One of the most iconic IDEALIST protagonists of all Western literature is “Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha”. When I was around 10, I read Cervantes’ Don Quixote as if it were a bible, allowing myself only one of the picaresque stories per night (though sometimes cheating to read ahead). I loved this bumbling, well-intentioned but humble everyman sort of hero, and it was not until I was older that I learned in school how Don Quixote is not universally regarded as a heroic figure at all but rather as a misguided, neurotic antihero.
I have deeply identified with Don Quixote. I’ve seen the play Man of La Mancha performed several times, and throughout college years I knew all of the musical’s lyrics by heart. To me, Don Quixote had an idealistic or cockeyed optimist purity and innocence that eventually won over everyone’s hearts. Aldonza, the “harlot,” is raised by her interaction with Don Quixote to her true inner stature as “Dulcinea”, a Lady; the peasant Sancho Panza becomes an adventuresome Squire on his donkey; and Don Quixote himself, dubbed Knight of the Woeful Countenance, tilts at windmills as if they are dragons and wears an old wash basin for his helmet. His chivalry is as pure as his Idealist energy is strong, even if at times the consequences for those around him are less than positive.
My favorite Idealist lyrics are from the play Man of La Mancha :
|“The Impossible Dream”from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
(music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion)
|To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
This is my quest
To fight for the right
And I know if I’ll only be true
And the world will be better for this
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
Can you relate? Well then, take a knee! By what chivalric name shall you be dubbed? What is the nature of the most Glorious Quest YOU are on? Look up to the night sky to find that Star you seek, and FOLLOW!