[Solution]SCHOLARLY SUMMARY REPORT: Cervantes, Don Quixote

Focus of the scholarly article: Cervantes’s depiction of women in his novel, Don Quixote, especially the characters of Marcela and Zoraida. Search String in MLA…

Focus of the scholarly article: Cervantes’s
depiction of women in his novel, Don
Quixote, especially the characters of Marcela and Zoraida.

Search String in MLA bibliography database:
Cervantes and women

Scholarly Article:

Vollendorf, Lisa. “Cervantes and His Women Readers.” Romance Quarterly  60.4 (Fall 2005): 312-327.

“Undoing the conventions of literature,
Cervantes exposes the pedantry and artifice of the pastoral, chivalric,
byzantine, and epic genres so popular in his day. He drew on all of those
genres to produce a new entity that spoke directly to readers and their world.
In that enterprise, he cast a wide net, depicting the lives of rich and poor,
Christians and non-Christians, well-known literary characters and real people”
(Vollendorf  312).

Vollendorf’s main points:

Marcela is the opposite of the
traditional female character. Traditionally, women were not to participate in
certain professions such as authors, artists, managing business, etc..

Marcela overcame the male
dominance in their language and narrative-depiction of women. The profession of
narrative and storytelling lay with the males; women were prohibited from this
profession. She knew how men depicted her in their stories and because of this
was able to illustrate through her own stories how she truly was. She was able
to instill within the reader the sense of the author wanting his contemporaries
to depict women, as they should be depicted not how they appear or seem to be.

Zoraida’s relationship in
regards to her father parallels the relations between the Christian and Muslim
religions. Zoraida is a chaste young Muslim woman whom steals from her father
and instills wealth upon a Christian slave so that they both can become free
and seek safety within the borders of Catholic Spain. It would be reprehensible
for her to steal from her father, but also disloyalty to her father and
religion to seek protection and safety within Catholic Spain. After all,
Catholics and Muslims do not agree on many issues.

Cervantes’s placement of a
woman at the center of the captives’ tale promotes a gender-focused narrative
unusual for the time. This gender-focused narrative differs from that of its
predecessors because women were generally not seen as the main characters. The
men were often depicted as and seen as more important than the women. Women
were inferior to men and not given the proper roles they deserved.

Cervantes has criticized the
ideology of purity of blood- to maintain sexual chastity and primogeniture.
Cervantes wanted to illustrate the impact this sense of blood purity had on
women. He saw that the pressure on women to complete this role was immense. He
wanted others to see that blood purity was not the sole importance in further
developing their lives.
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