Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cervantes's representations of delinquency: “Don Quijote” (parts one and two) and the “Novelas Ejemplares”
by Colas-Gil, Manuel, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2009, 367; 3340041
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the concept and the literary representation of delinquency expressed by Miguel de Cervantes in the first and second parts of Don Quijote (1605 and 1615) and in several stories from his Novelas Ejemplares (1613). During the years in which Cervantes wrote the adventures of the eccentric knight of La Mancha, delinquency had become one of the principal topics of debate in Spanish society. This is evidenced by the number of texts of different types which dealt with this theme indicating both the importance of this phenomena and the way in which it was perceived within the social milieu of sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain. The evolving social preoccupation with delinquency also was reflected in the constant passage of laws to cope with the criminal population. This same concern is seen in literary works such as the popular picaresque genre. Cervantes' involvement in this dialogue, as illustrated by his fictional representation of delinquency, is the central theme of this work.

Until now consideration of the theme of delinquency in Cervantes has been limited to the influence of the “picaresque” on his works, and hence has emerged almost exclusively in the criticism of a few texts (such as La ilustre fregona, Rinconete y Cortadillo and El coloquio de los perros) and a few passages in Don Quijote . This project widens this discussion in order to view Cervantes' representations of delinquency in light of the other texts which deal with delinquency in his time. In the process, the study delineates the ways in which it was a crucial preoccupation of Cervantes' life and fiction.

The year 1606 is of fundamental importance to the study because it is the year in which Don Quijote became a literary success, giving Cervantes acceptance in the world of letters. This event provoked perceptible changes in his fiction, in the manner in which he fleshed out his characters, in the selection of his themes, and in his representations of delinquency. To examine all these developments, the study takes into account two groups of compositions in the literary trajectory of Cervantes. The first group includes his “early” works, which is to say those written before 1606 ( Don Quijote I and Rinconete y Cortadillo). The second group includes the “later” stories which were written after the publication of the first novel (El coloquio de los perros, La gitanilla , and La ilustre fregona). These works establish the framework within which the second part of Don Quijote is considered.

This dissertation charts a series of changes in Cervantes' representation of delinquency from the early works through the second part of Don Quijote. In general, the early stories contain characteristics which are found in the first part of Don Quijote, while the later stories share traits which are seen in the second part of Don Quijote . In the early stories, Cervantes focuses on minor violations of law committed by his protagonists. In the later works, the main characters live in the delinquent community, but demonstrate exemplarity in their conduct. One theme which interests him is the effect of the interaction of the nobility with delinquency. In the final years of his literary career and of his life, Cervantes explored delinquency in connection with the spirituality, forgiveness, and salvation of his characters. The writer shows a growing preoccupation for the salvation of his characters.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sieber, Harry, Kagan, Richard
Commitee:
School: The Johns Hopkins University
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Romance literature
Keywords: Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de, Delinquency, Delinquent, Don Quixote, Novelas Ejemplares, Picaresque, Spain
Publication Number: 3340041
ISBN: 9780549940210
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