From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
14.2 (1994): 71-80.
Copyright © 1994, The Cervantes Society of America
leaving behind the thoroughly unheroic palace life represented by the Duke
and Duchess, Don Quixote feel his knightly vocation renewed. Its connections
to Christian idealism are reinforced in the episode of the images of the
horseback saints. Immediately thereafter, however, he encounters the pretended
Arcadia, whose traditional elements of spring and a new, earthy beginning
have been studied by Rodriguez and Rowe. There are plenty of signs of fertility,
from the shepherdesses all being between 15 and 18 years of age to the
description of the camping spot on the banks of un abundoso arroyo
que todos estos prados fertiliza. A link between Don Quixote and the
newly reinvigorated sun of the amorous springtime is suggested in the description
of his smitten reaction to the shepherdesses' beauty: Vista fué
ésta que admiró a Sancho, suspendió a don Quijote, hizo
parar al Sol en su carrera para verlas. . . .
Don Quixote compares them to Diana, goddess of the moon and ruler of the night, whose rivalry with the sun is suggested by the assertion that their blond hair is bright enough to compete with the rays of the sun itself. He compares himself to Actaeon, and the reader can be expected to recall that Diana destroyed that trespasser against her sovereignty for having watched her bathe naked, making his hunting dogs tear him to pieces. If, then, he is the sun, and the shepherdesses
are Diana the moon, his trampling by pigs while defending the girls' peerless
beauty can be thought of as ludicrously reflecting the similar punishment
of Actaeon's amorous interest.
The explicit greenness found in this oasis of fanciful primavera leads one to the same conclusion about nature punishing Don Quixote for stereotypically green behavior. What is green in this Arcadia, the narrator stresses, are cords that have been stretched between the trees to catch birds. This detail echoes, most appropriately, one of Garcilaso's eclogues (Rodríguez Marín, 1948, 7:287-88), but Cervantes foregrounds it with marked intention. Don Quixote becomes entangled in the cords just before first seeing the attractive shepherdesses, as though he were a traditional courtly lover entangled in his mistress's tresses. He himself interprets this turn of events as punishment for his rejection of Altisidora's advances. But it is clear to the reader that such an interpretation is the opposite of the truth when he then compares the cords to those that bound Venus and Mars, i.e., the bonds of lustful desire. The timing of the encounter is highly ironic, for the knight has just been lecturing his squire on the importance of spiritual rather than physical beauty for the winning of love.
The cords are also the occasion for the narrator to remark that it was their false greenness that deceived the birds and led them to their death. In the Renaissance animals often figure in proverbs and emblems largely because they were thought to be, even more than people, subject to immediate correction for violations of nature's / God's order (Maravall 149). Deceived birds, taken as prey, are used more than once in Cervantes' work as parallels to misguided human characters whose errors are punished by nature. In The Jealous Hidalgo, for example, the child bride and her female companions starved for stimulation in general and young men in particular, whose very incarceration at home by the old husband creates the natural hunger that the hunter-seducer exploits, are compared to doves surprised by the hunter's shooting: Quien ha visto banda de palomas estar comiendo en el campo sin miedo lo que ajenas manos sembraron, que al furioso estrépito de disparada escopeta se azora y levanta, y olvidada del pasto, confusa y atónita cruza por los aires, tal se imagine que quedó la banda y corro de las bailadoras . . ..
Real nature, in contrast to the false greenness, the misleading illusion of wish fulfillment of imaginary Arcadias, includes hunters, providential, that prey on the strayed. Living out his error of championing the make-believe shepherdesses, an act whose foolishness the narrator underscores with the phrase arrogante y nunca
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visto ofrecimiento, Don Quixote vaingloriously confronts fighting bulls,
a traditional test of a hero's courage by which he attempts to raise himself
to the level of myth (Avalle-Arce 259). But it is not merely one bull, rather
a whole herd accompanied by a large number of mounted men carrying lances,
a very real danger from which all present except him quickly step back.
His unceremonious defeat reminds him that he is not the champion of the ritual of the bullfight, much less the solar hero with the strength of May's Zodiacal taurus. Whereas the sojourners in the feigned Arcadia know the safe bounds of fantasy and urge him not to undertake such an extravagant gesture, he is still bound by the green cords with which the episode began, a viejo verde with a lust for life. The make-believe shepherds, acting out spring rituals and fantasies, are also green cultists, albeit sane and prudent, while Don Quixote is a crazed one.
Halfway between the bulls and the pigs, exactly
halfway along the road that leads from the false Arcadia to Barcelona and
then back, again, Don Quixote arrives at the beach in Barcelona on the summer
solstice at the height of his imagined glory. For reasons other than those
I have just adduced, Murillo has shown that here he can be usefully thought
of as a solar hero, a mythic antecedent of Amadís (118). Following
Loomis's theory of the vegetation monomyth Murillo has also affirmed that
his defeat there is at the hands of an other sun god who in the ancient scheme
of things would take his place (157). Yet, strangely enough, that younger
sun god is not a sun at all, but is called the Knight of the White Moon,
and he immediately gives up the role of the hero that he has been at such
pains to take from his rival.
The name Sansón Carrasco takes here has been explained by traditional associations of the moon, especially the white winter moon, with madness and death (Church 160). Certainly there is a popular basis for such an interpretation, as twentieth-century works like the Romancero gitano proclaim. In this view the defeat by the moon foreshadows death, while the moon's lunacy somehow knocks the madness out of Don Quixote. Perhaps Cervantes, as in the episode of the Knight of the Mirrors, here thinks of the moon's mental illness as homeopathically administered, making Don Quixote realize his own mental infirmity. While assenting to this reading, Percas de Ponseti also sees the White Moon as a complex, polyvalent symbol
indicative of the morally good and bad aspects of Sansón's scheme.
Together with his shape, colors and texture, she argues, it all adds up to
the attributes of the devil (Writer and Painter 33).
Yet, as Williamson insists, Don Quixote never says that this defeat has made him see the madness of believing in chivalry. Nor do the surrounding episodes particularly suggest to me the hero's madness or death. Instead Sancho and, indeed, Don Quixote himself though he emphatically accepts responsibility for failing to notice that Rocinante was not as powerful as his opponent's horse relates this fall to the concept of fortune, a primary Renaissance theme that I find better connects this ascribing of final victory to the moon with the loss of heroic efficacy that progressively dominates Part 2 (Urbina La aventura guardada 437). Urbina has observed that in Part 2 adversa fortuna . . . parece perseguir a don Quijote a despecho de su fama. . . . La cuestión del papel de la providencia y su relación con la fortuna en la Segunda Parte merece estudio particular (Principios y fines 41). Similarly in the Galatea it is the intrusion of peripetiea attributed to Fortune into the timeless pastoral world that poses the question of history versus myth (Zidovec 11).
Sancho's description of fortune carries as well connotations of darkness and the feminine, for he describes it as a blind, fickle woman. Don Quixote's own apostrophe to the scene of his defeat conjures up darkness and the fall of heroic deeds: aquí usó la fortuna conmigo de sus vueltas y revueltas; aquí se escurecieron mis hazañas aquí, finalmente, cayó mi ventura para jamás levantarse. El Saffar has observed a movement toward darkness and the feminine throughout the course of Part 2, linking them, as well as the presence of animals, with the growing strength of Don Quixote's subconscious (103, 125). Ter Horst, too, has observed that in Part 2 Don Quixote shifts his ground from the masculine dominant to the female subordinate (345).
Sancho's and Don Quixote's characterizations of fortune also reflect the association, frequently encountered in the Middle Ages, of the Roman goddess Fortuna with the ever changing moon, ruler of the night. Patch concluded, in fact, that, her [Fortune's] changeableness leads inevitably to a comparison with the moon (50). That comparison is prominent in plays on the fallen favorite Alvaro de Luna. There, as in the section of Don Quijote under consideration, there is, in addition to the idea of the fall of Fortune, imagery that brings out the rivalry between the sun and the moon (MacCurdy 137). In another specific parallel, Mira de Amescua's play on the subject, in a passage that closely resembles the description of the shepherdesses
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in the False Arcadia, compares wealth to the leaves and flowers on a tree
compitiendo con los rayos del Sol en colores y hermosura but
soon, like the Don Quixote who aspires to enjoy them, to be felled by Fortune
(cited in MacCurdy 129).
But the Spanish work that contains the cluster of images most similar to those found in connection with the moon in these chapters in Don Quijote is Juan de Mena's El laberinto de Fortuna. Mena, like Don Quixote, refers to Fortune but stresses that she is really Providence, that her fickleness, which Sancho blames, is a mistaken idea, that there are indeed rewards and punishments. She takes the narrator on a tour of her realm, where the moon figures prominently. In fact, Mena calls on the sun god to die Febo, ya espira (18) so that he may sing the wonders of Fortune's house. There each of the planets has an order, the first being that of the moon. It belongs to Diana and focuses on the virtue of sexual restraint. The virtuous soul of a late Spanish queen who exercises authority in this order is dressed, like her consort, in dazzling white: vencíase della su ropa en albura (43). It is, I think, this association of moon and Diana and chastity that is behind the whiteness in the name El Caballero de la Blanca Luna.
Other images from the early pages of El laberinto de Fortuna seem to confirm the presence of that work. Mythologically, Polyphemos in combination with blindness is a topic both in the first order (12) as well as in this section of DQ 2 (chapter 68), as is a descent into hell (16 and chapter 69). Very similar images taken from the animal world include, in the description of Fortuna's first order, an image of laws that, like the spiderwebs that entangle straying animals, are strung to catch the deviant just as the green nets entangle birds and Don Quixote. The rich, however, are big animals that break through the webs in their fury to outdo in lascivious vice los brutos salvajes: bestias mayores que son más estrañas, / passan por todas ronpiendo la tela (48). On the level of symbol, then, the sun's / Don Quixote's fall beneath the hooves of the bulls of early summer as punishment for his attraction to the shepherdesses / Diana / the moon has foreshadowed the fall of his fortunes while at the height of his apparent success and at the ritual moment that marks the beginning of the part of the year that moves toward darkness.
The subsequent episode of the pigs, which follows Don Quixote's and Sancho's enthusiastic embrace of the idea of becoming Arcadians and Don Quixote's unwarrentedly optimistic proclamation that Post tenebras spero lucem, begins with a reference to the darkness of the night in combination with the presence of the
moon, the conjunction the preceding symbolic imagery calls for but one strange
enough to require an explanation at the level of plot and setting: Era
la noche algo escura, puesto que la luna estaba en el cielo, pero no en parte
que pudiese ser vista: que tal vez la señora Diana se va a pasear
a los antípodas, y deja los montes negros y los valles escuros.
The reference to Diana, like the otherwise inexplicable return to the exact
place of the false Arcadia, also serves to refer back to chapter 58,
foreshadowing the parallel trampling that is about to take place. The conclusion
to which we are led by this cluster of images is that the trampling that
soon occurs is punishment for this latest pursuit of fantasies by our crazed
green protagonists, that Diana is insisting on her victory. This reading
of the episode is strengthened by the fact that for a while Sancho resists
the unnaturalness of the Arcadian life, which in this episode is brought
out by Don Quixote's insisting that it calls for them to wake up in the middle
of the night to keep watch and sing love songs instead of sleeping any longer.
The narrator states, in fact, that during the first part of the night, when
Don Quixote slept, he thereby cumplió con la naturaleza.
Sancho, on the other hand praised here for his good physical and mental
health: su buena complexión y pocos cuidados extolls
the advantages of sleep, just as in the episode of the goatherds he had reminded
Don Quixote that their hardworking hosts needed the night to sleep and so
were unable to spend it singing. The language used here brings out its elemental
goodness: manjar que quita la hambre, agua que ahuyenta la sed, fuego
que calienta el frío, frío que templa el ardor. No less
pointedly natural is the continuation of their punishment by the pigs, which
Don Quixote and Sancho imagine for themselves attacks by jackals and
wasps in the master's case and by flies, bed bugs and hunger in the
Somewhat surprisingly there is no explanation given of how Don Quixote and Sancho came to be sleeping right on the road, and indeed one would think that after their earlier mishap at that spot they would have been more prudent, but the parallel to the earlier trampling that was provoked by deliberately taking up a position in the line of traffic suggests that in itself the act of staying up all night singing love songs is a similar kind of rashness that will be similarly chastised. Sancho sensibly goes back to sleep after the herd has passed, but Don Quixote, more appropriately than he realizes, sings a madrigal in which he complains that love is killing him.
There are references to failing light and growing darkness on the next day in the episode when they are taken captive by riders sent by the Duke and Duchess. The morning begins for Sancho when the
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sun shines in his eyes, a promising sign after a bad night, but on opening
them he sees nothing but the damage done by the herd of pigs, which he curses.
Ex-knight and ex-squire encounter the armed men al declinar de la
tarde, and as they march along in enforced silence, Cerró
la noche, apresuraron el paso, creció en los dos presos el
miedo. . . . Their tormentors warn them not even to
open their eyes, then in the following phrase equate them to the one-eyed
Polyphemos blinded by Odysseus.
The reference to Polyphemos, who of course is a monstrous shepherd, also functions as part of a cluster of names all associated with life in the natural state at its most savage and anti-idyllic: Troglodytes, Barbarians, Anthropophagi, Scythians, cannibal lions. Sancho's comic continuation of the list further lowers him and his master toward the animal kingdom; he asks whether they are frogs, eels, popinjays and dogs. This list of beasts and barbarians with which Don Quixote and Sancho are compared ties them, with their plans to become fantasy shepherds, with the uncivilized inhabitants of the Barbarous Isle in Persiles y Sigismunda and the licentious gypsies of La gitanilla, which represent a contradiction of the idealized natural life dreamed of in the pastoral.
When they reach the castle the time is un hora casi de la noche. In fact, the erstwhile solar hero appears to be entering the underworld, the realm of darkness, for in the courtyard into which they are brought there is no natural light. More than a hundred candelabras surround the apparently dead Altisidora and ardían casi cien hachas, puestas en sus blandones, y por los corredores del patio, más de quinientas luminarias: de modo, que a pesar de la noche, que se mostraba algo escura, no se echaba de ver la falta del día. The sinister flames are mirrored by the ones painted on the Inquisitorial outfit Sancho is forced to wear in what has been recognized as yet another descent into Hell in which Don Quixote is powerless to bring the beloved woman back to the realm of the living (Percas de Ponseti The Cave of Montesinos 987, El Saffar 126). Darkness and inefficacy as a hero continue paired in Don Quixote's submission to the moon, the night, and all that they represent.
Hart has concluded that in his plan to become a make-believe shepherd, Don Quixote in this instance can distinguish between art and life. . . . The pastoral life celebrated in the poetic tradition is attractive in much the same way as chivalric life. It becomes dangerous only if it is accepted uncritically as a guide to conduct. Viewed simply as an afternoon's diversion, as it is by the new Arcadians and by Don Quixote in his projected life as the shepherd Quixotiz, it is
harmless and may even be salutary (93). In my view, the lunar pigs
Cervantes calls down on Don Quixote as soon as he indulges in pastoral fantasies
make it clear that his bucolic project has immediately proved anything but
salutary, that he, even though others may be able to play at romance, is
the archetype of those who are constitutionally unable to take the Green
World in any way other than too seriously for their own good.
Avalle-Arce, J. B. La novela pastoril española. Second edition. Madrid: Istmo, 1974.
Church, Margaret. Don Quixote: The Knight of La Mancha. New York University Press, 1971.
El Saffar, Ruth. Beyond Fiction. University of California Press, 1984.
Hart, Thomas R. Cervantes and Ariosto: Renewing Fiction. Princeton University Press, 1989.
MacCurdy, R. R. The Tragic Fall: Don Alvaro de Luna and Other Favorites in Spanish Golden Age Drama. University of North Carolina Press, 1978.
Maravall, José Antonio. Utopia and Counterutopia in the Quijote, transl. Robert W. Felkel. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Mena, Juan de. El laberinto de Fortuna o Las trecientas, ed. J. M. Blecua. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1968.
Murillo, L. A. The Golden Dial: Temporal Configuration in Don Quijote. Dolphin: Oxford, 1975.
Percas de Ponseti, Helena. Cervantes the Writer and Painter of Don Quijote. University of Missouri Press, 1988.
Percas de Ponseti, Helena. The Cave of Montesinos: Cervantes' Art of Fiction, in Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, eds. Joseph R. Jones and Kenneth Douglas. New York: Norton: 1981, pp. 979-94.
Rodriguez, Alfred and Karl Roland Rowe. Cervantes' Redundant Midsummer in Part II of the Quijote, Cervantes 5 (1985): 163-67.
Ter Horst, Robert. In an Echoing Grove: Quijote II and a Sonnet of Garcilaso in Studies in Honor of Bruce W. Wardropper, eds. Dian Fox, Harry Sieber, Robert ter Horst. Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 1989, pp. 335-46.
Urbina, Eduardo. La aventura guardada: Don Quijote como caballero desaventurado, Kentucky Romance Quarterly 1990 Nov; 37 (4): 431-40.
Urbina, Eduardo. Principios y fines del Quijote. Scripta Humanística: Potomac, Maryland, 1990.
Williamson, Edwin. The Half-way House of Fiction: Don Quixote and Arthurian Romance. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.
Zidovec, Mirta. La idea del tiempo en La Galatea, Hispania 1990 Mar; 73: 8-15.
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