Deconstructing Madness in Crime and Punishment and Don Quixote Vanessa Carr

Madness and sanity 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 activity and Penalty and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, is bothersome. The lead characters – who are suggested to represent the mad extreme – straddle the line that separates peace of mind from insanity, and they therefore decline to be so easily classified. While the authors demonstrate that such a binary can not describe an intricate human character, they extend their argument one step further: insanity is not a representative that leads to irrational human behavior, however a description of such habits. One is not irrational since he is mad; one is considered mad by society since he is acting crazily. To gain an understanding of the reason for certain habits, one must consider each thread in the web of causes that shape identity and result action.

Cervantes encourages the reader to conclude that Don Quixote is certainly mad. The reader is quickly persuaded due to the fact that the third-party storyteller is presented as objective and omniscient. The narrator describes Don Quixote as having “absolutely damaged his factor” and fallen “into the strangest fancy that ever a madman had in the entire world” (Cervantes 33). If Quixote represents the mad extreme of the binary, the storyteller represents the opposite pole. Hence, the reader himself, who is aligned with the storyteller, discovers his position beside the storyteller on one extreme. Sancho Panza, who acts as a voice for the reader, additional persuades the reader that Don Quixote is totally delusional. He voices the reader’s unbelief and outrage that Don Quixote enables his dreams to have such dreadful real life impacts. For example, when Don Quixote asserts that he will avenge “the outrage which they have done to Rocinante,” Sancho replies skeptically, “How the devil can we take revenge when there are more than twenty of them, and we are only two ?” (Cervantes 112). Sancho humbly voices his disbelief again and again. In responding to a normal adventure leading to injury, Sancho says, “It’s my opinion that the animals who amused themselves at my expenditure were not phantoms or captivated, as your praise states, but flesh-and-blood males like ourselves” (Cervantes 133). The storyteller likewise makes a clear distinction between what Don Quixote’s imagines and what is genuine. Even the most clear situations” [do] not avoid Don Quixote from imagining what [is] neither visible nor existing” (Cervantes 135). The simple binary that classifies both Quixote and Sancho in the beginning, however, does not exist for long; Cervantes starts to check out how insanity and peace of mind can overlap.

It ends up being significantly clear that Don Quixote’s madness is not seamless; the reader catches Don Quixote in moments of ideal clarity, during which he appears entirely capable of logical idea. Quixote is able to discuss politics with the priest in the barber “with such intelligence that the 2 examiners believed whatever that he was rather recuperated and in total possession of his wits” (Cervantes 472). He becomes progressively able to recognize the limitations of his imagination and significantly going to give up the fantasy once it begins to push these limits. When Quixote errors a church for Dulcinea’s palace, for instance, he understands “right away that the structure was no royal castle, however the parish church of the place” (Cervantes 521). Likewise, Sancho Panza – and other characters that represent factor – shows madness amidst his rationality. The reader doubts precisely how reasonable Sancho can actually be if he continues as Quixote’s squire regardless of the fact that he acknowledges the recklessness of Quixote’s actions. He does so because he thinks that “an experience may take place that would win him in the twinkling of an eye some island, of which he would [be made] guv” (Cervantes 66). The canon later notes this contradiction as he marvels “at Sancho’s absurdity in so ardently desiring the courtship of his master had guaranteed him” (Cervantes 443). The unusual concurrence of insanity and peace of mind in these characters is incredibly comparable. The priest and the barber, for example, compare the insanity of these 2 characters, commenting that “the pair of them appear to be cast in one mould, and the master’s insanity would not be worth a farthing without the squire’s foolishness” (Cervantes 482). By showing how madness and sanity can exist together, Cervantes starts to break down the binary he initially put in location.

The reader is provided additional reason to be suspicious of Don Quixote’s insanity. There seem to be a certain order and sense to his madness, described by the narrator as “well-reasoned nonsense” (Cervantes 443). To start with, his insanity is restricted to the subject of chivalry – he can comment rationally on practically any other concern. For example, when Quixote is being returned home for rehabilitation in, the canon keeps in mind that he showed “excellent sense in his conversation and in his answers” and “only [loses] his stirrups on the topic of chivalry” (Cervantes 435). Once inside the imaginary chivalric world he has created for himself, nevertheless, Quixote’s behavior and thinking is both constant and rational. He carefully follows the guidelines detailed by the canon of chivalric literature with which he is so familiar. For example, “Don Quixote [often does] sleep but [thinks] about his Lady Dulcinea, to comply with what he [has] checked out in his books about knights investing lots of sleep deprived knights in woodland and desert residence on the memory of their girls” (Cervantes 70). All of his actions are totally constant with what is expected of a knight errant. Quixote has actually clearly not lost the ability to reason, as such inability would be universally present.

Citing “madness” as the factor that Don Quixote has actually all of a sudden refashioned himself as a knight errant becomes a less and less satisfactory description for his habits. If not it is not due to the fact that he is mad, the curious reader will question, why does Quixote act in a manner that is completely delusional? Cervantes prompts the reader to make a vital shift in his thinking; he prompts the reader to concern insanity not as a cause for irrational habits, but rather as a description of it.

It is important to think about the function that Quixote’s habits serves. What need does it meet? Quixote, prior to he ended up being a knight errant, lead a comfy yet boring life, with a “habitual diet on [which] he invested three-quarters of his earnings” and essentially “absolutely nothing to do [ but to provide] himself approximately the reading of books on knight errantry” (Cervantes 31). It is not surprising that he took such pleasure in reading chivalric books, which permitted him to vicariously experience honor, victory, and real love. If one enjoys something vicariously, it is reasonable to presume that he might take pleasure in experiencing it in reality. This would describe why Quixote “accelerated to equate his desires into action urged to this by the idea of the loss the world suffered by his hold-up, seeing the grievances there were to redress, the wrongs to right, the injuries to change ” (Cervantes 33-35). Becoming a knight errant, for that reason, reacted to Quixote’s thirst for adventure, honor, renown, and a function. One sees that Sancho, too, enables himself to be misguided in order to fill a particular requirement: to offer his family and elevate his social status.

If madness is not the cause of specific behavior but a description of it, the reader needs to question by what criteria the habits is judged and who determines this criteria. Quixote’s habits is considered mad due to the fact that it responds to a world that is irregular with what many people consider as truth. It is regrettable for Don Quixote that he can not be a true 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 experiences and conquests so that he something to do, a purpose.

In the final pages of Don Quixote, Cervantes enhances his argument that behavior and thus identity modifications as our internal needs alter. When Quixote has actually basically been defeated as a knight errant – and is required to stay in the town for a year – he decides to a shepherd, to “give play to [his creativity] and create the scheme of the pastoral life [he is] suggested to follow” that “might give free rein to his amorous thoughts, whilst occupying himself in that pastoral and virtuous calling” (Cervantes 930). Shepherding befits the more melancholy Don Quixote and would allow him to mourn his defeat lost love and amongst male friends. Nevertheless, this need abruptly changes when again when Quixote “a fever [seizes] him” and sends him to his death bed (Cervantes 935). A sudden conversion to Christianity follows, with a sober renunciation of his folly as a knight. While this might seem to the reader that he has actually finally given up to reality and returned to his true self, Cervantes informs us that something more may be happening. Simply as Quixote is renouncing “those detestable books of chivalry,” he regrets the reality that his imminent death “leaves [him] no time at all to apologize by reading other [spiritual] books which may inform [his] soul” (Cervantes 35). This aligns his conversion to Christianity with his conversion to knight-errantry; Christianity is simply another identity that a person can don like a cloak. Cervantes, nevertheless, seems to suggest that there is no such thing as outright identity, which even socially accepted, “sane” identities (such as Christianity) are constructed rather then intrinsic.

There are many parallels in the way that Cervantes and Dostoevsky deal with madness. Like Cervantes, Dostoevsky aims to encourage the reader in the beginning that his lead character, Raskolnikov, is mad. Through totally free and direct discourse, Dostoevsky opens a window onto Raskolnikov’s psychological procedures. This entrance into the mind of the lead character is a departure from Cervantes, whose narrative voice remains unique from that of the lead character. Dostoevsky transports the reader inside Raskolnikov’s head by blending the narrative voice with Raskolnikov’s internal monologue. One of Raskolnikov’s ideas, for example, slips into the narrative: “However to stop on the stairs to need to dodge all the while, make reasons, lie – oh, no, better to steal catlike down the stairs somehow and escape hidden by anyone” (Dostoevsky 3). Alternatively, a technique that Dostoevsky uses to catch Raskolnikov’s disjointed thought process leakages into the narrative as well. The ellipses – frequently utilized to illustrate how Raskolnikov’s thoughts face one another – are usually contained within the quotations of his inner ideas. Often, nevertheless, they seem to leave: “Now its peculiar ring appeared all of a sudden to advise [Raskolnikov] of something and bring it plainly before him He leapt, so weak had his nerves become this time” (Dostoevsky 6). Even Raskolnikov’s first transcribed thoughts – which babble about babbling – echo with insanity:” I discovered to babble over this previous month, depending on a corner day in and day out, thinking about cuckooland'” (Dostoevsky 4). The narrative description of Raskolnikov advances the concept that he is mad: “There was something strange in him; his eyes appeared even to be lit with rapture there appeared also to be a flicker of insanity in them” (Dostoevsky 12). As the unique unfolds, there is increasingly more proof that suggests that Raskolnikov is mad. This evidence includes mainly actions and thoughts that appear irregular, inconsistent, asocial, without a reasonable motive, or independent of causality. For instance, after Raskolnikov reads his mother’s letter, he shows what seem to be contradictory feelings: unhappiness and malicious pleasure. His “face was wet with tears but when he ended up, it was pale, twisted convulsively, and a heavy, bilious, spiteful smile wandered over his face” (Dostoevsky 39). Such examples that recommend that Raskolnikov seethes are innumerable.

While Dostoevsky plainly desires Raskolnikov to appear mad, the divide in between insanity and peace of mind in Criminal activity and Punishment is even less clear than in Don Quixote. The very first binary that becomes bothersome is that the world inside Raskolnikov’s mind is mad and the world outside is organized and sane. This binary deteriorates as the reader catches glimpses of complete lucidity and even estimation in Raskolnikov’s thinking and behavior, till it becomes clear that Raskolnikov, like Don Quixote, is concurrently sane and mad, a seeming paradox that it is not altogether unexpected for someone whose name is originated from raskol, the Russian word for split. In one scene, Raskolnikov cries out at this mother and sis “with overstated irritation,” however “was partly pretending” (Dostoevsky 246). Yet another binary – which places Razumikhin at the sane extreme and Raskolnikov as the mad extreme – parallels the binary that Cervantes establishes between Sancho Panza and Don Quixote. It operates in a comparable fashion. Razumikhin shows his own sort of madness: he is always drunk, which obscures his factor and makes him socially self-important. Possibly the most striking binary that Dostoevsky destabilizes is that 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, assists in a connection in between reader and protagonist. By the time that Raskolnikov has committed the murder, the reader discovers himself as caught up in the emotion and excitement as Raskolnikov is, experiencing a vicarious sensation of anxiety about the possibility of apprehended and release after the criminal activity is lastly committed.

Dostoevsky, like Cervantes, suggests that insanity has no agency in itself, however is merely a behavioral category. The reasons that Raskolnikov dedicates the murder are actively left unclear, and perhaps remain unresolved – even by the end of the book. Dostoevsky provides a number of possible explanations regarding why Raskolnikov dedicated the crime, including financial gain, humanitarian factors, mental disorder, and ecological impacts, among others. While each proposal has benefit and appears possible, none are alone enough to describe Raskolnikov’s habits. Environment, for instance, is mentioned as one possible cause. Given the awful poverty of his circumstance, it is not surprising that he is driven to desperation. Svidrigailov says that “one rarely discovers a place where there are numerous gloomy, sharp, and odd influences on the soul of a male as in Petersburg (Dostoevsky 467). Razumikhin explains him as “a poor trainee, maimed by poverty and hypochondria, on the edge of a cruel illness and delirium” (Dostoevsky 268). Some individuals think that “if society itself is typically set up, all crimes will at the same time disappear, due to the fact that there will be no factor for protesting and everybody will quickly become righteous,” while others are staunchly versus this theory because “nature isn’t considered” (Dostoevsky 256). When none of this theories seem to be enough, it is concluded “that the criminal offense itself could not have actually happened otherwise than in some sort of short-term insanity, including, so to speak, a morbid monomania of murder and burglary, without any additional objective or estimation for revenue” (Dostoevsky 536). This conclusion, however, seems terribly inadequate, leaving the reader with a cold discontentment. The political theory that Raskolnikov subscribes most vehemently to is that there are 2 classes of people: the ordinary and the remarkable. As much as Raskolnikov wants to believe that his criminal offense was a trial of sorts to see whether or he was a Napoleon or a louse, the fact seems to be that he already knows that he is no Napoleon. He says to himself, “I needed to have actually known ahead of time Eh! however I did understand in advance!” (Dostoevsky 274). Raskolnikov perhaps comes closest to understanding by concluding that he “just wanted to dare that’s the whole reason!” (Dostoevsky 418). It is this unidentifiable, visceral, nearly compulsive urge that originates from deep within the subconscious.

While Dostoevsky can not assist the reader to totally debunk the human subconscious, he can induce pang – however small – of the exact same subconscious urge to kill that Raskolnikov himself experiences. This, perhaps, is Dostoevsky true stroke of genius. This urge exists totally outside of the world of madness, as defined by society. It is also essential to keep in mind that Dostoevsky was composing in a post-Freudian time, and Dostoevsky seems to motivate the reader to theorize about Raskolnikov’s subconscious activity. Raskolnikov’s dreams about the horse and the apocalyptic world plead for such analysis. In this dream, he is a little kid walking with his daddy. They stumble upon an inebriated crowd of people trying to force an old mare to drag a load that is far too heavy for her. Raskolnikov, as the kid, feels absolutely powerless due to the fact that he can not provoke an action from his impotent daddy and can not stop the whipping, even when he puts his own body between the horse and the whip (Dostoevsky 56). This dream suggests another possible intention for the criminal offense: Raskolnikov wishes to do something to oppose his feelings of impotence and powerlessness in life. When Porfiry states, “Humanity is a mirror, sir, the clearest mirror,” he is possibly describing the truth that our habits is a manifestation of the activity taking place on a subconscious level that we can not understand reasonably (Dostoevsky 342). The subconscious is like a black box that consolidates countless causes and lead to a specific action or idea. However, how these causes interact inside this dark box is an extremely complex matter, one that Dostoevsky definitely does not completely deal with. It is most likely that the activity and functions of the subconscious are beyond even the retrospective theorizing of the mindful mind. Because the subconscious mind is so challenging to comprehend, the actions that it impacts might be mislabeled by society as induced by insanity.

Dostoevsky and Cervantes both argue that insanity is defined by society and is the description instead of a representative. In this, they acknowledge the universality of urges and desires to fill our subconscious requires. There is, however, something that sets Don Quixote and Raskolnikov apart from the average person. The difference appears to lie in the truth that Quixote and Raskolnikov react to these prompts with little consideration of how their satisfaction will work in the structure of society. Raskolnikov, for instance, overhears two young men in a pub discussing whether they would “eliminate the old female for the sake of justice,” viewing as she is “a stupid, worthless, useless, wicked, ill old crone … harmful to everyone” (Dostoevsky 65). They are considering the exact same idea as Raskolnikov; the difference is that Raskolnikov actually follows through. Raskolnikov suggests that all males have prompts and desires, yet choose not to respond to them as an outcome of “cowardice;” guy worries “a new action, [his] own new word” (Dostoevsky 4). Cervantes also reveals the universality of these advises. While Cervantes does not make the reader see delusion as truth, he has successfully induced the exact same visceral urge to refashion ourselves according to our requirements that originally 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 extremely delighted with Quixote’s brand-new proposition. While “astonished at Don Quixote’s fresh trend,” the priest and the barber “gave in to his new job, praising his recklessness as wisdom and offering to join him in its pursuit” (Cervantes 933).

While both Cervantes and Dostoevsky acknowledge that identity is constantly relative to society, they do not denounce this impact completely or promote that a person merely create an imaginary world in response to his individual requirements. Both authors issue a warning versus allowing subconscious desires to accomplishment over reason or to result in asocial habits. This is detailed particularly well in Raskolnikov’s apocalyptic dream, in which the human race is contaminated by trichinae that make each person believe “the reality [is] consisted of in himself alone,” and as an outcome, they can not” agree on what to regard as evil, what as good” (Dostoevsky 547). This dream reveals the massive implications of such behavior. Likewise, Cervantes definitely provides a bitter side to knight errantry, especially in the melancholy that follows it.

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