Starting from the day that we are born, we all have very specific expectations we are held to solely based on the gender you are born. These expectations are called gender roles. These roles we have set for both genders have changed so much since the days on the story Don Quixote to modern Spain but at the same time, there’s still a lot that has stayed the same and hasn’t fully changed. But in the story of Don Quixote, the roles of each gender are in ways traditional. It is traditional in the way that its written to show what makes a good man and what makes a good woman.
Spain in the 1700’s gender roles was the same in the way that they were very traditional and had set jobs for men and women. Now in present-day Spain, gender equality is a huge movement going on in hopes to change laws and make a change in the lives of everyone there.
In the story of Don Quixote, the author Miguel de Cervantes writes about the life and sanity of a man who goes by the alias of Don Quixote. In the story reading through an abundance of romance novels he goes under the impression that the life of knight errant was what he wanted his reality to be. While believing he was a knight Don Quixote attempted to right wrongs, saved and protected damsels, and slayed giants, or so that’s what he thought he was doing. Every piece of information Don Quixote knows about knighthood comes from reading an excessive amount of books about chivalrous knights and romance novels. The man’s roles that he was following were all from fiction novels of knights, who at the time in Spain no longer existed and possibly never existed there at all. The ideal knight was chivalrous, which has many meanings, all of them were noble. The ideal knight was generous, honorable, courteous, and gracious.
Now the roles of women in the story of Don Quixote are very different compared to the roles of the men at the time. Cervantes uses women to relay several of his points to the reader. Although he uses different women to portray different themes, he uses them collectively to show how they fit into and define society at the time of the novel.
The women in Don Quixote were often seen as the “prize” for the knight errant when they fulfilled their duties. Cervantes uses the character, Dulcinea, to represent the perfect woman. Although Dulcinea is not a real person, she is a powerful fantasy in the mind of Don Quixote. To Don Quixote, she is a simple peasant woman who has no idea of the deed he is doing in her name, in his mind she is beautiful and virtuous. Dulcinea highlights the insanity of Don Quixote and the overall idealized view of women that many men had then and still have today.
The woman Don Quixote renamed Dulcinea was actually named Aldonza Lorenzo. Don Quixote changed her name from that because this name didn’t sound romantic enough for Don Quixote’s fantasies of knighthood and glory. Dulcinea got her name from the city she came from. Aldonza Lorenzo was a notable, strong-built, sizable, sturdy, manly lass which were great qualities which made her very good at manual labor, and they also make her a good helper around the house, and far from the “princess-like” woman Don Quixote thought of her to be but still everything a countryman could ask for in a woman.
Now in the time that Cervantes wrote this story the gender roles happening to the people were very traditional in the way of the man going out and finding work while the woman stays home and takes care of the house and the kids. Children in the 1700 also had some standards of their own too. During that time the only way you would be able to identify the gender of a baby would be by the presence of earrings on girl babies, whose ears were usually pierced their first weeks of life. Once becoming toddlers they begin to be dressed according to their gender, such as boys wearing shorts and girls wearing dresses. While still toddlers they could both play and sleep together until the age of about five or six where they are then separated and move into groups of their own gender.