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Duke and Duchess: The Power of Entertainment in Don Quixote

Uploaded by joe on Jan 03, 2006

I. Introduction

“These books are written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into life. They are the entertainment of minds unfurnished with ideas, and therefore easily susceptible of impressions; not fixed by principles, and therefore easily following the current of fancy; not informed by experience, and consequently open to every false suggestions and partial account.”

— Samuel Johnson

“[W]e are polluting the world with our television programs, our movies and so forth, our books. We are polluting the whole world. We've made the world drunk, if you will, with the wine of our fornication. The whole world has been affected by Hollywood."

— Pat Robertson

Creators of entertainment have always been made to answer for the effects that their works have on their audience, and on the larger society. However, the Spanish Inquisition had a much more invasive and powerful presence than modern critics of popular entertainment. Miguel de Cervantes published Don Quixote during the height of the Inquisition. Inquisitors’ stamps of approval are branded into the introductions of both parts: “I have had the book … submitted to examination. It contains nothing against the faith or good morals.” This overarching concern about the evils within entertainment must have had an oppressive effect. Yet, Cervantes also sees the power to entertain as a wonderful power to create; indeed, it is this power (in the romances of chivalry) that drives Alonzo Quijaño to become Don Quixote.

With this in mind, we turn to the adventures Don Quixote has with the duke and duchess. Two opinions on their presence in the novel dominate literary criticism. Either they exist as a necessary device to give Don Quixote a chance to complete “real” chivalric tasks (or at least ones that he does not create himself out of madness), or they are cruel, selfish, or crazy, and torture Don Quixote for their own pleasure. However, both of these interpretations overlook Cervantes’s valuable insight into the role the duke and duchess play as producers of entertainment.

The duke and the duchess are conventional readers of Don Quixote. However, they have unlimited funds at their disposal, so they may respond to the book in ways that ordinary readers could not. It is as if they are billionaires who see a movie that they...

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Uploaded by:   joe

Date:   01/03/2006

Category:   Literature

Length:   19 pages (4,276 words)

Views:   2429

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