September 27, 2022

Time Theme in Don Quixote

Time Theme in Don Quixote

The Nature of Time

Time Theme in Don Quixote
Don Quixote Novel

Throughout “Don Quixote” the nature and function of time is commented on. Specifically, as time passes, Cervantes tells readers that: opportunities arise, things decline, memory fades, seasons cycle, human beings live, and die, and live again, individuals heal and restore, and the truth is revealed. First, when Sancho Panza tells the priest and the barber that Don Quixote was going to set out to become an emperor, or a monarch, the two men respond by saying that “it is possible and indeed extremely likely that with the passing of time he might become an emperor, just as he had said, or at least an archbishop or some equivalent dignitary.” Second, when the narrator narrates how Don Quixote’s history was found in a bazaar in Toledo in a state of neglect and disrepair, the author attributes this to “time, the devourer and demolisher of all things, which had either hidden or destroyed what was missing.” Third, when Sancho Panza describes how he takes a shameful beating at the hands of some wicked mule drivers from Yanguas, Don Quixote reminds his squire that “there is no memory that time does not efface.” Fourth, Cide Hamete El Benengeli comments on the cyclical nature of time, marked by the passing of seasons, as follows: “it seems that life goes round and round like a wheel: spring chases summer, summer chases harvest, harvest chases autumn, autumn chases winter and winter chases spring, and time turns and turns again in this continuous circle; only human life rushes on to its end faster than time itself, without any hope of renewal except in the other life, which has no bounds to limit it.” (845). Fourth, when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza discuss Dulcinea’s enchantment, our squire tells Don Quixote that they should not fret over Dulcinea’s supposed enchantment because “so long as the lady Dulcinea is happy and well, [they] two will sort ourselves out and enjoy ourselves as best [they] can, searching for [their] adventures and leaving time to do his work, [since] he’s the best doctor for this and other worse illnesses.” Fifth, Cervantes tell readers, explicitly, that “time, the revealer of all things, the uncoverer of all secrets, leaves none that it does not bring out into the light of day, [since time] will tell when we are least expecting it to.”

Time Sequences in Don Quixote

After the windmill adventure on the Montiel Plain, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza continue along the road to the Pass of Lapice, at about three o’clock in the afternoon.” Later, when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza find a creek flowing in a gully, an old goatherd says that he “bets [they] are looking at [a] hired mule lying dead in [a] ravine [which has] been there for a good six months.” This old goatherd knows that the dromedary has been lying in the creek for six months since “. . . one day roughly six months ago, at a goat fold about ten miles from here, a good-looking young man [named Cardenio] turned up riding the mule that’s lying dead there.” Readers learn that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza adventure in the brown hills is in late August in-between the end of summer and the beginning of fall, since Don Quixote signs a donkey warrant for Sancho Panza “in the heart of the Sierra Morena on the twenty second of August of the current year.” Similarly, when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza come across a bumbling brook in a glade by a roadside exiting the Sierra Moreno, readers are informed that “It was a hot August day, and August is hot indeed in those parts.” More specifically, readers learn that “it was three o’clock in the afternoon, and all this made the spot even more delightful, [since it] invited them to await Sancho’s return there, which they did.” Later, when Dorotea pretends to be princess Micomicona come to ask Don Quixote a boon, the Priest tells Dorotea and Don Quixote that to requite her boon they will be in sight of the great Ural [Mountains, in little less than nine years if, that is, there is a favorable wind, a calm sea and no storms,] [after, indeed, they] pass through [his] hometown, and from there head towards Cartagena where they can embark. After travelling for “six days” atop a “truss of hay” pulled by two yoked oxen, Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and father Pero Perez enter their village at “high noon, on a Sunday [when] everyone happened to be in the square.” Ready to resume their adventures, after months of resting, “with the approval and blessing of the great Sanson Carrasco, now their oracle [ Don Quixote and Sancho Panza] set out three days later, which gives them time to prepare what they needed for the journey.” During their second sally, when Don Quixote repels into Montesinos’s cave, there is disagreement between knight and squire about how long Don Quixote is in the subterranean cavern. Don Quixote, on the one hand, thinks he was in Montesinos’s Cave for three days, because “while [he] was there night [comes], then morning [dawns, and day and night cycles,] [three times altogether,] so, [according to our knight’s reckoning, he had] been three days in those remote parts hidden from [their] sight.” Sancho Panza, on the other hand, “can’t understand how in such a short space of time (thirty minutes) [he] could have seen so many things and had such a long conversation” with the knight Durante. During Sancho Panza’s sojourn with the Duke and Duchess of Aragon in their country home, he writes his wife, Teresa Panza, a letter which he signs, with the following flourish “From the castle, 20th July 1614, your husband and governor.” One page later, the Duchess tells Don Quixote that “His Excellency has only been in [her] castle for six days and the sad and the afflicted are already coming in search of [him].” Later, the Duke of Aragon writes Sancho Panza a letter from one of his towns which he signs: “From this town, on the sixteenth of August at four o’clock in the morning.” Before Don Quixote and Sancho Panza return to their home village after their third sally, Don Quixote tells Sancho Panza they will arrive [in their home village] the day after tomorrow, at the latest, [so they have a chance] to recover their strength” before setting out on an unrealized fourth sally. Unfortunately, before Don Quixote can venture out on a fourth sally with Sancho Panza, “he [is] seized by a fever that keeps him in bed for six days, during which time he is often visited” by the priest, the barber, Sanson Carrasco, and his other good friends.

Time Moves Swiftly in Don Quixote

Several times in Don Quixote, poets, like Don Lorenzo, or the narrator, comment on how quickly time passes by. For example, on page 605, Don Lorenzo writes in a verse gloss: “If only was were is for me, without awaiting what will be, or else if Time could speed its way with what must come to me one day!” One page later, Don Lorenzo writes: “Time runs along and flies away, and won’t come back until doomsday, and I well know it isn’t right, to ask if Time could halt its flight, or else if Time could speed its way. One hundred and eighty-six pages later, the narrator marks the passing of time by writing: “since time is a fast mover, and there isn’t a ravine that can check its course, he rode along on the back of the hours, and morning soon came.”

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Originally posted 2020-01-14 02:28:24.