From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
3.1 (1983): 51-64.
Copyright © 1983, The Cervantes Society of America
HE SPECTACLE OF
THE Bodas de Camacho provides a sumptuous contrast to the
normally austere landscapes of the Quijote. Privation, of course,
suits the ascetic and idealistic knight more than it does his earthy squire,
and it is appropriate that Don Quijote should find his barren hillocks as
congenial as does Sancho Panza the laden table of la venta. But the
feast that so delights Sancho offers more than just skimmings
(espuma1) for both. It is the
occasion for review by means of a variety of devices of a debate
initiated in the tale of Grisóstomo and Marcela, and continued in
the story of Cardenio and Luscinda, over the merits of romantic love.
Grisóstomo dies of unrequited love, and it is decided that some of
his writings will survive him so that others might learn of el paradero
que tienen los que a rienda suelta corren por la senda que el desvariado
amor delante de los ojos les pone (p. 124). Cardenio's love is frustrated
by a traitorous friend and unsympathetic parents, and though all ends well,
his passion drives him mad for a time. In both cases romantic love appears
to cause more sorrow than joy.
Later, in the Bodas episode, marriage for love must defend itself against marriage for money, or against the marriage de convenance, since the lady's father has arranged the match. The outcome of the episode (Chapters 19, 20, 21 of Quijote II) seems to support the case for
de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, ed. Martín de Riquer
(Barcelona: Juventud, 1965), p. 681. All subsequent quotations are from this
romantic love: through trickery, penniless Basilio wins Quiteria from rich
Camacho at the last minute. But the dénouement does not settle the
matter conclusively; just because things happened as they did is no proof
that they should have happened so, no more than, say, Sancho Panza should
have been treated to his blanket-tossing after his master had refused to
pay for their lodging. Moreover, it seems unlikely that a writer of Cervantes'
complexity and discrimination, so imbued with the values of humanism, would
have come down unequivocally on one side of a debatable issue, particularly
if one takes into account conflicting implications that arise in the course
of the narrative. Indeed, though there is much to be said in favor of Basilio's
claim and John Sinnigen in particular has defended it at
length2 the episode is full of that
ambiguity so characteristic of humanistic skepticism, and it involves far
more than the question of marriage for love.
In addition to the stories of Grisóstomo and Cardenio in Quijote I, there occur in the early chapters of Quijote II incidents that anticipate the issues dealt with in the Bodas episode. The play actors of Las Cortes de la Muerte in Chapter 11 form a motley crew of pagan and Christian allegorical figures, three of which the knight, Cupid, and Death will be represented in the Bodas episode, and will serve to broaden the debate over marriage for love versus marriage for money. In Chapter 18, the Green Knight's son, Don Lorenzo, reads his sonnet about Pyramus and Thisbe, a tale which opposes parental authority to romantic love and to which one of the students in the Bodas episode will refer. As will be seen, the legend offers more than one clue to the interpretation of the Bodas episode. Like these foreshadowing incidents, Cervantes' simple story of a love triangle will give rise to debates that are theological, moral, and ultimately esthetic. And though Basilio's plight will no doubt claim most of the reader's sympathy, it will be difficult to dismiss altogether the less obtrusive Camacho.
Basilio's story is narrated straightforwardly enough by one of two itinerant students and concerns folk of the clase labradora. This is interesting, since the ethos of both generations parents and children of such a class would in general tend to favor practicality over romance, the peasantry normally having little use for the indulgences
Sinnigen, Themes and Structures in the Bodas de
Camacho, MLN 84 (1969), 157-170.
|3 (1983)||Las bodas de Camacho||53|
of the courtly ethic.3 Quiteria's parents
have promised her to Camacho the rich rather than to her longtime sweetheart
Basilio. The narrator observes that Quiteria's pedigree is superior to Camacho's,
but that las riquezas son poderosas de soldar muchas quiebras
(p. 672), which, although it may have been meant ironically, is the first
of many indications that Interés is not necessarily a bad thing.
The narrator may have faith in the power of wealth, but he is nonetheless
looking forward to a hitch in the proceedings. The aparato (p.
671) he anticipates is dramatic rather than culinary, and we must assume
that he expects a tragedy, inasmuch as he is reminded of Pyramus and Thisbe
in his telling of the story.4 The student
concludes the first part of his account with a brief defense of Basilio,
a natural athlete and poet, which arouses the sympathy of both knight and
Cervantes' technique here and elsewhere is reminiscent of one exemplified in the Renaissance novella, in that a number of listeners comment upon a tale, thus adding to the sense its narrator has already made of it. When a tale elicits several variously informed opinions, and especially when these are likely to change in the course of the recital of the narrative, and when one must in addition take into account the character and motives of the people who express them, Cervantes' final statement will necessarily be a complex one. Both Don Quijote and Sancho initially support Basilio, but Sancho's
literature does suggest, however, that some children of rich farmers were
beginning to aspire to higher social levels with their courtly values. Although
the rich Juan Labrador, in Lope de Vega's El villano en su rincón,
holds fast to the old spartan values of the peasantry, his children yearn
for the court and end up marrying courtiers.
4 The story of Grisóstomo and Marcela unfolds in a similar atmosphere of anticipation: it is expected that Grisóstomo's directions for his burial, which parecen de gentiles (p. 110), will meet with opposition from the clergy. Also, in telling his own story, Cardenio likens Luscinda's plight to Thisbe's (p. 227). Moreover, that Cardenio's story and the Bodas episode both contain a parodic exordium to nature (pp. 240, 678) suggests that the pastoral tradition as it idealizes nature and human love in novels like Montemayor's La Diana is being satirized. In all three episodes the pastoral ideal is in one way or another debased: Grisóstomo sheds his scholar's garb to become a mournful shepherd, Cardenio lives like a savage among goatherds, and Basilio also takes to the country, feeding upon fruits and sleeping upon the hard earth como animal brutal (p. 673). It appears that the forests and fields of the Quijote are often the setting for despair rather than of happy romance.
enthusiasm for los que bien se quieren (p. 673) prompted
no doubt by the narrator's sympathetic account of Basilio's
accomplishments provokes the knight to change his mind, and he launches
into a homily on the subject of romantic love. The Don, who will eventually
champion Basilio again, having twice changed his mind, here denounces romantic
love, calling it blind. He argues that it is inspired by perversity, that
is, inspired by wanting only what there is an obstacle to having: the woman
wants either her father's servant, who would be socially unsuitable, or the
stranger in the street, to whom she is attracted by his haughty air as well
as by his gallantry. In doing so Don Quijote opposes the courtly ethic, with
its emphasis upon the obstacle as the source of passion, to the
common or orthodox tradition,5
which makes more of reason and farsightedness: Quiere hacer uno un
viaje largo, y si es prudente, antes de ponerse en camino busca alguna
compañía segura y apacible con quien acompañarse
(p. 673). The force of these worldly-wise remarks on the subject of marriage
is undermined by Don Quijote's own inexperience in such matters and by his
own romantic idealism. But however qualified his advice, it stands nonetheless
in defense of parental authority.
Here the narrator resumes his story, and Basilio loses a few points in the telling of it. The ill-favored suitor is now characterized as irrational, bestial, and despairing of life, none of which the good Christian should be. Sancho is quick to note the sin, as he comments Dios lo hará mejor . . . ; que Dios, que da la llaga, da la medicina (p. 674), although Basilio, as it turns out, will survive with his own medicine. Whether because Don Quijote has persuaded him to entertain less sympathy for Basilio or because he is now more fully informed about the situation, Sancho begins to have reservations about marriage for love:
. . . entre el sí y el no de la mujer no me atrevería yo a poner una punta de alfiler, porque no cabría. Denme a mí que Quiteria quiera de buen corazón y de buena voluntad a Basilio; que yo le daré a él un saco de buena ventura: que el amor, según yo he oído decir, mira con unos anteojos, que hacen parecer oro al cobre, a la pobreza riqueza, y a las lagañas perlas. (p. 674)
terms courtly and common are generally applied to
two distinct treatments of the Tristan myth, Béroul's being known
as the version commune and Thomas' as the version
courtoise. See Donald Stone's Realism and the Real
Béroul, L'Espirit Créateur, Winter, 1965, p. 219,
for a brief discussion of the differences.
|3 (1983)||Las bodas de Camacho||55|
This debate, now polarized even more by Don Quijote's refusal to participate,
yields temporarily to another on the subject of art versus nature. The student
narrator drops his story to demonstrate that book-learned skill is more effective
than native courage and determination, as he bests his colleague in a fencing
duel. This incident seems to place art in opposition to morality, inasmuch
as the artist, whose respectability has been slightly impugned by Cide Hamete's
reference to him as el estudiante bachiller, o licenciado, como le
llamó don Quijote (p. 673),6
has triumphed over Corchuelo's ánimo, que no es poco (p.
675), and his trust in God. The duel is to some extent emblematic of the
conflicts dramatized in Chapters 20 and 21, since the man who will lose to
Basilio's trickery also has some virtues to commend him.
The original debate is resumed on a slightly different footing as Don Quijote and Sancho prepare to participate in the story they have been listening to. In Chapter 20, the antithesis wealth / poverty complicates the antithesis money / love, although money, it will be seen, is not necessarily antithetical to love. Sancho initiates the argument by defending practicality in such a way as to imply a theological sanction:7
Wardropper, in his Cervantes and Education, Cervantes and
the Renaissance (Easton, PA: Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 1980),
pp, 178-193, suggests that some envy and a good deal of rancor on Cervantes'
part motivate the carelessness of the designation el estudiante bachiller,
o licenciado. He observes that Cervantes treats most of his academics
disparagingly, casting them as liars, frauds, and pedants. The humanist
and his like se cansan en saber y averiguar cosas que después
de sabidas y averiguadas, no importan un ardite al entendimiento ni a la
memoria. What does matter, for Cervantes, is the understanding
of man and his values, a true humanism of a kind alien to the self-styled
humanist of Don Quixote. This understanding comes, not from books,
but from dealing with one's fellows and observing them. Cervantes aligns
himself with those characters of his who have enhanced their innate talents
by learning from experience (p. 192.) I am grateful to Professor Wardropper
for the help he has given me in preparing this paper.
7 John Allen, in his Don Quixote and the Origins of the Novel, Cervantes and the Renaissance (Easton, PA: Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 1980), pp. 125-140, comments that Sancho's position in the debate is far from disinterested: Sancho, for his part, provides on awakening (on the day of the wedding) one of the most damning revelations of his propensity toward egocentric rationalization. He had initially favored the suit of Basilio for Quiteria's hand, identifying with him against his wife's obstinate opposition to Sanchica's marrying up: Lo que quisiera es que ese buen Basilio, que ya me le voy aficionando, se casara con esa señora Quiteria . . . [p. 56] But now a whiff of Camacho's banquet is sufficient to make him change sides: Mas que haga lo que quisiere Basilio respondió Sancho; no fuera él pobre, y casárase con Quiteria. ¿No hay más sino no tener un cuarto y querer casarse por las nubes? (p. 138.)
Sobre un buen tiro de barra o sobre una gentil treta de espada no dan un cuartillo de vino en la taberna . . . . Sobre un buen cimiento se puede levantar un buen edificio, y el mejor cimiento y zanja del mundo es el dinero. (p. 679)
His remark, of course, is an outrageous perversion of the words of Christ,8 but it forces the reader to consider wealth in the context of the teachings of the Church, and to regard it as a potential force for good. Don Quijote again refuses to argue, and he upbraids Sancho for talking too much.9 Nevertheless, Sancho's position in the debate is soon strengthened by the narrator's account of the wedding preparations. The description of the wedding feast is a kind of Rabelaisian tour de force reminiscent of the medieval preoccupation with feast and famine, carnival and Lent, hinting at the propriety of self-indulgence and extravagance in certain circumstances.10 It frames the enactment of the allegorical drama, concluding with Sancho's uncharacteristically inventive description of the feasting of Death (p. 686).
9 Though Sancho reminds his master of their earlier agreement to let him speak freely as long as he speaks respectfully, Don Quijote claims not to remember it. It is difficult to ascertain who is at fault here. Don Quijote is correct insofar as there is no account of such an agreement anywhere in the early chapters of Quijote II, those which describe the occasion to which Sancho refers (antes que esta última vez saliésemos de casa [p. 679]). (lt is also possible that an agreement was made but not disclosed to the reader.) On the other hand, there seems to be a sort of standing agreement, present almost from the beginning of the novel, to the effect that Sancho will never speak disrespectfully to his master. Don Quijote says, y está advertido de aquí adelante en una cosa, para que te abstengas y reportes en el hablar demasiado conmigo (p. 189), to which Sancho eventually agrees saying, Mas bien puede estar seguro que de aquí adelante no despliegue mis labios para hacer donaire de las cosas de vuestra merced, si no fuere para honrarle, como a mi amo y señor natural (p. 190). Don Quijote, then, is right only in the strictest sense of the word. But such is the challenge of the Quijote: it is precisely that of determining the implications of such slips in assessing the reliability of each commentator.
10 Manuel Durán, in his El Quijote a través del prisma de Mikhail Bakhtine, Cervantes and the Renaissance (Easton, PA: Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 1980), p. 73, comments, Rabelais y Cervantes elevan sus construcciones artísticas por el aire del Renacimiento, pero no [p. 57] cabe dudar de que los cimientos, en ambos casos, han de hundirse forzosamente en la tradición medieval. Although Durán is primarily concerned with the subversive elements of carnaval as they appear in the Quijote, he also recognizes the importance of orgy. He observes: . . . los carnavales y las orgías que suelen acompañarlos representan una restauración simbólica de la unidad indiferenciada y caótica que precedió la creación del rnundo (p. 75), and adds: El carnaval subraya la importancia de la materia y de los sentidos que nos ponen en contacto con el mundo material (p. 77). As the producer of a kind of carnival, Camacho becomes to some extent the agent of renewal and revitalization, especially in the case of Sancho Panza. On the other hand, the epic scale of the wedding festivities calls to mind the indulgences of Spanish royalty of the period (particularly the lavish entertainments of the Duke of Lerma and the Dukes of Medina Sidonia), to which Cervantes was opposed (his sonnet Al túmulo del Rey Felipe II en Sevilla is a more explicit expression of his attitude). Don Quijote asks if the wedding is to be that of some prince (p. 671), and Sancho later exclaims that Quiteria is dressed like a garrida palaciega (p. 687). Moreover, Camacho is extravagant, and his leafy canopy is described as though it had been built in defiance of nature: hásele antojado de enramar y cubrir todo el prado por arriba, de tal suerte que el sol se ha de ver en trabajo si quiere entrar a visitar las yerbas verdes de que está cubierto el suelo (p. 672).
|3 (1983)||Las bodas de Camacho||57|
What is impressive about the wedding banquet is not so much its quantities of food, but rather its force as a metaphor for order in life and in art: every sort of cheerful industry and ingenuity has been brought to bear upon this spectacle. Far from being an orgy, with its implications of debauchery and disorder, the preparation and disposition of the dishes have been carefully conceived and executed. Moreover, the main dish envelops smaller delicacies:
Los cocineros y cocineras pasaban de cincuenta, todos limpios, todos diligentes y todos contentos. En el dilatado vientre del novillo estaban doce tiernos y pequeños lechones, que, cosidos por encima, servían de darle sabor y enternecerle. (p. 680)
It might be argued that the whole display constitutes a vulgarization of
art particularly since it appeals primarily to Sancho but it
is undeniably a striking argument in favor of plenitude, of the proper husbanding
of wealth and natural resources, and therefore of Camacho himself. Don Quijote's
eulogy to himself as keeper and provider at the beginning of the chapter
would seem to support such a reading.11 The
passionate and disorderly Basilio appears less attractive in
this light. Nor is the appearance of Death in the midst of
11 Don Quijote maintains: Duerme el criado, y está velando el señor, pensando cómo le ha de sustentar, mejorar y hacer mercedes (p. 678).
such prosperity fortuitous: it suggests an authorial strategy aimed at establishing a parallel between a passion that consumes and Death the Great Eater. Like Basilio, Death is undisciplined and disorderly. It is possible to see in Sancho's portrait both an oblique confession of his own gluttony and an allegorization of passion as destructive:
Tiene esta señora más de poder que de melindre; no es nada asquerosa, de todo come y a todo hace, y de toda suerte de gentes, edades y preeminencias hinche sus alforjas. No es segador que duerme las siestas; que a todas horas siega, y corta así la seca como la verde yerba; y no parece que masca, sino engulle y traga cuanto se le pone delante, porque tiene hambre canina, que nunca se harta; y aunque no tiene barriga, da a entender que está hidrópica y sedienta de beber solas las vidas de cuantos viven, corno quien se bebe un jarro de agua fría. (p. 686)
The appearance of Death also has the effect, at least temporarily, of
trivializing all debate except debate over salvation, and although Sancho's
rustic characterization may seem comic to the reader, his idiom does the
subject ample justice and enhances his role as an intelligent and reliable
The second spectacle, the allegorical danzas habladas, is more complex though it too proceeds from Camacho's camp and warrants closer inspection. Although it could be argued that Camacho enjoys an unfair advantage in being able to command so many resources on his own behalf, it is curious that he should even have permitted the dramatization of Basilio's claim upon Quiteria, that is, the dramatic competition between Amor (Basilio) and Interés (Camacho). Is he foolish or simply fairminded? What is even more curious is Don Quijote's reaction to the piece: while he acknowledges Basilio's accomplishments and Camacho's wealth to be equally well staged, he sees the scales tipped in Camacho's favor:
Yo apostaré dijo don Quijote, que debe de ser más amigo de Camacho que de Basilio el tal bachiller o beneficiado, y que debe de tener más de satírico que de vísperas: ¡bien ha encajado en la danza las habilidades de Basilio y las riquezas de Camacho! (p. 685)
The dramatic contest has ended in a draw. What, then, has moved Don Quijote to remark that the scriptwriter must be a greater friend of Camacho's than of Basilio's?12 To begin with, Camacho has the
asks the same question: How, then, (in view of the outcome, which is
a draw) did Don Quijote come to his stated conclusion (that
[p. 59] the scriptwriter is a better friend of
Camacho's than of Basilio's)? (p. 162). It is unclear whether the question
is rhetorical or genuine, since there seems to be no response to it in Sinnigen's
article. Any answer to the question barring Don Quijote's utter
incomprehension of the play would, of course, tend to undermine Sinnigen's
argument, since it would explain why Camacho seemed the more impressive of
the two suitors represented (at least to Don Quijote's way of thinking).
|3 (1983)||Las bodas de Camacho||59|
last word in the danzas habladas. Don Quijote cannot recall the entire
sequence of dancers, yet if the followers of Amor and Interés
continue to alternate, this would still be the case, although we cannot
know what Posesión pacífica would have to say for himself.
Moreover, the only salient attributes of Amor and Poesía
are force (Yo soy el dios poderoso [p. 683]). and suasion (tu
fortuna / . . . / será por mí levantada / sobre el
cerco de la luna [p. 684]), whereas wealth and love are conjoined in
Interés (Soy quien puede más que Amor, / y es
el Amor el que me guía [p. 683]). More important, however, is
the role of Liberalidad, who is also moved by love: que aunque
es vicio, es vicio honrado / y de pecho enamorado (p. 684). It would
seem, then, that Camacho has more to offer than money, and that Cervantes'
notion of liberalidad is moral as well as material, as will be seen
in the conclusion of the episode. The final irony is that Camacho's virtues
are just as capable of poetic expression as are Basilio's.
That Amor and Interés are compatible is borne out in the harmonious dancing that follows the danzas habladas, and by the fact that all ends peacefully. The crude gesture that destroys the castle suddenly focusses our attention upon Quiteria, yet its implications are not entirely unfavorable to Camacho. Interés is, of course, at fault in trying to woo Quiteria with his wealth, but it is significant that his efforts almost succeed: The castle walls are not sturdy enough to resist the force of his bolsón. The gesture condemns Camacho, but it also implicates Quiteria. The tumbled walls suggest a shaken resolve, and one is left to doubt the excellence of Quiteria's love for Basilio, and consequently, to question the purity of any human motive or desire. The fighting that ensues between Amor and Interés and their followers is subdued by savages,13 which suggests that the conflict is
savages who play the part of peacemakers are somewhat puzzling. In the
courtly-love context of medieval prose fiction (for example, in Diego de
San Pedro's La cárcel de Amor) the savage represents lust (El
Deseo). The pastoral romances of the sixteenth century, with their platonic
love, present wild men ambivalently: in the couple named Sylvano and Selvagia
in Montemayor's La Diana el aspecto innocuo de la vida salvaje
se ha [p. 60] transformado en el ideal pastoril,
pero los verdaderos salvajes son enemigos de los pastores, y son matados
por Felismena (A. D. Deyermond, El hombre salvaje en la novela
sentimental, in Actas del Segundo Congreso Internacional de
Hispanistas, ed. Jaime Sánchez Romeralo and Norbert Poulussen
[Nijmegen: Instituto Español de la Universidad de Nimega, 19671, p.
271). Cervantes, no doubt following the pastoral tradition, presumably intends
to stress in the dances el aspecto innocuo de la vida salvaje.
incapable of resolution, at least by the combatants themselves. But peace
is restored. The allegory, at least from this point of view, is a tribute
to restraint, and therefore, like the wedding feast, a tribute to order.
One may well ask, however, why the scriptwriter commissioned by Camacho should
not celebrate his employer's victory in the contest rather than conclude
with a tie. There is, of course, no answer to the question, since we do not
know what instructions, if any, Camacho may have given to the
beneficiado. It is possible that Camacho was so confident of his own
claim that he was indifferent to the effects of such a dénouement.
But it is also possible that his magnaminity (his liberalidad) obligates
him to concede the validity of Basilio's claim. Whatever the explanation,
the allegory is ultimately one of reconciliation, which will find its parallel
in Camacho's acquiescence in his loss at the end of the Bodas
The primacy of romantic love and the concomitant illegitimacy of Camacho's suit are made no clearer in Chapter 21. Sancho's rustic praise of Quiteria when he first catches sight of the wedding procession echoes and parodies earlier hyperbolic descriptions of idealized femininity. Her appearance elicits from him a comparison of her to a palm tree laden with dates, which echoes the Song of Solomon and burlesques the spectacle of meats and stews in Chapter 20.14 Even though we may wonder how Sancho should know any more about court finery than his master knows about wifely companionship, we are by now more inclined to take him seriously. At this point the rival appears, the trick is played, and the mortally wounded Basilio proves surprisingly eloquent and victorious.15 It has been argued that in all
This thy stature is like to a palm tree, Song of Solomon 7.7.
It is also worth noting that Solomon too was a rich man.
15 Basilio's performance curiously does away with the opposition between armas y letras another fundamental debate in the Quijote his first feat of destreza with his sword being necessary to the success of his verbal destreza. Don Quijote also succeeds in reconciling armas y letras when he persuades the company with words and brandished sword to accept Basilio's marriage.
|3 (1983)||Las bodas de Camacho||61|
these goings-on, the Church is on Basilio's side, yet it seems nonetheless
that Basilio is playing a dangerous
game.16, The priest warns him que atendiese
a la salud del alma antes que a los gustos del cuerpo (p. 690). Basilio
replies that only if he is granted his romantic wish first will he
then have the strength to concern himself with his soul, to confess.
This is quite a reversal of the ordinary sequence of events. When one is
near death, there is only one means of appeal. Moreover, Quiteria's own
hesitation to comply with Basilio's demand suggests that she is sensible
of his impiety.17 But the priest's admonishments
are useless. Quiteria steps forward, the vows are spoken and the trick revealed.
Don Quijote, now wholly allied with Basilio, intervenes to defend him as
he puts an end to the fighting between the rivals' supporters. His argument,
however, slightly undermines the case for romantic love: y advertid
que el amor y la guerra son una misma cosa (p. 692). Moreover, he comes
close to contradicting his earlier pronouncement when he argues that
Camacho es rico, y podrá comprar su gusto cuando, donde, y como
quisiere (p. 693).18 But more significant
than Don Quijote's arbitration is the example of Camacho, whose relatively
gracious acceptance of his loss contrasts with Basilio's earlier unexemplary
despair. Camacho is the true hero, and the true liberal in both senses of
the word: having reasoned out his acquiescence in the matter, he then offers
to continue the festivities for all. If one judges the episode from the point
of view of orthodox Christian morality, Camacho would seem to come out ahead.
In any event, he is certainly not a villain.
What to make of the whole? It is probably true that Cervantes would have favored marriage for love, or affection, or respect, over
writes: The fact that his [Basilio's] achievement is related to Christian
marriage emphasizes the legitimacy of Basilio's claim (p. 166). Sinnigen
seems to have forgotten that Camacho's wedding would have been no less
17 It is unlikely that Quiteria is feigning reluctance here, since we are told in the next chapter that she knew nothing of Basilio's plan: El buen Sancho se refociló tres días a costa de los novios, de los cuales se supo que no fue traza comunicada con la hermosa Quiteria el herirse fingidamente, sino industria de Basilio, esperando della el mesmo suceso que se había visto (p. 694). Of course, we must take their word for it.
18 Though he was speaking of wives rather than of fiancées, Don Quijote had said at the outset that La de la propia mujer no es mercaduría que una vez comprada se vuelve, o se trueca o cambia (p. 673). Don Quijote must feel that men as rich as Camacho are unworthy to love and be loved, yet in the next chapter he singles out la necesidad y la pobreza (p. 694) as the enemies of love.
marriage for money, or at least that he would have favored leaving the decision
to the children rather than to the parents. John Sinnigen sees in the
Bodas episode the triumph of romantic
love.19 Yet it appears that that triumph
is a qualified one, and that the dichotomies he regards as resolved remain
essentially unresolved. For one thing, we do not know how the marriage turns
out. Sinnigen contends that the fencing duel that establishes the superiority
of art to simple determination to win functions as a structural microcosm
of the celebrated event that is to follow (p. 161). But it does not
follow, as he argues, that the success of Basilio's trick proves that romantic
love is the one element crucial to a good marriage. The two cases are simply
not analogous. Basilio's industria may succeed in getting him married,
but it will not necessarily make him a good husband. Far from supporting
the legitimacy of Basilio's claim, the two incidents seem rather to qualify
their own poetic justice, since neither victim has been shown to deserve
Moreover, it would seem that Sinnigen's conception of love as it is debated in the Bodas episode is narrower than Cervantes'. Basilio's love is essentially a selfish love, and there is, as we have seen, too much in these chapters that points to the unattractiveness, if not the sinfulness, of such a passion: not only is there the characterization of Basilio as near suicidal and impious, there is also the allusion to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, with its associations of sensuality and violence. The student's reference to this story can hardly be said to substantiate Cervantes' unqualified sympathy with Basilio; too many writers of the period treat it as comedy for us to rely upon Cervantes' serious use of it here.20 The wall separating Pyramus and
claims that We shall see . . . that the Bodas de
Camacho dramatizes why romantic love should win and that The
victory of romantic love is the basis for the unity of the Bodas de
Camacho (p. 158).
20 Spanish Baroque poets treated classical myths and legends ambivalently. The same Quevedo who mocks Hero and Leander (un amante huevo / pasado por agua) in Hero y Leandro en paños menores uses myths seriously in order to intensify the expression of emotion in his famous sonnet En crespa tempestad. While Góngora exalts the myth of Acis and Galatea in his Polifemo, his treatment of Pyramus and Thisbe in the romance La cuidad de Babilonia is irreverent. Sinnigen takes the story seriously, following the lead of Casalduero, who has observed that Camacho is the lion, certainly a brutal beast, in this Cervantine adaptation of the Pyramus-Thisbe myth (p. 164). Such a construction seems exaggerated, if not farfetched. For one thing, in Ovid's version at least, the lioness herself sheds [p. 63] no blood. For another, Camacho's generosities are hardly consistent with the characterization of him as a brutal beast.
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Thisbe is similar to the allegorical wall of the danzas habladas in
that both represent the obstacle that intensifies
passion.21 That the contest to win Quiteria
ends in a draw implies that marriage for romantic love the love inspired
by obstacles that Don Quijote initially condemns has not much more
to commend it than marriage for money. Indeed, Basilio's love may diminish
once he marries Quiteria and the obstacle no longer exists. As for Camacho,
his love is unselfish, and his wealth, far from corrupting him, becomes the
expression of his virtues. Not only is he a generous host, providing
entertainment and food for his guests and employment for a large number of
artists writers, musicians, dancers, and actors he is also
liberal in the sense of tolerant. In the end, he relinquishes Quiteria
in the same spirit with which he gives of his wealth. As is true of the tales
of Grisóstomo and Cardenio, the Bodas episode does not so much
denounce romantic love as it does the excesses of romantic love. At the same
time, we should not assume that all rich men are scoundrels.
But the Bodas episode is not limited to providing simple advice for a simple dilemma by means of a suspense story with a trick ending. All of that is a framework of sorts, a loom, which permits a number of narrators and characters, all with varying talents, mentalities, and perspectives, to weave themselves in and out of the design of the cloth to greater or lesser effect. From the students, who demonstrate that art is superior to nature yet not invariably just, and who hope for a showdown at Quiteria's wedding, to the scriptwriter, who probably stands to gain something for his labors, to Don Quijote with his high-minded and contradictory visions, to Sancho, whose proverbial non-sequiturs often reveal the clearest and most cynical understanding of all, to Basilio with his self-centered obsession there is no one who does not in some way alter our perception of the debate as it is first recounted (Chapter 19) and then acted out (Chapters 20, 21). The quest of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza involves the drama of Basilio, which soon involves the dramas of all the others, whether those dramas take the form of a duel, heated
who was probably Cervantes' source, does not fail to observe the importance
of the obstacle in his Pyramus et Thisbe: tectus magis aestuat
ignis (Metamorphoseon Libri XV, edited by Hugo Magnus [Berlin:
Weidmann, 1914; reprint edition 1979 Arno Press]), p. 130.
dialog, allegory, or a dying wish, As one encounter gives rise to subsequent
conflicts, these in turn alter and often redefine the controversy. As the
characters and the contexts change, so do our responses. In other words,
the primary fiction related by Cide Hamete that is, Don Quijote's
quest engenders a variety of subordinate fictions, each with its own
narrator, or artist.
Thus it is that Cervantes' narrative technique tends to frustrate our effort to read his mind, to extract a simple message from any one episode. The art that enables one fencer to defeat another is the same art that enables Basilio to win Quiteria and that enables Cervantes to manipulate his reader. If the fencing duel is a structural microcosm of anything, it is of the questionable propriety of this legerdemain, of the novelist's enterprise. Where is the moral? Should we trust the integrity of Camacho's scriptwriter, should we share Don Quijote's sympathy for Basilio, or should we respect Sancho Panza's peculiar lucidity? The whole dialectic of the Quijote is forever qualified by such imponderables. Reading the Quijote is like reading the Decameron: you may be sure that nothing is quite as it seems. All seems to be deceit, but deceit that forces us to discriminate among deceits and that discourages any simplistic or reductive conclusion. As F. W. Locke has said, Cervantes describes a world so large that it can be seen not all at once but in many perspectives . . . . There are really no tricks in Don Quijote, we come to see, but ever so many ways of viewing the multiple realities of life.22 Yet Cervantes' art, if it is not trickery, nonetheless orders the complexity of human dilemmas in such a way as to make us more alert judges of them. Perhaps the most subtle argument in support of Interés-Liberalidad and one which is particularly illustrative of the novelist's industria is the fact that the title of the episode, Las Bodas de Camacho, is a manifest lie. But the title contains some truth. It may not be Camacho's wedding, but it is his show, albeit one in which he is finally upstaged by a greater talent.
|UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT GREENSBORO|
22 F. W. Locke, El Sabio Encantador: The Author of Don Quijote, Symposium 23 (1969), 60. The author concludes that the contradictions in the mirroring of narrators that Cervantes presents us with are not at all contradictions but an essential part of the central metaphor [of God's authorship] of Don Quijote.
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