Don Quixote Reflection. The Problems of Irony and Honor Balzac d, “Women’s honor is a man’s greatest invention” to derive a relationship between the empowerment of women and the efforts that men have put towards its achievement. In Quixote’s work, the issue of female empowerment comes out clearly in a number of scenes. It is possible to analyze Balzac’s statement from the portrayal of women in Quixote’s work. Quixote invention of Dulcinea shows how much he adores her and the high esteem he possibly accords to women. He states “… her rank must be at least that of a princess since she is my queen…” to show how much he has a high esteem of her (Cervantes 112). However, the other characters appear to be questioning her worthiness as they insist on knowing her lineage and beauty. It appears that men invent the value of a woman just like Balzac states that women’s value is man’s greatest invention. However, it is ironical how men judge a woman’s value from her appearances and origin. We expected the value of a woman be judged the same way of as that of a man, irrespective of her family status and beauty.
In a different scene, we learn men’s attitude towards one of the female characters, Marcela. One of the young men refers to Marcela as “that devil of a village girl…” and blames her for the death of Chrysostom, a famous student-shepherd (Cervantes 103). The young man has a condescending attitude and has little honor for a woman. This is ironical that the same men that Balzac identifies as the inventors of women’s honor are the same who look down upon women in the society. This conception of this young man portrays women as inferior beings who cannot be respected in the society. Later on, we learn that Marcela is not to be blamed for the death of the student shepherd as Quixote says that she is worth respect and no one should find her guilty of the mentioned crimes. In this scene, we find Quixote standing by the right of Marcela and requesting that other men respect her. Through a series of intervention to empower women, Quixote appears to be the inventor of honor of women. This complies with Balzac idea that men are the inventors of the respect for women.
Today, the irony of women’s honor as the invention of man is clear and shown in almost all spheres of life. Contemporary men are still tied to the classical belief that men superior to females. Consequently, men dominate in homes, leadership and political realms, and religious spheres. While there are some men who champion for the empowerment of women, it is clear that most men are opposed to the idea of supporting women to achieve equality in the society. Men still suffer from a superiority complex, and this makes them oppose the empowerment of women, which is ironic to Balzac’s statement that men should invent honor for women. From a critical point of view, this statement is ironical and would be more truth if applied in the reverse version. However, the role of this statement is to provide an insight for men to champion for the respect of women, rather than look down upon them. Probably, Balzac referred to the men who are like Quixote and are willing to fight for the rights of women with courage.
Cervantes, Miquel. Don Quixote. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.