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Don Quixote on the Road to Barcelona
This paper will analyze the passage in the book Don Quixote where Sancho physically fights with Quixote to prevent Quixote from lashing him. On a practical joke playing duke's suggestion in the last chapter Sancho had promised to lash himself over 3000 times as a way to remove the spell that turned Quixote love interest, lady "Dona Dulcinea del Toboso," from a noblewoman to a peasant girl.
Whether is was intentional or not the theme of the common man asserting himself against capricious punishment and rule by the nobles is evident in this passage. The passage opens -
"Master and man dismounted from their beasts, and as soon as they had settled themselves at the foot of the trees, Sancho, who had had a good noontide meal that day, let himself, without more ado, pass the gates of sleep."
Sancho is and represents is the common man in Cervante's book. Like all peasants Sancho worries about practical matters and lives in the moment, (though he has clearly begun to believe in Quixote's quest when he told his wife earlier in the book that he was sticking with Quixote). Like all common men he has little to worry him in the here and now and puts the break in their travels to good use by nodding off.
"But Don Quixote, whom his thoughts, far more than hunger, kept awake, could not close an eye, and roamed in fancy to and fro through all sorts of places."
In Don Quixote, Cervantes paints the nobleman, or one at least one who fancies himself noble. Like all noblemen Quixote troubles himself with thoughts of high importance. He is unable to nod off with Sancho's ease because he has many things on his mind.
"At one moment it seemed to him that he was in the cave of Montesinos and saw Dulcinea, transformed into a country wench, skipping and mounting upon her she-ass; again that the words of the sage Merlin were sounding in his ears, setting forth the conditions to be observed and the exertions to be made for the disenchantment of Dulcinea."
This sentence alludes to an adventure earlier in the book in the enchanted caves of Montesinos.
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He lost all patience when he considered the laziness and want of charity of his squire Sancho; for to the best of his belief he had only given himself five lashes, a number paltry and disproportioned to the vast number required. Believing that Sancho's painful task was truly the answer Quixote, the noble knight-errant, becomes angry with Sancho for not carrying out his duty fully. Charity and laziness, attributes of the noble and the naïf, in Quixote's view.
"At this thought he felt such vexation and anger that he reasoned the matter thus: "If Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot, saying, 'To cut comes to the same thing as to untie,' and yet did not fail to become lord paramount of all Asia, neither more nor less could happen now in Dulcinea's disenchantment if I scourge Sancho against his will; for, if it is the condition of the remedy that Sancho shall receive three thousand and odd lashes, what does it matter to me whether he inflicts them himself, or some one else inflicts them, when the essential point is that he receives them, let them come from whatever quarter they may?"
Quixote, vexed and angry, decides to take the matter of Sancho's required self-lashing into his own hands. Cervantes is making an allusion to the story of how Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot instead of untying it as he was technically suppose to do. Because Alexander rose to greatness in spite of this shortcut Quixote figures he can whip Sancho himself and still meet the requirements set forth by the fake Merlin. The entire set of adventures in this book are fueled by Quixote's ability to believe fantasy and rationalizing his various courses of action, including this one.
"With this idea he went over to Sancho, having first taken Rocinante's reins and arranged them so as to be able to flog him with them, and began to untie the points (the common belief is he had but one in front) by which his breeches were held up; but the instant he approached him Sancho woke up in his full senses and cried out, "What is this? Who is touching me and untrussing me?"
This sentence is self-explanatory, Sancho appears to be still in a fog when he realizes somebody is undressing him but doesn't know who.
"It is I," said Don Quixote, "and I come to make good thy shortcomings and relieve my own distresses; I come to whip thee, Sancho, and wipe off some portion of the debt thou hast undertaken. Dulcinea is perishing, thou art living on regardless, I am dying of hope deferred; therefore untruss thyself with a good will, for mine it is, here, in this retired spot, to give thee at least two thousand lashes."
Here Quixote is explaining to Sancho what he is going to do, and Quixote expects Sancho to accept it. Cervantes continues the theme of class expectation and difference between the served and the servant. Metaphorically Quixote explains he is dying from his deferred chance to woo Dulcinea and it is Sancho who is now keeping him from his goal.
"Not a bit of it," said Sancho; "let your worship keep quiet, or else by the living God the deaf shall hear us; the lashes I pledged myself to must be voluntary and not forced upon me, and just now I have no fancy to whip myself; it is enough if I give you my word to flog and flap myself when I have a mind."
Sancho refuses to accept his role as the downtrodden servant at this point. Here he is no longer in character as the faithful sidekick to Quixote but asserts himself as a man and as a person of free will. His threat of harm to Quixote marks a turning point I believe in this book where Sancho asserts himself as a separate person who will not take his lot in life regardless of his station in life.
"It will not do to leave it to thy courtesy, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for thou art hard of heart and, though a clown, tender of flesh;" and at the same time he strove and struggled to untie him."
Quixote again draws a distinction between those of noble birth and those of common birth with this sentence. He believes that the common man is hard hearted and unromantic, while not having the will to endure the punishment that a noblemen like himself would willing except.
" Seeing this Sancho got up, and grappling with his master he gripped him with all his might in his arms, giving him a trip with the heel stretched him on the ground on his back, and pressing his right knee on his chest held his hands in his own so that he could neither move nor breathe."
Cervantes turns Sancho's character 180 degrees. He is now willing to overpower and suppress his master to keep Quixote from whipping him. This can be read as a metaphor; peasants rising against their ruler instead of accepting the capricious punishments that they are expected to endure.
"How now, traitor!" exclaimed Don Quixote. "Dost thou revolt against thy master and natural lord? Dost thou rise against him who gives thee his bread?"
Again the class theme, Quixote, of high birth and noble bearing, considers himself a natural master of a peasant like Sanchez.
"I neither put down king, nor set up king," said Sancho; "I only stand up for myself who am my own lord; if your worship promises me to be quiet, and not to offer to whip me now, I'll let you go free and unhindered; if not- traitor and Dona Sancha's foe ,thou diest on the spot."
Sancho's sharp metaphorical reply tells Quixote that Sancho does not think of him as his natural ruler. Because it was considered a crime against god to commit a violent act against your rulers (or so the commoners were led to believe) in those days Sancho is explaining to Quixote that he is not holding down his king but merely another man. Sancho is the everyman who is finally rising against the foolishness tyranny of his ruler by declaring himself of freewill. The up to now the somewhat loveable and gullible Sancho is threatening to kill Quixote, his master, if Quixote persists on trying to harm Sancho. Cervantes turns Sancho into a threatening, angry foe of Quixote for that moment, which is a jarring counterpoint from what the reader has thought of Sancho for most of the book.
The passage uses metaphor's to convey the class level relationships between the two charcters; "Dost thou revolt against thy master and natural lord?"..."I neither put down king, nor setup king," as well as to express Quixote's longing for Dona Dulcinea del Toboso; "..., I am dying of hope deferred."