Reality vs fantasy in Don quixote
12 December 2015
Reality versus Fantasy in Don Quixote
Real reality becomes easily forgettable and unnecessary in all likelihood when fiction becomes the everyday reality. Miguel Cervantes gives the world of literature a character; Don Quixote de la Mancha, that pushes nearly all the boundaries that distinguish reality from fantasy (Gaffney n.pag.). His obsession with chivalric passions shoots him into a crazy idea of sallying out into the world as an active knight. His simple story evolves to more than just the intended comic effect. It changes into an annotation on the fascinating facets of realism and its impact. In the case of Don Quixote, it evolves into the irresistible attraction of reality on the day to day life (Gaffney n.pag.). This paper delves into the theme of the thin line separating the real from the fiction as they unfold in Don Quixote.
In the starting paragraphs of “Book1” in the novel, Quixote becomes insane. He has become entranced of the “chivalric romances” after too much reading (Gaffney n.pag.). All that he read in his book entered and possessed his imagination. His transformation is so sudden that he that he names his horse “Rocinante” and announces a peasant girl his “sweet lady Dulcinea” (Gaffney n.pag.). He then armors himself and embarks on a mission to make himself a name. His first adventure takes place in the inn that his imaginations see as a castle (Gaffney n.pag.). Here, his young women are “fair maidens” and the “innkeeper” a lord (Gaffney n.pag.). Although the innkeeper and wenches find the knight somewhat mad, they still play along to the roles he allocates them. To satisfy innkeeper’s desire to be a good knight in “reality,” they decide to humor him. Don Quixote told them that he had also followed the same honorable profession in his earlier days in life crisscrossing the world in a quest of adventure. The manager of the inn had no obligation to pamper Quixote to that level but, he did that just to get rid of the bothersome Knight and get himself into “the game” (Gaffney n.pag.). Although these characters humor Quixote in some way, “his madness forces them into their roles.” Reality is seen to cooperate willingly with a play that dresses it up in a different way at each moment (“Bridging reality and fiction” n.pag.). The author allows Quixote’s pioneer adventure to proceed unabated, having those residing in the roadhouse “play along with the circus that they are tossed into following the arrival of the Knight” (Gaffney n.pag.). The people here tolerate the knight’s madness, and they even become part of it, angling the line separating real from the fictitious. This earliest instance of Quixote’s stupidities laid the foundation for more that was yet to come up in the book (“Bridging reality and fiction” n.pag.). The reader also finds himself or herself in a state of wanting to accept the magic as true to the point that the innkeeper and the wenches are so ready to act along to the knight’s script.
When he gets back home, Don Quixote persuades one of his neighbors; “Sancho Panza,” into accepting a place as his trusty squire (Gaffney n.pag.). Quixote and his squire go through several escapades including those that involved the Giants or windmills, “the sheep or opposing armies and the ominous or fulfilling mill in the night.” Quixote never lacks a defense for things failing to appear as they should (Gaffney n.pag.). His excuse is always enchantment. Quixote, after failing in his quest to defeat the windmills, explains, to his squire, that he is sure that the very Sage Freston, who stole his library and books, had just turned the giants into windmills to deny him his victory (Gaffney n.pag.). This incident is just one amongst the many times that the knight the kni8ght errant asserts sorcery (Gaffney n.pag.). From this assertion, one sees that works of fiction can quickly transform to reality depending on the beholder’s imagination. Don Quixote does realize that the Giants he talks about are nothing but windmills. However, that realization does not daunt him since he has with him a fantastic defense. All of these “sallies” [sic] and much more become the subjects of discussion in book II of Cervantes’s story (Gaffney n.pag.). Quixote and his neighbor turned squire meet with Sanson Carrasco. Carrasco tells them how famous a knight Quixote is, and calls for blessings for Cide Hamete for poetically writing the history of the knight’s wonderful deeds. From this section onwards, the audience is aware that the story of the knight had been printed out before and circulated widely. According to the inn manager, people of all ages knew Don Quixote’s name.
At this juncture, the reader notices that Quixote is nothing more than an aggregate of words, bound together in sheets, printed out and distributed for money (Gaffney n.pag.). This idea illustrates that the knight is just but an imagined personality. But this character is also seen to be talking about his character in the novel, a situation that places him in a steadier reality (“Bridging reality and fiction” n.pag.). Cervantes, in the statement, “if one starts to wonder where the line for reality halts and the one for fiction commences” makes a point that further compounds to the readers’ confusion (Gaffney n.pag.). The author is pushing amusement at the “fictitious Book II,” and by doing so, he elevates the persona’s position in the real world. Cervantes seems knowledgeable of the tendency of reality and fantasy to pull a reader’s mind in either direction (“Bridging reality and fiction” n.pag.).
Quixote and Sancho, while conversing with Carrasco, start pointing out the mistakes that “Cide” has documented about them (Gaffney n.pag.). Even though these errors are not real in the first place, they are true for the characters in the book. This virtue makes them real to the reader and the boundaries around perception start to bend. The steps towards a complete confusion between reality and fantasy continue with Quixote’s squire deceiving him about the whereabouts of a lovely maiden he loved very dearly. Sancho lures the knight towards three feminine peasants on donkey backs towards the two. When Quixote fails to recognize his lady amongst the three, Sancho takes charge of the fantasy at this point. He pretends to be surprised at the fact that Don Quixote does not recognize that Dulcinea is amongst the three ladies. Quixote then starts to believe that Dulcinea is indeed the one that wants her to think (Gaffney n.pag.). Quixote’s as well as the reader’s disillusionment peaks when they come across “pseudoDulcenia” for the final time in the book. Perhaps lady Dulcinea is the most intangible and fictitious character in the whole book since the reader does not encounter her before this point in the book (Gaffney n.pag.). First, as the reader has already established by this point, the whole story is a fantasy. Just like Quixote, Dulcinea is, therefore, just an imaginary persona. Apart from that, the Dulcenia that Sancho avails to Quixote is not even the same peasant lady from the earlier paragraphs. Sancho further tossed his master into the land of fiction with a quite realistic scenario. The degree at which Quixote holds lady Dulcinea reminds the audience that the “knight himself does exist in flesh and blood.” Even though it sounds unreal to find such a lavish peasant, the similarities between the knight and her princess make the fantasy appear realistic.
In conclusion, the book “Don Quixote” is a fantastic book that carefully blends the aspects of reality and fantasy. Books can very often transport readers into different worlds, but this particular one calls for a total renouncing of the wits of fact. Cervantes, in his book, came up with a “romantic fool,” who captures minds and hearts with his “chivalric pursuit of knight errantry” (Gaffney n.pag.). Don Quixote is a representation of a person who comes up with his very types of reality then ultimately hands himself over to it, while taking others for a ride. Fiction only remains to be fiction if people do not believe that it can be true (Gaffney n.pag.). However, once people start thinking that what exists only in fiction can be true, the fiction can quickly develop into a “fake reality.”
Gaffney, M. Brett. “Don Quixote: Bridging Reality and Fiction.” (2009).
“Don Quixote: Bridging Reality and Fiction.” Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
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