20 June 2011
A Character’s point of view Matters
Given a story like that of Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote, the way the narration is done plays a very crucial part in the understanding of the entire piece. As we have learned from our reading of Manfred Jahn’s, “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative” the mood of the story is created through the narration of the story. After a thorough read of Jahn’s constant depiction of point of view, we as readers have learned that focalization is the way a story is told and in Jahn’s piece he writes, external focalization is when “the primary candidate for a text’s prespectival orientation is the narrator” (Jahn N3.2.1) and internal focalization occurs when information from a text is restricted to a character’s field of perception (N3.2.1). In chapter 9 of Don Quixote readers are introduced to Cide Hamete Benengeli, who is a fictional character but is given a role that plays a huge part in the way readers understand Don Quixote. We are also introduced to Cervantes, the character who is in search for the truth behind the tale of Don Quixote and here we get his point of view:
“All these thoughts left me feeling puzzled and eager for exact and authentic knowledge of the complete life and works of our famous Spaniard Don Quixote de la Mancha, the light and mirror of the chivalry of that land, and the first man in our times, in these calamitous times of ours, to devote himself to the toils and exercise of the knight-errantry, and to the redressing of wrongs , the succouring of windows and the protecting of maidens who used to ride about, up hill and down dale, with their whips and their palfreys, carrying their maidenhead with them; for unless raped by some blackguard, or by some peasant with his hatchet and his iron skullcap, or by some monstrous giant, there were maidens in those times gone by who, at the age of eighty and not having slept a single night under a roof, went to their graves with their maidenheads as intact as the mothers who’d borne them.”
This passage exhibits the importance of focalization in this book. Cervantes wants to write of Don Quixote’s tale through the reality of his doings not through some falsely claimed chivalry. In this passage the character of Cervantes is given an internal focalization, he is made into a character. From this character the writer himself is separated. When Cervantes is turned into a character in his own book he able to look at Don Quixote through a different set of eyes. Like he claims in this quote above the character of Cervantes wants to write of Quixote in all its truthfulness. He can criticize other characters and or other events because he is a character within the story so readers would read his view. If it were through the words of a writer saying things about others readers might not want to read or be as interested. When he introduces the made of character of Cide Hamete Benengeli, who is an Arabic historian and writer of Don Quixote. Cervantes writes that he found the manuscript of Cide Hamete Benengeli at a shop. In Cide Hamete Benengeli version of Don Quixote, he is written about as a knight who isn’t anything like Quixote. He isn’t given the same recognition as Cervantes thinks he deserves. Cervantes feels Cide Hamete Benengeli version is a poor and bad representation of Quixote. Cervantes as a narrator is the external focalizer because he creates the story and within his story he creates a character of Cervantes. The narration goes back and for between the external and internal view of the story and similar to “She Lived in A Story” by Guillermo Samperio. In Samperio’s piece he creates a character of himself to do the things that he cant do as a narrator. When he was a character he was able to look at Ofeila through a different eye. The same goes for Cervantes, as a character he is surpassing the restrictions of a narrator. He is criticizing the works of other writers on the translation of Don Quixote and he is giving prove to readers that literature can be written by anyone and it will always have opinionated point of views.
De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha. Trans. John Rutherford. 1605. Columbus, MT: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” Poems, Plays, and
Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. Cologne: U of Cologne Press, 2002. <http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>
Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” New Writing from Mexico. Ed. Reginald Gibbons. Evanston, IL: TriQuarterly Books, Northwestern University: 1992. Print.