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ArribaAbajo Dulcinea and Her Critics

Javier S. Herrero

University of Virginia

La interpretación del Quijote se relaciona estrechamente con el sentido que se dé al amor del caballero por Dulcinea. Si creemos, como gran parte de los críticos de los dos últimos siglos, que ese amor contiene la esencia de la cortesía y caballerosidad españolas, encontramos en don Quijote la encarnación personificada de los valores de la cultura hispánica. Si, por otra parte, y siguiendo ciertas corrientes críticas contemporáneas, vemos en el amor a Dulcinea una parodia de la pasión caballeresca, don Quijote mismo se convertirá en una figura cómica y el fin fundamental del libro será hacernos reír. En este artículo se intenta llevar a cabo una evaluación de esas dos tendencias fundamentales y de otras interpretaciones recientes.

Bibliographical studies regarding Cervantes are becoming an almost impossible task and this is especially true of the Quijote; the output is such that absorbing, or simply acquiring and organizing the material requires unusual dedication. For this reason I shall concentrate my attention exclusively on the articles and books which deal directly with Dulcinea, and only very exceptionally shall I touch general studies on the Quijote; when I do so, it is because the book or article mentioned has set new trends that have affected our interpretation of Don Quijote's lady. I shall also concentrate on recent criticism, and by recent I mean the last thirty years, which have witnessed a remarkable increase in the international attention paid to the Quijote. Again, this is not an absolute rule; earlier critics will be taken into consideration when their importance so requires, but in no way are we set to present a history of Dulcinea criticism proceeding from the Enlightenment through Romanticism, Positivism, etc. Such a study would be of great interest for the history of ideas, but would require a lengthy book. What I intend to do, then, is to sum up the present state of Cervantes criticism with regard to a major topic: the modern understanding of Dulcinea.26


I consider this a major topic because, as we shall see in the following pages, Dulcinea is at the heart of recent controversies on the meaning of the Quijote. From the Romantic movement, the criticism of the nineteenth and a great part of the twentieth century inherited the conception of Dulcinea as the embodiment of Don Quiiote's idealism, nobility and, even, exalted religiosity, qualities which denoted a spiritual greatness which stood symbolically for the essence of the Spanish soul. Dulcinea, as the personification of Don Quijote's dream, represented the great ideal of virginal Spain, the country which through unparalleled generosity and utter disregard for material gain ruined itself defending selflessly the true Catholic faith, serving the Church with missionary zeal in remote lands and inclement climates, oblivious to danger and hardship. Don Quijote, in short, was the incarnation of Spain, and his virtues were hers. Dulcinea, of course, was the object and source of the love that guided its arms in innumerable adventures.

The Romantic approach became the official position of Spanish culture through the Restoration (especially so with the Generation of '98) and, of course, achieved the status of dogma in post-civil war Spain. Characteristic of this position is the view of the Don Quijote-Dulcinea relationship as a process by which Don Quijote's spirit is purified. Don Quijote's love is originally the affection of an oldish hidalgo for a handsome peasant girl; he transforms this somewhat trivial affair into a nobler one by spiritualizing Aldonza into the model of female beauty which is Dulcinea. This metamorphosis develops through the book, especially in the second part, and as Dulcinea becomes more remote from her earthly origin so Don Quijote's love becomes purer, more generous, liberated from the weight of matter and the senses. His madness, then, is only the mark of his outstanding nobility, which makes him incomprehensible to a world, as Unamuno puts it, of barberos, curas y bachilleres.

Anthony Close, in The Romantic Approach to «Don Quijote» (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978) writes of Unamuno's Vida de don Quijote y Sancho (which appeared in 1905): «a traditional Romantic idea of the hero as a man of Faith, Poetry, the Ideal, is at the core of Unamuno's interpretation» (p. 156). Unamuno must be mentioned   —25→   because he gives, in my opinion, the most perfect and (with Menéndez Pidal) the most influential version of Dulcinea as the embodiment of Man's spiritual quest and also of Spain's soul. Don Quijote had loved Aldonza with unrevealed passion for twelve years; but suddenly he is born to a new faith, to the search for eterno nombre y fama. The symbol of eternal glory is Dulcinea, the creation of Don Quijote's faith. Such faith, as the root of Man's search for eternity, is a religious one. Don Quijote's yo vivo y respiro en ella is the equivalent of St. Paul's «Christ lives in me.» This effort to seek (which is, also, an effort to create) a reality which goes beyond mortality, beyond earthly aims, towards the immense expanse of eternity (so the naked landscape of Castile gazes at the blue expanse of unclouded sky) is, of course, the symbolic expression of the Spanish spirit.

If Unamuno offers a religious interpretation of Dulcinea, Don Ramón Menéndez Pidal gives a literary one in «Un aspecto en la elaboración del Quijote», published in December, 1920, in the Ateneo Científico, Literario y Artístico de Madrid and included in Mis páginas preferidas. Temas literarios (Madrid: Gredos, 1957) pp. 222-69. In Menéndez Pidal we find the outline of what became the dogma of traditionalism. Cervantes did not write the Quijote to end the ideals of chivalry, but to purify them. The kernel of such purification is the creation of Dulcinea; in Don Quijote's passion for her we find the pure ideal of love, of generosity and courtesy, which is the source of inspiration for his great deeds. Rejection of the flesh and of worldly ideals, austerity and singleminded concentration in devotion and service, a spiritual loneliness from which the old love of chivalry is reborn in a transformed, more authentic form: these are the effects of Don Quijote's passion, and nowhere are they better represented than in the penance in Sierra Morena; «Este es el momento en que su locura entrevé toda la grandeza moral de que era capaz» (p. 252). This purification is artistically expressed by Cervantes through the progressive disappearance of Aldonza Lorenzo, which is completed in Part II, where Don Quijote asserts that he does not know Dulcinea, has never seen her, and that he loves her only through her fame of beauty and honesty. The spiritual greatness of this love, which is truly Spanish, ennobles chivalry, transforms it into a religion, and makes of Don Quijote a hero and a martyr.

This strong formulation of the traditional point of view is at the roots of a great part of modern criticism. José Filqueira Valverde in   —26→   «Don Quijote y el amor trovadoresco» (Revista de Filología Española, 32 [1948], 493-519) develops Menéndez Pidal's thesis of Don Quijote's love for Dulcinea as a rebirth of the tradition of chivalry. The ideal of love of the trobadores was a great civilizing force: it entailed chastity in the lover and recato in the lady. It was, then, a source of mesura; the lover achieved this mesura through fear of the lady and by a selfless dedication to her service in which he would be prepared to endure the greatest sacrifices. Don Quijote's silence towards Aldonza, his penance in Sierra Morena, his pain and suffering, are the manifestations of the chivalric character of his love (pp. 502-03). But since true chivalry is a religion, Don Quijote's love for Dulcinea becomes a form of charitas, of amor Dei; Dulcinea is the embodiment of the Dame sans merci of the troubadours, who inspires in her knight «bravura, desesperación, locura, muerte» (p. 512). If for the poets such expressions of passion were often rhetorical devices, for Don Quijote they conveyed a love which was the source of a higher and nobler life (pp. 517-19). Emilio Goggio («The Dual Role of Dulcinea in Cervantes' Don Quijote de la Mancha», Modern Language Quarterly, 13 [1952], 285-91) gives an original twist to Menéndez Pidal's thesis of the double purpose in the Quijote, to satirize the books of chivalry and to support true knighthood. Aldonza and Dulcinea correspond to each attitude. Aldonza, «a coarse and uncouth peasant girl», as the all-too-real basis of Don Quijote's love, corresponds to the satiric mode. Don Quijote's love for her is «a matter of convention» (p. 287) and his ridiculous pretensions in transforming her into a princess who inhabits a palace in El Toboso are the proper subject of comedy. But Dulcinea, as the aim of Don Quijote's spiritual quest, is «The symbol of beauty, goodness, and grace», and, through his love for her, the hidalgo «is transformed into a perfect knight errant, the sanest of all men in a mad world, the true patriot and Christian soldier» (p. 287). This moral growth implies a corresponding transformation of Dulcinea, who, from the coarse Aldonza, is changed into a great lady endowed with «dignity, modesty and nobility» (p. 288).

Both Unamuno and Menéndez Pidal are very much present in Álvaro Fernández Suárez' «Dulcinea o el mito de la amada oculta» (Los mitos del «Quijote» [Madrid: Aguilar, 1953] pp. 68-92); in fact, Fernández Suárez reads like a mechanical statement of the traditional dogma. Alonso Quijano gives birth to Dulcinea at the same time that he creates himself as Don Quijote. This Dulcinea is a mito: a symbol of ideal life, of the great values of our culture. Don Quijote's love   —27→   originates a transformation of its object, by which Aldonza Lorenzo disappears and is replaced, through Don Quijote's will and faith, by a beautiful princess, Dulcinea. Sancho's description in I, 25, and the enchantment of Dulcinea in II, 10, represent attacks by reality upon the chivalric myth; but, with the strength of his faith, Don Quijote defeats them. In Part II Don Quijote's victory has been accomplished and Aldonza has disappeared; for this reason he tells Sancho that he has never seen Dulcinea and loves her only for her fame. Mia I. Gerhardt gives to us a highly sophisticated version of this approach (Don Quijote, la vie et les livres [Amsterdam. N. V. Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1955], pp. 25-31); although head and shoulders above some of the critics who share this position, and in a book full of the most interesting insights, Mia Gerhardt shares many of the same basic ideas. Dulcinea is a creation of Don Quijote, who follows the prescriptions of the books of chivalry: «La littérature lui fournit les attributs et les atours dont il pare Dulcinée dans son imagination... La littérature également lui enseigne l'attitude respectueuse et soumise du parfait amant» (p. 25). Originally there exists a frail link between Aldonza and Dulcinea; the link weakens and finally breaks as Don Quijote grows in self-confidence and sense of mission: «[D]ans la IIe Partie, Don Quichotte a pris pleine conscience de sa propre valeur; des lors il peut laisser tomber Aldonza: Dulcinée se suffit» (p. 27). Dulcinea becomes, then, the projection of Don Quijote's faith; through it he gives life to a dream: «Il [Don Quijote] représente le poète dans un monde incapable de compréhension, qui n'a souci de ses rêves que pour s'en moquer ou pour les avilir.» But (and this is a very interesting twist of the theory we are presenting) the only way to give reality to a dream is through literature; Don Quijote, of course, does not do it, but Cervantes, through him, does. This is Cervantes' great achievement: Dulcinea finally exists... as an object of art.

Although partaking in general terms of the main thesis of the traditional position, some of the critics we shall mention now show greater independence and at times take somewhat whimsical stands. Alberto Navarro («Dulcinea del Toboso», in El Quijote español en el siglo XVII [Madrid: Rialp, 1964], pp. 149-64) states that Don Quijote does not invent Dulcinea. Dulcinea, in fact, corresponds to the beauty of the soul of Aldonza Lorenzo, Aldonza is a hidalga del Toboso; behind her modesty, Don Quijote sees the greatness of her spirit, hidden to the eyes of her coarse neighbors. Far from being an empty name, or a   —28→   mere symbol, Dulcinea refers to a reality: the noble soul of a woman of La Mancha. Don Quijote's greatness consists in seeing a beauty that is hidden to others and in loving it with unshakable faith. He is rewarded by his love with the energy which allows him to enter into great battles, to accomplish noble deeds; through it he becomes a heroic knight: «Dulcinea, así, queda, a mi ver, como magnífica simbolización de un ideal terreno (no forjado en el vacío) a cuyo servicio, gustosa y generosamente, se inmola el propio vivir individual» (p. 164). Gregorio Palacín Iglesias («Dulcinea en la vida de Don Quijote», in En Torno al «Quijote» [Madrid: Leira, 1965], pp. 176-80, and «La moza labradora en quien encarnó Dulcinea del Toboso», Hispanófila, 10-11 [1968], 7-15) asserts that «existió, sin duda, la moza labradora de nombre Aldonza Lorenzo... Pero no existió en el Toboso... sino en Esquivias» (Hispanófila, p. 12). From such a reality Don Quijote creates Dulcinea; initially she exists only in Don Quijote's mind, as a ghost of his literary sources, but she grows to become a symbol «de amor y de bondad, y también de la ilusión que mantiene viva la llama de la esperanza y alienta a vivir.» There is no essential difference between Dulcinea and the Laura of Petrarch or the Leonor of Herrera: they all are the source of great deeds. If at all, a certain distinction can be established in so far as there is a greater insistence upon «la imagen sensorial» in Petrarch and Herrera and «un mayor dominio de los elementos imaginativos e intelectuales» in Don Quijote (p. 179). No such originality can be found in Stelio Cro's «Cervantes entre Don Quijote y Dulcinea» (Hispanófila, 47 [1973], 47-57) who gives us an almost perfect synthesis of all the commonplace ideas that had accumulated in half a century of patriotic journalism. Dulcinea is the creation of Don Quijote from the affection inspired by a «rústica aldeana» (p. 48). If she was conceived originally following the models of the ladies in the books of chivarly, she evolved independently, until she became the symbol «del ideal inalcanzable, de lo utópico, que históricamente puede referirse al sueño imperial y católico de España, y que concretamente se refiere al esfuerzo del español, a su ansia por descubrir, conquistar y civilizar nuevos mundos, a su misión católica, esto es, universal. Mas allá de la referencia histórica a España y a los españoles, el ideal simbolizado por Dulcinea alude a lo inalcanzable para cualquier hombre que siquiera por un momento haya experimentado el deseo de superarse, de salir de la mediocridad de la vida diaria» (p. 49). In this very nationalistic view Don Quijote becomes «un hidalgo manchego en el que Cervantes ha fijado para siempre las   —29→   cualidades geniales del español: idealismo y voluntad agónica» (p. 55). The character of this heroic hidalgo is supported by the strength of his love for Dulcinea: «she is la clave para entender la profundidad de la sublime locura de Don Quijote» (p. 56).

It should be obvious that the greater part of the studies mentioned so far are more rhetorical than scholarly. This is not difficult to understand. Many of them were written during the second World War, when critics did not have much time to devote to Dulcinea. It was not until the end of the conflict that a great increase of interest in Hispanic culture took place, especially in France and in the Anglo-Saxon world (an increase which was reflected in an unprecedented expansion of Spanish Departments in the universities). While this international development of Hispanism was blossoming in new periodicals and publishing houses and, consequently, in an altogether impressive scholarly output, Spain remained somewhat isolated and intellectually frozen in the ideological dogma of an authoritarian. nationalistic regime. The community of outlook so far described (and no doubt sincere and deeply felt) must be placed in the context of post-civil-war Spain to be fully understood. In the late forties, however, the incipient renaissance of Hispanism produced in England a new trend in Cervantes studies which has exercised a great influence on our understanding of the Quijote and, of course, of Dulcinea. As so often in the history of modern Hispanism, this new trend must be related to the fertile and original mind of Alexander A. Parker. In 1947 Parker published in the Dublin Review an article entitled «Don Quixote and the Relativity of Truth» (Dublin Review, 220, [1947], 28-37; translated into Spanish as «El concepto de la verdad en el Quijote», Revista de Filología Española, 32 [1948], 287-305); this article was followed in 1956 by his article «Fielding and the Structure of Don Quijote» (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 33 [1956], 1-16). Both articles have exercised great influence in Hispanic studies. In them Parker combines his Oxford-Cambridge tradition of close textual analysis (what we have come to call «rigorous scholarship») with the teaching of the American school of New Criticism which insisted upon directing the critic's attention toward the search for the «meaning» of a concrete, individual literary work (a poem, a play, a novel, etc). By carefully applying these procedures to the text of the Quijote, Parker concludes that it is necessary to reject the exaltation of quijotismo that had characterized Cervantes studies for more than a century: «contra esa exaltación del quijotismo me parece necesario reaccionar» (RFE, 300).


The kernel of the great misunderstanding of the Quijote is found, for Parker, in a concept of truth that, with regard to Cervantes studies, has found its most important exponent in Américo Castro. For Castro, Cervantes represented the greatest product of Renaissance genius, and the Renaissance should be interpreted above all as the cultural movement which liberated man from his slavery to an external concept of truth. Mind does not reflect an external world or order, is not molded passively by the influence of an independent reality. On the contrary, man creates, originates, such a reality by an inner conformity with the imperatives of his own conscience. Truth would then be defined not as a «conformity of the mind to reality», but as a fidelity of the individual to his own conscience. Such fidelity is not a purely intellectual principle, but a moral one. By his loyalty to his own individuality (not to Nature) man becomes a moral being. Such a concept, Parker points out, Castro has taken from Romantic idealism; the famous Castrian conception of the relativity of truth in the Quijote, of Don Quijote as a heroic follower of his own law, far from being, as Castro claimed, a Renaissance concept, is a modern, Romantic one. To such an interpretation Parker opposes one which reflects the common-sense approach of Anglo-Saxon positivism (allied, in his case, to traditional realism): «la realidad es lo que es; las acciones se conforman o se oponen»; man must interpret such a reality; the senses do not delude us, men do (RFE, 305). What we have in the Quijote is the study of a man who, far from becoming a hero by a noble fidelity to an inner truth, becomes a madman because a series of lies (lies of the books of chivalry, lies and mockery of the priest, the princess Micomicona, the duke and duchess, etc.) prevent him from seeing the truth. But to these external lies, more dangerous, internal ones are allied: Don Quijote is mad because his vanity, through the lies of chivalry, becomes megalomania and pushes him to violent acts which create disorder in the world. Not only is Don Quijote a madman, but a dangerous one who brings havoc to his society. His innate goodness, however, purifies him along the path of his adventures, instilling in him true humility, until he reaches sanity again on his death-bed. Dulcinea is a creation of his vanity, a ghostly crown to the imaginary glory obtained by his exploits.

Parker's studies were very influential for two reasons. They showed to a new generation of critics that a close attention to the text (the practice of scholarship) is an essential requisite for a responsible approach to a literary work; they also initiated a direction of   —31→   no-nonsense, irreverent reading of the Quijote which is the basis of some of the most important modern interpretations of Cervantes' masterpiece. A very influential article in this direction is Peter E. Russells «Don Quixote as a Funny Book» (Modern Language Review, 64 [1969], 312-26). Like Parker, Russell attacks the Romantic interpretation of the Quijote: the Romantics are responsible not only for transforming a brilliantly funny book into the tragic saga of a sublime hero, but also for converting him into the symbol of the Spanish character, the soul of the national spirit: «I suppose one ought not to be too surprised that Spanish critics almost invariably follow this line; they have allowed themselves to be persuaded that the book somehow synthesizes important aspects of the national character and that, of course, makes it rather difficult to entertain the possibility that Cervantes simply wanted to give his readers something to laugh at» (pp. 312-13). Russell argues that, up to the Romantics, the Quijote was seen for two centuries as «a brilliantly funny book, and nobody thought the less of it for that.» On the contrary, the comic was considered in the Renaissance as a high form of art which fulfilled an important function: to elevate human spirits. So much so, in fact, that Renaissance thinkers considered comic books to be an excellent treatment for the sufferers of melancholy; a theory not lost on Cervantes, who intended to provide relief, with his Quijote, «al alma melancólica.» Russell concludes that there are «no grounds for suggesting» that Cervantes ever saw his book «as anything other than a funny book» (p. 324).

The attack against what we could call the Romantic-nationalistic interpretation of the Quijote has culminated in Anthony Close's book The Romantic Approach to «Don Quijote» (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977). This is not the place to discuss Close's study (which has been extensively reviewed); but we certainly must pay due attention to his important article «Don Quixote's Love for Dulcinea: a Study of Cervantine Irony» (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 50 [1973], 237-53), in which Close examines the consequences, with regard to the interpretation of Dulcinea, of the rejection of the Romantic approach. Close's thesis can be briefly stated as a negation of any development of Dulcinea in the two parts of the Quijote. But such simplicity is devastating: if Dulcinea does not evolve, it is because Don Quijote does not develop, and if there is no change in Don Quijote's character, not only the traditional interpretation of the book collapses, but even Parker's (and his followers') approach falls too. Close's   —32→   interpretation, really, stays with Russell's: the book can have no aim beyond comic relief. The root of all the modern confusion is, then, the Romantic view of Don Quijote «as representing the world of Spirit, Beauty, the Ideal» (p. 237). Like Parker, Close believes that the «perspectivist» approach is an offshoot of Romanticism. Perspectivism asserts that «the only solid realities, in a world of relativistic perspectives [are] the illusion-creating power of the artist and the transcendental existence of God» (p. 238). Close's opposition to Romanticism and perspectivism «is based on an examination of the comedy of Don Quixote's love for Dulcinea» (p. 238).

Close sums up the assumptions of the Romantic school in his two theses: 1) Don Quijote's relationship to Dulcinea changes from burlesque to sublime; 2) «whatever external incongruities there may be between the hero's romantic behavior and reality, internally his behavior is noble» (p. 238). Close asserts that both are false and that from beginning to end the book is simply the parody of the chivalric courtly lover: «Throughout the novel he (Don Quixote) imitates, and unwittingly parodies, those qualities of gallantry, deference, attentiveness, and rhetorical expressiveness which his chosen models display in their relationships with women» (p. 239). In a non-ironical book, the author tries to «secure the serious identification of his readers with his viewpoint and emotions», but, Close argues, «with Don Quixote's speeches such serious identification is not possible» (p. 242). Close examines several of these speeches. In the one to the chatelaine (the innkeeper's wife) he thanks her for her hospitality by telling her how lucky they (the lord of the castle's family) are to have such a knight in their home, and by suggesting that he would respond to her daughter's love were it not for his devotion to Dulcinea. In his speech to the duke and duchess Don Quijote gets hopelessly confused trying to argue the existence and nobility of his lady. Both, obviously, are purely comic. From the beginning to the end of the book Don Quijote displays a «willful artificiality» in his love, and an evasiveness in being questioned about Dulcinea's rank which show that no evolution has taken place in his relationship to his illusory beloved: «The tacitly admitted premise of his answers is that his mistress is lowborn. It seems clear enough, therefore, that Don Quixote still mentally identifies Dulcinea with Aldonza Lorenzo. If this were not go, he would surely have no need to be so apologetic about her rank... The Romantic thesis that Don Quixote forgets Aldonza in   —33→   Part II cannot be sustained» (pp. 251-52). All pretension to find any sublimity in Don Quijote's madness should, then, be abandoned; Don Quijote must be seen only as a burlesque character, a butt to Cervantes' mockery: «Against the Romantic view of Cervantine irony, we have found that the 'sublime' aspects of Don Quijote's love are simulacra of sublimity, furthering the end of ironic deflation, and intended to be regarded with tongue-in-cheek detachment. Merry levity, not stoic resignation or bitter pathos, is at the heart of Cervantes' ironic attitude» (pp. 254-55).

As we can see, if Romanticism had created a dogma which made of Don Quijote a tragic hero in a world too small to understand his greatness, the Anglo-Saxon anti-Romantic reaction created a new dogma which reduced Don Quijote to a buffoon, a victim of Cervantes' relentless mockery. Such a view seems extreme and reductive; in fact, Cervantes himself appears to have cautioned us against it in establishing several levels of comprehension: «[L]os niños la manosean, los mozos la leen, los hombres la entienden y los viejos la celebran» (II, 3). With a clear perception of the dangers of the new dogma, John J. Allen reached early to the more radical forms of the new direction in his book Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? [Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1969]) Allen writes «to elucidate Cervantes' devices of disclosure of the proper ethical perspective toward Don Quixote» (p. 6). A rigorous study of the several narrators and of the reliability of their testimonies «shows that although reality is often deceptive, and that any number of intellectual and emotional impediments, as well as sensory inadequacies, may prevent its accurate perception by a given subject, the phenomenal world in which the characters live and move is rational and consistent» (p. 23). By proving perspectivism wrong, Allen has set the basis for a quest for meaning in the Quijote: through an original, rigorous search, Allen convincingly concludes that Cervantes «does indeed direct the reader's ethical perspective toward Don Quixote» (p. 83). Don Quijote's guilt was the sin of pride; because of it the reader felt that he deserved his punishment in Part I, but, because of the purification that he experienced through Part II (in which he vanquished his vanity and egoism) the reader's laughter becomes pervaded with pity and fear. Pity because of the injustice of the mockery he is subjected to by his unfeeling hosts, fear «to the extent that his [the reader's] own beliefs are analogous to Don Quixote's, and more important, in so far as his own inadequacy and   —34→   presumption in adhering to them are reflected in Don Quixote» (p. 87). It is obvious that Allen's carefully argued thesis makes difficult a total commitment to the purely comic interpretation of the book and to the statement of an absence of development in Don Quijote's character from Part I to Part II. The extreme interpretation of the Quijote as purely burlesque suffers indirectly under the well argued and well researched article of Edward Riley, «Symbolism in Don Quixote, Part II, Chapter 73» (Journal of Hispanic Philology, 3 [1979], 161-74). Riley's article is anything but controversial; in a scholarly, unassuming manner, Riley proceeds to show that Don Quijote's encounter, at the end of Part II, and in the moment in which he returns to his village, with a hare which is running from some hunters, and with a cricket cage over which two boys are arguing, has, indeed, a symbolic value: in fact, both are images of Dulcinea. Don Quijote's dejection at seeing them, and his concern with omens through the second part as a whole, show that he has become «more sensitive to external reality», and that he «no longer displays the crazily splendid self-assurance he once did» (p. 163). Such dejection is associated, in the course of Part II, with an increased awareness of the power of money. Already in the cave of Montesinos Dulcinea's disenchantment had appeared as a financial transaction, and the role played by Sancho in this episode (by acting as a broker for Don Quijote) develops and confirms the importance given by the author to Dulcinea's symbolic representation and to Sancho's financial role: «To present Don Quixote with the hare and the cage, each of these being a symbolic equivalent of Dulcinea, is each time a symbolic act in itself. For Sancho to buy and hand over the cage to Don Quixote is in addition to reproduce symbolically the central feature of Dulcinea's disenchantment, which in the end was allegedly carried out thanks to the reales obtained by Sancho» (p. 173). But if we accept that there is character development in Don Quijote, that there is sympathetic identification of the reader with Don Quijote, accompanied by pity and fear, that Don Quijote's development is accompanied by the symbolic introduction of financial problems in his love for Dulcinea, it will be difficult to believe that the book is exclusively compounded of a succession of flat burlesque episodes.

Aside from these rather theoretical and somewhat general studies, critics have obviously continued to deal with concrete problems of interpretation regarding Dulcinea. The majority of the articles   —35→   and books that we shall examine now share a property which distinguishes them from the output of the forties and fifties. We remarked that most of early Dulcinea criticism was more journalistic and sentimental than sober and scholarly. The contrary can be said of the critics that we shall examine now. In full command of modern techniques of research and scholarship, these critics have made considerable contributions to our understanding of the Quijote. For Julio Rodríguez-Luis («Dulcinea a través de los dos Quijotes», Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica, 18 [1965-66], 378-416), Dulcinea is, initially, simply an «adición a unos preparativos derivados de una decisión del todo independiente de ella» (p. 379). During the early part of the book Don Quijote is aware of who Aldonza Lorenzo is and of why he changed her; but after chapter 25 Aldonza fades away, and Don Quijote «cree verdaderamente en la existencia de Dulcinea» (p. 386). The imaginary character of Dulcinea persists through Part II, but Don Quijote shows progressive coldness and indifference to her. Rodríguez-Luis makes the rather surprising suggestion that Don Quijote's attitude reflects Cervantes's cansancio; a consequence, the book becomes «una sátira de costumbres contemporáneas» (p. 408). R. M. Flores, in «Sancho's Fabrications: a Mirror of the Development of his Imagination» (Hispanic Review, 38 [1970], 174-82), studies Sancho's participation in the metamorphosis of Dulcinea as a means to understanding the changes in his character produced by an increased familiarity with the world of chivalry. In his description of the visit to Dulcinea (I, 31) Sancho is still «a rude peasant...; chivalry is still beyond his scope» (p. 178), but in the episode of Dulcinea's enchantment, «Sancho knows how to handle the endless resources of magic and how to turn them in his favor... he is now able to manipulate the threads of chivalry» (p. 179). This progress continues through the rest of Part II, so that at the end «the Squire is able to combine Don Quijote's ideal world with the real world of Teresa Panza and his children» (p. 182). The same interest in Sancho's role motivated Ronnie H. Tarpening's «Creation and Deformation in the Episode of Dulcinea: Sancho Panza as Author» (The American Hispanist, 3 [1978], 4-5); although Tarpening studies Sancho's role in II, 10 (the enchantment of Dulcinea), he places this episode in the context of his previous fabrications. In a very interesting and well argued article, Tarpening asserts that the episode is a parody of three great lyric traditions: 1) in II, 9 Cervantes satirizes the form «amar de oídas»; 2) in   —36→   II, 10, the «stilnovisti incontro, in which most often the beloved is seen surrounded by other companions» (p. 4); 3) in Sancho's description of Dulcinea, and in Don Quijote's answer, we find a mockery of Petrarchan conventions. Through them Sancho appears as a «creator of poetic fiction»; as such he is used «to depict the failure of codified language and formalistic modes of thought» (p. 5).

Some articles reflect a very specialized interest. Armando Cotarelo Valledor, in «La Dulcinea de Cervantes» (Homenaje a Cervantes, ed. Francisco Sánchez Castañer y Mena [Valencia: Mediterráneo, 1950] II, 19-52), intends to give a portrait of Dulcinea (of her physical features); in fact, he does not. He describes several of Cervantes' heroines, but in doing so he forgets his initial aim. What Cotarelo does not do, Pierre Heugas does in «Variation sur un portrait: de Melibée à Dulcinée» (Bulletin Hispanique, 71 [1969], 5-30). Heugas shows that both Rojas and Cervantes demystified the literary heroine of their contemporary traditions. An important aspect of their ironic treatment was the parody of the physical portrait of the lady. Rojas mocks a tradition that goes back to the Archpriest of Hita, Cervantes the idealized portraits of the artists of his time (Ariosto, Bembo, Garcilaso, etc.). In these poets the medieval portrait had reappeared, but recreated in a more artificial manner in which the physical qualities are elaborately described through rich metaphors. Don Quijote's descriptions of Dulcinea, and Sancho's degrading retorts (as well as Sancho's parody in II, 10) are an example of Cervantes' mockery of Renaissance artificiality. The name itself, «Dulcinea», has been the subject of two excellent studies. Rafael Lapesa in «Aldonza-Dulce-Dulcinea» (De la Edad Media a nuestros días [Madrid: Gredos, 1967] pp. 212-18; originally published in 1947) studies the germanic origin of the name (it comes from Aldegundia and Hildegundia); it was, however, mistaken for Aldulcia, related to Dulcia (Dulcia = sweet), which became popular after the marriage of Ramón Berenguer II with Dulcia from Provenza. From the 13th century Aldonça was associated with Dulce, and this tradition, of course, gives special strength to Cervantes' intended irony in relating Aldonza to Dulcinea. Herman Iventosch insists upon the pastoril origin of «Dulcinea» (which goes back to the Virgilian Melibeo); as such its sweetness is related to the dulzura of the Golden Age («Dulcinea, nombre pastoril», Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica, 17 [1966] 60-81; for Dulcinea and the Golden Age see pp. 60-64). Iventosch sees three bases for this   —37→   name: 1) its form (Dulc-i-nea) and a great part of its spirit is pastoril; 2) its connotations of «dulce enemiga» are Petrarchist; 3) its connotation of dulzura has its origin in the cult of the Virgin Mary. Iventosch shows that dulce was applied during the Middle Ages almost exclusively to Jesus and Mary; only with Dante and Petrarch does it acquire a secular use. In Spain, however, it retained its religious sense until the Renaissance was well advanced (pp. 72-76). This, of course, would support the religious basis of Don Quijote's devotion to Dulcinea. A very quaint (and unconvincing) interpretation of Dulcinea is found in A. F. Michael Atlee's «Concepto y ser metafórico de Dulcinea» (Actas del quinto congreso internacional de hispanistas [Bordeaux: Université de Bordeaux, 1977], pp. 223-36). Atlee asserts that «Dulcinea es una metáfora del concepto aristotélico de Dios que surgió durante la edad media en forma de amor cortés» (p. 224). He argues that, for Aristotle, God is the «móvil de la moción, del cambio y del desarrollo dentro del universo» and that Aristotle himself explained God's active power through an erotic metaphor: «Dios mueve al mundo como la amada inspira al amante» (pp. 227-28). Such a metaphor seems to point towards Dulcinea. To show that this is the case we shall only need to show that: 1) Don Quijote's deeds are the «resultado de lo que se ha escrito sobre su intelecto pasivo, la tabla rasa» (by the books of chivalry); 2) these deeds are activated by the «poder activo» of God-Dulcinea; 3) such inspiring force is «el móvil inmóvil», 4) which is «pura idea», 5) and which does not manifest itself through physical appearance (pp. 228-29). Satisfied that he has proven the five points, Atlee concludes that «Don Quijote muere porque Dios, el poder activo, deja de funcionarle» (p. 236).

We shall close our presentation of contemporary approaches to Dulcinea with an examination of what we could call the Freudian attitude. These studies have in common a preoccupation with Don Quijote's sexuality as it is reflected in his devotion to Dulcinea and his shunning of normal relationships with the women he encounters in the book (or, previous to the beginning of the story, his love for Aldonza Lorenzo). René Girard, in his Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque (Paris: Grasset, 1961) distinguishes between the romantic conception of love, as a direct relationship between the subject and the object (mesonge romantique), and the conception that sees the desire linking subject to object as mediated through certain models which introduce the «other» in the relationship of love. Such an   —38→   «other» is not only «model», but also «rival», and through his love for the same object, the passion of the lover is increased, becoming a désir métaphysique (vérité romanesque). The passion of life becomes, then, a «triangular relationship», and new forms of passion such as masochism, sadism, voyeurism, are introduced as a result of this triangularity. Through Cervantes' analysis of Amadis as Don Quijote's model, and his role in Don Quijote's love for Dulcinea, Cervantes has created the first modern novel, in which love achieves a delirious character through the metaphysical action of a mediator. Arthur Efron, In Don Quixote and the Dulcineated World (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971) gives us a Quijote as seen through the eyes of the counter-culture of the sixties. Dulcinea is the source of the «life-denying idealism» of the knight, which is reflected in such values as «chastity, marital fidelity, justice in accordance with fixed rules, loyalty to one's social class, and, finally, an unquestioning faith that underlies continued adherence to the whole complex of accepted ideals» (p. 11). Such an idealistic complex is based, in the final analysis, on a rejection of spontaneity, and of the great individualizing force in human nature, the sexual instinct: «Dulcinea is able to maintain so pervasive a grasp upon the novel's characters because it [Dulcineism] involves a drastic idealization of sexuality» (p. 12). Against the Romantic approach which made of the knight a rebel against his world, Efron asserts that Don Quijote is really the tamest of conformists: «The forces of custom and tradition, and the will of his literary ancestors, ultimately do direct the knight in so great a degree that, although his characterization is fully individualized, he cannot be said to merit the honorific use of the term individual, much less hero» (p. 23). Custom, tradition, culture: these are the forces that oppress Don Quijote (and Man in general) and prevent him from becoming an individual; even more, they force him to a degrading humiliation, since he ends, not only by accepting pain, but by indulging in a spurious cult of suffering and of the denial of the body. The «penance» in Sierra Morena, in which Don Quijote flies from Aldonza to take refuge in Dulcinea, is the best example of this degradation: by submitting himself to the cruelty of a deformed ideal of love («Hiriole Amor con su azote -no con su blanda correa»; quoted by Efron, p. 43), «... his pain and his sorrow exist only so that they may be perpetuated further. They become goals in themselves, stock roles blithely masquerading as the height of life's possibilities» (p. 47). This is the lesson that   —39→   Cervantes wants to teach us, and this, of course, shows him to be a Freudian avant la lettre, and a radical to boot: «The novel is therefore engaged in the most radical kind of culture criticism. Not only do the cultural ideals extract the painful repressive costs that Freud was later to outline; they also stand revealed as creators of a way of life that is farcical, incurably superficial, and in the overall critical context of the novel, clearly not worth maintaining» (p. 49). Such criticism extends itself, of course, not only to the whole of our Western culture, but to Christianity itself («Don Quixote embodies a critical examination of Western culture and its Christian core» [p. 117]). The message of the novel, then, is an all out rebellion against the cultural forces embodied in Dulcinea: «The challenge to let go of ideals is of course not a stated way out at all: it is an implication embedded in the context of the novel's unremitting insight into the workings of Dulcinea. Yet that crucial implication is a very clear one. What it means, when considered as a real alternative, is nothing less than human life seeking its own impulsive development, which inevitably takes place, when it takes place at all, in opposition to the institutional blockade that now prevents any such rebellion from getting very far» (p. 142).

Teresa Aveleyra, in «El erotismo de Don Quijote» (Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica, 26 [1977], 468-79) presents a rather naive and at times pedestrian interpretation of Don Quijote's character, not devoid, though, of interesting insights. Aveleyra asserts that Alonso Quijano «tiene una fuerte y natural inclinación amorosa» and that «hay en él un erotismo normal, aunque reprimido» (p. 468). Alonso loves Aldonza, but his shyness prevents him from approaching her; to hide his fear from himself and from others he invents a non-existing beloved, whose spiritual unreality excuses his inability to face a real woman: «Dulcinea -mujer ideal y abstracta- es el valladar que Alonso Quijano se ha levantado para evadir toda aproximación a la mujer real y concreta» (p. 469). His letter to Dulcinea from Sierra Morena «es una manera de atreverse sin atreverse» (p. 469). This conflict creates in him the illusion that the women he finds in his adventures fall in love with him; his fear however forces him to look for shelters which will prevent him from confronting them; his loyalty to Dulcinea, of course, becomes the highminded excuse. But his idealism hides an unruly eroticism: «[S]u insatisfacción erótica se manifiesta en un casi delirio de persecución amorosa» (p. 471). Aveleyra's interpretation brings her to   —40→   some surprising assertions: Don Quijote, presumably moved by this «insatisfacción erótica», shows such an indiscreet regard for the duchess that the duke has to reprimand him: «[L]a llama 'digna señora de la hermosura y universal princesa de la cortesía' en un tono tal que el duque tiene que reconvenirle»; the attraction of Don Quijote por la hija del ventero has the makings of a true romance, to the point that she could have become «el protagonista femenino del Quijote» (p. 476). But Don Quijote, through Dulcinea, has enclosed himself within unbreakable walls: his obsession for disenchanting Dulcinea expresses an unconscious desire to free himself from the barriers of his fear («la obsesión de Alonso por la ruptura del bloqueo que lo separa de la mujer concreta» [p. 479]); but he fails and, consequently, cannot encounter the disenchanted Dulcinea.

Monique Joly, in «Cervantès et le refus des codes: le problème du 'sayagués'» (Imprévue [1978], 122-45), studies two very limited problems related to Dulcinea. One is the use of the lexeme «de buen rejo», uttered by Sancho in I, 25, in his description of Aldonza, and which means primarily «voz fuerte.» The same expression is used by the squire of El Caballero del Bosque referring to Sancho's daughter Sanchica. Monique Joly argues that since in both cases we are dealing with exclamations, a «visée dithyrambique» and «des éloges prénuptiaux de personnages féminins» (p. 124) (both assertions somewhat doubtful), and taking into account that another meaning of rejo is punta de hierro, the expression qué rejo debe tener «se double d'une allusion phallique, symbole d'une inversion de sexes de caractère nettement carnavalesque» (p. 124). Very interesting is her analysis of the sayagués expression used by the peasants in the enchantment scene in II, 10. Ms. Joly argues rather convincingly that the exclamation «¡jo, que te estrego, burra de mi suegro!» is «une formule dégradante à l'extrême pour le groupe féminin auquel elle appartient» (p. 137). In fact, it compares them to asses, with certain erotic connotations: «Cervantès parachève le processur de bestialisation à implications érotiques en plaçant dans la bouche de la paysanne responsable de la seconde intervention une phrase qui assimile la fausse Dulcinée, et avec elle ses deux compagnes, à une bourrique» (p. 140).

An Interesting and provocative contribution to Cervantes studies is the recent book of Louis Combet, Cervantès ou les incertitudes du désir (Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1980). For Combet the essence of Don Quijote's character is his refusal to acknowledge   —41→   sexual and economic realities; his dream of the Age of Gold is precisely an escape to a world from which the amorosa pestilencia is absent and where the Earth spontaneously provides for mankind's needs. Cervantes' heroes are characterized by a fear of women (more precisely of the sexual encounter with a woman), by a passivity towards the female, which is compensated by an extreme social aggressivity. His heroines, on the contrary, are characterized by a strong share in what had been traditional male characteristics: intelligence, energetic decisions, violence, and, in certain cases, sadism. To such women, in Cervantes' work, often correspond lovers who are weak and cowardly. Sometimes they shy away from the world; more often from women (Cardenio, Mireno, Periandro, Tomás Rodaja, etc.; and of course Alonso Quijano -from Aldonza Lorenzo, Altisidora, etc.). Combet's study is enriched by a wide knowledge of contemporary psychological theory and literary criticism. Among the critics who seem to have influenced him most are Marthe Robert (Roman des origines et origines du roman [Paris; Grasset, 1972]) and René Girard (all of whose books are quoted, although Mensonge is given special attention), as well as a considerable number of post-Freudian theorists whom it would be irrelevant to specify here. Don Quijote, for Combet, refuses the encounter with passion. The episode of the goatherds and the Arcadian shepherds present the two faces of love: the love of the Golden Age, from which erotic suffering is excluded; Arcadia as a poetic landscape of victims of Eros: «l'univers arcadique [provides] un cadre commode où insérer une peinture de l'amour senti comme dérèglement de l'esprit et maladie de l'âme, c'est-à-dire comme violence» (pp. 136-37). Such is the world that fascinates (through his admiration for his model, Amadis) and horrifies Don Quijote. His relationship to Dulcinea can be interpreted in this (triangular) way: imitating Amadis, Don Quijote desires to visit Dulcinea, to court her; but he avoids a direct contact. He either sends Sancho as a messenger, or chooses a most improbable moment for his visit: impossible hour, darkness, malos agüeros: «Il est clair que 'l'amoureux chevalier' veut donner du silence des hommes et des cris des animaux une interprétation qui rende impossible la réalisation du désir qu'il proclame» (p. 120). When Don Quijote is told by Sancho that the peasant girl is Dulcinea, he immediately believes it and concludes that she is enchanted. The reason is obvious: «L'enchantement de Dulcinée en fait, comble set voeux les plus secrets» (p. 125). In fact, Don Quijote belongs to the   —42→   prototype of Cervantes' heroes who, violently aggressive, become masochistically humble in the face of their beloved: «Si intrépide dans le combat guerrier ou l'exercise sportif (la chasse, la joute), tremble devant la Dame. D'où son attitude évasive devant l'éventualité du face à face» (p. 127). In a long study (593 pages), Combet presents an interpretation of the main types of Cervantes' heroes and heroines; it is impossible to sum up his conclusions here. Even with regard to Don Quijote there are interesting suggestions (his latent homosexuality; his masochism) which deserve attention. I have limited myself, however, to the aspects of his work related directly to the Knight's love for Dulcinea.

Answering the duchess, who has asked him to describe Dulcinea's beauty, Don Quijote says: «Si yo pudiera sacar mi corazón y ponerle ante los ojos de vuestra grandeza, aquí, sobre esta mesa y en un plato, quitara el trabajo a mi lengua de decir lo que apenas se puede pensar, porque vuestra excelencia la viera en él toda retratada» (II, 32). As Anthony Close has pointed out, the gross remark of placing the heart on a plate in the middle of a table deflates comically the intended pathos of Don Quijote's statement; but it does not alter the fact that he seriously means that Dulcinea is printed in his heart. She has become the center of his knightly adventure and will reign over his life as long as his madness lasts; that is to say, until his deathbed. Because of this, the interpretation of Dulcinea's place in Don Quijote's pilgrimage is essential to our understanding of the book. «Dios sabe si hay Dulcinea o no en el mundo, o si es fantástica o no fantástica; y éstas no son de las cosas cuya averiguación se ha de llevar hasta el cabo», says Don Quijote to the duchess. Critics, however, can not follow his advice; the question is too important for us to leave to God. In fact, our interpretation of the book will depend upon the answer we give to it. I have outlined here the more significant directions taken by the critics in recent times.