Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 2, 2013

Man of La Mancha

Man of La ManchaI enjoy good stories but I love a really great story. Those who know me well will tell you that Don Quixote is at the top of my list of favorite stories. Written in 1605 by the Spanish novelist and playwright Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote is considered to be one of the world’s greatest literary works.

On Friday evening, Cheryl and I had the privilege of going to Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars to see a theatrical adaptation of Cervantes’ imaginative tale. A friend who had heard how much I love this story surprised us with two tickets. This gift could not have come at a better time. “I am thirsting for inspiration, “ I told Cheryl on our way to the theatre — “something to remind me of the importance of seeing what others do not see.”

Don Quixote certainly saw the world and the people he encountered in a different way than those around him. This theme is beautifully portrayed in the encounter between the Man of La Mancha, dubbed the Knight of the Woeful Countenance, and a common prostitute named Aldonza. When Don Quixote first sees Aldonza, he respectfully lauds her as “My Lady.” He sees in her what no one else can or is willing to see.

When Aldonza hears the Man of La Mancha’s greeting, she sarcastically responds by saying, “Me a lady? I was born in a ditch by a mother who left me there, naked and cold and too hungry to cry. I never blamed her. I am sure that she left, hoping that I would have the good sense to die. I am no lady. I am only Aldonza.”

Undaunted by her bitter reply, the Man of La Mancha insists, “Your name is not Aldonza. I give you a new name. You are my lady. And I give you the name Dulcinea.” The name Dulcinea is a name that means something sweet and good, essentially everything that Aldonza was not.

Later in the story, the Man of La Mancha again encounters Aldonza immediately after she has been raped in a barn. When Don Quixote approaches and addresses her as “My Lady,” she screams at him, “Don’t call me a lady! Won’t you look at me! I am only a common prostitute reeking with sweat. A thing men use and forget! I am not a lady. I am Aldonza. I am nothing, nothing at all!”

Near the end of the story, the Man of La Mancha is bedridden and dying of a broken heart. When Aldonza approaches his bedside he does not recognize nor remember her. Not until she reminds him that he had given her a new name does he start to remember. After his death, Aldonza weeps over his body and finally refers to herself as Dulcinea. This woman who had been filled with so much self-loathing finally becomes the person that the Man of La Mancha had always envisioned she could become. The story ends, leaving us thirsting for more, wishing we could continue to follow the new story of Dulcinea.

I love the story of Don Quixote de La Mancha because it inspires me to hope and to dream impossible dreams and to see the world and people not just as they are, but as what they can become. The Man of La Mancha also challenges me to persevere in spite of hardships and challenges. But ultimately, the Man of La Mancha reminds me of the importance of living in such a way that I might, as he said in the play, “add a measure of grace to the world.”


Responses

  1. My father’s favorite play has always been Man of La Mancha and he took me to see it the first time as a young child, and always played the album in our home. It became one of my favorites too, and had the privilege of seeing the stage show two more times. Now he is 81 and in bed just like Don Quixote. Thank you for this reminder of the beauty and grace this story holds! And the inspiration to love a little better as Jesus told us to…

    • Thanks for sharing your story. What a precious memory. Blessings and regards to your sweet Dad.


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