The musical Man of La Mancha is based on Miguel de Cervantes’ book Don Quixote. Toward the end of the musical, the unrealistic dreamer Quixote is dying. At his side is Aldonza, a scullery maid and woman of the streets whom he idealized and called Dulcinea (which means precious and sweet one). Quixote loved her with a pure love, unlike anything she had previously experienced. When Quixote breathes his last, Aldonza sings a reprise of Quixote’s song, “The Impossible Dream”. When she finishes, the men in the bar mock her and call out “Aldonza”. She replies “My name is Dulcinea”. Thanks to Don Quixote, the ugly Aldonza had died and the beautiful Dulcinea was born. She now saw herself as he had seen her. A pitiful wretch was transformed into a woman of worth. This scene should cause us to reflect on the way we identify ourselves. Are we a nothing, or are we a precious son or daughter of God? In other words, do we see ourselves as God sees us, someone He lovingly created and for whom He sent His only Son into the World? He sees each of us as an irreplaceable work of His hands, and in spite of our faults and failures, we should understand ourselves the same way. The scene should also remind us of how important our judgement of others can be to them. If we call someone a failure, they can easily become someone without confidence who becomes a failure. If we, on the other hand, point out their possibilities to them, they may well discover something important about themselves and grow to be much more than they would have become otherwise. What we name ourselves and help others to name themselves is often determinative of our whole lives.
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