Don Quixote: Sancho's Big Score: 02/21/09
I know I promised two more posts from my reading of Don Quixote but I was so close to finishing it just made more sense to read all the way to end. Had I only read fifty pages, I would be writing about Scooby-Doo and the post would have been called "Scooby-Doo Meets Don Quixote." Seeing though that section in context with the ending, I feel Bender's Big Score makes a more apt comparison.
Before the novel begins to wind down, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have one final adventure to Barcelona. Along the way they meet just about ever famous (real and fictional) character of their times. These numerous meetings remind me of the many heads in jars that play important roles in the Futurama world. In Bender's Big Score the head museum is the introduction of Fry's rival an arch enemy: Lars.
Although Lars is treated as a comedic foil for Fry while the main plot of the take over of Earth unfolds, his identity ends up being one of the most important details to the film. Likewise, Quixote's many sparing matches against other knights errant disguise the greatest threat to Quixote's well being and his ultimate downfall. As Don Quixote de la Mancha isn't science fiction, and Bender's Big Score is, the solutions behind these hidden identities are very different. Nonetheless, thematically they are similar in how they drive the plot.
In previous posts I have assigned the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to the characters in whatever film or television show I'm discussing. For Futurama as a whole, Don Quixote is clearly Fry who has taken on an entirely different life (though very simi liar in ways to his past one) in the future . His somewhat-loyal companion and Sancho Panza equivalent is clearly Bender. Bender starts off the series as a suicidal robot and through his friendship with Fry has become a God, a pharaoh, a famous actor, a famous athlete, a famous chef and so forth.
Don Quixote ends not with Sr. Quixana dying alone as Miles says in "Disarmed and Dangerous" but with his friends and family at his bedside. He dies relatively happy and fulfilled for the time spent adventuring. Of course for Futurama to continue it's plans of three more movies after Bender's Big Score, they couldn't very well kill of Fry. How then can he live and still be Don Quixote? That's where Lars comes in and science fiction takes over. Fry becomes both the Knight of the Mirrors and Don Quixote, playing out both sides of the final act through a temporal paradox.
In re-reading Don Quixote slowly and blogging about the process, I have come to appreciate the novel's continuing influence. Cervantes's novel manages to capture a wide range of literary tropes that are still being used today. Since beginning the process of blogging about Don Quixote last November, I have started to see Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in all sorts of unexpected places.
Read all of my posts on the book:
Comment #1: Monday, February, 23, 2009 at 11:29:28
I have so enjoyed reading your pop-culture comparison to DQ! I'll definitely miss them now that they're over.
Comment #2: Friday, February 27, 2009 at 13:33:22
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed them. This Saturday I'm starting an 18 week series of similar posts on Ulysses by James Joyce. My first post will compare the book to Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy and the importance of buttered toast.