Sloth Theme in Don Quixote
Sloth Theme in Don Quixote
Another venial sin that Cervantes disparages in Don Quixote is sloth, or laziness, induced by a lack of willpower, effort, and purpose. This is why our brave, but foolish, knight, Don Quixote, “quits the slothful feathers of his bed, mounts his famous steed Rocinante,” and commences a funny, momentum-building value quest through Spain because “no sluggard ever gained triumphs of laurels to adorn his brow [since] good Christian must slay sloth,” if they want to succeed in life. But since our knight is motivated by a mixed moral code, one part Christian and one part pagan, “fair Aurora [inspire him to shake] sloth from his limbs, [rise] to his feet and [call] his snoring squire Sancho Panza” to action. Later, when the Duke’s Butler pretends to be Merlin, Cervantes writes that individuals “who cast away ignoble sleep [and thus] leap from the lazy down of their beds,” become winners in life. This is why Altisidora encourages Sancho Panza to “arouse that slothful spirit [of his] that only moves [him] to eat and eat again, [to] set free [her] smooth flesh.” This next statement, that “the soul, [moved] by love’s most mighty power, can often be upset if love can count on careless sloth, to aid and abet,” expresses the view that people should not be so love sick that they become indolent. Moreover, readers learn that by “sewing and embroidery and ceaseless occupation” Altisidora can forget about Don Quixote. Later, Don Quixote thinks it is “high time to put an end to his lazy life in the castle, because he imagines that his person [is] being sorely missed [by people in need of his help].” Said differently, Don Quixote thinks that instead of “remaining idle amid the countless luxuries and delights that the Duke and the Duchess lavish upon him” he should resume being a knight errant. In other words, while knights, like Don Quixote, have earned the right, through their past valor, to relax, on occasion, ultimately, they have to maintain that valor by moving on. Indeed, the theme of lively action is continued, seventy eight pages later, when “Sancho Panza rouses himself to action, [by] shaking and stretching his sluggish limbs.” This is why “when the day and the desire to be out of bed catches up with him; Don Quixote never takes any pleasure in slothful feathers.” Hence, he “casts away ignoble sleep, shakes sloth from his limbs, abandons the soft feathers of his bed, arises to the dawn of a new day, [and] without wasting a moment, dons his chamois-leather doublet, hose, and riding boots,” to sally out in quest of adventure. Later, when Don Quixote lies in bed dying, Sancho Panza tries to reanimate our knight by telling him to not “be lazy, get out of [his] bed, and go to the countryside dressed as a shepherd.”
Originally posted 2020-01-13 02:34:20.