February 8, 2023

France Theme in Don Quixote

France Theme in Don Quixote

Several times Cervantes references France, Frenchmen, and Gascons, in “Don Quixote.” For example, on page nineteen, of the general prologue, he specifically tells readers to “Look here is the new French King, Francis.” Three hundred and sixty two pages later, Captain Ruy de Viedma and Lela Zoraida discuss whether it is prudent to embark on “a French ship here that sets sail tomorrow, [or whether it is better to] wait for ships to come from Spain and go in one of those, rather than with the French, who are no good friends of Spaniards.” Though Captain Viedma declares that he can’t wait for a Spanish ship to take him back home, he is pressured by Lela Zoraida to travel on a French schooner instead.

France Theme in Don Quixote
Don Quixote Novel

Later, when Captain Viedma and Lela Zoraida escape Algiers to the Costa del Sol in Spain, they meet a French privateer, who, after sinking their ship, robbing their crew, and setting them on a skiff with some biscuits and water, is “moved by strange compassion to give Lela Zoraida forty gold escudos.” Six days later, Captain Viedma and Lela Zoraida stay in Velez Malaga, with the forty “escudos the courteous Frenchman had given her.” Four pages later, the Priest explains to Justice Viedma that a group of “French [privateers] stripped [Captain Viedma, Lela Zoraida and a group of Spaniards] ‘of all their possessions and left them in such dire poverty that he didn’t know what had happened to them after that, if they’d made it to Spain or the French had taken them off to France.’” Concerned about his younger brother, Justice Viedma asks the priest if “those Frenchmen have released him, or killed him to cover up their robbery.”

Eventually, father Pero Perez tells Justice Viedma that the “man [he] see[s] here is Captain Viedma and this woman is the lovely Moor who did him such good, [and] those Frenchmen left them as poor as you see them so [he] can show the generosity of [his] noble heart.” Fifty five pages later, a Catholic Cannon concedes that a brave Portuguese knight errant named Juan de Merlo, together with a group of courageous Spaniards “where knights chosen by the Kings of France.” Eighty-Six pages later, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza hear a farmer singing “An evil day it was, you French, the day of 35 Roncevalles.” Eleven pages later, Sancho Panza rouses Don Quixote out of his reverie for Dulcinea by saying: “What the devil’s the meaning of this? Why be down in the dumps like this? You’re a brave Spaniard you know, not some feeble Frenchman.”

Eighty-four pages later, when Don Quixote repels into Montesinos’s Cave, Sancho Panza says: “‘God guide you, and our Lady the 36Rock of France too!’” This allusion refers to Lady Liberty, the Rock of France, a symbol that stands for freedom, hope, opportunity, and independence. Five pages later, Don Quixote tells an enchanted knight Sir Durandarte that he “left with [his heart] at top speed for France.” Eight pages later, a student swordsman’s cousin, says, in reaction to an expression “Shuffle the pack and deal again, you never know your luck,” that Sir Durandarte couldn’t have learned that expression while he was enchanted, but, earlier, in France, during the time of Emperor Charlemagne.” Fourteen pages later, a boy announces a puppet show by saying that “This true history that is about to be performed before your very eyes has been taken word for word from the French chronicles that people sing in the streets.” One page later the herald announces “that [the] lady in Moorish clothes on that balcony is the matchless Melisendra, who often used to come out on it to gaze at the road to France and to console herself in her imprisonment by daydreaming about 37Paris and her husband.” (664).

The story goes that one day Don Gaiferos appears on horseback below Melisendra’s window, “muffled in a Gascon cape.” After Melisendra lets drops from her balcony and sits on her good husband’s horse, the couple leaves the city “full of joy and happiness [as] they take the road to Paris.” Four pages later, Don Quixote says that “If Melisendra and her husband are not on the French border by now, or frolicking [together] in France,” there will be hell to pay. Forty-Six pages later, Sancho Panza tells the Duchess of Aragon that “There’s as good bread baked here, [in Aragon], as in France.” Nine pages later, the Duke of Aragon’s messenger announces that an enchanted Dulcinea “has come with [a] gallant Frenchman [named] Montesinos to give instructions to Don Quixote about how [she is] to be disenchanted.”

Twenty-six pages later, readers learn that an evil giant name Malambruno is “always travelling through different parts of the world, and now he’s here, and tomorrow he’s in France, and the next day he’s in Peru.” Three pages later, when Sancho Panza quails at the prospect of riding Clavileno the Swift through the air, Don Quixote asks him if he is “not in the very same place occupied by the fair Magalona [the] Queen of France?” Forty-nine pages later, the Duke and Duchess tell readers that “since the young man [slotted to marry] Donna Rodriguez’s [daughter] fled [to] Flanders, they made arrangements for a 38Gascon lackey called Tosilos to take his place.” Five pages later, Ricote, a Christian Morisco, tells Sancho Panza that he needs to “find a way to bring [his wife, Francisca, and his daughter, Anna Felix] to a French Port.”

Ricote even schemes that he will “go [himself] from Valencia to Algiers, [to find a way to bring them] to some French port, and from there to Germany…”. Then, Ricote says that he “can’t for the life of [him] fathom why [his] wife and daughter went to Barbary instead of France, where they could have lived as Christians.” Forty one pages later, Claudia Jeronima asks Captain Roque Guinart to “take [her] to France, where [she has] relations [she] can live with.” Two pages later, readers learn that many of Captain Roque’s men “are Gascons, unruly peasants.” The final French mention is on page 926 when Don Quixote says that he can free Don Pedro Gregario from the Moors in Algiers since “Don Gaiferos rescued his wife on dry land and took her back to France over dry land too.”

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Originally posted 2020-01-31 04:51:16.