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Abstract

"Entre los hombres y las bestias: La jerarquía ontológica inexistente en Don Quijote" explores particular episodes in Cervantes' El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of la Mancha) through the lens of animal studies, seeking to challenge the ontological distinction and presupposed hierarchy between animals and human beings. This paper focuses particularly on the episodes involving the transportation of don Quijote in a cage (I.48), Eugenio the goatherd that speaks affectionately towards his goats (I.50), the story of the crazy man from Seville told by the barber (II.1), don Quijote's failed attempt at battling the caged lion (II.17), and the war between villages with the town that has perfected braying like donkeys (II.27). Through narrative techniques such as juxtapositions and inversions, Cervantes strategically constructs episodes featuring animals to challenge and explore the relationship between the two, confronting the treatment of insane humans as animals, as well as questioning the role of clothes in the blurry line between beast and man. Engaging with Mikhail Bakhtin’s studies of the carnavalesque and the inversions of social hierarchies, as well as Jacques Derrida’s discourse “The Animal That Therefore I Am,” this paper argues that the world of Don Quijote is one full of animals that interact and relate to humans, defying expectations and asserting their being, to the ultimate end of breaking down ontological hierarchies and calling for a closer look at our relationship with the animal world.

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