This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Estructuras Quiásticas en Don Quijote: el potencial hermenéutico y retórico de la figura del quiasmo en la novela de Cervantes




Leal, Julio

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Foreign Language and Literature

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Through the ages, many studies have explored the presence, function, and meaning of chiasmus in poetry, but not in prose, in which case they are still scarce and controversial, except those focused on sacred texts. For this reason, the objective of the present study is to identify the presence of macro chiasms – also known as chiastic structures (CS) – in Don Quixote and to understand their semantic and rhetorical effects. Starting from the text of the novel in Castilian, various chapters and sections of the work are explored in search of the specular points of correspondence typical of chiastic disposition, whether reiterative, antithetical, or synthetic. Thus, 41 diagrams were elaborated containing CS that result from the lexical, syntactic, phonetic, and thematic parallelism among the parts of the text, but without including paraphrases or other types of schemes. The results reveal the recurrent existence of fragments and entire sections composed in the form of macro chiasms, some being “embedded” within others as a “Chinese box” or “mise en abyme” (Droste effect), showing the different narrative frames and juxtaposed planes that make up the complex literary “architecture” of the novel. In addition, it was found that, in some cases – as in the story of Camila, that of Altisidora, and that of Mambrino’s helmet – the author places a micro chiasm in the center of the CS, as if reproducing the play on overlapping frames of Velázquez’s paintings, referring to the polyphonic and multifaceted perspectivism that characterizes the modern novel, Baroque art and Renaissance epistemology. Future studies should expand the corpus investigated and research in this and in other works what relationship might exist between form and content that allows us to apprehend the senses, meanings, images, perceptions, and feelings evoked by both the work and its author, considered in their context of elocution and taking into account their original audience.