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Themes of Cervantes Don Quixote

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Themes of Cervantes' Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes' greatest work, The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote De

La Mancha, is a unique book of multiple dimensions. From the moment of its creation, it has amused readers, and its influence has vastly extended in literature throughout the world. Don Quixote is a county gentleman disillusioned by his reading of chivalric romances, who rides forth to defend the oppressed and to right wrongs. Cervantes presented the knight-errant so vividly that many languages have borrowed the name of the hero as the common term to designate a person inspired by magnificent and impractical ideals.

Cervantes' theme throughout the novel is consistent and straightforward. Despite the lengthy digressions and numerous episodic adventures, the theme of the novel is clear- the values of the Golden Age have been lost over the centuries and must be restored for the good of society. Before the fall of man when the earth was still a paradise, Don Quixote explained to some goatherds, "all things were held in common, and to gain [man's] daily sustenance no labor was required of any man save to reach forth his hand and take it from the sturdy oaks that stood liberally inviting him with their sweet and seasoned fruit (134)," making it needless to steal, cheat or lie. He went on, "fraud, deceit, malice had not yet come to mingle with truth and plain-speaking." Because the world is no longer in such a state, however, "the order of knights-errant was instituted, for the protection of damsels, the aid of widows and orphans, and the succoring of the needy (136)."

Quixote's code of knightly conduct is not just a spur-of-the-moment idea, but a life changing belief- his life's mission is to right the wrongs. For example, Don Quixote forbids himself from thinking any impure thoughts about his love- the Dulcinea del Toboso. This suggests that the knight-errant values his belief in moral justice over his personal pleasure or happiness.

Don Quixote's constant effort to bring about reform also brings up the theme of Quixotism. Quixotism is the universal quality of any visionary action. It is an attempt to make an ideal state reality, but like all ideals, it will never happen in a world where absolute values cannot survive. Quixote's quixotic vision can be seen when he envisions the windmills



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