Degree Name



Comparative Arts and Letters



Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Dale Pratt

First Faculty Reader

Mike Pope

Honors Coordinator

Cecilia Peek


Forensic oratory, Arms and Letters, Don Quijote, Ciceronian Rhetoric, Sanity, Cervantine Irony


In chapters 37 and 38 of the Quijote, Don Quijote gives a discourse to his acquaintances at the inn on the superiority of arms to letters. After the speech, his audience at the inn are dumbfounded that someone so insane could give such a convincing speech, and many believed him to be sane for his presentation. This questioning of his insanity is due, in part, to his use of classical forensic structure and Ciceronian style in the speech. Cervantes certainly grants respect to Cicero within the Quijote and frames the arms and letters speech after Cicero’s forensic speeches. The speech’s structure fits the patterns put forth by Cicero in his rhetorical handbooks. The careful structure of the speech shows that it was not meant to be taken with the Cervantine irony that his novel tends to use, but that it is to be understood differently than Don Quijote’s other speeches. Cervantes’s framing of the speech, life experiences as a soldier, and references to Cicero and other classical figures suggest that the speech constitutes a serious stance by Cervantes on the Arms and Letters debate.