Using OCP: a Study of Characterization in the Two Don Quixotes

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Abstract

This paper explores the application of the Oxford Concordance Program in literary stylistics. It concentrates on a study of the characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as presented in two versions of Don Quijote de la Mancha, namely the original by Cervantes, the Part l of 1605, and a sequel of 1614 by a little-known author called Avellaneda After giving some background on the two works, the paper sets out to consider the specific claim that the sequel's main defect lies in the characterization of the heroes. Avellaneda's Don Quixote, it is said, lacks his predecessor's humanity, and the new Sancho has lost his natural wisdom. In order to explore the received claim, two steps are taken. First, what is considered a manageable and appropriate amount of text is selected for study using OCP. This came from two very similar passages in each novel. In both versions Sancho tells a story concerning animals (goats in Cervantes, geese in Avellaneda) which need to be taken across a river, and which ends abruptly due to the listener's failure to comply with the teller's request not to interrupt a rather tedious description. Avellaneda had in mind Cervantes's version. The next stage in the study involves putting forward and testing hypotheses which concern Avellaneda's and Cervantes's use of language in general and in particular terms related to the characterization of the two heroes. The main body of data comes from concordances and word indices of Don Quixote and Sancho in each of the passages, and these are studied in terms of certain categories which it is argued are relevant to an appreciation of each author's style and characterization. The categories include, as well as type/ token ratios, positive/negative terms, abstract/concrete terms, archaisms, regionalisms and subjunctive endings Each result is commented on and a general conclusion assesses the received critical position in the light of the exercise, and the use of OCP in studies of this kind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314–318
Number of pages4
JournalLiterary and Linguistic Computing
Volume5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1990

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