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Madness and sanity seem to exist on opposite poles of a binary one is defined by the absence of the other However this binary though present in Fyodor Dostoevskys Crime and Punishment and Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote is problematic The protagonists - who are meant to represent the mad extreme - straddle the line that separates sanity from madness and they thus refuse to be so easily classified While the authors demonstrate that such a binary cannot explain a complex human character they extend their argument one step further madness is not an agent that results in irrational human behavior but a description of such behavior One is not irrational because he is mad one is considered mad by society because he is behaving irrationally To gain an understanding of the reason for certain behavior one must consider each thread in the web of causes that shape identity and effect action Cervantes encourages the reader to conclude that Don Quixote is undoubtedly mad The reader is easily convinced because the third-party narrator is presented as objective and omniscient The narrator describes Don Quixote as having utterly wrecked his reason and fallen into the strangest fancy that ever a madman had in the whole world Cervantes 33 If Quixote represents the mad extreme of the binary the narrator corresponds to the opposite pole Thus the reader himself who is aligned with the narrator finds his position next to the narrator on one extreme Sancho Panza who serves as a voice for the reader further convinces the reader that Don Quixote is entirely delusional He voices the readers unbelief and outrage that Don Quixote allows his fantasies to have such disastrous real world effects For example when Don Quixote asserts that he will avenge the outrage which they have done to Rocinante Sancho replies skeptically How the devil can we take revengeShwhen there are more than twenty of them and we are only twoSh Cervantes 112
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