very serious about what they are doing but nobody takes them seriously. Don Quixote often gets beat up like when he attacked the merchants and the sheep herders, but nobody takes him seriously enough to actually kill him like they would probably do if they were attacked by a legitamate enemy like a bandit. This builds up over time and probably contributes to his clumsyness because at this point he is walking around with most of his ribs broken and almost no teeth. I think the build up of his injuries also makes him less satiricle

Parker Gardner said...

I feel that both Sancho Panza and Don Quixote are endearing and satirical. The two are endearing for many diverse reasons, whether it’s their misfortune, their naivety, their innocents, or their sincerity. One specific example that shows all of these is when the two are alone at night, in an unfamiliar forest, tormented by their thirst, the sounds of the stream and pounding in the distance: (With regard to Sancho) “Then drawing nearer to his master, he (Sancho) placed his one hand on the pommel of his saddle, and the other on the back of it, and he nestled up against the knights left thigh, not daring to stir from him the breath of a finger, so frightened was he by the thuds that still continued to sound in regular succession. Don Quixote then bade him tell a tale for his entertainment as he had promised, and Sancho replied that he would if his fear of the noise he head would let him.” I particularly like this example because of the endearing characteristics it conveys. So innocent are the pair that, though they are grown men, SP, so terrified by the sounds in the night, clings to his friend and dares not shift the width of a finger from DQ and the emotional security he provides, even (as following passages show) to go to the bathroom. Equally terrified and equally innocent, DQ asks SP to tell him a story, like a child asking for a bedtime story, to put his mind at ease. Kind as he is, SP obliges. So sincere is their relationship that the two share their terror in the night, both comforting each other, both relying on the other for courage and support. The passage also shows the misfortune and naivety of SP and DQ. Their misfortune is such that with nowhere to stay for the night, nothing to drink, and tired, weary bodies, they cannot even find comfort or rest in a meadow by a rushing stream. Finally, the passage shows the two’s naivety, for a simple excursion into the woods would reveal the sounds are not caused by monsters or danger, but a small mill and the harmer strikes of its grinding mechanisms. These circumstances and the misfortune, sincerity, naivety and innocents of the characters cause readers to sympathize and feel for the pair. The situation the pair is in is much less satirical or comical then it is moving and the actions of DQ and SP and the manner in which they deal with their situation endears the further to the reader. I agree with Oren that much as it appears to be in 16th century Spain from the reading, the society is unkind and inhospitable to those who stray from social norms. Today’s society is similar. The Sun god, who often walks around Hanover, is a prime example. He is very different from what is considered to be normal and many people laugh at him and find him to be strange or weird.

Parker Gardner said...

I forgot to say what page my quote was on. Its on page 189

Carl Tischbein said...

I agree with all of the above people, especially Hudson, who said that DQ's and Sancho's childish personality makes them more endearing. I again think that DQ's insanity kind of gives him a childish personality, imagining and arguing over unimportant things. Sancho is endearing because he is portrayed as the (fat), normal bystander. Sancho kind of goes along with the ride with DQ. I a think a perfect example of his personality is found on page 183. "[DQ] then shouted to Sancho Panza to come, but the latter turned a dead ear, for he was busily employed ransacking a sumpter mule that those good gentlemen had loaded down with things to eat." This illustrates his childish personality. DQ is a having a theoretical conversation with the priest he has almost killed, and Sancho is just standing back, stealing food from the priest's mule. I think the theme of cruelty is most heavily emphasized in the book, and I agree with Oren and Parker in that that type of society is like it is now. When someone does something different than what people think is 'normal', they are treated like they don't deserve to be in society and as if they are of the lowest social class.

Kate Kerin said...

Even though Don Quixote is out of their minds and senseless you can’t help finding him and his sidekick an endearing pair because of their laughable antics. I agree with other post saying that Don Quixote and Sancho often emulate two children out on a make believe adventure. While reading I frequently find myself thinking of the two of them as brothers. I think of Sancho as the younger brother who idolizes Don Quixote and tries to copy him, and Don Quixote as the slightly older brother that is not completely sure of himself but he never lets Sancho see this because he is supposed to be the mature, reliable one. In the windmill scene where Don Quixote says "It is easy to see that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat." This passage reminded me of an older brother telling off his younger sibling, as my brother often did when we were little. Don Quixote and Sancho’s reactions with each other also have to do with social class, and this is why they interact this way wit each other. I also find that state that Don Quixote and Sancho are more likable when they are around people that make fun of them, because the people making fun of them look bad.

Marlou Taenzer said...

Although Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza do seem somewhat insane one can't help but smile when reading about them. They do as Hudson asserted above act in a very childish manor, which does make them more endearing. I agree with Anthony that Don Quixote seems like a little child playing dress up and throwing himself completely into this world that he has read about in his books, however I think Don Quixote is the one that represents the young child that believes in Santa. He has read about this world and now believes in it more than anything. Sancho is in my opinion slightly more realistic than Don Quixote. For example when Don Quixote was insisting on fighting with the windmills because he is blind to the fact that they are not giants, Sancho is the one that tells Don Quixote that they are not giants but windmills. "Those over there are not giants but windmills" (pg 98). I very much agree with Kate, I too find myself thinking of them as brothers. Don Quixote acts like the older brother who knows all, and Sancho like the younger brother who looks up to Don Quixote. When Don Quixote is injured and says that he must not complain because he is a knight Sancho says that he complains all the time. "'That is true,' replied Don Quixote, 'and if I do not complain, it is because knights-errant must never complain any wound, even if their guts are protruding from them.'
'If that be so, I've no more to say,' answered Sancho, 'but God knows I'd be glad to hear you complain when anything hurts you. As for myself, I'll never fail to complain at the smallest twinge, unless this business of not complaining applies also to squires." (pg 100) I think Sancho is portrayed as someone who is trying very very hard to be like Don Quixote and does his best to please him. "Sancho Panza rushed up to his assistance as fast as his ass could gallop" (pg 99). He frequently makes me laugh while reading. Don Quixote plays the part of the older brother very well, and I also think he enjoys it, he always has an explanation for his sometimes crazy actions, like when he explained that the sorcerer turned the giants into windmills so that he could not be victorious. He also "knows" more than Sancho does. "'How little you understand!' answered Don Quixote. 'You mist know, Sancho that it is the pride of knights-errant to remain for a while month without eating, and when they do, they eat only what is ready at hand.'" (pg 115)The "older and wiser brother" Don Quixote and his sidekick "the younger brother" Sancho Panza are a very endearing duo.
The late 15th century that is portrayed in Don Quixote is very similar to the one that we live in today. People treat others worse for being different. Isn't it amazing how little society has progressed in that manor? Today people are made fun of for the way they act, dress, speak. They are made fun of for their hobbies, talents, and for to be honest anything that seems different from the image that society considers "normal". As people we fail regularly to embrace our differences instead we frown upon them, hopefully that will one day change.

erbear508 said...

When he is talking to som men, Sancho is telling them, "'If those gentlemen wish to know who the champion is who routed them, you may say that he is the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Rueful Figure.'" (183) This quote shows that Sancho is always annoyed when Don Quixote falls or attacks random people, but he is actually quite proud of his master. I think Sancho was supposed to be an antagonist for Don Quixoter, but he turned out that he was truely faithful.

Carl does have a good point though, that while Don Quixote was bravely fighting, Sancho was griedily stealing food. Maybe he was acting faithful in my quote so Don Quixote would still want him as a squire, but not faithful in Carl's quote because Don QUixote's back was turned.

Emily said...

I completely agree with Hudson that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have a very childish demeanor. They use their imagination to live their lives. They almost seem like siblings, and they argue like siblings. "I gather clearly from all this is that those adventures that we are after will bring us in the end so many misadventures that we won't know our right foot from our left. The best and wisest thing for us to do , in my humble opinion, is to go back to the village" Sancho said, but Don Quixote reacted with "How little you know of knighthood...be quiet and have patience" (169). Each battle Sancho tries to convince him out of it, and each time Don Quixote has an excuse for why he should do what he wants.

David W. said...

I think that Don Quixote is endearing because he is a non-threatening character. Although he attacks people, he always does so for an absolutely ridiculous reason. The way that he goes around pretending (subconsciously) to be a knight-errant is, as Hudson said, is very childlike and I agree strongly with that point. Don Quixote is non-threatening because he is old and he is childlike to the reader because of his imagination. Another reason that DQ is endearing to the reader is that he always ends up in pitiful situations like the time that he gets beaten by a group of muleteers after he charges them and falls off of his horse. He ends up being beaten by his own lance and stays on the ground thinking that"his misfortune was peculiar for a knight-errant and he attributed the whole accident to the fault of his horse"(80). He doesn't stand because he was" so bruised... (that) it was impossible to get up" (80). What cervantes is creating here is a very pitiful scene which makes it clear that DQ is actually non-threatening which endears the character to the reader.

sam merrens said...

Don Quixote has many examples of the recurring theme of upholding morals while not getting caught up in the times of yesterday.  Don Quixote is obviously anachronistic because he acts like a knight and dresses up like one, even though they no longer exist and to everyone else he is just satirical.  Cervantes exemplifies this theme by showing to the reader that most everyone else finds it funny that he thinks that he is a knight.  In this way, he shows his opinion that heroes shouldn't try to act like those that have come before them, by pretending to be what they are not.  I agree with David that Don Quixote is an endearing character.

Daniel said...

Don Quixote thinks he is a knight so he definetly is an anachronistic and really up holds what he believes. Don Quixote is an endearing character like sam said. He does well in everything and really does belive knight even if he has to pretend.

Charlie said...

I believe that DQ and SP are somewhat endearing, because of their (like Hudson said) childishness. They are endearing because they are comical, and innocent. They are also likeable because they mean well, they are not out to make enemies, they are out to fight the Enchanter. That in itself is endearing to the reader. They are also a bit satiracel because sometimes DQ can be quite obnoxious to the reader like when he starts fights, over what he thinks is a big deal.

David Desaulniers said...

I agree with Charlie that the both of them have very childish sides, and they like to play around a lot. But sometimes they can be satirical since DQ can be a hassle and not fun to be around. But there are times when both are likable because of the fun they have on their quests, and the joy it brings to the reader.

Meryl said...

I agree with David and Charlie that DQ and SP are childish. They have this idea in their head about what should happen. But what they want to happen and what actually happens in very different. I also agree with others that DQ is a endearing character. He doesn't let anything stop this frenzy that he has decided to go on. It is true that these two characters are impossible not to like. Like others said, they mean well and are not out to try and hurt anyone of purpose, but they sometimes do. "[DQ] then shouted to Sancho Panza to come, but the latter turned a dead ear, for he was busily employed ransacking a sumpter mule that those good gentlemen had loaded down with things to eat."(pg. 183) I think that is very good example of childlike behavior. Sancho just stands by and watches while stealing food. I think because of this they are not seen as normal in society and therefor and not considered part of it because they are not normal.