Lost in La Mancha

In our discussions so far, the idea of Don Quixote as a character has been connected to the meaning the word “quixotic” holds today. It is evident to any reader of Don Quixote that the protagonist lacks any sense of practicality and prefers to live his life in his own fabricated idealist view. The other characters of the book, primarily Sancho Panza, attempt to tolerate Don Quixote’s unique perspective and coexist with his version of reality. Some characters are less tolerable, and aim more to stifle Don Quixote’s active imagination, despite the effects it has on his well-being.

 

It was interesting to see a connection to the documentary Lost in La Mancha where the director of the production, Terry Gilliam, seemed to share the same quixotic vision as the protagonist of the film and movie. His ideas for everything from costumes to set designs seemed far-fetched and almost unachieveable. The members of the production team emphasized how the director’s visions reached far beyond his sense of practicality, and how this endangered the success of the film.
Some members of the team had comments that echoed a view similar to Sancho Panza’s in Don Quixote. Even when the director himself lost complete confidence in his ability to pull off the film, one man who had previously worked with Gilliam in an unsuccessful film acted as if the quixotic vision for the film would cause no harm to its success. Others, however, tried to simplify Gilliam’s ideas.

Turning the Page on Don Quixote

After reading and discussing Don Quixote over the past few months, I will remember him as a character who represents pieces of Cervantes’ identity and criticisms of  social constraints within seventeenth century Spain, but who also has been able to reveal valuable lessons within my time so far at UMW. He is a character who is firm in his chivalrous values, and views life in a unique idealistic way. Although he is criticized by almost everyone he encounters for his outlook, his innocence and idealism teach the other characters that they may need more of those qualities in their own lives.

He arguably has the biggest impact on Sancho Panza, a character who’s pragmatic personality at first makes him seem at odds with Don Quixote. Over time, though, the two characters provide a balance in each other’s lives and form a friendship that neither of them predicted. Sancho initially sets out on his adventure with Don Quixote with materialistic intentions, hoping to become governor of an island for personal gain. However, Don Quixote’s strong convictions inspire Sancho and he realizes he enjoys life outside his narrow practical view. After realizing this, Sancho says “I am like a piece of land that of itself is dry and barren, but if you scatter manure over it and cultivate it, it will bear good fruit. By this I mean to say that your Grace’s conversation is the manure that has been cast upon the barren land of my dry wit, the time that I spend in your service, associating with you, does the cultivating, and as a result of it all, I hope to bring forth blessed fruits by not departing, slipping or sliding, from those paths of good breeding which your Grace has marked out for me in my parched understanding.”

This inspires me to maintain an open mind to things I might normally avoid because they are different from what I’m used to. Don Quixote’s character also reminded me that it can be beneficial to have a balance between imagination and reality. The book also shows what can happen when there are extremes of the two, which is illustrated by the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho.