The Presence of Humanism in Don Quixote: Cervantes’ Motives

The Presence of Humanism in Don Quixote: Cervantes’ Intentions

The Spanish classic, Don Quixote dela Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was among the most influential works in Western literature. There were substantial discourses that focused on the impact of humanism philosophies in Don Quixote because of the context by which the novel was written.

Cervantes composed this text in the duration by which renaissance humanism was in the rise. The book was produced at a time where Spain was in the middle of significant shifts in philosophies and ideologies. The popular form of literature during that time were love about chivalry, heroism, and civil responsibilities. Nevertheless, Don Quixote was teased chivalry through the mad antics of the lead character.

Don Quixote, the protagonist, in this novel was a middle-aged gentleman living in La Mancha. His comic character was obsessed with chivalrous suitables that he decided to live out these stories in real life. However, most of his adventures stopped working or were seemingly delusional since of the “opponents” he had actually wrongly assaulted.

Humanism was a concept that referred to the a devotion to the liberal arts or the human individual as a center of interest and ideological beliefs. Renaissance Humanism marked completion of the Middle Ages and the revival of classical Greek and Roman Ideals, in addition to, a renewed confidence in the ability of humans to put their intelligence ahead of everything else (Edwords par. 4).

It was likewise the principle that moved society away from the mentors of the Church and religious custom. This was the viewpoint that focused on human thinking and science as the structure of beliefs. It was not scared to break any other ideology, as this thinking encouraged focusing on human ways of the understanding of reality.

Satirical Approaches and Humanism

When it came to Don Quixote, there were arguments as to there were humanism styles or elements that were reflected in the book. More importantly, it was significant to present the opposing consider as Cervantes’ motives in consisting of representations of humanism in this book.

Literary criticism would expose the method Cervantes presented satirical ramifications against humanism and there were likewise ramifications that showed satirical implications against the Catholic Church.

In one instance, the character of the humanist Cousin functioned as Cervantes’ design for the point of view of Renaissance neoclassicism that reflected a sense of objectivity in the narration (Sullivan 42). Nevertheless, there were likewise other instances in which protagonists like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza tipped the objectivity scale in one instructions or the other.

Satire of the Church

The nature of faith was a theme that was taken on in the book. There were theories that Don Quixote was a Christian hero since he was man that hung on to his faith. It could be observed that there were different times wherein jokes were made by the characters that poked fun at the Catholic Church (Milton 24).

Most of the time, Sancho, Don Quixote’s faithful partner, was the source of such jokes. The only Christian values that were conserved from such satirical treatment were that of fidelity, guts and chastity (Milton 24). However, these values were not exclusive values from the Church. These worths might be connected to social worths and even associated to civil humanism.

This view agreed with the perspective that Don Quixote was a psychological portrayal of an advanced man. This view held Don Quixote’s tricks as his method of showing the difficulty with the different systems on the planet. His madness was related with his fanatic desires to achieve the perfects of chivalry, worship and bravery.

While his fanaticism for spiritual and political undertakings were humorous and even foolish, they worked as a satire for the health of religious beliefs in society. This hinted Cervantes’ exposure to humanist theorists (Milton 24). The humor that was connected with the established order of society camouflaged his criticisms for it. This required to be used since throughout that time writers like him composed under censorship restraints.

There was another instance in which Don Quixote had misinterpreted a procession of the Virgin Mary for a damsel in distress and being removed by kidnappers. He pursued them having to assault the statue of the Virgin Mary. The humor that was discovered in this oversight versus the excess in religious superstitious notions of those that worshipped Mary (Milton 63).

Others safeguarded that Don Quixote was merely moved by the suffering of Mary and the significance of conserving her. There was a confusion for the character of Don Quixote, if he was the champion of spiritual ideals or if was slowly adjusting a humanist viewpoint.

The occurrence in the episode in the Cave of Montesino was another part of the book that got numerous interpretations. It was already acknowledged for its “double-edged quality” (Sullivan 44). The episode in the novel straight represented the significant problems of the Renaissance literary theory that included fact, verisimilitude and the procedure of legitimizing the splendid (Sullivan 44).

Critics related the questions of the Cavern’s meaning with the state of modern Catholic Church in Spain. There were two groups that emerged once again in this position. The first group perceived that Cervantes was highly crucial of the Church throughout his time.

The perspective of the anticlerical and the progressive Spanish liberal specified this view and the way Cervantes was seen to represent the Church in his book (Sullivan 44). The inertia and the paralysis that was observed in this cave was viewed as metaphor for the state of the Catholic Church during that time. This was a duration that froze up Charlemagne since of the joining of the Church and the State.

The experience of the captivated boat was another significance for the Church. The boat went adrift without propellant oars and revealed that society might not be regenerated because of the Church (Sullivan 44). There were many indirect and metaphorical ramifications that literary critics presented to reveal the how Cervantes criticized the Church.

The criticism of the Church was agent of humanism philosophies that emerged during those time. German Arcinegas and Graciela Mendoza concerned Don Quixote as a “left-wing democrat” and pressed the propensity of the novel to be viewed to be progressive-liberal in nature (Sullivan 44).

Renee Sielburth likewise supported that there was anti-ecclesiastical pressure that existed in the book. The metamorphosis that existed in the Cave episode was seen to be spiritual in the significance of the images and the terms that were used. Sielburth took the interpretation to a deeper level.

The Cave was seen to be under an evil spell since of the way by which the characters and events were turned into a representation of a barren cult and a captive society, rather of a gorgeous old tale (Sullivan 44). The change that had actually take place represented the truth by which society had experienced.

The critic perceived the gorgeous crystal palace and the residents of the palace symbolized the early Christians and the early Christian Church. Nevertheless, corruption through the ages, the Inquisition, the Counter Reformation cast the evil spell that turned faith to what it had actually become (Sullivan 44).

The cave presented as a representation of how the Church was altered and how it was confined in the depths of a dark cavern. Humanists continuously challenged the views of the dominant ideologies and approaches that were not centered on advancing human reasoning and science. Sielburth viewed this cavern to represent the disintegration of the concepts of the Catholic Church.

Louis Philippe Might saw Cervantes as a freethinker or as one of the early humanists. He based this on the fact that the author had a veiled campaign versus the Dominican Order and the passion for orthodoxy. The Cavern of the Montesinos episode was viewed by Might to be Cervantes’ fight versus the cult of the Rosary, the Spotless Conception and other customs of the Church (Sullivan 44).

The evidence for this presumption was seen when Sancho pulled down a rope for his master and the Squire pointed out the popular Dominican abbey. Might saw the Peña de Francia and Montesinos, as the first Dominican Inquisitor. They were seen to be buried in the depths of the Cavern through this scene (Sullivan 45).

Sancho, a band of goatherds, and dubious listeners like Don Diego de Miranda were explained to be farcical and inappropriate characters (Smith 46). The unity of the design that was used for the classical Christian synthesis disappeared in this technique. Numerous conversations represented the shift far from Christian-style literature.

The use of language was representative of the “standard status of the word as a condition of human freedom in the sense that language itself is an item of human ingenuity” (Smith 46). This translated to the distinction of this book from the normal books throughout Cervantes’ time. While he permitted Sancho and other characters to use “natural language,” it also reflected Cervantes’ humanistic linguistic in the text.

Satire of Humanism

There was also a considerable event wherein Sancho mispronounced the names. This was perceived to be an aspect to the polyonomasia of the unique and this was recognized as a linguistic perceptive in Cervantes’ style (Spitzer 173). Sancho’s uncultured mind existed as a purpose. The play of words was revealed through Sancho’s natural lips. Nevertheless, this was used to send the message the Quixote suggested an “indictment of the bookish side of humanism” (Spitzer 147).

On the other hand, Spitzer likewise viewed Don Quixote as a text that had revealed the linguistic excesses of humanism. There were likewise areas in which Cervantes reflected how the author satirized human language that misrepresented the truth of the empirical world (Smith 47). In this way, the author had the ability to present realism that was observed through the parodies that were utilized in this book.

The linguistic excesses of humanism was established through chivalric excesses in the love that was perceived in Don Quixote. A pattern of parody and correction was correlated to this observation. This was a model that was thought about to be conventional in technique. The thematizing representation worked as a satire versus the humanist theory of language that lacked essentially magnificent or empirical correspondence (Smith 47).

The techniques of narration that the author utilized in this unique exposed the troublesome stance by which the book was developed. The satirical language observed reflected the position of the author at the center of the Renaissance crisis over the authority of representations.

This view resembled those who see Cervantes as a promoter of Counter Reformation commitment and orthodoxy (Sullivan 45). There were literary critics that safeguarded that Cervantes was a devout Catholic. Miguel Cortacero Velasco saw him the novel as a transcription of the Holy Scriptures, with special focus on the New Testament and the Tune of Tunes.

While others saw the scene at the cavern as an attack versus the Church and a stand for humanism, others saw the lead character’s descent as the model of Christ’ descent by which the locals lived enchanted without understanding relating to the passage of time (Sullivan 45). He protected that he did not relate Don Quixote to Christ, however as his shadow.

Denys Armand Gonthier was another person that saw the stress in between the pagan knowledge and the Christian ideals in what he saw as a “mental drama” (Sullivan 45). The Cavern of Montesinos episode exposed the knight was guilty of absurd interest in his desire to plumb the bowls of the earth.

The religious position of Cervantes was seen through Don Quixote’s so-called awareness that the universe was a maze by which just God might save humanity. There was also another viewpoint that saw the Council of Trent to be referenced in the novel with the Cavern. He saw the Knight as the literary spokesperson for the Tridentine theology of the Counter Reformation (Sullivan 45). Lastly, the first individual who had actually discussed the allegory of the Knight’s prayer that commended himself to Dulcinea to liken the author’s prayer to the Virgin Mary.

Don Diego de Miranda was an essential character in the story with concerns to the confusion that covered the conversation about Cervantes’ stand about humanism. Don Diego was a sensible tourist whom Don Quixote satisfied. The guy could not choose whether the knight seethed or sane.

He introduced himself by identifying a list of virtues such as his piousness and perceptiveness. His role might be seen in another of Cervantes’ efforts to satirize the perfects of humanist approach because of the method they maintained rationality and moderation (Milton 20).

The moderate nature of Don Diego led him to the difficulty of not being able to choose a viewpoint regarding Don Quixote’s sanity. While many readers comprehend that Don Quixote was half sane and half mad, there were views that reflected that Cervantes presented this character as a representation of muddle-headed thinking (Milton 20).


Literary critics would expose that humanism was certainly represented in Don Quixote in a considerable way. There may have been a question regarding the ramifications that were made towards the addition of the theme of humanism. The concern for Cervantes’ techniques did not mark down the fact that humanism affected Cervantes’ method in writing the book.

It was very important for readers to create their own stance for Cervantes’ intents for consisting of depictions that showed humanist ideals. If these were meant to spoof the philosophy or safeguard it, it was safe to state that Cervantes supplied a balanced method in the building of the text.

Works Cited

Edwords, Frederick. “What is Humanism?” American Humanist Association. Accessed on July 15, 2009
<. Milton, Joyce. Miguel De Cervantes'Don Quixote(Barron's Book Notes). New York: Barron's Educational Series, 1985. Smith, Mack. Literary Realism and the Ekphrastic Custom. USA: Penn State Press, 2008. Spintzer, Leo. "Linguistic Perspectivism in Don Quixote "in Cervantes'Don Quixote: A Casebook(Casebooks in Criticism), Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria(Ed). New York City: Oxford, 2005. Sullivan, Henry

. Grotesque Purgatory: A Research study of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Part II. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.