The uncommon virtue of Don Quixote: classical virtue, prudential reason, and justice in Miguel de Cervantes’s novel
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Dr. Nathanael Lambert
This thesis investigates the influence of classical virtue on Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605 Part I; 1615 Part II), its particular focus being two of the virtues, prudence and justice. The thesis suggests a new reading of Cervantes’s novel which takes into account the values of these essential intellectual approaches to moral behaviour in early modern Spain. Though enthralled to chivalry and its literature, Don Quixote’s thinking and acting are motivated by Aristotle’s concept of virtue, as relayed through the tradition of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas and finally Cervantes, in line with most of the humanists in the Renaissance period. Although Don Quixote strives for prudence and justice, he does so to develop his reason through his actions, his habits, his memory and his eloquent rhetorical speech. In spite of his effort, the virtuous circle of his prudential reasoning, and its impact on a hostile world, is many times upset by the mental disturbance he is suffering – his ‘illusions’ (engaños). Counterpart to Don Quixote’s uncommon state of being, this thesis argues the enactment of a steady reversal of the conviction in virtue as a telos circa 1600, right before the time when DQI was written.
KeywordsDon Quixote; virtue; Aristotle; prudence; justice
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