English literature depicts the characteristics and events which are apparent in society. This holds true especially in medieval and the early modern era. While Song of Roland and Don Quixote are accounts from a different time era, similar compelling themes are presented in the stories. Both texts revolve around the novels namesake protagonists and through their lives show a bit about the culture during the era. Not taking the advice of a companion stands as a recurring event which unfolds in both Song of Roland and Don Quixote. The protagonist’s irrationality prevents the employment of friend’s advice and thus, causes a catastrophe, which the character averts after realization and repentance of his previous faults. Roland ignores the advice of his trusted friend Oliver, and decides not to blow the horn. «Roland, my companion, sound your horn then, Charles will hear it, the army will come back. ?Roland replies:’ I’d be a fool to do it. I would lose my good name all through sweet France» (1130.) Arrogance controls Roland to the extent that he does not summon aid by King Charles and the other troops. Subsequently, a battle takes place in which the opponents greatly outnumber the rear guard. Thus, Oliver criticizes Roland during battle with the declaration, «I will tell you what makes a vassal good, it is judgment, it is never madness; restraint is worth more than the raw nerve of a fool. Frenchmen are dead because of your wildness» (1142.) Roland’s pride hinders his logical action. While he receives merit as a strong and religious warrior, he still overestimates his ability to fight an army which numbers, possibly, ten times greater in size. Roland blows his horn, the Oliphant, too late as the Moors slaughter his men.
Cervantes’ protagonist, Don Quixote, also makes a mistake harmful to himself and others. When he rides home, he encounters a man who flogs a young boy. Unaware of the situation, Don Quixote loses no time to challenge the man in defense of the boy. In actuality his intrusion worsens the situation. «And with this he seized the lad’s arm and bound him to the tree again and flogged him within an inch of his life» (1983.) Don Quixote makes decisions deleterious to others while he incorrectly categories these as chivalric acts. He centers his life on imaginary figures and ideas which take control of his life. His journey companion, Sancho, warns him of his foolishness in several occurrences. When Don Quixote plans to attack the perceived giants, Sancho implores him to see them in their actuality; as windmills. » ?But look, your Grace, those are not giants but windmills, and what appear to be arms are their wings which, when whirled in the breeze, cause the millstone to go.’ ?It is plain to be seen,’ said Don Quixote, ?That you have had little experience in this matter of adventures’» (1991.) As he attacks the windmills, Don Quixote injures himself. He refuses Sancho’s advice as he continues to live in a dream world of chivalry.
The final outcome holds promise because the character realizes the truth of the situation. Moreover, both Roland and Don Quixote seek forgiveness in prayer. «My mind now is clear, unencumbered by those misty shadows of ignorance that were cast over it by my bitter and continual reading of those hateful books of chivalry. I see through all the nonsense and fraud contained in them, and my only regret is that my disillusionment has come so late, leaving me no time to make any sort of amends?for I want to confess my sins and make my last will and testament» (2069.)
Cervantes concludes the text with an intriguing description of Don Quixote turning back to reality. Don Quixote emerges as a heroic character despite his faults as he strives to do good. His actions however well intended produce negative outcomes. Therefore he is remorseful on his death bed because he comes to understanding with the life in which he wasted in a fantasy world. Therefore, although he is honorable and brave, he realizes he did not live life to his fullest potential. Death without redemption would have provided for a disappointing tale because only through understanding and repentance is he cleared from his faults.
The author teaches a lesson through the character’s flaw. This concept is important to civilization during the time because the process shows, through sin and error, redemption is possible. Similar to Don Quixote, Roland realizes his fault by exclaiming, «Almighty God, mea culpa in thy sigh, forgive my sins, both the great and the small, sins I committed from the hour I was born until this day, in which I lie struck down» (1156.) This event enlightens the otherwise depressing scene where many are dead and covered in blood. As Roland understands his mistake, he asks God for forgiveness, and therefore the angels lift him to heaven. The realization and remorse of his faults are essential to his salvation. Repentance is a persistent theme throughout medieval and early modern civilization. This theme receives special emphasis in The Divine Comedy. In fact, it highlights the only path toward the gate of heaven. God condemns the people who refuse to repent to a suffering life in hell. However, those who seek forgiveness, are able to work off their sins and climb the path to paradise. This concept has carried on to today’s era through many religions. In Christianity for example, it is impossible to be without fault, but through God’s mercy and repentance, a person is able to acquire salvation and forgiveness of sins. The flaws of Roland and Don Quixote are essential to the story as it creates a more powerful end than if they led an entirely good life.