El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha sits at the crossroads of two defined Spanish early modern contexts, combining Renaissance ideals with Baroque elements into one Golden Age masterpiece. The theme of duality present throughout the work finds true expression in Cervantes’ well-educated protagonist, Alonso Quijano. In him, the reader glimpses the struggle between antiquity versus early modernity, ideality versus reality, instability versus sanity, and unhealthiness versus healthiness. These medical themes and the underlying sociocultural facets will be investigated by thoroughly evaluating Cervantes’ treatment of human consciousness. In doing so, this study aims to explore the following questions: to what extent does Cervantes present relevant medical knowledge applicable to the Renaissance and Baroque periods of Spanish history? How do these medical allusions and references influence the reader’s perception of Don Quixote as insane? Could/Would a medical diagnosis of some neurologically or psychologically based disorder be applied? Finally, to what extent of the protagonist’s behavior may be medically attributed and to what extent may be the result of sociocultural disconnection? Following an in-depth review of Spanish literature and medical knowledge, it will be necessary to examine the work for episodes in which Don Quixote experiences pronounced fatigue, forgetting spells, head trauma, sleep disturbances, and headaches. This psychoanalytical process of interpreting Spanish medicine through the lens of literature illuminates the scientific background inherent in the novel and establishes a foundation for uncovering the connections between medicine, culture, and literature in Golden Age Spain.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Modern Languages and Literatures
Orlando (Main) Campus
Scimeca, Michael D., "Left Brain vs. Right Brain: An Analysis of Cervantes' Don Quixote" (2016). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 66.