3. It is assumed that Cervantes (angelized as Michael Cervantes) was
born in Alcalá de Henares, a Castilian city about 35 kilometers
northeast from Madrid, probably on 29 September (the
feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel) 1547.
His major work, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern
novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst
the best works of fiction ever written.
4. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the
language is often called “la lengua de Cervantes” (the language of
Cervantes). He has also been dubbed El príncipe de los ingenios
(“The Prince of Wits”).
In 1569, in forced exile from Castile, Cervantes moved to Rome,
where he worked as chamber assistant of a cardinal. He then
enlisted as a soldier in a Spanish Navy infantry regiment and
continued his military life until 1575, when he was captured by
5. After five years of captivity, he was released by his captors on
payment of a ransom by his parents and the Trinitarians, a Catholic
religious order, and he subsequently returned to his family
In 1585, Cervantes published a pastoral novel named La Galatea. He
worked as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada, and later as
a tax collector for the government. In 1597, discrepancies in his
accounts for three years previous landed him in the Crown Jail of
6. By 1570, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a regiment of the
Spanish Navy Marines, Infantería de Marina, stationed in Naples,
then a possession of the Spanish crown. He was there for about a
year before he saw active service. In September 1571 Cervantes
sailed on board the Marquesa, part of the galley fleet of the Holy
League (a coalition of Pope Pius V, Spain, the Republic of Venice,
the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller
based in Malta, and others, under the command of Philip II of
Spain's illegitimate half brother, John of Austria) that defeated the
Ottoman fleet on October 7 in the Battle of Lepanto, in the Gulf of
7. Though taken down with fever, Cervantes refused to stay below,
and asked to be allowed to take part in the battle, saying he would
rather die for his God and his king than keep under cover. He fought
on board a vessel, and received three gunshot wounds – two in the
chest and one which rendered his left arm useless. In Journey to
Parnassus he was to say that he “had lost the movement of the left
hand for the glory of the right” (he was thinking of the success of
the first part of Don Quixote). Cervantes looked back on his conduct
in the battle with pride: he believed he had taken part in an event
that shaped the course of European history.
8. After the Battle of Lepanto, Cervantes remained in hospital
in Messina, Italy, for about six months, before his wounds were
sufficiently healed to allow his joining the colors again. From 1572
to 1575, based mainly in Naples, he continued his soldier’s life: he
participated in expeditions to Corfu and Navarino, and saw the fall
of Tunis and La Goulette to the Turks in 1574.
9. On September 6 or 7, 1575 Cervantes set sail on the galley Sol from
Naples to Barcelona, with letters of commendation to the king from
the Duke of Sessa. On the morning of September 26, as the Sol
approached the Catalan coast, it was attacked by Ottoman pirates
and he was taken to Algiers, which had become one of the main
and most cosmopolitan cities of the Ottoman Empire, and was kept
here in captivity between the years of 1575 and 1580. After five
years spent as a slave in Algiers, and four unsuccessful escape
attempts, he was ransomed by his parents and the Trinitarians and
returned to his family in Madrid.
10. In 1605, he was in Valladolid when the immediate success of the
first part of his Don Quixote, published in Madrid, signalled his
return to the literary world. In 1607, he settled in Madrid, where he
lived and worked until his death. During the last nine years of his
life, Cervantes solidified his reputation as a writer; he published the
Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novels) in 1613, the Journey to
Parnassus (Viaje al Parnaso) in 1614, and the Ocho comedias y ocho
entremeses and the second part of Don Quixote in 1615. His last
work Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (The Works of Persiles
and Sigismunda) was published posthumously, in 1617.
12. Don Quixote Spanish: [doŋ kiˈxote], formerly [doŋ kiˈʃote], fully
titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha
(Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, is a
Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published in two
volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most
influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and
the entire Spanish literary canon.
13. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the
earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the
greatest works of fiction ever published, such as the Bokklubben
World Library collection that cites Don Quixote as authors’ choice
for the “best literary work ever written”.
The story follows the adventures of a hidalgo named Mr. Alonso
Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his
sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and
bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la
14. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who
often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s
rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote, in the
first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and
prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.
Throughout the novel, Cervantes uses such literary techniques as
realism, metatheatre, and intertextuality.
15. It had a major influence on the literary community, as evidenced
by direct references in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers
(1844), Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and
Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), as well as the word
"quixotic". Arthur Schopenhauer cited Don Quixote as one of the
four greatest novels ever written, along with Tristram Shandy, La
Nouvelle Héloïse and Wilhelm Meister.
16. Cervantes said the first chapters were taken from “The Archive of
La Mancha”, and the rest were translated from Arabic by the
Moorish author Cide Hamete Benengeli. This metafictional trick
appears to be designed to give a greater credibility to the text, by
implying that Don Quixote is a real character and that the story
truly occurred several decades back.
17. It is not certain when Cervantes began writing Part Two of Don
Quixote, but he had probably not proceeded much further than
Chapter LIX by late July 1614. About September, however, a
spurious Part Two, entitled Second Volume of the Ingenious
Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha: by the Licenciado
(doctorate) Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, of Tordesillas, was
published in Tarragona by an unidentified Aragonese who was an
admirer of Lope de Vega, rival of Cervantes.
18. Done Quixote Sancho PanzaMaster Licentiate
Falls in love with
20. Antonia, Alonso Quijano’s niece, a woman under twenty; she urges
both the priest and the barber to burn all of Alonso’s books.
Antonio, a goat-herder, who plays a song for Don Quixote on the rebec
Avellaneda, author of the false Second Part of Don Quixote who is
frequently referred to in Cervantes’ second part.
Cardenio, an honorable young man who dwells in misery and madness
in Sierra Morena, driven there by the apparent infidelity of his beloved
Lucinda and the treachery of Duke Ferdinand (Fernando).
21. Ferdinand (Fernando), a young and reckless nobleman, who promises
to marry Dorothea, but leaves her and instead takes Lucinda from
Cardenio, but eventually repents, returns Lucinda to Cardenio and
Dorotea (Dorothea), a modest young woman, whom Ferdinand
promises to marry and then leaves. She remains loyal to Ferdinand
despite his reckless behavior. Pretended to be Princess Micomicona to
get Don Quixote to leave the mountains.
22. Cide Hamete Benengeli is the fictional Moorish author created by
Cervantes and listed as the chronicler of the adventures of Don
Quixote. Cide is a title like sir, which means My Lord, Hamete is the
Spanish version of the Arabic name Hamed, which means he who
praises, and Benengeli is a comical invention of Cervantes that
suggests aubergine-eater via the Spanish berenjena or aubergine,
popularly considered to be the favorite food of the people of Toledo at
the time of the novel.
Friston the magician (El Sabio Frestón), an imaginary character who
Quixote imagines as the thief of his books and the enchanter of the
23. Dulcinea of El Toboso, the woman Don Quixote fancies his lady love;
her real name is Aldonza Lorenzo.
Ginés de Pasamonte a.k.a. Ginesillo de Parapilla, a criminal freed by
Don Quixote. He later reappears as Maese Pedro, a puppet-showman
who claims that he can talk to his monkey.
Grisóstomo, a shepherd who dies of a broken heart after his
declaration of love is spurned by Marcela, a wealthy orphan girl who
dresses as a shepherdess and lives in the woods to commune with
nature, and whose beauty attracts dozens of suitors.
24. Ambrosio, a shepherd, friend of Grisóstomo.
Vivaldo, a hidalgo who saves Grisóstomo’s poems of unrequited love
from the fire.
Juan Haldudo, a peasant, and Andres (Andrés),his mistreated servant.
Maritornes, a half-blind servant girl at the inn in which Quixote stayed
in. She is unwittingly involved in a brawl in the middle of the night
through a complex series of misunderstandings.
25. Montesinos and Durandarte, heroes whom Quixote claims to have
seen when he descended into a cave.
Nicholas the barber (Maese Nicolás), Don Quixote’s friend.
Pedro Alonso, a neighbor of Quixote.
Pedro Perez the priest, who, along with Antonia, orders nearly all of
Don Quixote’s books burnt in hopes of curing him of his delusions.
Don Antonio Moreno, Quixote’s host in Barcelona
26. Ricote, a Morisco friend of Sancho, banned from Spain, but returned
as a German pilgrim. Father of Ana Félix, a fervent Christian maid, who
separately returns from Berbery to Spain.
Teresa (also named Juana or Joana) Panza and Sanchica, wife and
daughter of Sancho
Bachelor Sansón Carrasco, Don Quixote’s friend who jousts with him
disguised as a rival knight, in an effort to get him to return home.
Don Sancho de Azpeitia, a Biscayane squire who
cuts part of Don Quixote’s ear off in a sword fight
27. Ruy Perez, a Spanish sailor who was held captive by the moors and
escaped back to Spain with the help of Zoraida, also called Maria, a
Moorish young lady who decided to convert to Christianity.
Juan Pérez de Viedma, the brother of Ruy Perez; Clara de Viedma, the
daughter of Juan Pérez; Don Luis, a young man in love with Clara de
Tom Cecial (Tomé Cecial), a neighbor of Sancho and the squire of
Sansón Carrasco, when he is disguised as “The Knight of the Mirrors”.
28. Don Diego de Miranda, a learned hidalgo who hosts Quixote and
Sancho at his home; Don Lorenzo, his son, an aspiring poet.
Altisidora, a young woman in the court of the Duchess, who pretends
that she loves Quixote.
Doña Rodriguez de Grijalba, a duenna in the court of the Duchess;
Tosilos, a lackey sent by the Duchess to fight with Quixote
Roque Guinart, a fictional version of the Catalan bandit Perot
29. Lothario, Anselmo, Camilla and Leonela are characters in “The Ill-
Advised Curiosity”, a story embedded in the first volume of Quixote.
Unnamed but Important Characters
The Duke and The Duchess, a couple of Aragonese aristocrats who
invite Don Quixote and Sancho to their castle, where they “amuse”
themselves by playing all sorts of humiliating pranks on them.
Don Quixote’s housekeeper, who carries out the book-burning with
alacrity and relish.
30. The innkeeper who puts Don Quixote up for the night and agrees to
dub him a “knight,” partly in jest and partly to get Don Quixote out of
his inn more quickly.
33. Cervantes mentions an eccentric gentleman from an unnamed village
in La Mancha. The man has neglected his estate, squandered his
fortune, and driven himself mad by reading too many books about
chivalry. Now gaunt at fifty, the gentleman decides to become a
knight-errant and set off on a great adventure in pursuit of eternal
glory. He polishes his old family armor and makes a new pasteboard
visor for his helmet. He finds an old nag, which he renames Rocinante,
and takes the new name Don Quixote de la Mancha. Deciding he
needs a lady in whose name to perform great deeds, he renames a
farm girl, Dulcinea del Toboso.
35. Don Quixote sets off on his first adventure. After a daylong ride, Don
Quixote stops at an inn for supper and repose. He mistakes the
scheming innkeeper for the keeper of a castle and mistakes two
prostitutes he meets outside for princesses. He recites poetry to the
two prostitutes, who laugh at him but play along. They remove his
armor and feed him dinner. He refuses to remove his helmet, which is
stuck on his head, but he enjoys his meal because he believes he is in
a great castle where princesses are entertaining him.
37. In the middle of dinner, Don Quixote realizes that he has not been
properly knighted. He begs the innkeeper to do him the honor. The
innkeeper notes Don Quixote’s madness but agrees to his request
for the sake of sport, addressing him in flowery language. He tries to
cheat Don Quixote, but Don Quixote does not have any money. The
innkeeper commands him always to carry some in the future.
38. Trouble arises when guests at the inn try to use the inn’s well, where
Don Quixote’s armor now rests, to water their animals. Don Quixote,
riled and invoking Dulcinea’s name, knocks one guest unconscious and
smashes the skull of another. Alarmed, the innkeeper quickly performs
a bizarre knighting ceremony and sends Don Quixote on his way. Don
Quixote begs the favor of the two prostitutes, thanks the innkeeper for
knighting him, and leaves.
40. On the way home to fetch money and fresh clothing, Don Quixote
hears crying and finds a farmer whipping a young boy. The farmer
explains that the boy has been failing in his duties; the boy complains
that his master has not been paying him. Don Quixote, calling the
farmer a knight, tells him to pay the boy. The boy tells Don Quixote
that the farmer is not a knight, but Don Quixote ignores him. The
farmer swears by his knighthood that he will pay the boy. As Don
Quixote rides away, satisfied, the farmer flogs the boy even more
41. Don Quixote then meets a group of merchants and orders them to
proclaim the beauty of Dulcinea. The merchants inadvertently insult
her, and Don Quixote attacks them. But Rocinante stumbles in mid-
charge, and Don Quixote falls pitifully to the ground. One of the
merchants’ mule-drivers beats Don Quixote and breaks his lance.
The group departs, leaving Don Quixote face down near the road.
43. A laborer finds Don Quixote lying near the road and leads him home
on his mule. Don Quixote showers the laborer with chivalric verse,
comparing his troubles to those of the great knights about whom he
has read. The laborer waits for night before entering the town with
Don Quixote, in hopes of preserving the wounded man’s dignity. But
Don Quixote’s friends the barber and the priest are at his house. They
have just resolved to investigate his books when Don Quixote and the
laborer arrive. The family receives Don Quixote, feeds him, and sends
him to bed.
44. CHAPTER VI
Of the pleasant and mighty inquisition held by
curate and the barber on the library of our
imaginative knight Don Quixote
45. The priest and the barber begin an inquisition into Don Quixote’s
library to burn the books of chivalry. Though the housekeeper wants
merely to exorcise any spirits with holy water, Don Quixote’s niece
prefers to burn all the books. Over the niece’s and the housekeeper’s
objections, the priest insists on reading each book’s title before
condemning it. He knows many of the stories and saves several of the
books due to their rarity or style. He suggests that all the poetry be
saved but the niece decides against it because he fears that Don
Quixote will then become a poet.
46. The priest soon discovers a book by Cervantes, who he claims is a
friend of his. He says that Cervantes’s work has clever ideas but
that it never fulfills its potential. He decides to keep the novel,
expecting that the sequel Cervantes has promised will eventually
47. CHAPTER VII
Of the pleasant and mighty inquisition held by
curate and the barber on the library of our
imaginative knight Don Quixote
48. Don Quixote wakes, still delusional, and interrupts the priest and the
barber. Having walled up the entrance to the library, they decide to tell
Don Quixote that an enchanter has carried off all his books and the
library itself. That night, the housekeeper burns all the books. Two
days later, when Don Quixote rises from bed and looks for his books,
his niece tells him that an enchanter came on a cloud with a dragon,
took the books due to a grudge he held against Don Quixote, and left
the house full of smoke. Don Quixote believes her and explains that he
recognizes this enchanter as his archrival, who knows that Don
Quixote will defeat the enchanter’s favorite knight.
49. Don Quixote’s niece begs him to abandon his quest, but he refuses.
He promises an illiterate laborer, Sancho Panza, that he will make
him governor of an isle if Sancho leaves his wife, Teresa, and
children to become Don Quixote’s squire. Sancho agrees, and after
he acquires a donkey, they ride from the village, discussing the isle.
50. CHAPTER VIII
Of the valiant Don Quixote’s in the terrifying and
never-before-imagined adventure of the windmills,
other events worthy of La Mancha
51. After a full day, Don Quixote and Sancho come to a field of windmills,
which Don Quixote mistakes for giants. Don Quixote charges at one at
full speed, and his lance gets caught in the windmill’s sail, throwing
him and Rocinante to the ground. Don Quixote assures Sancho that
the same enemy enchanter who has stolen his library turned the
giants into windmills at the last minute.
The two ride on, and Don Quixote explains to Sancho that knights-
errant should never complain of injury or hunger. He tears a branch
from a tree to replace the lance he broke in the windmill encounter.
He and Sancho camp for the night, but Don Quixote does not sleep
and instead stays up all night remembering his love, Dulcinea.
52. The next day, Don Quixote and Sancho encounter two monks and a
carriage carrying a lady and her attendants. Don Quixote thinks that
the two monks are enchanters who have captured a princess and
attacks them, ignoring Sancho’s and the monks’ protests. He knocks
one monk off his mule. Sancho, believing he is rightly taking spoils
from Don Quixote’s battle, begins to rob the monk of his clothes. The
monks’ servants beat Sancho, and the two monks ride off.
53. Don Quixote tells the lady to return to Toboso and present herself to
Dulcinea. He argues with one of her attendants and soon gets into a
battle with him. Cervantes describes the battle in great detail but cuts
off the narration just as Don Quixote is about to deliver the mortal
blow. Cervantes explains that the historical account from which he has
been working ends at precisely this point.
55. After a short period of feigning health, Don Quixote requests his
neighbor, Sancho Panza, to be his squire, promising him governorship
of an island, or insula. Sancho, who is both greedy and unintelligent,
agrees to the offer and sneaks away with Don Quixote in the early
dawn. It is here that their famous adventures begin, starting with Don
Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants.
The two next encounter a group of friars accompanying a lady in a
carriage. Don Quixote takes the friars to be enchanters who hold the
lady captive, knocks a friar from his horse, and is immediately
challenged by an armed Basque traveling with the company.
56. As he has no shield, the Basque uses a pillow to protect himself, which
saves him when Don Quixote strikes him. Cervantes chooses this
point, in the middle of the battle, to say that his source ends here.
Soon, however, he resumes Don Quixote’s adventures after a story
about finding Arabic notebooks containing the rest of the story by Cid
Hamet Benengeli. The combat ends with the lady leaving her carriage
and commanding those traveling with her to “surrender” to Don
58. Don Quixote tells Sancho and the goat-herders about the “Golden
Age” of man, in which property does not exist and men live in peace.
The goatherders invite the Knight and Sancho to the funeral of
Grisóstomo, once a student who left his studies to become a shepherd
after reading pastoral novels (paralleling Don Quixote’s decision to
become a knight), seeking the shepherdess Marcela. At the funeral
Marcela appears, vindicating herself from the bitter verses written
about her by Grisóstomo, and claiming her own autonomy and
freedom from expectations put on her by pastoral clichés.
59. She disappears into the woods, and Don Quixote and Sancho follow.
Ultimately giving up, the two dismount by a pond to rest. Some
Galicians arrive to water their ponies, and Rocinante (Don Quixote’s
horse) attempts to mate with the ponies. The Galicians hit Rocinante
with clubs to dissuade him, whereupon Don Quixote tries to defend
Rocinante. The Galicians beat Don Quixote and Sancho, leaving them
in great pain.
61. After escaping the muleteers, Don Quixote and Sancho ride to a
nearby inn. Once again, Don Quixote imagines the inn is a castle,
although Sancho is not quite convinced. Don Quixote is given a bed in
a former hayloft, and Sancho sleeps on the rug next to the bed; they
share the loft with a muleteer. When night comes, Don Quixote
imagines the servant girl at the inn, Maritornes, to be a beautiful
princess, and makes her sit on his bed with him, scaring her. Seeing
what is happening, the muleteer attacks Don Quixote, breaking the
fragile bed and leading to a large and chaotic fight in which Don
Quixote and Sancho are once again badly hurt.
62. Don Quixote’s explanation for everything is that they fought with an
enchanted Moor. He also believes that he can cure their wounds with
a mixture he calls “the balm of Fierarbras”, which only makes them
sick. Don Quixote and Sancho decide to leave the inn, but Quixote,
following the example of the fictional knights, leaves without paying.
Sancho, however, remains and ends up wrapped in a blanket and
tossed up in the air (blanketed) by several mischievous guests at the
inn, something that is often mentioned over the rest of the novel.
After his release, he and Don Quixote continue their travels.
64. After Don Quixote frees a group of galley slaves, he and Sancho
wander into the Sierra Morena, and there encounter the dejected
Cardenio. Cardenio relates the first part of his story, in which he falls
deeply in love with his childhood friend Luscinda, and is hired as the
companion to the Duke’s son, leading to his friendship with the Duke’s
younger son, Don Fernando. Cardenio confides in Don Fernando his
love for Luscinda and the delays in their engagement, caused by
Cardenio’s desire to keep with tradition.
65. After reading Cardenio’s poems praising Luscinda, Don Fernando falls
in love with her. Don Quixote interrupts when Cardenio suggests that
his beloved may have become unfaithful after the formulaic stories of
spurned lovers in chivalric novels. In the course of their travels, the
protagonists meet innkeepers, prostitutes, goatherders, soldiers,
priests, escaped convicts and scorned lovers. The aforementioned
characters sometimes tell tales that incorporate events from the real
world, like the conquest of the Kingdom of Maynila or battles in the
Eighty Years’ War.
66. Their encounters are magnified by Don Quixote’s imagination into
chivalrous quests. Don Quixote’s tendency to intervene violently in
matters irrelevant to himself, and his habit of not paying debts, result
in privations, injuries and humiliations (with Sancho often the victim).
Finally, Don Quixote is persuaded to return to his home village. The
narrator hints that there was a third quest, but says that records of it
have been lost.
69. It is assumed that the literate classes of Spain have all read the first
part of the story. Cervantes’s meta-fictional device was to make even
the characters in the story familiar with the publication of Part One, as
well as with an actually published, fraudulent Part Two. When
strangers encounter the duo in person, they already know their
famous history. A Duke and Duchess, and others, deceive Don Quixote
for entertainment, setting forth a string of imagined adventures
resulting in a series of practical jokes. Some of them put Don Quixote’s
sense of chivalry and his devotion to Dulcinea through many tests.
70. Pressed into finding Dulcinea, Sancho brings back three ragged
peasant girls, and tells Don Quixote that they are Dulcinea and her
ladies-in-waiting. When Don Quixote only sees the peasant girls,
Sancho pretends (reversing some incidents of Part One) that their
derelict appearance results from an enchantment.
Sancho later gets his comeuppance for this when, as part of one of the
Duke and Duchess’s pranks, the two are led to believe that the only
method to release Dulcinea from her spell is for Sancho to give himself
three thousand lashes.
71. leading to friction with his master. Under the Duke’s patronage,
Sancho eventually gets a governorship, though it is false; and he
proves to be a wise and practical ruler; though this ends in humiliation
as well. Near the end, Don Quixote reluctantly sways towards sanity.
The lengthy untold “history” of Don Quixote’s adventures in knight-
errantry comes to a close after his battle with the Knight of the White
Moon (a young man from Don Quixote’s hometown who had
previously posed as the Knight of Mirrors) on the beach in Barcelona,
in which the reader finds him conquered.
72. Bound by the rules of chivalry, Don Quixote submits to prearranged
terms that the vanquished is to obey the will of the conqueror: here,
it is that Don Quixote is to lay down his arms and cease his acts of
chivalry for the period of one year (in which he may be cured of his
Upon returning to his village, Don Quixote announces his plan to retire
to the countryside as a shepherd, but his housekeeper urges him to
stay at home. Soon after, he retires to his bed with a deathly illness,
and later awakes from a dream, having fully recovered his sanity.
73. Sancho tries to restore his faith, but Quixano (his proper name) only
renounces his previous ambition and apologizes for the harm he has
caused. He dictates his will, which includes a provision that his niece
will be disinherited if she marries a man who reads books of chivalry.
After Alonso Quixano dies, the author emphasizes that there are no
more adventures to relate, and that any further books about Don
Quixote would be spurious.
Part Two of Don Quixote explores the concept of a character
understanding that he is written about: an idea much explored in the
75. Incompatible Systems of Morality
Don Quixote tries to be a flesh-and-blood example of a knight-errant
in an attempt to force his contemporaries to face their own failure to
maintain the old system of morality, the chivalric code. This conflict
between the old and the new reaches an absolute impasse: no one
understands Don Quixote, and he understands no one.
Though many people in Don Quixote’s world seem to have given up on
romantic love, Don Quixote and a few other characters hold dear this
ideal. Don Louis’s love for Clara, Camacho’s wedding, and the tale of
the captive and Zoraida, for instance, are all situations in which
romantic love rises above all else. Even in the case of Sancho and
Teresa, romantic love prevails as a significant part of matrimonial
commitment, which we see in Teresa’s desire to honor her husband at
court. Ironically, Don Quixote’s own devotion to Dulcinea mocks
romantic love, pushing it to the extreme as he idolizes a woman he
has never even seen.
Don Quixote contains several discussions about the relative merits of
different types of literature, including fiction and historical literature.
Most of the characters, including the priest and the canon of Toledo,
ultimately maintain that literature should tell the truth. Several even
propose that the government should practice censorship to prevent
the evil falsehoods of certain books from corrupting innocent minds
like Don Quixote’s. However, we see that even the true histories in the
novel end up disclosing falsehoods. Cervantes declares that Don
Quixote itself is not fiction but a translation of a historical account.
78. Books and Manuscripts
The books and manuscripts that appear everywhere in Don Quixote
symbolize the importance and influence of fiction and literature in
everyday life. The books instruct and inform the ignorant and provide
an imaginative outlet for characters with otherwise dull lives.
Horses symbolize movement and status in the novel and often denote
a character’s worth or class. The pilgrims outside Barcelona, for
instance, walk to the city. The noblemen ride in carriages, and the
robbers and Don Quixote ride on horseback. In Don Quixote’s mind, at
least, the appearance of horses on the horizon symbolizes the coming
of a new adventure. Indeed, Rocinante and Dapple play an important
role in the journeys of Don Quixote and Sancho; they are not only
means of transport and symbols of status but also companions.
The inns that appear throughout the novel are meeting places for
people of all classes. They are the only locations in the novel where
ordinarily segregated individuals speak and exchange stories. Inns
symbolize rest and food but also corruption and greed, since many
innkeepers in the novel are devious. Sancho often longs to stay at an
inn rather than follow Don Quixote’s chivalric desire to sleep under
the stars. These opposing preferences show Sancho’s connection with
reality and society and his instinctive desire for comfort, in contrast to
Don Quixote’s alienation from society and its norms.