So I finally finished Don Quixote, and I figured I would give my overall impression and final thoughts, since I published a whole series of posts exploring specific aspects of the text (see links below).
As a whole, I liked this book a lot. It was funny yet thought-provoking. It’s pretty much an easy read (although quite long) and the story holds up well today, since it deals with some universal truths about humanity.
I really related to both Sancho and Don Quixote as characters, because they are essentially outcasts, as well as archetypes of creative and passionate people. And like most creative and romantic outcasts, they are picked on, ridiculed, and taunted by people who are more popular, richer, and “smarter” than they are. But in spite of all the abuse, the two remain steadfast in their ideals and follow their passions until the end. This is something I admire greatly.
It is a person’s dreams, imagination, and aspirations that make life meaningful and worth living. When deprived of these, we lose our will to live and we begin the process of dying. This is what happened to Don Quixote when he was defeated and had to relinquish living as a knight-errant.
But for all this, Don Quixote could not shake off his sadness. His friends called in the doctor, who felt his pulse and was not very well satisfied with it, and said that in any case it would be well for him to attend to the health of his soul, as that of his body was in a bad way. Don Quixote heard this calmly; but not so the housekeeper, his niece, and his squire, who fell weeping bitterly, as if they had him lying dead before them. The doctor’s opinion was that melancholy and depression were bringing him to his end.
The only way that feels right in bringing this blog series to a close is to share the epitaph for Don Quixote’s tomb:
A doughty gentleman lies here;
A stranger all his life to fear;
Nor in his death could Death prevail,
In that last hour, to make him quail.
He for the world but little cared;
And at his feats the world was scared;
A crazy man his life he passed,
But in his senses died at last.
For those of you who are interested, here are the links to my previous posts on the book:
- Part 1: On the Addictive Power of Books
- Part 2: At the Crossroads
- Part 3: Saintly Sancho Panza, a Christ Symbol
- Part 4: The Portrayal of Women
- Part 5: A Sonnet on Sancho Panza
- Part 6: The Symbolism of the Cave
- Part 7: The Stream of the Subconscious
- Part 8: Anti-Government Sentiment