was probably one of the best classes I’ve taken in college. Don Quixote has definitely been one of my most cherished books ever since. Cervantes encompassed Spain’s Golden Age in the novel. He personified nobility, cruelty, prejudice, hope, and especially faith through characters in the novel in order to tackle the issues of the era. In doing so, he expressed his view of the static society that hinders an individual’s ability to pursue their chosen destiny, of the prejudice embedded in the populace, and of the purpose of books to individuals and society.
Cervantes didn’t create Don Quixote, Sancho, and others just to tell a story; he created them to reflect society and the complexities of humanity. Through Don Quixote, Cervantes showed that man can change and evolve through the experiences he faces. With each encounter with people, one can gain an insight of life aside from their own. The understanding then elucidates the falsities of ancient prejudices. Cervantes used Don Quixote as beacon of unfaltering faith and conviction. Through him, Cervantes professed the importance of having faith in following his calling regardless of the windmills, canons, and clerics he may face. Ultimately, society can only judge what the eyes can see, but the final judge sees the through the outer shell and recognizes the goodness of the soul, love and faith in the heart and light within.
And like Nobokov said about Don Quixote, “He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.” It’s taught me so much, and served me so well over the years. Here are my favorite quotes:
- “They can dress me however they want; no matter what clothes I wear I’ll still be Sancho Panza.”
- “It isn’t greed that makes me want to leave my hut or rise to better things, but a desire I have to try and see what it tastes like to be a governor.”
- “… you must look at who you are and make an effort to know yourself, which is the most difficult knowledge one can imagine.”
- “If you take virtue as your means and pride in performing virtuous deeds, there is no reason to envy the means of princes and lords, because blood is inherited, and virtue is acquired, and virtue in itself has a value that blood does not.”
- “Take more pride in being a humble virtuous man than in being a noble sinner.”
- “In short I took a risk, I did what I could, I was toppled, and although I lost my honor, I did not lose, nor can I lose, the virtue of keeping my word