Crime and Punishment and Don Quixote: Deconstructing the Concept of Madness

Madness and peace of mind seem to exist on opposite poles of a binary; one is defined by the lack of the other. However, this binary, though present in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Criminal offense and Punishment and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, is troublesome. The lead characters– who are implied to represent the mad extreme– straddle the line that separates sanity from madness, and they therefore refuse to be so quickly classified. While the authors show that such a binary can not discuss a complicated human character, they extend their argument one step even more: madness is not an agent that results in unreasonable human habits, but a description of such behavior. One is not illogical because he is mad; one is considered mad by society due to the fact that he is acting irrationally. To get an understanding of the factor for certain habits, one need to consider each thread in the web of causes that shape identity and impact action.

Cervantes encourages the reader to conclude that Don Quixote is undoubtedly mad. The reader is easily convinced because the third-party storyteller is presented as objective and omniscient. The narrator explains Don Quixote as having “utterly wrecked his factor” and fallen “into the strangest fancy that ever a madman had in the whole world” (Cervantes 33). If Quixote represents the mad extreme of the binary, the narrator corresponds to the opposite pole. Therefore, the reader himself, who is lined up with the narrator, discovers his position beside the storyteller on one extreme. Sancho Panza, who functions as a voice for the reader, more persuades the reader that Don Quixote is entirely delusional. He voices the reader’s unbelief and outrage that Don Quixote permits his fantasies to have such devastating real life impacts. For instance, when Don Quixote asserts that he will avenge “the outrage which they have done to Rocinante,” Sancho replies skeptically, “How the devil can we retaliate when there are more than twenty of them, and we are just 2?” (Cervantes 112). Sancho humbly voices his shock again and again. In responding to a common experience leading to injury, Sancho states, “It’s my viewpoint that the creatures who entertained themselves at my expenditure were not phantoms or captivated, as your worship says, however flesh-and-blood men like ourselves” (Cervantes 133). The narrator likewise makes a clear distinction in between what Don Quixote’s imagines and what is real. Even the most clear scenarios” [do] not prevent Don Quixote from picturing what [is] neither noticeable nor current” (Cervantes 135). The simple binary that classifies both Quixote and Sancho in the beginning, nevertheless, does not exist for long; Cervantes starts to check out how madness and sanity can overlap.

It becomes significantly clear that Don Quixote’s madness is not seamless; the reader captures Don Quixote in moments of perfect clearness, throughout which he appears completely capable of logical idea. Quixote is able to talk about politics with the priest in the barber “with such intelligence?that the 2 inspectors believed whatever that he was quite recuperated and in complete belongings of his wits” (Cervantes 472). He ends up being increasingly able to acknowledge the limits of his imagination and increasingly going to relinquish the dream once it starts to push these limits. When Quixote errors a church for Dulcinea’s palace, for example, he realizes “immediately that the structure was no royal castle, but the parish church of the place” (Cervantes 521). Likewise, Sancho Panza– and other characters that represent reason– shows insanity amidst his rationality. The reader doubts exactly how affordable Sancho can really be if he continues as Quixote’s squire despite the truth that he recognizes the recklessness of Quixote’s actions. He does so due to the fact that he believes that “an experience might happen that would win him in the twinkling of an eye some island, of which he would [be made] governor” (Cervantes 66). The canon later notes this contradiction as he marvels “at Sancho’s foolishness in so ardently desiring the courtship of his master had actually assured him” (Cervantes 443). The strange concurrence of madness and peace of mind in these characters is incredibly comparable. The priest and the barber, for instance, compare the madness of these two characters, commenting that “the pair of them appear to be cast in one mould, and the master’s insanity would not deserve a farthing without the squire’s foolishness” (Cervantes 482). By demonstrating how madness and peace of mind can exist side-by-side, Cervantes begins to break down the binary he originally put in location.

The reader is offered additional factor to be suspicious of Don Quixote’s madness. There seem to be a particular order and sense to his insanity, explained by the narrator as “well-reasoned nonsense” (Cervantes 443). First of all, his insanity is restricted to the topic of chivalry– he can comment logically on nearly any other problem. For instance, when Quixote is being returned home for rehabilitation in, the canon keeps in mind that he displayed “excellent sense in his discussion and in his answers” and “just [loses] his stirrups?on the topic of chivalry” (Cervantes 435). As soon as inside the fictional chivalric world he has actually developed for himself, nevertheless, Quixote’s habits and thinking is both consistent and rational. He carefully follows the standards detailed by the canon of chivalric literature with which he is so familiar. For instance, “Don Quixote [often does] sleep however [believes] about his Lady Dulcinea, to conform to what he [has] checked out in his books about knights spending numerous sleep deprived knights in woodland and desert home on the memory of their girls” (Cervantes 70). All of his actions are completely consistent with what is expected of a knight errant. Quixote has actually clearly not lost the ability to factor, as such inability would be widely present.

Citing “madness” as the factor that Don Quixote has unexpectedly refashioned himself as a knight errant ends up being a less and less acceptable explanation for his habits. If not it is not since he seethes, the curious reader will question, why does Quixote act in a manner that is completely delusional Cervantes urges the reader to make a vital shift in his reasoning; he prompts the reader to regard madness not as a cause for irrational behavior, however rather as a description of it.

It is essential to consider the function that Quixote’s behavior serves. What need does it satisfy Quixote, before he became a knight errant, lead a comfy yet dull life, with a “habitual diet plan on [which] he spent three-quarters of his income” and essentially “absolutely nothing to do [but to give] himself as much as the reading of books on knight errantry” (Cervantes 31). It is no wonder that he took such satisfaction in checking out chivalric novels, which enabled him to vicariously experience honor, victory, and true love. If one delights in something vicariously, it is affordable to assume that he may enjoy experiencing it in real life. This would explain why Quixote “hastened to translate his desires into action impelled to this by the thought of the loss the world suffered by his delay, seeing the complaints there were to redress, the wrongs to right, the injuries to modify” (Cervantes 33-35). Becoming a knight errant, for that reason, responded to Quixote’s thirst for experience, honor, renown, and a function. One sees that Sancho, too, permits himself to be deluded in order to fill a specific requirement: to offer his household and raise his social status.

If insanity is not the reason for particular habits however a description of it, the reader should question by what criteria the habits is evaluated and who identifies this criteria. Quixote’s behavior is considered mad since it responds to a world that is irregular with what most people view as reality. It is unfortunate for Don Quixote that he can not be a real knight. Don Quixote does not Don Quixote authors both his identity and his function: he has actually embraced the identity of a knight errant, as specified by his chivalric novels, and he transforms everyday scenarios into adventures and conquests so that he something to do, a purpose.

In the last pages of Don Quixote, Cervantes furthers his argument that habits and thus identity modifications as our internal needs alter. When Quixote has essentially been beat as a knight errant– and is needed to remain in the village for a year– he decides to a shepherd, to “provide play to [his imagination] and design the plan of the pastoral life [he is] implied to follow” that “might offer free rein to his amorous thoughts, whilst occupying himself because pastoral and virtuous calling” (Cervantes 930). Shepherding befits the more melancholy Don Quixote and would enable him to grieve his defeat lost love and amongst male friends. However, this requirement suddenly changes once again when Quixote “a fever [seizes] him” and sends him to his death bed (Cervantes 935). An abrupt conversion to Christianity follows, with a sober renunciation of his folly as a knight. While this might appear to the reader that he has finally surrendered to reality and returned to his true self, Cervantes notifies us that something more may be occurring. Simply as Quixote is renouncing “those detestable books of chivalry,” he regrets the fact that his impending death “leaves [him] no time to make amends by checking out other [religious] books which may enlighten [his] soul” (Cervantes 35). This aligns his conversion to Christianity with his conversion to knight-errantry; Christianity is simply another identity that one can don like a cape. Cervantes, nevertheless, seems to recommend that there is no such thing as outright identity, which even socially accepted, “sane” identities (such as Christianity) are built rather then intrinsic.

There are many parallels in the manner in which Cervantes and Dostoevsky deal with insanity. Like Cervantes, Dostoevsky aims to encourage the reader in the beginning that his protagonist, Raskolnikov, is mad. Through free and direct discourse, Dostoevsky opens a window onto Raskolnikov’s mental processes. This entryway into the mind of the lead character is a departure from Cervantes, whose narrative voice stays distinct from that of the protagonist. Dostoevsky transports the reader inside Raskolnikov’s head by mixing the narrative voice with Raskolnikov’s internal monologue. Among Raskolnikov’s ideas, for example, slips into the narrative: “However to stop on the stairs to have to evade all the while, make reasons, lie– oh, no, much better to take catlike down the stairs in some way and slip away unseen by anybody” (Dostoevsky 3). Alternatively, a method that Dostoevsky uses to catch Raskolnikov’s disjointed thought process leakages into the narrative too. The ellipses– often used to show how Raskolnikov’s ideas face one another– are generally included within the quotations of his inner thoughts. In some cases, nevertheless, they appear to leave: “Now its strange ring seemed unexpectedly to remind [Raskolnikov] of something and bring it plainly prior to him?He jumped, so weak had his nerves become this time” (Dostoevsky 6). Even Raskolnikov’s first transcribed thoughts– which babble about babbling– echo with madness:” I found out to babble over this past month, lying in a corner day in and day out, considering cuckooland'” (Dostoevsky 4). The narrative description of Raskolnikov enhances the notion that he is mad: “There was something strange in him; his eyes seemed even to be lit with rapture there seemed also to be a flicker of madness in them” (Dostoevsky 12). As the novel unfolds, there is a growing number of proof that recommends that Raskolnikov seethes. This proof consists of generally actions and thoughts that appear inconsistent, inconsistent, asocial, without a logical intention, or independent of causality. For instance, after Raskolnikov reads his mother’s letter, he exhibits what appear to be inconsistent feelings: sadness and destructive delight. His “face was wet with tears?but when he completed, it was pale, twisted convulsively, and a heavy, bilious, spiteful smile roamed over his face” (Dostoevsky 39). Such examples that recommend that Raskolnikov seethes are many.

While Dostoevsky plainly desires Raskolnikov to appear mad, the divide between madness and peace of mind in Crime and Penalty is even less clear than in Don Quixote. The very first binary that ends up being problematic is that the world inside Raskolnikov’s mind is mad and the world exterior is organized and sane. This binary damages as the reader catches looks of complete lucidity and even calculation in Raskolnikov’s reasoning and habits, till it becomes clear that Raskolnikov, like Don Quixote, is concurrently sane and mad, a seeming paradox that it is not altogether unexpected for somebody whose name is originated from raskol, the Russian word for split. In one scene, Raskolnikov weeps out at this mother and sis “with exaggerated inflammation,” however “was partly pretending” (Dostoevsky 246). Yet another binary– which positions Razumikhin at the sane extreme and Raskolnikov as the mad extreme– parallels the binary that Cervantes sets up in between Sancho Panza and Don Quixote. It works in a similar fashion. Razumikhin displays his own sort of madness: he is constantly drunk, which obscures his reason and makes him socially self-important. Perhaps the most striking binary that Dostoevsky destabilizes is that in between the reader and Raskolnikov, which classifies the reader as sane and Raskolnikov as mad. Nevertheless, Dostoevsky, by giving the reader access to Raskolnikov’s inner world, facilitates a connection between reader and lead character. By the time that Raskolnikov has dedicated the murder, the reader finds himself as captured up in the feeling and excitement as Raskolnikov is, experiencing a vicarious sensation of stress and anxiety about the possibility of nabbed and release after the criminal activity is lastly dedicated.

Dostoevsky, like Cervantes, recommends that madness has no agency in itself, however is simply a behavioral category. The reasons Raskolnikov devotes the murder are actively left ambiguous, and possibly stay unsolved– even by the end of the novel. Dostoevsky provides numerous possible explanations regarding why Raskolnikov devoted the criminal offense, consisting of monetary gain, humanitarian factors, mental disorder, and environmental influences, among others. While each proposal has merit and seems plausible, none are alone sufficient to discuss Raskolnikov’s behavior. Environment, for example, is cited as one possible cause. Given the awful hardship of his scenario, it is not surprising that he is driven to desperation. Svidrigailov remarks that “one rarely finds a location where there are numerous dismal, sharp, and unusual impacts on the soul of a man as in Petersburg (Dostoevsky 467). Razumikhin explains him as “a bad student, paralyzed by hardship and hypochondria, on the edge of a harsh health problem and delirium” (Dostoevsky 268). Some individuals believe that “if society itself is generally set up, all criminal offenses will at once disappear, because there will be no factor for protesting and everyone will quickly end up being righteous,” while others are staunchly against this theory because “nature isn’t considered” (Dostoevsky 256). When none of this theories appear to be enough, it is concluded “that the criminal offense itself could not have actually occurred otherwise than in some sort of temporary madness, consisting of, so to speak, a morbid monomania of murder and break-in, with no additional objective or calculation for revenue” (Dostoevsky 536). This conclusion, nevertheless, seems terribly inadequate, leaving the reader with a cold dissatisfaction. The political theory that Raskolnikov subscribes most emphatically to is that there are two classes of individuals: the common and the amazing. As much as Raskolnikov wants to think that his criminal activity was a trial of sorts to see whether or he was a Napoleon or a louse, the reality appears to be that he already understands that he is no Napoleon. He says to himself, “I needed to have actually understood beforehand?Eh! however I did know in advance!” (Dostoevsky 274). Raskolnikov possibly comes closest to comprehending by concluding that he “just wanted to dare?that’s the entire factor!” (Dostoevsky 418). It is this unidentifiable, visceral, almost compulsive desire that originates from deep within the subconscious.

While Dostoevsky can not help the reader to fully debunk the human subconscious, he can induce pang– nevertheless small– of the same subconscious urge to eliminate that Raskolnikov himself experiences. This, perhaps, is Dostoevsky real stroke of genius. This desire exists totally beyond the realm of insanity, as defined by society. It is likewise important to bear in mind that Dostoevsky was composing in a post-Freudian time, and Dostoevsky seems to encourage the reader to theorize about Raskolnikov’s subconscious activity. Raskolnikov’s dreams about the horse and the apocalyptic world ask for such analysis. In this dream, he is a little young boy strolling with his daddy. They discover an inebriated crowd of people trying to require an old mare to drag a load that is far too heavy for her. Raskolnikov, as the child, feels entirely powerless because he can not provoke an action from his impotent dad and can not stop the whipping, even when he puts his own body in between the horse and the whip (Dostoevsky 56). This dream suggests another possible motive for the criminal activity: Raskolnikov wishes to do something to oppose his sensations of impotence and powerlessness in life. When Porfiry states, “Humanity is a mirror, sir, the clearest mirror,” he is maybe describing the reality that our behavior is a symptom of the activity happening on a subconscious level that we can not comprehend reasonably (Dostoevsky 342). The subconscious resembles a black box that combines countless causes and lead to a specific action or thought. Nevertheless, how these causes connect inside this dark box is a really complex matter, one that Dostoevsky definitely does not totally resolve. It is most likely that the activity and workings of the subconscious are beyond even the retrospective theorizing of the conscious mind. Because the subconscious mind is so tough to understand, the actions that it impacts might be mislabeled by society as caused by madness.

Dostoevsky and Cervantes both argue that madness is specified by society and is the description instead of a representative. In this, they acknowledge the universality of advises and desires to fill our subconscious needs. There is, however, something that sets Don Quixote and Raskolnikov apart from the average individual. The distinction appears to lie in the fact that Quixote and Raskolnikov react to these prompts with little factor to consider of how their satisfaction will work in the structure of society. Raskolnikov, for example, overhears two boys in a club going over whether they would “kill the old lady for the sake of justice,” seeing as she is “a stupid, worthless, worthless, wicked, sick old crone … harmful to everybody” (Dostoevsky 65). They are contemplating the specific same idea as Raskolnikov; the difference is that Raskolnikov in fact follows through. Raskolnikov recommends that all men have urges and desires, yet select not to react to them as a result of “cowardice;” guy worries “a brand-new step, [his] own brand-new word” (Dostoevsky 4). Cervantes likewise shows the universality of these urges. While Cervantes does not make the reader see deception as reality, he has actually successfully caused the very same visceral desire to refashion ourselves according to our needs that initially drove Quixote. And we are certainly not alone. Sancho, the priest, and the barber– all of who are figures lined up with the reader as voices of reason and sense– end up being awfully delighted with Quixote’s new proposition. While “astonished at Don Quixote’s fresh fad,” the priest and the barber “succumbed to his new task, praising his recklessness as wisdom and using to join him in its pursuit” (Cervantes 933).

While both Cervantes and Dostoevsky acknowledge that identity is always relative to society, they do not denounce this impact altogether or promote that one merely create a fictional world in action to his individual needs. Both authors issue a warning versus enabling subconscious desires to victory over factor or to lead to asocial habits. This is detailed especially well in Raskolnikov’s apocalyptic dream, in which the human race is contaminated by trichinae that make each person think “the fact [is] consisted of in himself alone,” and as a result, they can not” agree on what to consider evil, what as great” (Dostoevsky 547). This dream shows the large-scale implications of such habits. Similarly, Cervantes definitely presents a bitter side to knight errantry, particularly in the melancholy that follows it.

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