As I mentioned in a previous post, our family recently went to see the Festival Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha.
As is typical in theatre, literature, and film, there is a man in love with a girl. But this love interest is different than our modern, over-the-top, and inappropriate relationship. Don Quixote loves “pure and chaste from afar” and though, he declares his love to his lady, they rarely even touch.
What is even more unconventional about this relationship is who they they are. He is a peasant who – by all accounts of those around him – is a madman for believing that he is a knight. She is … well, how shall we say … a whore who describes herself as “no one … nothing at all.”
The twist? Don Quixote’s “madness” allows him to see the bar-maid/prostitute named Aldonza as the lady Dulcinea (translated from Spanish to English = sweet one).
Dulcinea claims that Don Quixote torments her with his rants about her being a lady. At one point, she pleads:
Won’t you look at me, look at me,
God, won’t you look at me!
Look at the kitchen slut reeking with sweat!
Born on a dung heap to die on a dung heap,
A strumpet men use and forget! 1
But he will not back down. He has chosen to see her as a lady, and he will not be swayed.
SPOILER ALERT: if you continue to read this post, you will learn about the end of the musical. Just letting you know!
At the end of the musical, we see Don Quixote on his deathbed – madness gone replaced with (in my opinion) depression. As I see it, once his dream died, he basically had nothing for which to live. Aldonza/Duclinea rushes in to speak with him. She needs him to know who she is, to remember what he called her, and (in my opinion) to remember why he called her that.
Somehow, through his madness, Aldonza was able to see herself through Don Quixote’s eyes as Dulcinea. Before Don Quixote came along, she believed that – because she circumstances – she would never rise above from whence she had come. However, Don Quixote essentially gave her new eyes when he showed her the way that he saw her. Because he essentially created a future of hope rather than despair, she could live as Dulcinea.
How someone else sees us has so much power…
We each hold someone else’s future in our vision. If we choose to discourage someone from seeing hope, we could kill a dream. But if choose to encourage, we could give wings so that they can fly (sorry for the cliché!). But it s true!
This completely boggles my mind!
Imagine what we could do if we all saw those “born in a dung heap” as lords and ladies worthy of our deference. Imagine how lives would be changed if we used a little madness now and then better the world by going on quests, dreaming the impossible dream, righting the unrightable wrongs, and seeing people beyond their circumstances.
What will I choose today? What will you choose today? What quests are we called to start today that will take us on adventures and misadventures and that will ask us to see people in ways for which we may not be ready?