Why is Sergius compared to Don Quixote?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In all of literary history, these two characters have the most Romantic view of war.  Don Quixote, of course, in his deluded state, believes he is in the Golden Age of chivalry, where the warrior’s duty is to fight the Giants (actually windmills) of the earth.  Sergius, young and naïve, accidentally leads a charge because his horse panics, and to the world (and consequently in his own mind) he appears brave, but does not realize the stupidly, the senselessness of war; he is praised by Catherine and Raina for his bravery, which, like Don Quixote’s, is really only delusion.  Shaw’s real hero, the chocolate soldier, is, on the other hand, less than enamored by violence, and provides a contrast to Sergius’ deluded worldview. “We'd no bayonets--nothing. Of course, they just cut us to bits. And there was Don Quixote flourishing like a drum major, thinking he'd done the cleverest thing ever known, whereas he ought to be courtmartialled for it. Of all the fools ever let loose on a field of battle, that man must be the very maddest. He and his regiment simply committed suicide--only the pistol missed fire, that's all.”  Shaw’s parallel between the two hero-solders is that both are deluded, not seeing the real world but living and acting in a make-believe world where bravery is rewarded simply because the universe is just.  


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