Author: Meni Koutosimou
Psychologist – Phil to Post Graduate Mental Health Advisor
Post Graduate Degree on Psychiatry/Child Psychiatry
Doctor of Medicine at University of Ioannina
Post-Doc at University of Ioannina on Quality of Services
Translator: Myrto Gkoka
Is there anybody who doesn’t know the fictional figure or the play ‘Don Quixote’, more precisely ‘Don Quixote of Mancha] or his creator, Don Miguel De Cervantes? If not, it is never too late. The play describes the hero’s adventurous journey, since it was written while Cervantes was serving time in Seville, because of an economical debt; something not at all well-timed, however if Cervantes was able to afford his debt, one of the most favorite fictional characters would have never been born.
Against all the winds and phenomena, ‘the knight with the sad expression’, still knows how to touch sensitive chords of my soul. The character may possibly provoke controversial and mixed feelings to most of the readers, while he and his actions cause laughter, and on the other hand he keeps bewitching us. The gap between reality and fantasy sometimes amuses us, his love for the young girl seems ridiculous, and his fight against the ‘Giants’, while we are all aware of them being windmills, troubles us about his misery. However, Cervantes tried to explain to us through his character, the following life lessons that we’d better include in our ‘route’:
- To live means to fight…
“To me, mister Castellano, the trappings are the chariots and the fight is my rest” (vol. A, Ch. 2)
And which is my battle today? The fight of everyday life, to be able to come through. And what are my weapons in this fight? The knowledge that I can make the right decisions, the confidence that I can make them real, the patience to deal with the unexpected; enough I’d say; the strength or at least the illusion that I could even fight windmills… and actually win!
- It is not logic, but madness that excites me…
“I thank the sky for that grace that is for giving me opportunities quickly enough to fulfill my debt towards my principles and feed the wrist of my good desires” (Vol. A, Ch. 4)
By chasing his dream and not caring about the restrictions of life this ‘mad’ man dares to speak up and say all these things that the others fear to. He is the one who lives just like he wants to, and they are all jealous of him because they would like to do the same, but they are too ashamed. I smile at Don Quixote’s dream, but at the same time I envy it. I envy his courage to leave behind a life full of comforts and start a life full of adventures and magic, encouraged by the knightly spirit.
- The moral codes that he embodies exist in the understood we overlook.
“The one devil looks like the other” (Vol. A, Ch. 31)
Understanding the deeper moral being and at the same time not understanding the surface reality, I feel this way. I am talking about a submissive genius at the bottom of a fake reality, drawing up truths that concern the real world. The embodiment of the controversial referring to the gap that divides me from the rest of the people, but also the structure of this world that is irrevocably divided into two or more realities, depending on the perspective one would like to focus on.
- Man is presented as a double entity.
“But what are you saying mad man? Are you out of your mind?” (Vol. A, Ch. 37)
On one hand, there is the higher section that is called soul or spirit, and on the other, the earthly section, the personality that is used by the soul as a vehicle in order to express itself in this world. Detecting that Don Quixote constitutes the core and the heart, this composes the dreamy and mental part of men that is after beauty and love, chases justice, braveness and honor. And on the other side, we have Sancho, who is the practical one and sees reality as it is and is able to evaluate it. It is his presence that allows Don Quixote to make his dreams come true. Sancho comprises the material needs – food, sleep, indolence.
- His unrepentant childish dreaming proves to be wiser since it is morally pure, remaining incompatible.
“When a door closes, another one opens.” (Vol. A, Ch. 21)
Eventually, which of the two worlds is the real one? The childish world of my Don Quixote that draws up truths, without alienation, or the world of the others that absolutely explains the superficial reality but is impossible to reach the deeper substance of co-existence, since the road is interrupted by a bunch of compromises and retreats that falsify the pursuit of the truth?
- The lack of words like profit, speculation, the right of the strongest makes me ally all the way to non-negotiable reality.
“Here, here, my brave knights, it is here where you have to show the strength of your brave arms, in the fights where the courtiers always win the best round!” (Vol. A, Ch. 7)
As it is non-negotiable the act of children building palaces by the wave, in such an absolute way and so unpretentiously understood that in the adult’s eye it seems rather foolish.
- To touch the sky, with your feet on earth.
“Hooray God that makes me confused!” (Vol. A, Ch. 47)
In many civilizations, we can see that man is symbolized as a tree, with the head in the sky and the feet rooted on earth. It is all about the connection of the spirit with the mater, dreaming and making it came true. It is necessary to look inside each one of us to find the Don Quixote that accompanies us. Where is the knight that seeks the best in him and tries to make his destiny on earth hidden? Without abandoning him, make sure Sancho is not neglected, representing one’s ability to live in this world, giving clarity and allowing the acknowledgment of the difference between simple windmills and monstrous giants.
- Each Don Quixote is doomed to collapse.
“Oh my God! May I have found the place that will become secret grave for this heavy load, my body, which I lift against my will. And I have found it, if the wilderness that those mountains promise does not trick me.” (Vol. A, Ch. 28)
For one reason only, wealth and power do not concern Don Quixote, for they have been compromised with the idea that the world is not made for them. Their reality is childish and groundless and this is where comedy becomes drama, making my laugh bitter…
And if the phase you are right now does not express you “luck always leaves a door open among all the bad lucks, to give them solution” (Vol. A, Ch. 15)
Let’s go again in order for you to understand.
Repeat after Me, in the first person singular.
I will wear Don Quixote’s rusty armor…
I will ride Sancho’s donkey…
I will applaud Miss Doultsinea (The dream that I have)…
I will look reality with clarity…
I will continue the journey…
I wish that the seas of your soul were friendly to you…
Because to live means not to give up…
Cohen, J. M. (1986). Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. London: Penguin.
Carmen Pinto. (2007). Don Quixote. BMJ Nov 10, 335(7627): 997.
Frank, V. (1963). Man’s Search for Meaning. Trans. Ilse Lasch. Boston: Beacon.