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Don Quixote

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The Mysteries of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

In almost all novels there is a narrator, a person who guides the book from beginning to end. Sometimes there is a voice of reason, a character in the book that gives us the absolute truth and provides the answers to the most puzzling questions. In Cervantes’ Don Quixote, he creates many characters, all of which contrast with our view of Don Quixote. We must figure out who is the most reliable character, and who is the source of fallacy. Can Sancho Panza be that “Voice of Reason”, the character that we can trust to determine what is going on at a given moment in the book? Don Quixote tells us where he is, what he is doing, and what he sees but there is no way for us to know if what he is saying is true or completely fabricated. That is where Sancho Panza comes into play. He guides us through the book giving us his view and take on particular situations and we must read between the lines to get an idea of what is occurring. It is not clear from the beginning of the book whether Don Quixote is mad. It is possible to get caught up in the story and believe that Don Quixote is using his imagination in order to have a little fun. Before Don Quixote employs Sancho Panza there is no one to comment on Don Quixote and give us his or her point of view of reality. The point at which it becomes clear that Don Quixote has absolutely no control over his body is when he knocks a person out and smashes another’s skull in (39). Still we cannot be certain at this point that this has actually take place. We do not know whether to trust Don Quixote or the narrator or maybe neither. Cervantes is one of the first authors to use the technique of interpolated narrative. Cervantes brings the character of Sancho Panza into the book not only as a source of truth but to comment on Don Quixote and his behaviors. Sancho decides when to play along with Don Quixote and when to sit back and expect something ridiculous. According to the book Sancho goes along with Don Quixote purely for the enjoyment and to possibly prosper as a governor of an island but to Cervantes, Sancho is a way of obtaining his ideas from someone other than himself. This is all part of the technique of multiplicity of voices and the use of polar opposites. Cervantes creates many characters all of which are spoken through his mouth. Cervantes says explicitly that he gets this part of the book from one source and another part from another source. He brings to our attention things that are written “in the margin” of the book he uses to tell the story. I find this very funny and interesting because it makes the story seem more real than if he had given us all the information as his own retelling. He uses these techniques to contrast Don Quixote and to give us different bits and pieces of the story. We must put them together like a puzzle to get our own sense of the “truth.” Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have opposing views of reality, that is a technique that Cervantes plants within Don Quixote. Fifty people can read Don Quixote and each have his own opinion on whether Don Quixote is crazy, bad, nice, etc. Don Quixote is the idealist who attempts to clear the world of evil. The picture of Peter Pan even enters my head while reading the novel. Cervantes turns this image of Don Quixote into a joke when Don Quixote believe he has just helped a boy who is being whipped by his master but once he leaves, the boy gets double the beating. Sancho can be compared to a person today who goes through a midlife crisis. He has an epiphany and decides that going along with Don Quixote will bring the excitement that he never had before. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza compliment each other extremely well. Don Quixote provides the material and excitement, Sancho just watches and knows when he is about to witness Don Quixote making a fool out of himself. Together they are able to go on their adventure and while mostly Don Quixote is leading and having the excitement, Sancho is a simple man and receives enjoyment from just being involved. Sancho’s job(in the text) is to stay in the real world while Don Quixote lives in his. Sancho gets the hang of Don Quixote and joins in when he is involved with the woman being carried in a coach. He jumps on one of the servants and begins taking off his clothes to keep for himself. Even though Sancho gets more involved in Don Quixote’s way of life he never enters his reality. He knows when to join along and when to stay out of it. He realizes that sometimes he must play along to keep Don Quixote from “losing it” but sometimes he gives it to him as it is. In the scene of Montesino’s cave Sancho does not give in to believing Don Quixote’s tale of what happened in the cave. Don Quixote does not get angry but says, “It is your love of me, Sancho, that makes you talk at this rate.” Don Quixote does not blame Sancho for not believing because it is hard to believe certain things that your eyes have not seen. We can gather from Don Quixote that there is a certain amount of imagination required in life in order to be happy and get the most out of everyday. Sancho had none and that was why he was so willing to go with Don Quixote. Don Quixote is the other extreme; he does not know where to stop and has no limits. That is the thin line between being adventurous and being mentally ill. Sancho grows while being Don Quixote’s squire and he ends up settling somewhere in the middle of Don Quixotes “world’ and where he began, with no imagination. Sancho still is the most reliable character in the book. He is the source of truth because he always tells what is happening exactly as it is. Even if he is playing along in Don Quixote’s fantasies he tells us what reality is. Although Sancho may not be the most knowledgeable source, he is the most accurate, and is in the book for the purpose of giving us the most dependable accounts. We learn through the course of the book that Sancho only lies to himself if necessary, never to others. Cervantes brilliantly implants Sancho as a means of comparison, and a way to criticize chivalric romance, without even opening his mouth. If anyone has proven himself to be reliable it is Sancho Panza, a peasant who is more aware of what is going on in the world than most others.

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