For example, a rumble scene? Or the balmy old gaffer fighting windmills?
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The death scene? Or the loss of dreams? Next, I will have my students study the biographical mystery surrounding Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote. In searching for information about the man who had written so important a literary classic, Wasserman found several documents which indicated that Cervantes' life had been a series of misfortunes.
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From the limited biographical material, he learned about Cervantes' army service, his disablement, his five years of slavery in Algiers, his excommunication from the Church, his three terms in prison, his broken marriage, his illegitimate daughter, and finally his writing of Don Quixote , begun when he was already in his fifties, impoverished, ill, and nearly blind. Wasserman decided to write a play combining the characters of Cervantes and Don Quixote because he felt that the author and the fictional hero were alike in remaining idealists despite adversity.
As his theme, Wasserman used a quotation from Miguel Unamuno: "Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible. At the start of the story of the eccentric knight whose aim is to restore chivalry, Quixote and Sancho Panza, his faithful servant, come to a roadside inn, which Quixote tells Sancho is a castle. There he meets Aldonza, a servant girl and whore.
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When he insists on calling her Dulcinea, the confused and somewhat irate Aldonza cannot understand why Quixote does not see her as she really is. As students read and discuss both Cervantes' Don Quixote and Wasserman's Man of La Mancha , especially concerning the knight's love, Dulcinea, they will be asked to note how Quixote's unrealized expectations of life and love eventually lead him to irrevocable loss. This discussion will help fulfill Objective 6, concerning unrealistic expectations. Don Quixote's mission has basically good motives, and we can sense at least three views that might be taken of Cervantes' purpose in writing this work.
The first is that, by making Don Quixote a thoroughly ludicrous figure, he is mocking the idealistic utopians who set out to right all the wrongs of the world. The second is that Cervantes is deploring the fact that a man with such a noble purpose is so rare that he does look absurd. The third is that Cervantes is obviously seeking some kind of value judgment on romantic chivalry and knight-errantry from within the historical context of his time.
We notice, for example, how ridiculous Don Quixote's gallant gestures are toward Dulcinea, the lady of his choice, and toward the two women at the inn. Yet we cannot help observing that he is showing them a respect they probably never received from anyone else. In Don Quixote there is also an inherent admiration for the refusal on the part of the utopians to surrender to despair. For while the hero's attempt to attain the impossible dream makes the work one of disillusion and despair, seen from one angle, it is a work of stimulating optimism when viewed from another.
In Don Quixote's failure dwells the triumph of the human spirit over the gross impersonalities of life which try to stifle it, and in this way the book is a permanent tribute to man's indomitable will, power of perseverance, and stoical strength in the face of apparently insurmountable social obstacles. The hero, for all his external absurdities, stands as a tribute to inner individualism. As students study this story, I will have them contrast Don Quixote's idealism with reality.
Also, Quixote's handling of loss ties in well with Objectives 8 and that life can be exciting and rewarding, in spite of loss, and that there are ways to effectively deal with it. Meanwhile at the inn, Quixote, waiting to be dubbed a knight, sees a barber wearing his shaving basin as a helmet. Quixote seizes it, calling it the magical helmet of Nambrino. Aldonza, still confused by Quixote's chivalry, asks why he behaves so strangely. Quixote explains his actions in a song, the "Impossible Dream.
After Quixote has defended Aldonza against the attacks of the multeers, the innkeeper knights him in a ceremony called "The Dubbing. Disillusioned, Aldonza loses whatever little faith she has in Quixote and his impossible dream. Reality," on whether "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Disguised as the Knight of the Mirrors, the doctor challenges Quixote and forces him to look into the mirror of reality where he sees himself as a demented old man. The doctor then takes Quixote home, defeated and dying. Aldonza, realizing that this defeat means she will no longer see the knight who had treated her as a lady of quality, goes to his home. After fighting her way into his room, she begs him to become again the wonderful knight.
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Roused by hearing Aldonza voice the lyrics of the "Impossible Dream," Quixote gets out of bed and puts on his armor in order to begin another quest. The effort is too much, and he collapses and dies. Quixote's death, however, has changed Aldonza. She now calls herself Dulcinea; his loss has transformed her into the ideal woman he always saw.
The final scene shows Cervantes back in the dungeon with his fellow prisoners who, inspired by his story, have returned his manuscript. As the play ends, Cervantes, now seemingly armed with Quixote's bravery, leaves to face his Inquisitors.
Now More Than Ever
Students will be told to notice as they hear the prisoners singing together "The Impossible Dream" as Cervantes faces his Inquisitors that the manuscript loss of Cervantes may parallel their own lives. While Cervantes goes to his death, his manuscript lives on in the hands of the prisoners, who now have new hope in their lives.
This ties in well with Objectives 7, 8, and that life can be exciting in spite of loss, that no one is alone in his loss, and that there are ways of coping with loss. As students read the works in the unit, they will realize that even if they wished to remain the persons they previously were, it is simply not possible. Their lives may be permanently strengthened. No one stays the same. Human existence begins and ends with change and separation, the major determinants of loss.
In between birth and death, my students are destined for an almost continuous series of changes. Don Quixote believed this. Each loss must be faced, grappled with, and managed.
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Then students can deal more effectively with each new experience. With so much of living entwined with losing, the way to cope with loss is one indicator of the way our students will cope with life. Have students read out loud in class Romeo and Juliet. Sentence starters--I am feeling angry when. The value of this type of activity in terms of self-awareness, understanding of human behavior and motivation, analyzing life situations, examining personal values, alternative forms of action and goals, cannot be minimized.
Aristophanes said, "By words, the mind is excited and the spirit elated. Game 2 Trivial Pursuit, the Biography Edition After the students have studied Cervantes, Shakespeare, Bernstein and others, put a list of facts about these people on index cards. To make the game more personal have each student write ten facts about himself.
These thoughts can be further brought out in the word bowl discussions. Who am I? April 23rd marks both my birth and death dates. I have been considered the greatest dramatist, poet, and wordsmith in history.
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I wrote 37 plays in 25 years. I was baptized and died in the English village of Stratford.
I died April 23, I was born in I was a soldier wounded at the battle of Lepanto. In 20 years I wrote 40 unsuccessful plays. I was excommunicated in for "offenses against His Majesty's most Catholic Church.
I died in I served three terms in prison on various charges. As contestants for the award, each student must first view "West Side Story" and "Man of La Mancha" and then review them according to these criteria: 1.
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Describe the effect these films have on you. Make this a personal uncompromising statement. Explain this reaction by referring to various elements of the films: story, setting, cast, sound effects, characters, ideas, photography, directing dialogue, and costumes.
Select a winner and justify your choice in writing. Moving Write Along! Since your students were such a success at the Whitaker Awards, they now can compete for the New-Loss Medal, which will be awarded for the most original book report.