The Dangers of Reading Poetry in Cervantes’ Don Quixote
The Greek philosopher Plato concerns poets and poetry as dangerous for the young. This is since they can stir emotions that young people are unable to manage. Given their highly impressionable nature, the youth are indeed prone to brainwashing and false information.
A poet that glorifies war in his works, for example, can persuade many boys to go to battle even if they do not understand what they are defending. A poem that romanticizes the death of a spurned fan by his own hand, on the other hand, can prompt young people to see suicide as the only method to deal with a damaged heart.
Miguel de Cervantes’ The Innovative Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605 and 1615) appears to share Plato’s aforementioned beliefs on poets and poetry. The novel’s lead character, Alonso Quixano, was a retired country gentleman who was so consumed with the reading of epic poetry. Alonso’s fixation with this literary category came to the point that he really chooses to end up being a knight-errant himself.
He polishes some old armor, assumes the name Don Quixote de la Mancha, relabels his old horse Rocinante, designates his neighbor Sancho Panza to be his squire and chooses a regional peasant woman named Aldonza Lorenzo to be his girl love, rechristening her as Dulcinea del Toboso. Don Quixote’s attempts to turn great accounts of chivalry into truth ultimately leads to trouble for both him and individuals around him.
Plato elaborated in his work The Republic (380 BC) his factor for believing that poets and poetry are useless, if not dangerous. For him, poetry “damages the soul”– it forces individuals to think in a fictional analysis of truth. Poets merely copy instances of human quality. As a result, their works show just an appearance of excellence. Given the fictitious nature of their poems, poets can make varied and inconsistent characters appear outstanding.
Real human excellence, in sharp contrast, is based on the stability and the harmony of the soul. Additionally, the real world considers people who are varied and inconsistent in character as vicious. Plato therefore believes that passionate followers of poets and poetry are setting themselves up for disillusion. Poets are presenting their audiences a world that is quite various from the one that they are living in. In the process, they are persuading them to live according to a set of requirements that are not suitable with truth.
Cervantes probably had the exact same arguments in mind when he was composing Don Quixote. If analyzed carefully, Don Quixote is a satire on the medieval model of chivalry. The medieval notion of chivalry is typically connected with a paradise that is ruled by courageous knights, gorgeous and modest women and sensible and pious religious individuals.
The knight is usually portrayed as a hero who solitarily beats the most dangerous of foes. His ladylove is often portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Spiritual people, on the other hand, are revealed as skilled and dedicated leaders who steer entire towns through the worst crises.
But as Cervantes displays in Don Quixote, belief in such a wonderful world is a mark of stupidity. The abovementioned paradise is defined with conditions that greatly contrast those of the real life. Hence, its beliefs, standards and values likewise contradict those of the real world. To anticipate utopian beliefs, norms and worths to work in the real world would certainly lead to other type of misbehavior.
Chapter 1 reveals Alonso’s way of life before he assumed the identity of Don Quixote:
He was a gentleman that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or two extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his earnings.
The rest of it went in a doublet of fine fabric and velour breeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his homespun. He had in his home a maid past forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field and the market-place, who used to saddle the hack along with manage the bill-hook. (40 )
This description reveals that regardless of Alonso’s status as a hidalgo a member of the lower nobility, he was hardly making ends meet. While he could have improved his financial situation by working, his social status prevented him from doing so. Throughout Alonso’s time, it was considered outrageous for a member of the nobility to work. Must a nobleman or lady work, it was presumed that it was since his/her household had fallen into hard times.
Alonso for that reason decided to live under an impression of wealth and respectability instead of get his hands unclean making a decent living. However when the plain reality of his impoverished state ended up being all too apparent, he withdrew into his collection of epic poems.
Whenever he was at leisure which was mainly all the all year, he gave himself as much as reading books of chivalry with such (ardor) and avidity that he practically totally neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his property; and to such a pitch did his passion and infatuation go that he offered many an acre of tillageland to purchase books of chivalry to check out, and brought home as a lot of them as he might get.
However of all there were none he liked so well as those of the popular Feliciano de Silva’s composition, for their lucidity of style and complex conceits were as pearls in his sight, particularly when in his reading he came upon courtships and cartels, where he often found passages like “the reason of the unreason with which my factor is affected so damages my factor that with reason I murmur at your charm;” or once again, “the high paradises, that of your divinity divinely fortify you with the starts, render you deserving of the desert your achievement deserves.” (40-41)
Certainly, the fantastic nature of legendary poems renders these reliable escapes from the severe realities of daily presence. In impressive poems the greatest issues are easily fixed with prayer, modesty and sheer blowing. In addition, the heroes in lots of impressive poems are nobles– wealthy individuals who never ever worked a day in their lives. Thus, Alonso refused to work. The impressive poems that he read instilled in him sloth and fatalism. Instead of striving to enhance his lot, Alonso chose to read impressive poems and rely on fate to change his life.
Right away after turning himself into a knight-errant, Alonso triggered searching for adventures as Don Quixote. After a whole day of traveling, he invested the night at an inn, which he considered a castle. He likewise asked for the innkeeper, whom he believed to be the lord of the “castle,” to bestow knighthood on him. The innkeeper, out of charity and his own boyhood imagine ending up being a knight, accompanied Don Quixote’s caprices.
But the innkeeper regretted his choices right away, as Don Quixote’s misconceptions of magnificence caused difficulty in his inn:
Don Quixote often paced up and down, or in some cases, leaning on his lance, looked on his armor without taking his eyes off it for ever so long … as the night closed in … among the carriers who remained in the inn believed fit to water his group, and it was necessary to remove Don Quixote’s armor as it lay on the trough …
He seized it by the straps and flung the armor some distance from him. Seeing this, Don Quixote raised his eyes to paradise … and raised his lance with both hands and with it smote such a blow on the carrier’s head that he stretched him on the ground, so stunned that had he followed it up with a 2nd there would have been no requirement of a cosmetic surgeon to treat him.
This done, he picked up his armor and went back to his beat with the very same calmness as in the past. Shortly after this, another, not knowing what had actually occurred … included the exact same object of providing water to his mules, and was continuing to get rid of the armor in order to clear the trough … Don Quixote … once more dropped his buckler and again raised his lance, and without really breaking the second provider’s head into pieces, made more than 3 of it, for he laid it open in 4. (48 )
The innkeeper, fearful that Don Quixote’s eccentricities would frighten his other guests away, right away conferred upon him the order of knighthood and sent him on his way. As the story progressed, it ended up being progressively apparent that his delusions of knighthood were bringing him absolutely nothing however difficulty.
Quickly after leaving the inn, Don Quixote entered a fight with traders with Toledo due to the fact that they “insulted” Dulcinea. He likewise freed a young kid who was tied to a tree by his master apparently since the young boy had the guts to ask from his master his back incomes. However the reality was that the young boy was being penalized by his master due to the fact that he was such a negligent servant that he kept on losing the sheep that his master ordered him to care for.
A neighboring peasant, Pedro Crespo, later on puts an end to Don Quixote’s caprices by bringing him home. At Don Quixote’s house, his niece, the housemaid, the parish curate and the regional barber tried to rid him of his misconceptions by burning most of his books on impressive poetry and sealing the door to his library. When Don Quixote asked where his library was, his niece responded that a magician stole it.
After 15 days of remaining at house, Don Quixote felt the desire to live up to his misconceptions once again. Together with his “squire,” Sancho Panza, he embarks on brand-new adventures. Their first adventure together was an attack on windmills that Don Quixote thought of to be as ferocious giants. At this moment, it is extremely evident that Don Quixote is so desperate to become a knight that he will not think twice about destroying public property just to be able to prove that he is one.
But as their travels advanced, Don Quixote is lastly encouraged to desert his imagine becoming a knight. His false belief that he is a knight instilled in him the belief that he can get away with breaking the law and standards that govern correct habits. As a result, he does not pay his financial obligations and violently intrudes in issues which do not issue him. Such an incorrect sense of entitlement typically gets him– and most especially Sancho– into problem with nearly everyone they satisfy. Seeing the futility of his aspiration, Don Quixote finally returns home to his village.
Plato strongly opposed poets and poetry due to the fact that of their capability to trick audiences. Poets have the capability to use fictionalized accounts of human presence in order to stir the emotions of readers. When individuals are emotional, they are more likely to make choices that are inexpedient or risky. What makes this outcome extremely terrible is that their actions are based on fiction rather of on truth.
Cervantes’ The Innovative Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha verified the aforementioned argument of Plato by showing how a blind faith in chivalry ended up being damaging to the lives of Alonso Quixano and individuals around him. Instead of working hard to enhance his lot, Alonso presumed that dream would solve all his issues for him. In the end, it triggered him more dilemmas rather.
The source of these problems is an incorrect sense of entitlement. Because Don Quixote assumed that he was just like the protagonists of the epic poems that he loved to read, he felt that he was a messiah who might do no incorrect. He thought that he can get away with offenses such as damaging public home, combating with other individuals for no great reason and not paying his debts. But reality revealed him otherwise– legendary poems, after all, are just misconceptions.
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Mancing, Howard. Cervantes’ Don Quixote: A Recommendation Guide. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. Print.