Is Don Quixote Really Insane?

(Just a homework-level response.)

Don Quixote, thought by most of the characters in Don Quixote, is really insane, because he has all the characteristics of a mad person, such as a crazy set of ideas that make him expose both himself and others to danger. However, his behaviors are actually out of consciousness, for he is involved into the chivalric fantasy illustrated in the books he read and tries to restore it by taking the actions that are, though, unacceptable for others.

Throughout most of the story, Don Quixote tries to deal with certain issues with his basic standard of loyalty, humility, and honor, besides the violence part. Definitely, he does great endeavor to protect “Dulcinea” from being debunked by other people about her beauty, showing that by taking righteous actions, he possesses faith to his love. Don Quixote also has humble and honest temperament, as he is sharing the story with the group of people he met in the mountain: “The canon stood amazed at Don Quixote’s methodical and orderly madness, in describing the adventure of the Knight of the Lake.” (1.4.23.2) The phrase “methodical and orderly” illustrates that Don Quixote has a conscious and sincere explication about the adventure he describes. In fact, because he has read so many adventure books and knows the rules so well, he has, basically, created an entire belief system that is open to rational argument. Moreover, his chivalric deeds do win some people’s admiration, though most of them just think of them as entertaining. Nevertheless, in protecting his honor, as in the moment when he is defeated by Knight of the White Moon, he does follow the conditions and decide to return back home.

Actually, Don Quixote is never too stubborn about his optimism about being a knight-errant. At part I of the fiction he shows great enthusiasm for preparing to save the world, leaving others with the impression that he is insane. However, when the story progresses, we can obviously see that his behaviors are controlled, as he thinks about the rationale behind his chivalric deeds. Near the end of the story, he returns to his true self, “I perceive nonsense and impertinence of my knight adventure books.” (2.1.74.5) What might account for the gradual change of his behaviors is the changes in others’ perspectives about Don Quixote. From the start of the novel, he is already sane, though not recognized by the characters around him. But as he grows reputation, people tend to regard him as a celebrity, therefore finding out more details about his personalities. These people put some impact on Don Quixote’s life experiences that help him regulating his actions in a more rational way.

“He is mad past recovery, but yet he has lucid intervals.” (2.1.18.4) Ostensibly, we see Don Quixote as insane because of his abnormal actions. However, looking deeper inside his motives, we should know that he is a propagator of chivalric spirits, transforming the core value of knights into real-life use.

 

Works Cited

“Don Quixote.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Trans. Samuel Putnam. Third ed. Vol.C. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012, 386-516. Print.

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