Don Quixote

Don Quixote

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Don Quixote Part 1, Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the letter, Camila implores her husband to come home as soon as possible, hints that Lotario has been overstepping the bounds of propriety, and asks permission to stay at her parents’ house during his absence. Anselmo is glad that Lotario is finally following the plan, and writes back instructing Camila to stay home and wait for him. Soon after she receives her husband’s reply, she begins to warm to Lotario’s advances despite herself and finally lets him seduce her. Lotario doesn’t mention to her that the seduction was her husband’s idea.
Now, both Lotario and Camila have been deeply altered by Anselmo’s game. We can relate the idea of changeable human nature to Quixote’s courageous desire to reinvent and define himself through his actions. Though his ideas are sometimes mutually contradictory, he generally believes that we are not born ourselves, but make ourselves.
Themes
Truth and Lies Theme Icon
Self-Invention, Class Identity, and Social Change Theme Icon
When Anselmo comes home a few days later, Lotario tells him that his wife has been absolutely steadfast and virtuous. But Anselmo wishes to test Camila still further: he tells Lotario to write love poems addressed to an imaginary girl named Chloris. He plans to tell Camila about Lotario’s crush on another woman and observe her reaction to the love poems. Meanwhile, Lotario tells Camila about Anselmo’s plan so that she can respond to the poems appropriately. The next day Anselmo asks Lotario to recite his poems; Camila takes pleasure in them, since she knows they are truly addressed to her; her pleasure represents her fall into vice but to her husband it represents her intractable virtue, since it proves that she feels no jealousy about this imaginary Chloris.
At first, the two men were in mutual agreement, and Camila was the deceived. Now, Camila and Lotario are deceiving Anselmo. In a general sense, the story describes a world of gaps and omissions: no one sees the complete picture, and someone is always the deceived. Once again, we return to the novel’s perspectivism. Just as person does not possess a unitary and stable nature, an event does not have a single true interpretation.
Themes
Truth and Lies Theme Icon
Self-Invention, Class Identity, and Social Change Theme Icon
Camila worries to her servant Leonela that she gave herself to Lotario too quickly, but the clever and experienced girl eases her conscience by describing Lotario’s virtues. Once Camila has talked to Leonela so frankly, the girl has the boldness to bring her own lover into the house, and Camila doesn’t dare reproach her. One night, Lotario sees Leonela’s young man leaving the house at dawn and assumes it is another one of Camila’s lovers. Blinded by a desire for vengeance, Lotario goes to Anselmo and tells him that Camila has agreed to sleep with him. He tells Anselmo that he and Camila have scheduled a secret meeting in the garderobe (closet) and invites him to hide nearby and watch the meeting take place.
Now, the system of allegiances, understandings, and omissions becomes even more complicated. Camila and Leonela have become accomplices, in a way, in their respective romantic dalliances. As the lies deepen, the characters’ perspectives begin to waver and blur. Camila needs Leonela to reassure her in the rightness of her affair. As people change, they don’t change neatly and simply: the change always seems to proceed from order to confusion.
Themes
Truth and Lies Theme Icon
Soon after this conversation, Lotario regrets his outburst and tells Camila what he has done. She explains that the man was Leonela’s lover, not hers, and comes up with a secret plan to remedy the situation. She tells Lotario only to come to the garderobe as agreed. The next day, Leonela and Camila meet in the closet to act out a little scene for Anselmo’s benefit before Lotario arrives. Camila plays the role of the virtuous woman to perfection. She pretends that she intends to stab Lotario for sullying both her honor and her husband’s with his advances, or to kill herself instead. Anselmo almost intervenes but instead decides to watch everything play out.
After watching Camila play the character of a virtuous woman so well, we can’t help but wonder whether or not her earlier modesty and good behavior were also cleverly acted parts. At the inn and in the wilderness where Sancho and Quixote travel, people assume various ordinary and extraordinary roles (the frequent cross-dressing is one example). When people are away from society, the artificiality of society and social roles comes into view.
Themes
Truth and Lies Theme Icon
Self-Invention, Class Identity, and Social Change Theme Icon
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Soon, Leonela comes back with Lotario. Camila recites a long, indignant speech and springs at him with a dagger; when he holds her back, she gives herself a shallow but bloody wound in her armpit and faints. Lotario leaves to get help, astonished at his mistress’s wonderful acting. Leonela dresses the shallow wound and the two women discuss how to explain the wound to Anselmo. The happy husband himself leaves unnoticed and runs to Lotario’s house to thank him in tears for showing him his wife’s true goodness. The deception goes on for months thereafter.
Throughout the novel, people note Quixote’s contradictory combination of simplicity/insanity and intelligence. Perhaps Quixote seems simple and loveable because he is incapable of playing any role other than his own. Though he is explicitly playing a role – that of a knight errant – his complete faith and consistency render that role more real, somehow, than the more concealed roles of the others.
Themes
Truth and Lies Theme Icon
Madness and Sanity Theme Icon
Self-Invention, Class Identity, and Social Change Theme Icon