Tag Archives: depression

Final Thoughts on “Don Quixote”

The Death of Don Quixote — Gustave Dore

The Death of Don Quixote — Gustave Dore

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.

(p. 1124)

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:

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“The Haunted Palace” by Edgar Allan Poe

EdgarAllanPoeI had never read this poem before, but the title seemed like it would be appropriate for one of my October posts. I found it to be excellent. The poem is not very long, but too long to include in this post, so if needed, click here to read it online before continuing.

I interpret the haunted palace as a metaphor for the mind of a depressed individual slipping into insanity. In the first stanza, Poe makes the connection between the palace and the mind of a person when he refers to the palace as “Thought’s dominion.”

Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reader its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
It stood there!

A series of events occur which cause intense sorrow. One can only assume that they are connected to the death of a loved one. These sorrows take their toll on the individual’s psyche, resulting in overwhelming despair.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate.

Poe uses the symbol of windows to represent the eyes of the individual. He also ties in the idea of the eyes as windows to the psyche, whereby looking into the eyes of the person, you can see into their being. Poe contrasts the way the eyes appear. The first reference to the “windows” is before the plunge into depression.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tuned law,

In the next reference, after the person has sunk into despair, the eyes become bloodshot and reflect the painful memories that crowd the brain.

And travellers now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,

The last four lines of the poem are what lead me to believe that the person is moving from depression to insanity. It is the laughter, described as hideous and void of mirth, that conjures an image of a madman laughing as the last remnants of sanity are washed away.

While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh—but smile no more.

I find the idea of slipping into insanity to be incredibly scary. It can happen to anyone. The mind is fragile and a series of events beyond one’s control can send even the soundest of minds spiraling into the abyss. The fact that this can happen to anyone is what makes it a truly terrifying work of horror.

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