Cervantes’ Don Quixote and St. Augustine’s Confessions
Christianity teaches that in order to be able to truly serve God, one must give up worldly pleasures, which are deemed selfish. Throughout literature, many authors touch on this subject, some in very direct manners. Such is the case in Cervantes’ Don Quixote and St. Augustine’s Confessions. In excerpts from each, the narrator describes how he had undergone a change from relishing in worldly and selfish activities to renouncing such immoral pleasures in order to follow the moral path to God. As each passage progresses, the narrator tells of his past and his new thinking in the present, and ends by praising God for His mercy. Throughout the passages, several dichotomies exist between the past and the present, positive and negative, moral and immoral. In the end, it is the mercy of God that acts as the driving force behind each man’s change in thoughts and actions. The moral laws of religion outweigh man’s desires, as can be seen through the diction in each passage as the narrator contrasts his negative past with the positive present by denying that which he once loved, and as he praises God for granting mercy for his sins.
In the passage from Cervantes, Don Quixote begins his speech by addressing his friends as “good sirs” and informing them that he has “good news” for them. The positive word “good” immediately prepares the reader for what follows: Don Quixote’s repudiation of his sinful past. By saying that he is “no longer” Don Quixote of La Mancha, the man he has claimed to be for the entire novel, Don Quixote, or Alonso Quixano, displays a marked change in thought. This change is expressed positively because the past is considered negative. The same occurs in St. Augustine’s Confessions. St. Augustine refers to his past as “those days,” which expresses that they are gone now. Also, as he describes the emotions he felt while watching shows, Augustine uses the past tense: “felt,” “had,” “became,” “gave.” In this manner, there is a clear emphasis on the fact that the feelings he mentions are not what he feels now, which is important because he feels his past beliefs were immoral.
Throughout both of the passages, the word “now” is repeated many times to show the contrast between each man’s past and present. “Now” also serves as a tool for Don Quixote and Augustine to express the negative feelings behind objects from their pasts. Don Quixote states that he is “now...the enemy of Amadis of Gaul,” a well-known novel of chivalry that he had revered. By calling himself the “enemy,” Don Quixote emphasizes that he no longer believes in the stories he once loved. In fact, those stories are described as “profane” as Don Quixote tells his friends that such novels are “odious to me now.” Continuously, the word “now” reappears, showing that Don Quixote has abandoned his former ways and wants to prove that he is different in the present.
Augustine also describes his new feelings with the...