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Essay/Term paper: Man of la mancha

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Papers

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"Man of La Mancha" is the story of Alonso Quijana, a poor gentleman from

Spain. He has read so many of the exaggerated romances of chivalry that he

finally believes them to be his reality and sets forth as Don Quixote, a

knight-errant on his old horse seeking many misadventures. And while this

insanity may be an object of distress for others, Quixote's madness is

comforting to himself.

And all he reads oppresses him . . . fills him with indignation at man's

murderous ways toward man. He broods . . . and broods . . . and broods- and

finally from so much brooding his brains dry up! He lays down the melancholy

burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined . . . to

become a knight-errant and sally forth into the world to right all wrongs.

Although it appears that Don Quixote has just jumped off the deep end into a

sea of dementia, he is merely exchanging the cruel harsh reality of life for

his noble, fantastic dream world. Don sees himself as the "defender of the

right and pursuer of lofty undertakings," not a senile old man. The books in

which Quixote had engrossed himself during his retirement portrayed the world

as a place much nobler and happier than this world really is. In his

fantasy, the world he has read about comes to life and Quixote is much

happier than he ever was before. Yet, all who come in contact with Quixote,

see him as a "clown on a masquerade" and a poor old man, but Quixote is much

more content living this life than his old one.

Even when others laugh in his face, Don Quixote continues to uphold the

noble code his insanity demands. After defeating the muleteers, he insists

upon helping them recover, saying, "I must raise them up and minister to

their wounds . . . Nobility demands." In the world Quixote has left, his

enemies would be left to rot, but in his own reality, he is doing the only

right thing by tending to the injuries. This way comforting himself by

correcting the wrongs of "mans murderous ways toward man."

Despite his noble deeds, Quixote is still looked upon as a crazy old man

by those around him. As Senor Carrasco tries to convince Quixote of who he

really is, Don continues to deny the real world and live in his dream, saying

"so learned, yet so misinformed . . . facts are the enemy of truth."

Confronted with reality, the lunacy prevails because in his imaginary world,

all is right and the pain he knew before was gone.

Behind all the events of Quixote's misadventures and insanity, is a basic

premise that is best expressed by the words of Cervantes:

I have lived nearly fifty years and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery,

hunger. . . cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and

the moans of bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen

my comrades fall in battle . . . or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.

I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw

life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words . .

. only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question: "Why?" I

do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When

life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too

practical is madness. To surrender dreams- this may be madness. To seek

treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness. And

maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.

This quote is the perfect explanation for Quixote's madness and the reason he

finds it comforting; it is better to see life as it should be rather than as

it is.


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