Human identity is not given and stable, but constantly under construction. Reality can only be known indirectly, through some form of representation. There is no essential difference between the categories of literary character (personaje) and real person (persona). Both are construed by a reader/observer, on the basis of observable, verifiable data («text», «discourse», «signifier») and reasonable inference of aspects not visible on the surface («story», «signified»). An unconscious dimension can be inferred (construed) for verisimilar literary characters as for real people.
Literary characters are composed of properties of «discourse» and properties of «story» supplied by readers both within and outside the text. Within texts, characters are constructed by themselves, their fellow characters, and their narrators. Examples are Belica/Isabel and Pedro in Pedro de Urdemalas, and Cardenio in Don Quijote I, leading to Don Quijote himself and his overdetermined self-fashioning. Outside the text, characters are constructed by authors and then reconstructed by readers. Any reader's first mission is to reconstruct the «story» from the «discourse». The author-textual person-reader relationship is studied in relation to Don Quijote (fiction) and «Serbantes» of the 1580 Información de Argel (fact).
At the beginning of La española inglesa, the third-person narrator distances himself from the characters. Isabela at first appears as a stereotype embodying the Neoplatonic concept of feminine beauty which inspires love in the beholder. Initially presented as the «donna» of Renaissance poetry, she is later envisioned in chivalresque terms as the prize for the knight who must win her love through his heroism in battle; both literary traditions converge in the creation of the two lovers Isabela and Ricaredo. The novella thus develops the three themes of love, letters, and arms; and in doing so, it constantly evokes the model of the poet-soldier Garcilaso de la Vega and his illfated love for Isabel Freyre. The distanced and laconic presentation of Isabela gives way to a much more detailed, first-person narration to recount the (largely autobiographical) heroic deeds of Ricaredo. Near the end of the novella, the narrator confides that it was Isabela herself who committed the story to writing. Thus, she not only inspired Ricaredo's words but also immortalized them.
The character Sancho is constructed gradually by means of action, that is, by means of that series of «physical» acts in space and time, and those statements , proverbs, parables, thoughts, tears, and lies which are fabricated in the mind and emanate from the person who bears the name Sancho. We know almost nothing about him until his personality develops and even changes before our eyes. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that Sancho has been misunderstood because his life, in this great adventure, develops alongside that of a passionate, idealistic hidalgo. His personality is «constructed», in the eyes of the reader, not as an «autonomous» personality but as the distorted, grotesque reflection of Don Quixote.
When he set out to compete with the classic Heliodorus in writing Persiles y Sigismunda, Cervantes used as his point of departure the narrative scheme of the old Greek novel, which had been popular in humanistic circles since the mid-sixteenth century. The traits of Cervantes' character do not merely reproduce those of the protagonist of the Greek/Byzantine narrative, but introduce some aspects that were latent in the ancient hero. Though not a completely original creation, Periando embodies specifically Cervantine characteristics, while at the same time he is transformed into the appropriate hero for the Counter-Reformation.
This essay analyzes the structuring and delineation of characters in three of Cervantes' Novelas ejemplares. Drawing on the work of Carlos Castilla del Pino, René Girard, Erving Goffman, and D. A. Gonthier, the author focuses on the importance of the relationship between the individual and society in the fabrication of these characters.
The character Pedro de Urdemalas enters Cervantes' fictional universe already weighed down by the baggage of a long and complex series of vicissitudes in the broader cultural «text». Cervantes adopts the paradigm and, taking advantage of the character's protean nature, (re)writes him with certain deviations -which took shape practically and pragmatically- appropriate to his new context. Seen from this perspective, the (re)writing of Pedro de Urdemalas, transforming the legacy of tradition, is a good example of the intertextual movements which so often cross paths in the Cervantine universe, and which ultimately enrich the shaping of character and the textual space of the comedia.
The lad for the field and marketplace, a servant in the household of Alonso Quijano, appears in the novel's first paragraph but immediately disappears without a trace. However, one need only pay careful attention to the hidden erotic dimension of the vocabulary used in his presentation to realize that his fun-filled escapades -though never explicit- contribute to sharpening the characterization of the housekeeper, the niece, and above all, Don Quixote.
Marcela, Preciosa, and Dorotea, Cervantes demonstrates to the reader the operation of «free
will» vis à vis the «object of beauty», while at the same time nostalgically portraying the «classicist woman». The author therefore presents a complex world, realistically sketched, but presented with but a single background: the stereotype of woman in the «glorious Golden Age», a semi-divine woman, an ideal who bridged the human and the divine, thus sustaining Paradise, and finally a free expression of divine light.
In Don Quixote the task of character constructon, properly the narrator's, is to a large extent usurped by the protagonist himself. He appears to rebel against the novelist and the multitude of fictitious authors and creates his own world, conferring names (Don Quixote, Dulcinea, Rocinante) and status (knight, lady, steed) on the characters, and even changing the ones they originally had. Hence, one can conceive the novel as a constant tension between author and protagonist, in which the former repeatedly punishes the latter (deceptions, beatings, final defeat) for refusing to accept the world he had initially proposed to him. In Don Quixote the task of character constructon, properly the narrator's, is to a large extent usurped by the protagonist himself. He appears to rebel against the novelist and the multitude of fictitious authors and creates his own world, conferring names (Don Quixote, Dulcinea, Rocinante) and status (knight, lady, steed) on the characters, and even changing the ones they originally had. Hence, one can conceive the novel as a constant tension between author and protagonist, in which the former repeatedly punishes the latter (deceptions, beatings, final defeat) for refusing to accept the world he had initially proposed to him.
The fiction of Micomicona's seduction, employed to inspire Don Quixote to set out to conquer a kingdom, is in fact a trick to return him to the circumscribed space of his Manchegan village. Dorotea's deception, echoing that of Boiardo's Angelica, follows the model of the deception carried out by Armida in Tasso's Gerusalemme. The literary model and the use of such materials in the construction of a character are not unusual in Cervantes. But in this case it is the character herself, a reader of books of chivalry, who assumes her disguise and constructs her character, at the same time constructing herself, as both image and agent in the Quixotic universe.