don quixote

Title: don quixote
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MIGUEL DE CERVANTES: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES Unlike many authors, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra led a life as full of action and adventure as any plot he ever created for his fictional characters. Even a brief summary of Cervantes' eventful life will give you an idea of where some of the author's inspiration for Don Quixote came from. Cervantes was born in 1547, at a time when Spain was the richest, most powerful nation in Europe, Spaniards had explored and conquered vast territories in the western hemisphere, sending home gold and silver treasures by the shipload. The Spanish king, Charles I (reigned 1516 to 1556) was easily the most powerful man in Europe. Charles I also ruled large sections of Germany and central Europe in his capacity as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and he dreamed of uniting the entire continent under the leadership of Spain and the spiritual authority of the Roman Catholic church. The king was an inspiring figure. His bravery in battle was matched by his cultivated mind and charismatic personality. Under his leadership, Spain seemed on its way to consolidating its position as the most fortunate country in the world. As a soldier and a writer, Miguel de Cervantes contributed much to his country's greatness. However, he received few rewards for his efforts. Although he was a brave man and an honest one, luck seemed to run against him in everything he tried. Perhaps even more discouraging, he lived long enough to see the promise of Spain's Golden Age begin to tarnish with the onset of economic inflation and the beginnings of a retreat into cultural parochialism. The Cervantes family was part of the hidalguia, the noble class, yet it was dogged by poverty and bad luck. Miguel de Cervantes' father, Roderigo, was a surgeon--an occupation that ranked somewhere below a full-fledged doctor but above a barber. (Barbers were responsible for some kinds of minor surgical procedures in those days.) Surgery was a risky business in the sixteenth century. But for Roderigo's patients it seemed to be riskier than for most. On one occasion the family had to move to another town to escape the complaints of a dissatisfied patient. A few years later, Roderigo Cervantes was thrown into prison because of unpaid debts. In theory, gentlemen (hidalgos) were supposed to be exempt from debtors' prison. However, Cervantes' father could not manage to come up with the document that proved his noble ancestry. Perhaps this was just another example of the family's bad luck--or a matter of red tape and mislaid paperwork. Some biographers have suspected that the Cervantes family was not quite what it claimed to be. A few writers have even argued that family members were conversos, Jews who had converted to Christianity to escape persecution. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Roderigo really was an hidalgo. In Spain, noble birth did not necessarily mean financial security, and the Spanish people's fondness for titles unsupported by practical accomplishment was a national weakness that Cervantes would later satirize in his adult writing. Because of his family's money problems, young Miguel had a rather spotty education. However, he loved to read and dreamed of becoming a poet. In his late teens he managed to study briefly with a famous humanist scholar, Juan Lopez de Hoyos. Cervantes' advanced schooling lasted little more than a year, but it must have been an exciting time. The Spanish Renaissance was in full swing and scholars such as Cervantes' teacher were encouraging students to question established values. Students were rediscovering long-neglected masterpieces of Greek and Roman literature, and at the same time developing a lively interest in the life and language of the common people. Religious studies were no longer the center of every curriculum, and Latin was no longer considered the only language suitable for serious literature. Writers and students were beginning to think that they ought to write in the same language that was used in daily life. By the end of 1569, Cervantes had left Spain for Rome. Here he made himself fluent in Italian and became familiar with the works of Italian authors, such as Boccaccio, who were writing in their native tongue instead of Latin. We do not know for sure why Cervantes gave up his studies to go to Rome. But police records of the time suggest a possible answer. A young man named Miguel de Cervantes was being sought in connection with a duel in which another student had been wounded. Was this wanted man Miguel de Cervantes the future writer? Most authorities think it was. After a year or so in Rome, Cervantes joined the army. He soon proved his heroism by fighting in the battle of Lepanto--an important naval battle, in 1571, in which European Christian forces virtually destroyed the Turkish fleet. According to contemporary accounts, Cervantes was ill in bed with a fever when the battle began. The captain of his ship gave him permission to stay belowdecks when the fighting began, but Cervantes insisted on fighting--and at the very spot where the action was heaviest. He fought bravely and was wounded three times. Fortunately, two gunshot wounds he received were not serious. However, the third wound, to Cervantes' left hand, resulted in permanent disfigurement. The hand was saved but was paralyzed from that time on. Throughout his life Cervantes remained very proud of his contribution to the naval victory at Lepanto. Four years later, in 1575, a ship the soldier Cervantes was traveling on was captured by Turkish pirates. Cervantes was taken to Algiers--then controlled by the Turks--as a slave. It was a common practice in those days for pirates to hold their captives until the families paid a stiff ransom. Because Cervantes carried seemingly important letters, his captor believed he came from a very wealthy family. A ransom of five hundred gold crowns was demanded. Cervantes' chances of ever being rescued looked grim. Over the next five years, Cervantes made four escape attempts, each more daring than the last. After his third try, he was sentenced to two thousand lashes--a punishment that meant certain death. But it was never carried out, perhaps because he had impressed the ruler (dey) of Algiers. Cervantes' fourth escape attempt involved a conspiracy with sixty fellow captives. The plan had an obvious weakness. Too many people were in on the secret, and, sure enough, one of them betrayed Cervantes to the authorities. Finally, in 1580, Cervantes was rescued just before he was to be sent to Constantinople. An emissary from Spain managed to borrow some money from local Christians to add to what the Cervantes family had been able to raise, and, the ransom paid, Cervantes was declared free when already on the ship that was to take him to Constantinople. After returning to Spain, Cervantes tried to establish himself as a poet, an occupation that was no more profitable then than it is today. He was continually in debt, and his financial problems worsened after his marriage, in 1584, to an eighteen-year-old bride, Catalina. After some time he got a job as an agent of the government commissary, collecting grain to feed the army. The position was a tricky one because the government was often slow in paying suppliers for the grain it took. Cervantes' attempts to be fair got him into trouble more than once. Reasoning that the churches had more than enough grain in storage for their needs, he requisitioned a large share from them. As a result he was excommunicated--ejected from the church. Throughout all these difficulties, Cervantes had been writing poetry. As it turned out, however, his poems were never quite first rate. He also tried writing plays, but these suffered by comparison to the work of the great Lope de Vega, who was just then introducing a more modern and popular style of dramatic writing. Cervantes did not make his reputation as a writer of the first rank until he turned to prose fiction--a form of literature still not considered entirely respectable by many well-educated people of the time. Cervantes' La Galatea (1585), a pastoral romance, was well received. More importantly, the first part of Don Quixote, which appeared in early 1605, was an instant success. Cervantes' triumph did not mean the end of his troubles. He made no royalties from Don Quixote, having sold the book outright to the printer for a rather small fee. He also continued to attract trouble through no fault of his own. One such incident, in mid-1605, began when one of his sisters gave shelter to a courtier who had been wounded in a streetfight near the Cervantes' apartment. The man died while under Cervantes' roof and, somehow, the magistrate got the idea that the Cervantes family knew more about the attack than it was telling. Once again, Cervantes was arrested and thrown in jail, where he stayed for some days until the matter was straightened out. Cervantes was now in his late fifties and suffering from an illness that was probably diabetes. He continued working, however, and in 1613 published a collection of short fiction under the title Novelas ejemplares ("Exemplary Novels"). However, the project of writing a sequel to Don Quixote--what we now know as Part II of the novel--was taking longer than expected. Cervantes delayed so long that an anonymous writer beat him to the punch by publishing, in 1614, a bogus version of Part II. Writing unauthorized sequels to other people's works was a common practice at the time. The author of this sequel, however, compounded the insult by including belittling comments about Cervantes and about the literary qualities of Part I! Scholars have speculated a good deal about the identity of the author of this bogus sequel. Some have even suggested that the author was none other than Lope de Vega--Cervantes' literary rival. There is no genuine evidence to support this idea, intriguing as it may be. Whoever he was, perhaps the anonymous author did the world a favor after all. The appearance of the bogus sequel made Cervantes so angry that he was inspired to finish his own version of Part II. Cervantes had little opportunity to enjoy the acclaim that greeted the appearance of the authentic Don Quixote, Part II. Already in bad health, he completed just one more work and died a year later in April 1616--in the same month as his great contemporary, William Shakespeare. On the closing page of Part II of his great novel, Cervantes had written "For me alone was Don Quixote born, and I for him. He knew how to act, and I knew how to write." These lines were primarily intended as a rebuke to the author of the bogus sequel to his work. However, they were soon to take on a deeper significance. Although Cervantes' active life had never brought him wealth or worldly success, the adventures of his best-known character, Don Quixote, have gained him immortality. The character of the Don is known all over the world, and millions who have never read the novel have a vivid mental picture of the would-be knight who sets out to do great deeds and ends up tilting at windmills. The story of Don Quixote has been the subject of at least sixteen operas, including works by the nineteenth-century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti and the French composer Jules Massenet. There have been ballet versions of Don Quixote, a hit Broadway musical (Man of La Mancha), and any number of artists' and sculptors' "portraits" of the imaginary Don. Ironically, because many of Cervantes' contemporaries on the Spanish literary scene considered Don Quixote a popular but basically frivolous book, Cervantes' most ardent fans have been other writers. The list of novelists who have admired and been influenced by Cervantes' masterpiece is practically endless. It begins with the seventeenth--and eighteenth-century English writers Daniel Defoe, Laurence Sterne, and Henry Fielding and continues on through the nineteenth-century Russian novelists Turgenev and Gogol. Among the noted present-day writers said to have been influenced by Cervantes are the American authors Saul Bellow and Walker Percy; the English author Graham Greene, popularly known for his spy thrillers, has even written his own version of the Quixote story. Cervantes' popularity with other writers--and with those who aspire to become writers--is related to his many technical innovations. He was one of the first novelists to succeed in creating fully developed characters, in writing lively dialogue that sounded convincingly like the speech of real people, and in mixing characters from all classes of society and many ways of life in a single work. However, for writers and artists, as well as for the average reader, the greatest attraction of Cervantes' masterpiece is the character of Don Quixote himself. Cervantes was one of the first to treat in depth the theme of a hero who sets out to reinvent his own identity by sheer force of will. And the theme of the search for identity, in one form or another, has continued to fascinate novelists and their readers ever since. Given the subsequent popularity of his best-known character, Cervantes' words "For me alone was Don Quixote born" seem especially moving. You might expect, considering Cervantes' own history of bad luck, that he would have filled the pages of his writings with bitterness and gloom. On the contrary, for all its serious overtones, Don Quixote is also a funny book. Cervantes, who by his own admission did not "know how to act" in order to succeed in life, did know how to turn the experiences of his own life into the material for a masterpiece that would entertain, and often inspire, millions. DON QUIXOTE: THE PLOT Don Quixote is a very long novel, but its basic plot is fairly simple. A certain middle-aged gentleman named Alonso Quixano has read so many romantic stories about the knights of the Middle Ages that he goes out of his mind and imagines that he really is a knight. He also imagines that he is in love with a princess named Dulcinea-- in reality a local girl who has never paid any attention to him. Changing his name to Don Quixote de la Mancha, he puts on a rusty old suit of armor and sets forth in search of adventure. At a certain inn, which he mistakes for a castle, Don Quixote asks the innkeeper to officially dub him a knight. The innkeeper agrees--just to humor his crazy guest. Later, after mistaking a group of merchants for knights, the Don challenges them to fight and ends up much the worse for wear. A passing neighbor takes him home, where his niece, his housekeeper, and two friends--the local priest and a barber named Nicholas--burn his books in an attempt to shock him back into sanity. Don Quixote is still determined to seek adventure. He convinces a local workingman, Sancho Panza, to accompany him as his "squire." Don Quixote's mad delusions get him and Sancho into many scrapes. He mistakes a group of windmills for giants. He takes a funeral procession for ghosts. He even "captures" a brass bowl, which he believes is a valuable helmet. Finally, he meets a young man, Cardenio, who has been driven out of his wits by an unhappy love affair. The Don decides that he will become a hermit, like his new friend. In the meantime, Don Quixote's friends--the priest and the barber-- have devised a plan to lure him back home. They get a girl named Dorothea to pretend to be the Princess Micomicona. In this disguise, Dorothea begs Don Quixote to follow her back to her kingdom and kill an ogre who has usurped her late father's throne. The Don, his friends, Cardenio, and Dorothea all travel together until they reach the same inn where the Don was "knighted." Here Cardenio and Dorothea are reunited with their lost loves, Lucinda and Don Ferdinand. The priest now decides that the only way to get Don Quixote back home is to take him there in a cage. He even manages to convince Don Quixote that the cage is a test of his courage, and that once he passes the test he will be able to marry his imaginary love, the divine Dulcinea. But when Sancho lets Don Quixote out of the cage at a rest stop, the Don gets into more trouble. Finally, he attacks a religious procession because he believes the marchers are kidnappers. After this, the Don at last allows himself to be taken back to his native village. In Part II of the novel, you discover that six weeks of bed rest have not cured Don Quixote's madness. He and Sancho Panza take to the road again. First, Don Quixote wants to visit his true love, the lady Dulcinea. Sancho knows that Dulcinea is not a lady at all, just a rough farm girl. He also doesn't want Don Quixote to find out that a letter the Don wrote to Dulcinea, mentioned in Part I, was never delivered. So Sancho points out a farm girl who just happens to be riding by and convinces Don Quixote that this is his Dulcinea. Sancho tells his master that a wicked enchanter has cast a magic spell that makes Dulcinea look like a mere peasant girl. The Don believes this. By now, the adventures that Quixote and Sancho had in Part I have been published. A university student named Sampson Carrasco who has read this book has decided to follow Quixote and Sancho. Sampson supposedly wants only to cure the poor madman, Quixote, of his delusions. In reality he is jealous of the Don's literary fame. Disguising himself as the Knight of the Mirrors, he challenges Don Quixote to single combat. If the Don loses, he will have to give up acting like a knight errant and go home. Through sheer luck, Don Quixote wins the fight. After several more adventures, the Don and Sancho meet a Duke and Duchess who invite the travelers to be guests at their castle. The Duke and Duchess have also heard of Quixote's adventures in Part I. They think up some elaborate practical jokes to play on this make- believe knight. In one of their jokes, the Duke and Duchess manage to convince Sancho that Dulcinea really is enchanted after all. To release Dulcinea from her spell, Sancho will have to whip himself 3300 times on his bare buttocks! Sancho does his best to postpone this punishment. Meanwhile, the Don and Sancho travel on to Barcelona. Here Sampson Carrasco catches up with them once again. This time, disguised as the Knight of the Full Moon, he manages to defeat Don Quixote. The Don has to keep his promise and give up knight errantry for an entire year. During the journey home, Sancho pretends that he has given himself the 3300 blows. The Don cannot understand why Dulcinea does not appear in her true form! Finally, he becomes thoroughly disillusioned and is convinced that he will never see Dulcinea this side of the grave. Arriving home, he announces that he is cured of his madness. He is plain old Alonso Quixano once again. Soon after this, he dies. DON QUIXOTE: DON QUIXOTE (key-HOE-tay or key-HOE-tee) During the course of the story, the main character is transformed several times. First of all, he is Alonso Quixano, a middle-aged gentleman who is foolish but basically kind-hearted. Although you meet Alonso Quixano only briefly, he is very vividly portrayed. When Alonso Quixano goes crazy, he is deluded into thinking that he is really Don Quixote de La Mancha, a brave and noble knight errant who will set right all the wrongs of the world. Thus, the character of Don Quixote is really just a figment of Alonso Quixano's imagination. At times the characteristics of the real Alonso shine through his alter ego, as when the Don's conscience is stricken by the realization of the trouble he has caused. For the most part, however, the Don Quixote of Part I is a ridiculous character, constantly mistaking windmills for giants and blundering into fights that leave him bruised and battered, but no wiser. The Don's character in Part I may be summed up by the nickname Sancho Panza gives him: The Knight of the Sad Countenance. (Some translations say the Knight of the Rueful Figure or the Knight of the Woeful Countenance.) However it is translated, this name tends to sound more serious in English than it does in Spanish. The name "Sir Sad Sack" might give you a better mental picture of the Don's character at this stage of the story. Like the Little Tramp character of Charles Chaplin, Don Quixote has some qualities that inspire pathos, but his actions are basically funny. The comic adventures of Part I spring mostly from Don Quixote's own delusions. In Part II of the story, other characters, for reasons of their own, play tricks on Don Quixote that blur the distinctions between illusion and reality. The change in Don Quixote at this point is summed up by his new nickname, The Knight of the Lions. The nickname comes from the scene where the Don meets a lion, which is being brought as a gift to the King, and decides to fight it. This time the Don is not having another delusion. The lion is real, but it refuses to fight. Don Quixote still comes out of the episode looking ridiculous, but the source of his humiliation is not his own confusion. He is the victim of fickle reality. DON QUIXOTE: SANCHO PANZA Some readers feel that Sancho Panza is an even more complex and interesting figure than Don Quixote. In the beginning of the story, Sancho is the typical country bumpkin. He has some good qualities. For example, he loves animals, especially his dear jackass, Dapple. But Sancho's humor is crude and he seems hopelessly stupid. Sancho consents to become Don Quixote's squire out of greed. He believes the Don's promises that he will be richly rewarded and will even receive an island of his own to rule over. Perhaps no other character in literature gives you a better example of the triumph of greediness over common sense. You may know people who have let wishful thinking lead them into wild escapades in the hope of getting something for nothing. This is Sancho Panza in a nutshell. Sancho pays dearly for his foolishness. He is frequently beaten up for things Don Quixote has led him into doing. But even as he catches on to the fact of his master's madness, Sancho becomes truly fond of the Don. (One critic has commented that the bickering between Quixote and Sancho reminded him of the quarrels between a husband and wife.) During the course of Part II, Sancho Panza even takes on Don Quixote's mad quest as his own. He becomes quixotized. You will have to decide for yourself how seriously you take the change in Sancho's character. Some readers take it quite seriously, indeed. They point out that Sancho's troubles in this section of the story may remind you of the struggle that a non-believer goes through in the course of a search for faith. DON QUIXOTE: DULCINEA The "real" Dulcinea is Aldonza Lorenzo, a big strapping peasant girl who does not even know that Don Quixote exists. The Dulcinea of the Don's imagination bears no resemblance at all to her real-life model. In the Don's mind, Dulcinea is a princess, a paragon of beauty and virtue. In Part II, Sancho Panza points out another peasant girl and tries to convince Don Quixote that this is his Dulcinea, changed into a farm girl by an evil wizard's magic spell. Of course, this "enchanted Dulcinea" is very much like the girl who inspired the Don's fantasy in the first place. Perhaps you know some people who, like Don Quixote, have fallen in love with an imaginary ideal. No real boyfriend or girlfriend could possibly live up to their expectations. We find it easy to recognize this fault in others. We find it harder to see, in our own minds, the dividing line between having high standards and pursuing our own imaginary "Dulcineas." It is interesting to compare Dulcinea with Altisidora, the fourteen- year-old girl at the Duke's court who develops a crush on Don Quixote. We are told that Altisidora is "not misshapen." However, she is said to have teeth like topazes a backhanded compliment since topazes are usually yellow. When Don Quixote rejects Altisidora's advances, she becomes mean and spiteful. Later, she says she is not the kind of girl to sacrifice so much as the "dirt under one fingernail" for love. Considering what Altisidora is really like, Don Quixote is probably better off remaining true to his nonexistent Dulcinea. DON QUIXOTE: THE DUKE AND THE DUCHESS The Duke and the Duchess, though important to the action in Part II, are shallow, thinly drawn characters. Some readers find them basically kind, harmless types, who play jokes on the Don and Sancho but mean them no real harm. Others are struck by the underlying cruelty of the Duke and Duchess' little games. Some readers consider these characters to be Cervantes' comment on the folly and stupidity of wealthy nobles who pretended to act as artists' patrons--while, in fact, patronizing the artists in the negative sense of the word. DON QUIXOTE: SAMPSON CARRASCO Sampson (whose name is spelled Samson or Sanson in some translations) is the arrogant student who sets out to "cure" Don Quixote of his madness by dressing as the Knight of the Mirrors and the Knight of the Full Moon. Some readers feel that Sampson personifies the emptiness of intellectual pursuits in the absence of faith. Sampson knows how to imitate a knight, but unlike Don Quixote he will never be more than a poor copy of one. DON QUIXOTE: MARITORNES Maritornes, the deformed servant girl at the inn, plays only a minor role in the story, yet her characterization is memorable. Some readers feel that Cervantes' description of Maritornes' physical ugliness is cruel. Others are impressed by the fact that the author does not seem to condemn the servant girl for sleeping with so many of the male guests at the inn. Maritornes may be physically ugly, but as you see during the discussion of chivalry that she has with Dorothea, the innkeeper, and others, her head is full of beautiful romantic fantasies. Whether Cervantes sees this as pathetic, or as a triumph of imagination over physical limitations, is something you will have to decide for yourself. DON QUIXOTE: THE PRIEST (Curate) and NICHOLAS THE BARBER Considering their importance to the plot, Don Quixote's friends the priest and Nicholas the barber are not very completely described. Both follow professions considered respectable for men of the hidalgo class. (Barbers in Cervantes' day performed minor surgery and had a higher status than haircutters do today.) Because the priest and Nicholas, unlike the Don, are realistic enough to work at useful professions, we are not surprised that they want to burn the Don's books and "rescue" him from his mad quest--by force if necessary. Nicholas is primarily a humorous character. However, the character of the priest is open to more than one interpretation. Readers disagree over whether Cervantes meant some of the priest's actions as a criticism of the church of his time. Notice, for example, in the section dealing with the adventures in the Sierra Moreno that some of the priest's views, including his comments on the escaped galley slaves, are not very charitable. DON QUIXOTE: GINES DE PASAMONTE You meet Gines de Pasamonte twice: First, he is the meanest and cleverest of the galley slaves freed by the Don. Far from being ashamed of his crimes, Gines brags that he will write a book about his adventures and sell it for a high price. Once he is liberated, he immediately shows his ingratitude by stealing Sancho's donkey. In Part II, Gines comes back to haunt Don Quixote, disguised as the puppet master. The condemned slave has been transformed into a successful entertainer! Rogues such as Gines were well known to readers of Cervantes' time, who followed the adventures of such characters in a popular type of work known as the picaresque tale. Cervantes, however, uses Gines in a more interesting role--to point out that both thieves and artists practice forms of deception. DON QUIXOTE: DOROTHEA Of all the young people involved in the various romantic subplots of the novel, Dorothea has the most personality. Although she has been betrayed and deserted by her lover, Dorothea shows courage and determination to seek justice and restore her ruined reputation. She also enjoys playing the role of the Princess Micomicona. Notice, in considering Dorothea's part in the action, that while the men in this story all make themselves ridiculous to some extent when they turn to role-playing, Dorothea--the woman--takes role-playing for granted. DON QUIXOTE: DON DIEGO DE MIRANDA Don Diego, also called The Man in Green, is the very sensible traveler who meets Don Quixote in Part II of the novel and cannot quite decide whether the poor knight is mad or sane. Don Diego introduces himself to Quixote and Sancho by giving them a lengthy list of his many virtues--he says he is sober, sensible, and pious. One thing he cannot claim to be is modest. Perhaps Don Diego represents nothing but the ordinary, conventional gentleman--his role that of a straight man to the Don's clever speeches. Or maybe Don Diego is meant to satirize the ideal of the humanist philosophers who upheld the importance of rationality and moderation. Don Diego is so moderate, in fact, that he cannot even decide whether Don Quixote is mad or sane. Readers today may find themselves agreeing with Don Diego's conclusion that Don Quixote is half sane, half crazy; however, it is possible that Cervantes expected his readers to see this as an example of muddle-headed thinking. DON QUIXOTE: SETTING While Don Quixote is not, on the surface at least, much concerned with historical events or social commentary, it does paint a lively picture of the Spain its author knew. By the time Cervantes wrote his masterpiece, the price of Spain's dreams of world domination was already becoming apparent. The Golden Age, as Don Quixote says in the novel, was being overtaken by an Age of Iron. Although the son of Charles I, Philip II, who ascended the Spanish throne in 1556 and reigned until 1598, was in some ways a strong ruler, he was not the inspiring figure his father had been. People called Philip II the "paperwork king" because he preferred to rule his empire from behind a desk, leaving the leg-work to an army of bureaucrats. Cervantes himself was part of this army, and his experiences as a tax collector and commissary officer gave him little reason to view the bureaucracy with admiration. Philip's military ventures were not always successful either. The so-called Invincible Armada, a large naval fleet assembled in 1588 for an invasion of England (a project for which Cervantes requisitioned food supplies) was defeated by the English before it even reached an English shore. In addition, much of the country's enormous wealth had been squandered on expensive foreign wars, with disastrous results for the economy at home. The national treasury was bankrupt. Inflation was out of control. Culturally, too, Spain was beginning to withdraw from its position as a leader in Europe. The spread of the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe had put the Spanish Roman Catholic Church on the defensive. After 1559, Spanish students were forbidden to study at foreign universities, and the office of the Spanish Inquisition-- church officials appointed by the pope--had the power to censor books and search through the general population for heretics. Today, some historians believe that one of Spain's greatest weaknesses was the existence of such a large class of hidalgos, or noblemen. At least one quarter of all Spaniards considered themselves part of this class. Unlike the high aristocracy, however, hidalgos were not necessarily independently wealthy. Most were poor but proud. Some hidalgo youths, like their fathers before them, sought fame and fortune in military careers. Miguel de Cervantes, an hidalgo, realized all too well that the social class he belonged to was becoming obsolete. Its values were those of a bygone age. Economically, it had no place in the modern world. In the meantime, the richest nobles were becoming richer, and the poor farmers of Spain were staggering under the twin burdens of heavy taxes and high inflation. Don Quixote, the most famous hidalgo in all of literature, reflects Cervantes' understanding that the hidalgos were already living in the past. It is often said that Don Quixote "killed" chivalry with mockery. The English poet Lord Byron expressed this opinion when he wrote that Cervantes "smiled Spain's chivalry away." In fact, as Cervantes knew very well, the society that had spawned the code of chivalry was already dead. Spain had become a modern nation with a global empire. The country was run by bureaucrats, not by a heroic band of warrior knights. Modern nations could not afford to treat war as basically a sport for gentlemen. They could not afford to support a large percentage of the population who lived in idleness, playing at being lords and ladies. Even the high ideals of chivalry had become obsolete. Unquestioning religious faith, a rarefied vision of romantic love, and a code of behavior based on knightly honor still had nostalgic appeal for many Spaniards. But these wonderful virtues were part of a social system based on a rigid class structure, a sexist view of woman's role, and the persecution of religious minorities. Cervantes might be compared to the boy in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes" who pointed out that the emperor was really naked. Cervantes did not "kill" chivalry. He merely issued a belated death notice. DON QUIXOTE: THEMES 1. QUIXOTISM Although Don Quixote was written in Spanish, its main character inspired the coining of the English word quixotism. Normally, we say an individual is being quixotic when he is in the grip of misguided idealism. The novel's view of quixotism, however, is more complex. Don Quixote's overactive imagination turns windmills into giants and poor farm girls into delicate princesses. Sometimes Don Quixote's delusions make him appear ridiculous. Sometimes they do more harm than good. For example, his inept attempt to save the shepherd boy Andrew from a beating (Part I, Chapter Four) only gets the boy into worse trouble. Yet in many scenes in the story Don Quixote is a sympathetic, even tragic, figure. Does his consistent fidelity to his ideals, however unrealistic, inspire your admiration? Although everyone agrees that quixotism is the principal theme of Don Quixote, there are almost as many different interpretations of this concept as there are readers of the novel. 2. A PARODY OF CHIVALRY For centuries, the majority of readers considered Don Quixote a comic novel, plain and simple. They took literally Cervantes' claim that his purpose in writing Don Quixote was to poke fun at the popular chivalric romances. Some readers today agree with this point of view. They maintain that the novel was written to be amusing, and that anyone who tries to find tragic overtones in the story is missing the point. 3. THE NATURE OF FAITH In the nineteenth century, many readers began to take Don Quixote more seriously. These readers noted that in popular belief and in literature, mad persons are often thought to be especially close to God. Insanity can be an expression of divine inspiration. (This belief is even discussed in the novel, in the chapters devoted to the Captive's Tale.) Some readers even wondered whether Don Quixote was not merely pretending to be mad. Such questions have given rise to many different theories about the character of Don Quixote. One theory is that Don Quixote is a Christian hero, a man who holds fast to his faith in a world that can neither share nor live up to his high standards. Readers who take this view usually emphasize the conservative values of the novel. Although Cervantes may make jokes at the expense of the church hierarchy or the upper classes, these readers say, he never ridicules such basic values as courage, fidelity, and chastity. Another group of readers has pointed out that the character of Don Quixote is a very accurate psychological portrayal of a revolutionary. Don Quixote, they say, is an example of a man who sets out to transform the world in accordance with his vision. Like the fanaticism of real-life crusaders, religious and political, his can be laughable, even dangerous. Yet his persistence does succeed-- for example, in its influence on Sancho Panza. Readers who take this viewpoint are likely to emphasize the elements of the novel which show that the author had been exposed to the thinking of humanist philosophers. They feel that many of his criticisms of the established order, while humorous, have a hidden sting. Cervantes could hardly have been more direct in his satire, they point out, since he was writing under the restraints of censorship. 4. IDEALISM VS. REALISM Some readers feel that quixotism is a comment on the unresolvable conflict between idealism and realism. Don Quixote's ideals may be admirable, but they are doomed to futility because he is out of touch with the world he lives in. Time has passed him by. Our noble intentions can come to a disastrous end if we do not pay attention to the practical consequences of our actions. Curiously, there have even been a few readers who accuse Cervantes of writing a dangerous, hateful book. Admirers of chivalry and the society of the Middle Ages sometimes take this point of view. G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the British journalist and author of the Father Brown mystery stories, even wrote that by ridiculing the values of chivalry, Cervantes had made it impossible for modern men and women to take them seriously. Cervantes, then, must bear part of the responsibility for the confusion about morals that plagues today's world. Although this is certainly an extreme point of view, it illustrates how a book which many see as pure comedy can rouse other well-educated readers to fury. 5. ILLUSION VS. REALITY There are many layers of illusion and reality in Don Quixote. First, there are the Don's own mad delusions. Later, his friends begin to play tricks on him and disguise themselves in order to get him to give up his quest and return home. In the beginning of the novel, you always know exactly what is real and what is fantasy. By the middle of Part II, however, the distinctions sometimes are blurred. For example, when Don Quixote has a bad dream in the cave of Montesinos, you are no longer certain whether the dream is just another delusion--or whether it is a product of the mind of his sane alter ego, Alonso Quixano. Besides all of these complications in the plot itself, you are constantly reminded that what you are reading is "only a book." The narrator--and his imaginary creation, the historian Cide Hamete--both interrupt the story frequently to comment on the action. And in Part II, even the Don and Sancho are aware that they are only characters in a book--in fact, in two books: Part I of Don Quixote and the bogus sequel produced by an anonymous contemporary of Cervantes. Cervantes was certainly familiar with Aristotle's statement that art was a "mirror of reality." He understood that by using a trick mirror it was possible to purposely distort reality, creating illusions that took on a life of their own. While Don Quixote's unrealistic view of the world is a product of his insanity, the author finds ways to remind you during the course of the book that he can alter the reality of his novel just for fun. During the course of the story, the Don and Sancho--who on some levels seem real, despite their many improbable adventures--constantly interact with characters who have obviously just stepped out of the pages of other genres of literature. Although some literal-minded readers consider the appearance of these rather shallow characters to be a flaw in the novel, you should keep in mind that Cervantes introduces them purposely, as just another playful twist on the theme of reality vs. illusion. DON QUIXOTE: STYLE The language of Don Quixote is so rich and exuberant that no summary of the story can possibly do justice to it. You have to read the novel for yourself to see just how much fun the author has with language. For the most part, the prose style of the novel is earthy and direct. At times, however, it rises to heights of eloquence. At other times, the author uses high-flown language to parody other types of literature. Don Quixote's speech at the very beginning of Chapter 20, in Part II, is one example of the way Cervantes uses overly elegant language for the sake of humor. Sancho Panza sleeps right through the Don's flowery speech, only to be awakened by the down-to-earth aroma of frying bacon. There are also a great many puns and other types of word play in the story. Some of the puns will be lost on readers who do not know Spanish. Fortunately, much of the humor survives the translation of the novel into English. The illiterate Sancho Panza constantly confuses one word with another, mistaking "revoking" for "revolting" and "critics" for "crickets." Another of Sancho's quirks is his tendency to quote folk sayings and proverbs at length. Sometimes the proverbs are appropriate to the occasion. At times, though, Sancho's garbled proverbs are laughable, a form of double talk. As in the plays of William Shakespeare, there are episodes in Don Quixote where the humor descends to what we would consider a dirty joke. One example of this occurs in Part I, when the barber Nicholas borrows an oxtail that the innkeeper uses to hang his comb in to use as a false beard. This sets the stage for some bawdy wisecracks when the landlady later demands that Nicholas give her her "tail" back because her husband needs it. This type of humor, as well as Sancho's occasional jokes about bodily functions and disgusting odors, was taken more or less for granted in the seventeenth century. Of course, you should keep in mind that in reading Don Quixote in an English translation you are not reading the actual language Cervantes wrote. However, the translations most commonly used today-- especially those by J. M. Cohen and Walter Starkie--will give you a fairly accurate idea of the tone of Cervantes' prose. DON QUIXOTE: FORM AND STRUCTURE Don Quixote is a very loosely structured novel. Many readers complain that the story is too repetitive and filled with unnecessary, and sometimes confusing, digressions. Others find it jarring that the two halves of the novel are so different in tone. These complaints are not new. The original readers of the novel raised the same objections--and, indeed, you will find Cervantes' reply to these criticisms incorporated in Part II of the book. There is a simple explanation for the unusual structure of the novel. Cervantes himself had no idea, when he began writing, of how the Don's adventures would end. Most likely, he originally intended to write a novella, or long short story, ending the Don's quest after his first return home and the burning of his library (now Chapter 8, Part I). When he decided to expand his story, he created the series of seemingly endless, and sometimes repetitive, adventures that make up what we know as Part I of the novel. While it is true that the Don's adventures sometimes seem to go on and on, this is just part of the joke. Lack of structure and repetition were among the characteristics of the chivalric romances that Cervantes had set out to lampoon. When he began to write Part II of the novel, Cervantes had developed a more subtle conception of his characters, and he changed his approach to structure as well. Most modern readers find Part II more satisfying because the episodes seem less randomly strung together. It is easier to see how each new adventure affects the changing relationship between Quixote and Sancho and leads to the Don's eventual return home. But it is possible to disagree with this judgment. Some readers continue to find Part I funnier and more lively, and it is true that the best-remembered incidents from the story--the Don's attack on the windmills and his battle with the wineskins, for example--occur in the first part of the book. If you enjoy tightly plotted suspense novels--or the kind of economical writing that makes every word count toward a single resolution or a unified theme--then you may find yourself growing impatient with Don Quixote. To put it another way, this is not a novel for people who care a great deal about neatness. Don Quixote was written in a spirit of experimentation--in the attempt to break out of established literary molds and to put more of life between the covers of a book than anyone had done before. The readers who enjoy this novel most are usually those who relax and get into the free-wheeling spirit of the individual episodes. DON QUIXOTE: POINT OF VIEW The shifting points of view in Don Quixote underline and emphasize the theme of illusion vs. reality. The story is told by an author, presumably Cervantes himself, who sometimes interrupts his tale to speak directly to you. In the Prologue to Part I, for example, this author even complains about how much trouble he has had finishing his work. The author claims that he is only retelling a true story related by an Arab historian, Cide Hamete Benengeli. Of course, there is no such person as Benengeli. The author made him up. Benengeli's comments on the story represent another level of unreality that lies between you--the reader--and the adventures of Don Quixote. Sometimes Benengeli's observations point out certain aspects of the novel to you. Sometimes Cervantes even uses Benengeli to make fun of Cervantes the author, as when he has Benengeli complain that the Don's story as written has become too long and tedious. DON QUIXOTE: PROLOGUE In his prologue, the author explains that he has written this book in order to parody "books of chivalry." NOTE: Books of chivalry were very popular in Cervantes' day. The plots typically concerned a pair of star-crossed lovers, a knight and his fair lady. Often, but not always, such loves were platonic. When the lovers did actually make love, however, they had to suffer a great deal for their sin. Chivalric romances also included elements of magic, myths, and fairy tales, and were written in stilted, absurdly flowery prose. In the story that follows, Cervantes makes fun of all of these characteristics. The chivalric romance best known to Cervantes' readers was Amadis of Gaul, which is mentioned many times in Don Quixote. You may be more familiar with the story of Tristan and Iseult, or of the various tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. However, modern versions of these stories may not give you an accurate conception of the florid, overwrought prose which was enjoyed by readers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTER 1 In the opening chapter of the story you are introduced to a middle- aged gentleman who lives in the district known as La Mancha in southern Spain. Like many of his social class, this gentleman has to stretch his pennies. He eats beef stew and beans and an occasional meal of bacon and eggs. His diet may be plain, but his head is stuffed with rich fantasies. In fact, the gentleman has read so many romances about knights and their adventures that he finally goes completely mad. Imagining that he is living in the bygone days of chivalry, he decides that he himself will become a knight-errant! The gentleman begins by polishing an old, rickety suit of armor that once belonged to his great-grandfather. Unfortunately, the helmet is broken, but he fixes it with a makeshift visor made of pasteboard. Next, he decides to give his broken-down old horse a high-class name- -Rozinante. He also decides to change his own name from Alonso Quixano to Don Quixote de la Mancha. NOTE: In taking the title "Don," Quixano is promoting himself to a higher grade of the nobility--from gentleman (hidalgo) to knight (caballero). In the seventeenth century, there were still Spanish noblemen who called themselves knights, just as there are still men in England today who use the knightly title "Sir." However, such knights bore little resemblance to the knights-errant of the Middle Ages--knights who took to the road in search of adventures that would enable them to put their ideals of courage and honor into practice. In all the stories Don Quixote has read, the knight-errant is always in love with a fair and noble lady. It is love, however hopeless, that inspires the knight to do so many brave deeds. Don Quixote has no sweetheart of his own, but a certain farm girl in the nearby town of Toboso is reputed to be very good-looking. (She, however, has no idea that he even exists.) The Don decides to dedicate his adventures to this girl. And since she, too, will need a more romantic name than her real one, he will call her Dulcinea of El Toboso. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 2-4 Ready at last, Don Quixote takes to the road on his old nag, Rozinante. His head is full of day-dreams. He is going to have such great adventures! He is going to set right the wrongs of the world! Don Quixote has read so many romantic stories that he is already mentally composing a book that will be based on his own magnificent saga. The first order of business, however, is to find someone who can perform the ceremony that will make Don Quixote a true knight. Just before nightfall Don Quixote reaches a roadside inn. His feverish brain imagines that the inn is a magnificent castle. He mistakes two prostitutes he meets there for beautiful maidens and the innkeeper for the lord of the castle. Everyone is amused by Don Quixote's flowery speeches and by his odd helmet, which is tied on with ribbons and so cumbersome to remove that he has to keep it on even when he is eating and sleeping. When Don Quixote asks to be knighted, the innkeeper decides to humor him. Don Quixote prepares for the all night vigil which the future knight must keep before the ceremony. He sets out his armor on an "altar" in the inn's courtyard. Unfortunately, the altar is really a water trough and when two mule drivers move his things so their mules can have some water, Don Quixote attacks them both. In a hurry to get rid of his crazy guest, the innkeeper stages a mock ceremony and declares Don Quixote a true knight. It does not take the new knight long to find adventure. He comes upon a rich farmer who is whipping a poor shepherd boy, Andrew, for losing some sheep. Don Quixote makes the farmer promise to stop beating the boy and to pay him the back wages he owes. Then he rides away, very satisfied with his good deed. But the farmer has no intention of keeping his word. As soon as Don Quixote is out of sight he starts beating the boy again, twice as hard as before. Next Don Quixote meets six merchants from Toledo. Planting his horse in the middle of the road, he challenges the merchants to agree with him that his Dulcinea is the most beautiful woman in the world. The merchants know they're dealing with a madman and they start to tease him. Show me her picture, one demands, and then I'll decide for myself. Angered by this lack of respect, Don Quixote spurs his horse to a charge, but Rozinante stumbles and Don Quixote falls to the ground. One of the merchants gives the Don a good drubbing with his broken lance. NOTE: Much of the action in Don Quixote is pure slapstick. The Don is always getting involved in pointless, silly battles. If you think that some of these fights would not be out of place in a Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy comedy, you are absolutely right. This is exactly the spirit in which generations of readers have enjoyed them. Notice, however, that even when Don Quixote is making a fool of himself, there is something strangely moving about his character. He always means to do good. Often, when he tries hardest, he fails completely. But he can also succeed by accident. When Don Quixote mistakes the prostitutes for ladies, they treat him with kindness, almost as if they really were ladies. The innkeeper even behaves like a lord, letting Don Quixote leave the inn without paying for his food and lodging, as if he were an invited guest and not a paying customer. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 5-7 A poor man from Don Quixote's village finds the Don on the road, battered and delirious, and brings him home. The Don has been missing for three days, and his niece, Antonia, and his housekeeper are frantic. After putting him to bed, the women consult his best friends, the local priest and Nicholas the barber. Together they decide that Don Quixote's madness has been caused by too much reading. The solution, therefore, is to burn his library. Before throwing the books into the fire, the priest and the barber go through them, making comments on individual titles. Many of their remarks will mean nothing to you because the books are no longer read today. But one book, Galatea, is an earlier work by Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote! The barber and the priest agree that this particular book is worth saving. "That Cervantes has been a friend of mine for years," says the priest. But after the two men leave, the housekeeper burns even the few books they have decided to save. NOTE: Who is the crazier in this scene? Don Quixote? Or his friends, who think that books have evil powers and that by burning them, they can destroy the ideas the books contain? When Don Quixote recovers from his wounds he finds his books gone and the door to his study walled up. His niece is afraid to tell him what really happened. Instead, she claims that an evil enchanter came riding out of the clouds on a dragon and destroyed his library. The Don believes this. During the next fifteen days, Don Quixote manages to talk a poor workingman, Sancho Panza, into leaving home to become his squire. The simpleminded Sancho believes Don Quixote's promise that they will have great adventures and win rich prizes. Sancho even believes Quixote's prediction that he will conquer enough land to make his squire governor of a province--or an entire island! Late one night, the two men sneak out of town--Don Quixote on Rozinante and Sancho on his jackass, Dapple. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTER 8 Don Quixote sees thirty or forty large windmills in the distance and imagines that they are evil giants. He attacks at full speed. Suddenly, the mechanical arm of the windmill he is charging shifts position, dragging the Don and his horse along the ground. Sancho tries to reason with his master. You're having hallucinations, the squire says. But Don Quixote refuses to concede that he was wrong. He claims that the evil enchanter Freston changed the giants into windmills just to embarrass him. Don Quixote's belief that the powerful enchanter Freston is playing tricks on him is another crazy delusion. Remember, however, that this idea did not originate with him. It was his niece Antonia who came up with the idea because she did not want to tell her uncle the truth about the destruction of his library. At times like this Quixote's insanity is hard to separate from his intrinsic goodness. It never occurs to the poor man that his beloved niece would deliberately lie to him. Are white lies, such as Antonia's, ever justified? Or is it always best to be strictly truthful? What significance do you see in the fact that the Don, the most consistently honest person in the novel, is also completely out of his mind? Cervantes seems to be saying here that it is impossible to be truly sane by the world's standards without also being at least a little corrupt. Do you believe this? NOTE: This is perhaps the most famous of all Don Quixote's adventures. We even use the expression "tilting at windmills" to refer to misdirected and futile idealism. You may be surprised to find that this very well-known episode takes up only a few pages in the novel. Why, then, do you think it is well remembered? One reason is that the image of the skinny, poorly dressed knight attacking a group of enormous windmills has been a favorite subject of painters and illustrators. Perhaps you have seen the well-known print by the nineteenth-century French artist Honore Daumier that captures this moment of the story. Another reason this episode is remembered so fondly may be that, for once, Quixote is attacking inanimate objects, not human beings. Therefore, you can picture the scene without being tempted to sympathize with his victims. The next day, Quixote and Sancho meet a Basque (Biscayan) lady on her way to Seville. Don Quixote thinks that the two monks escorting the lady are kidnappers. He attacks one and knocks him to the ground. Sancho Panza then steals the man's clothes, calling them the "spoils of war." Now one of the lady's Basque servants comes to her defense. The chapter ends in mid-fight. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 9-10 Chapter 9 begins with the author interrupting his tale to deliver an apology and explanation. The old manuscript he's been following, he says, ended right in the middle of the previous chapter. For a while, he feared that he would never be able to tell his readers how the fight came out. But you are in luck! Another tattered manuscript that the author found in a secondhand bookstore picks up the Don's story at just this point. The author tells us that this second manuscript was written by an Arab historian named Cide Hamete Benengeli. From now on, the story will be based on Benengeli's version of the facts. NOTE: PREJUDICE Why does Cervantes invent this imaginary historian? He tells us one reason: If his readers doubt the truth of the rest of the story, he says, they should remember that the Arabs and the Spanish are enemies. Besides, he adds, everyone knows that all Arabs are liars. If you don't like this novel, he goes on, blame "this dog of an author, not me." There are always a few readers who feel that Cervantes' comments about Arabs, Jews, and other minorities are evidence of prejudice. Most readers, however, feel sure that the author is actually making fun of bigoted attitudes. Like the other writers of his time, Cervantes often relies on stereotypes--a person's class, sex, and occupation were believed to be reliable guides to character. But at the same time, Cervantes had no use for hypocrisy in any form. Again and again, he portrays prejudice as shallow and self-serving. You now pick up the action of the Don's fight with the Basque. Don Quixote is wounded: His ear is nearly cut off. He wins the fight, however. In the flush of victory, he gives Sancho a long lecture on the glories of knight-errantry. Sancho, meanwhile, is wondering how all this foolishness will lead to his becoming ruler of an island. But his master tells him that he has something better than an island, a magic balm (medicine) that will cure all ills. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 11-14 Don Quixote and Sancho meet a group of goatherds who politely offer to share their simple lunch. This hospitality sets the Don off into another speech. Long ago, he says, mankind lived in innocence. There was no private property and no crime. The goatherds are skeptical. They doubt that such a Golden Age ever existed. NOTE: In the pastoral romances familiar to Cervantes' readers, shepherds were invariably portrayed unrealistically, as noble innocents who lived in a society free of crime and greed. The goatherds that you meet in this scene are obviously meant as a contrast with these fictitious creatures. Of course, the Golden Age that Cervantes is describing existed only in the Garden of Eden (or in the realm of the idealized pastoral novel). It has nothing to do with the so-called Golden Age of Spain, an era that was at its height as Cervantes wrote. Nevertheless, the Don's comments in this scene may remind you of the way some people sound when they talk about "the good old days" of their youth. Since Cervantes lived during a time when Spanish power was beginning to decline, he no doubt heard many such conversations. A young boy enters with news that a local student turned shepherd named Chrysostom has just died. The cause--unrequited love! Sancho and his master attend the funeral, where a friend reads Chrysostom's flowery farewell poem. Its subject is the pain and suffering of loving a woman who does not return that love. Now Chrysostom's beloved, Marcela, arrives to tell her side of the story. Beauty may be lovable, she says, but it doesn't follow that a beautiful woman can return the love of every man who falls for her. Men say they like women who are modest and chaste. Yet they are always trying to get the women they desire to make an exception for their sakes and give up their modesty. And when a woman turns them down, they resent her. All the men reluctantly agree that Marcela is right. NOTE: Again, this incident is a parody of the pastoral romances, a type of literature very popular during Cervantes' time. These tales usually involved the soulful love affair of a shepherd and a shepherdess. But the characters in pastorals bore no resemblance to the simple country folk they were supposed to be. They talked and acted more like the bored sophisticates who enjoyed such stories. Regardless of the original point of the parody, Marcela's complaint still makes sense today. Many young men still see seducing a beautiful young woman as a challenge, a way to demonstrate their machismo. A young woman can not afford to say yes too often if she wants to keep a good reputation. On the other hand, when she says no, she risks seeing her suitor's interest turn to anger. Cervantes would not have necessarily understood or sympathized with the arguments of women's liberation. However, he had a sharp eye for all sorts of social hypocrisy. As you read notice that the author is often sympathetic to young people in love. However, characters who are in love with the abstract idea of love usually do not fare very well. Some readers feel that this whole episode is a pointless digression. They see it as an example of the author's bad habit of getting bogged down in long-winded and irrelevant side plots. They find Marcela's speech as tedious and self-serving as Chrysostom's poem. Other readers disagree. They claim that Cervantes is illustrating an important point. In literature and in real life, we are all expected to play certain roles. Marcela wants only to be free and independent. But like Don Quixote, she is out of step with her world. With which group of readers do you agree? Why? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 15-17 Quixote and his squire camp in a meadow near a group of carriers from the province of Galicia (Yanguas). When Rozinante shows a romantic interest in the carriers' mares, a fight starts. Not surprisingly, Don Quixote and Sancho lose the fight. NOTE: The carrier, or teamster, was the sixteenth--and seventeenth- century equivalent of the long-haul truck driver. Such men had the reputation of being big, burly, and not likely to tolerate an insult. The Don and his sidekick return to the inn. There they are placed in an attic bedroom which they are to share with a stranger, another carrier. Once again, Don Quixote is under the impression that he is in a castle. The inn has a poor, ugly servant girl named Maritornes, who has agreed to spend the night in the bed of the stranger. But when she tries to sneak into the attic, Don Quixote wakes up. He has been dreaming of Dulcinea, and he grabs the girl, thinking that she is his beloved. Even when he realizes his error, he thinks the girl must have been coming to visit him. Mistaking her attempts to get away for hysterical disappointment, he tries to explain that he must keep himself pure for Dulcinea. By now, the carrier is awake. Thinking that Don Quixote has stolen his girl, he starts to beat him up. This is the beginning of a free-for-all. The innkeeper arrives to see what the commotion is about and ends up getting drawn into the fight. The police are called. The inn is in total confusion. The only person not confused is Don Quixote, who tells Sancho that they must have wandered into an enchanted castle. When things finally quiet down, Don Quixote insists on leaving the inn without paying. Knights-errant are too pure to deal with sordid matters like money. He rides off, leaving Sancho to face the innkeeper's wrath. Some local pranksters hanging around the inn courtyard grab the poor squire and toss him roughly in a blanket. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 18-21 By now Sancho Panza is beginning to become disillusioned. He is especially unhappy when he learns that his master was just outside the inn courtyard throughout his ordeal but did not come to his aid. Don Quixote's excuse is that the enchanter must have cast a magic spell over him. He just couldn't get himself moving! The knight's next series of adventures leave Sancho even more disgusted: First, Sancho and the Don see two dust clouds in the distance. Quixote is sure that they are caused by two armies, marching to battle. He spins a wild fantasy, making up a saga of the feud between two imaginary kingdoms. He can even envision the knights on both sides. One has a cat on his shield with the motto Meeow (Miau). Another knight has as his symbol the droopy asparagus plant. His motto is "My Fortune Trails." (This might also be translated "my fortune droops"--not a very inspiring motto!) Carried away by his own fantasy, the Don rides off to join the battle. But the "armies" turn out to be two flocks of sheep. The shepherds pelt the intruders with stones. Quixote gives Sancho some of his "magic balm," but the medicine makes the poor squire vomit violently. Next, Don Quixote sees a funeral procession passing on the road. He imagines that the mourners, who are dressed in black or white robes and carrying flaming torches, are ghosts. Charging the procession, the Don manages to knock one of the mourners to the ground, only to discover that his victim is not a ghost at all but a terrified young student. Although he regrets having frightened the young man, it does not occur to Don Quixote that he may have been at fault. He explains, with twisted logic, that it was really the mourners' own fault for looking so much like "something sinister from the other world" that he, Quixote, was duty bound to attack them. Quixote and Sancho then spend a sleepless night in a meadow, terrified by a loud clanking sound nearby. In the morning they learn that the noise was only some large wooden hammers used by nearby villagers for manufacturing cloth. Finally, Don Quixote sees a barber (not his friend Nicholas but another man) carrying a brass basin on his head to protect himself from the rain. Quixote mistakes the basin for the "golden helmet of Mambrino"--a legendary treasure. He frightens the barber into running away and takes the "helmet" for himself. NOTE: By this time, Sancho is starting to fight back. When he wants to keep his master from investigating the horrible clanking noises, he ties Rozinante's hind legs together and tells Quixote that the horse is immobilized by a magic spell. Sancho Panza is still being portrayed as a buffoon. Although at times he sees through his master's delusions, minutes later he can be totally taken in by them. However, a note of mutual admiration is beginning to creep into the two men's conversations. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTER 22 Quixote and Sancho Panza meet up with a chain gang of prisoners on their way to serve as galley slaves. The Don is outraged that the king would take away these men's freedom. How can anyone be sure that some of the men are not really innocent? Maybe they are victims of mistaken identity. Or perhaps some horrible misfortune drove them to commit crimes. One by one, the men give their excuses for being in trouble with the law. The first man claims that his only crime was falling in love. (His jailer explains that he "fell in love" with a basket of linen and stole it.) Another man says his only crime was singing. (It turns out that the only "singing" he has done is to confess to cattle rustling.) A third man is a pimp. (Don Quixote excuses this by observing that a pimp only arranges entertainment for respectable citizens.) NOTE: Some readers assume this passage represents Cervantes' attempt to defend pimping and are very offended. Others feel that Don Quixote sees nothing wrong with pimps only because he is too naive to understand what they actually do. It is worth reading this passage carefully to make your own decision about what the author had in mind. The most hardened criminal of all, a rogue named Gines de Pasamonte, refuses to tell his story. He is already writing his autobiography, which he intends to sell for a good price. NOTE: The idea of a criminal cashing in on his notoriety by writing a book sounds very modern. Nowadays, this happens all the time. Some laws have even been passed to keep criminals from profiting from their misdeeds by selling their stories to magazines and book publishers. When the guard refuses to free the prisoners, Don Quixote starts a fight. In the confusion the prisoners escape. How do they show their gratitude for being rescued? Gines de Pasamonte promptly steals Sancho Panza's ass, Dapple. Don Quixote's argument with the guard may remind you of the debate about crime that is still going on today. Should we be tough on criminals to teach them a lesson? Or should we try to discover what makes people commit crimes in order to eliminate the causes of crime? Do people break the law because they are just plain bad? Or are they victims of a bad environment who can be changed by rehabilitation and a chance to live a productive life? Or are they "sick" individuals in need of therapy? (The Don's reasoning is a little different from these modern arguments. He says that any use of force, even by the king, is wrong.) The author purposely makes Don Quixote look foolish by having him take a very extreme and naive position. But you may remember that Cervantes himself was thrown into jail more than once for crimes he did not commit. So perhaps he is in sympathy with Quixote's ideas. What do you think? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 23-30 This section of the novel concerns Don Quixote's adventures in the Sierra Morena, or Black Mountain. The Don and Sancho meet up with a strange hermit who acts like a wild man and lives on handouts from the local shepherds. The hermit explains that his real name is Cardenio. He has been driven to his present state by the disloyalty of his former best friend, Don Ferdinand. Originally, Don Ferdinand was in love with the daughter of a rich farmer. He promised to marry the girl. But as soon as she gave in and slept with him, he lost interest in her. Cardenio helped Don Ferdinand escape the trouble he'd caused by inviting him to visit his own hometown. There, Don Ferdinand immediately started a campaign to steal Cardenio's own fiancee, Lucinda. Don Quixote is impressed with Cardenio's decision to live as a hermit. He decides that he, too, will spend some time in retreat from the world. In the meantime, he sends Sancho Panza to deliver a love letter to Dulcinea, vowing that he has not forgotten her and begging her to wait for him. Suddenly it dawns on Sancho that "Dulcinea" is none other than the daughter of one of his close neighbors. He knows the girl! "She can pitch the iron bar better than the strongest lad in the village," he says approvingly. "God, what a woman she is! What a pair of lungs... " Don Quixote cuts Sancho off angrily. Like many lovers, he is not interested in the true strengths and weaknesses of his sweetheart. He is in love with his own fantasy. Sancho leaves on his errand, but he gets no farther than the same inn where he had been tossed in the blanket. There he runs into Quixote's friends, the priest and the barber. Sancho now discovers that he has forgotten the letter that his master took so much time writing. The priest and the barber promise to write a replacement letter. In the meantime, they convince Sancho to help them with their plan to trick Don Quixote into returning home with them. The priest predicts that if Don Quixote doesn't stop acting like a crazy hermit, he will end up being made an Archbishop. This scares Sancho since he is counting on Don Quixote to win fame and fortune for both of them. He doesn't see much profit in a church career. Sancho returns with the Don's friends to where his master is keeping vigil. On the way they meet Cardenio who now tells the rest of his tale of woe. Don Ferdinand tricked him into leaving town and then got his father to arrange for his (Don Ferdinand's) marriage to Lucinda. Cardenio returned home just in time to find the wedding under way. This is what drove him mad. No sooner is this story finished than a young girl in boy's clothing comes on the scene. She turns out to be Dorothea, the farmer's daughter whom Don Ferdinand had seduced. But she has good news for Cardenio. Lucinda did not marry Don Ferdinand after all. In the middle of the wedding ceremony, Lucinda fainted. A letter found stuffed into her dress explained that she was secretly pledged to marry Cardenio and was planning to commit suicide if forced to wed Don Ferdinand. Cardenio is overjoyed to hear that Lucinda is not married. In gratitude he promises to help Dorothea get justice from Don Ferdinand. Cardenio will force him to keep his promise and marry the girl he seduced, whether he wants to or not. NOTE: Cardenio's tale is long, complicated, and full of impossible coincidences. In this sense it may remind you of the plot of a television soap opera. Remember that readers in the seventeenth century were not surrounded by instant entertainment, as you are today. They wanted an author to give them their money's worth, and they were likely to be more tolerant of complicated detours from the main plot. Of course, no one expected such tales to be entirely believable. Improbable coincidences and unlikely cases of mistaken identity were all part of the fun. It is interesting to see that Cervantes uses many of the same devices--coincidence, disguise, and multiple cases of mistaken identification--throughout the novel. Why do these same devices seem more artificial in this section of the story than they do elsewhere? One possible reason is that Don Quixote and Sancho are more fully drawn characters than Dorothea, Cardenio, and Ferdinand. Before leaving with Cardenio, Dorothea agrees to help the priest and the barber with their plan to trick Don Quixote into coming home. Back at the inn, the priest had disguised himself as a young maiden while the barber put on a false beard so that he could pretend to be the maiden's servant. The men decide, however, that Dorothea will be better cast in the role of the damsel in distress. The barber keeps his disguise but the priest will now pretend that he has just run into Don Quixote by accident. Dorothea will act the part of the Princess Micomicona. The men are a little worried that a farmer's daughter will not be able to pass herself off as a princess. She tells them not to worry, for she's read plenty of chivalric romances! "Princess Micomicona" tells Don Quixote that her father, the king, is dead. A giant named Pandafilando has usurped the throne and forced her to flee the country. The Don promises to go back to the princess' kingdom and slay the giant. Of course, the whole story is just a ruse to get Don Quixote on the road to his home village. But you may wonder who really understands Dorothea best. The priest and the barber see only a farmer's daughter, a girl of the lower classes. They're amazed that she can play a princess so convincingly. Don Quixote at least knows a damsel in distress when he sees one. Dorothea is the victim of a selfish young man, not an evil giant. But in real life she is as deserving of help as any princess. The whole group sets out together. Cardenio and the barber are still in disguise, posing as the princess' servants. The priest will do his best to flatter Don Quixote to make him more cooperative. At the very end of this section, Sancho sees Gines de Pasamonte, disguised as a gypsy and riding on Dapple. Sancho grabs his donkey and Gines flees. The squire is so happy to have Dapple back again that he weeps tears of joy. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTER 31 Don Quixote still believes that Sancho Panza has delivered his letter to Dulcinea. Afraid to admit that he lost the letter, Sancho invents ridiculous answers to the Don's questions about Dulcinea and her reactions to the letter. Fortunately, something happens to distract Don Quixote's attention. At a roadside fountain the travelers meet up with Andrew (Andres), the shepherd Don Quixote saved from a whipping in Chapter 4. Andrew tells everyone that his master was so angry at the Don's interference that he took out his rage by beating him all the harder. He has only recently left the hospital. Once again, Don Quixote looks like a fool and a meddler in the eyes of his friends. The story of Andrew illustrates the moral that good intentions alone are not enough. Often, naive and ill- considered interferences only make a bad situation worse. In this case, the Don is sincerely sorry to learn that Andrew had to suffer for his bad judgment. But, do his sincere regrets atone for the mistake? Some readers feel they do. It is inevitable, they say, that some attempts to do good will not succeed. If we worry too much about results we will end up as cynics, who stand by doing nothing while evil takes its course. Other readers disagree. This group sometimes compares the Don's attempts to help Andrew with the visionary program of Marxist revolutionaries or other varieties of political crusaders. It is not enough, these readers say, to have a vision of the perfect society. Unless we are also thoughtful enough to foresee how such visions will work out in practice, we may wind up doing more harm than good. What do you think? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 32-35 The next day the travelers reach the inn. While Don Quixote is put to bed in a loft room, the others are served dinner by Maritornes, the innkeeper, and his wife. (The innkeeper considers the Don's madness amusing, and since he's been promised that this time his guests will pay for their lodging, he holds no grudge.) During the meal, the innkeeper admits that he, too, is a great fan of books of chivalry. "When I hear tell of those furious and terrible blows that the knights hand out," he confesses, "I long to be doing the same myself." Maritornes adds that she, too, enjoys the "lovely goings on" in these romantic stories. The only thing she can't understand is why the female characters are so coy. How could any woman let a man pine away and die for want of a little affection? Like many who are addicted to romance novels or soap operas today, Maritornes wants to escape the depressing realities of her own situation. Even while he makes fun of the silly invention of chivalric romances, Cervantes shows in this scene that he understands why some people have a need for escapist entertainment. Notice, however, that while Maritornes is in some ways pathetic, her attitude toward these romantic stories is basically sensible. She knows that she cannot afford to be as aloof as the heroines of the stories she enjoys. You may find it interesting to compare her attitude with that of Altisidora--a young girl who is more cynical when her fantasy of romantic love fails to work out as planned. Dorothea remarks that the innkeeper, who literally believes many of the fantastic stories told in these romances, is almost as crazy as Don Quixote. But there is a difference between the two kinds of belief. The innkeeper will never actually try to become a knight- errant because he knows that "it's not the fashion today." Because the innkeeper is content to pay lip service to the high ideals found in his favorite books, the world considers him sane. Since Don Quixote tries to put those ideals into practice, he is considered crazy. What do you think of this definition of craziness? Does it make you sympathize with Don Quixote? Or is the innkeeper right to take such a practical attitude? Quixote's friend, the priest, remarks that he still thinks that books of chivalry are a bad influence and ought to be burned. To prove him wrong the innkeeper invites him to read a manuscript left behind by a traveler who recently stayed at the inn. Most of the next three chapters of the novel concern the priest's reading of the story. The story is entitled "The Man Who Was Too Curious For His Own Good. " (In some translations it is called "The Tale of Ill-Advised Curiosity" or "The Novel of the Curious Impertinent.") The main characters are two good friends named Anselmo and Lothario. Anselmo has a beautiful wife, Camilla. Unfortunately, he is the type of person who can never let well enough alone. He wants to test Camilla to see if she is really faithful to him. Anselmo, who is going out of town, makes Lothario promise to try to seduce Camilla, just so he can report on her reactions. The plan backfires. Lothario finds himself falling in love with Camilla. Camilla has been a faithful wife so far. But when Anselmo refuses to come home and help her deal with the lovesick Lothario, Camilla decides that her husband doesn't love her. She gives in to Lothario after all. After Anselmo returns home, Camilla and Lothario resort to all kinds of ruses to keep Anselmo from finding out what is going on. Eventually, however, their guilty consciences catch up with them. Convinced that her maid is going to tell Anselmo the truth, Camilla flees to a convent. Lothario joins the army. Anselmo dies of a broken heart, regretting his foolish curiosity that caused so much trouble. Lothario is killed in battle soon after, and Camilla dies as well. NOTE: Anselmo presents another contrast to the character of Don Quixote. The Don has an idealistic view of what the world should be like, and if the evidence of his own senses doesn't conform to that view, he simply assumes that an evil enchanter has been deceiving him. Anselmo is just the opposite. He can't take anything on faith-- not even the love of his own wife. He needs continual proof in the form of reports from his friend Lothario. By constantly trying to test reality, he ends up changing it. Once again, readers disagree about whether this story serves a purpose in the novel. Some argue that it is out of place and distracting. Others feel that it sheds new light on the character of Don Quixote--and on the nature of quixotism. What is your opinion? If you were editing the novel, would you omit this story about Anselmo? While the priest is reading downstairs, something strange is going on up in the loft. At one point Sancho Panza interrupts the reading to announce that his master is doing battle with giants. Rushing upstairs, the innkeeper finds that the "giants" are large pigskin sacks filled with wine which have been stored in the loft. Half asleep, the Don has mistaken the winesacks for his enemies and slashed away at them with a knife. When the wine came gushing out he was sure he had drawn blood! For the innkeeper this "battle of the wineskins" makes him lose his patience. He agrees to let Don Quixote stay on only because the priest promises to pay for the damages. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 36-42 No sooner has the priest finished reading the story of Anselmo than a party of strangers arrives at the inn. The group consists of a lady in white, heavily veiled, and her escort of four men in black masks. It turns out that the lady is Lucinda, Cardenio's fiancee. And one of the masked men is Don Ferdinand. Lucinda, brokenhearted over Cardenio's disappearance, is on her way to enter a convent. Now she and Cardenio rush into each other's arms, happily reunited. Even Don Ferdinand, after being confronted by the rest of the company about his past behavior, has a change of heart. He is impressed by Dorothea's faithfulness to him and decides that he loves her and wants to marry her after all. Sancho Panza is very disappointed to learn that Dorothea is not really the Princess Micomicona. However, when Sancho tries to break this news to Don Quixote, the Don simply refuses to believe that the "Princess" was not real. NOTE: SANCHO'S CONTRADICTIONS Sancho's behavior over the last several chapters has been very inconsistent. At times he seems to believe that the wineskins are human attackers; at other times he seems quite aware that they are not. He listened to Dorothea and her friends at dinner discussing the fact that knight-errantry is no longer in fashion and seemed to understand what they were saying. Yet now he is back to believing that Dorothea was a real princess. Some readers try to find logical explanations for Sancho's contradictory statements. Some have even suggested that Sancho is only trying to humor Don Quixote at this point. However, there is another possibility to consider. In real life, people who are quite sane often subscribe to contradictory beliefs. Some people do this quite consciously. For example, they may accept the biblical story of creation on one level and at the same time accept the scientific truth of evolution. If you read Don Quixote as a novel about the quest for faith, then you may see Sancho's changing opinions as an attempt to reconcile the mystical teachings of religion with everyday reality. Of course, a less sympathetic view of Sancho is that he simply believes the last thing he hears. According to this interpretation Sancho is the eternal follower--ready to be led by any strong personality who comes along. Soon another party of travelers arrives at the inn. They are a young man named Ruy Perez de Viedma and a Moorish (Arab) lady called Lela Zoraida. This young man, too, tells an amazing story: Twenty-two years ago, the young man's father decided to divide his estate among his three sons. Each brother chose a different profession. One became a merchant, one a scholar, and the young man himself decided to make his fortune as a soldier. Unfortunately, his luck was not good. He was captured and sold into slavery in the North African city of Algiers. The lady Zoraida happened to live in a house overlooking the young man's prison yard. One day she dropped from her window a package containing some money and a note. The note explained that she was the daughter of a wealthy family. She wished to become a Christian and would be willing to escape from Algiers with the young man if he would promise to marry her. After many complications, the pair managed to arrange their flight from the city. But on their way back to Spain, their ship was attacked by pirates who robbed Zoraida of her fortune. NOTE: This story, called "The Captive's Tale," draws to some extent on Cervantes' experiences as a captive in Algiers. At one point the young man even mentions a certain fellow prisoner called "something de Saavedra." You may find more evidence of the author's attitude toward this period of his life in Chapter 38, which is devoted to a long speech by Don Quixote, comparing the rewards and difficulties of a soldier's career and those of a life devoted to learning. The Don concludes that the soldier, while exposed to much hardship, has the nobler calling. Although Don Quixote is insane, his speech here is rational, even eloquent. You will have to decide for yourself whether you agree with his conclusion. A third party arrives at the inn, which by now is becoming very crowded. These travelers are an influential judge and his lovely young daughter Clara. The judge eventually recognizes the young man (the captive) as his long lost brother. Another happy reunion follows. Everyone except Don Quixote retires to bed for a well-earned night's rest. The Don decides that he had better stand guard all night in case the concentration of so many fair ladies in one place encourages a "giant" to attack the inn. In the middle of the night, the sweet singing of a young mule driver awakens some of the guests. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 43-46 Clara hears the singing and bursts into tears. She tells Dorothea that the mule driver is really Don Luis, her sixteen-year-old neighbor. Don Luis and Clara are in love, but since there seems to be no hope that his wealthy father will ever let him court her, he has run away from home. He has been following Clara and her father throughout their journey. In the meantime, Maritornes and the innkeeper's daughter have decided to play a trick on Don Quixote. The daughter calls the knight to her window. The Don has already convinced himself that the daughter is in love with him. However, he protests that he must keep himself chaste for his true love, Dulcinea. Maritornes convinces the Don to put his hand through the window to comfort the disappointed girl. As soon as the Don does this, Maritornes slips a knotted thong over his wrist. The other end of the strap has already been tied to the bedroom door. The Don is caught. He has been standing on the back of Rozinante to reach the window. Now he has to remain still all night for fear that his horse will bolt and leave him hanging by one arm. He stays this way until dawn when four men on horseback ride into the courtyard. Their arrival distracts Rozinante, and the Don slips from his perch. NOTE: You may have noticed that this silly trick parodies the romantic tale of the young captive and his Moorish lady, Zoraida. Why has the author placed this episode here? To make fun of the captive's story? To ridicule Don Quixote or Maritornes? Or for some other reason? The four horsemen announce that they have been sent by Don Luis' father to bring the boy home. This is the first time that the judge, Clara's father, has heard that the mule driver is really his neighbor's son. He is more sympathetic than Clara expected him to be. Eventually the judge convinces Don Ferdinand to help him work things out with Don Luis' father. Don Ferdinand, now reformed, has sympathy for the young man in love with a girl poorer than he. Since he is even more important and influential than Don Luis' father, we assume Don Ferdinand's advice will be listened to. By now your head may be spinning. Ever since the Don met Cardenio in the Sierra Morena you have met a series of minor characters whose lives are connected in a web of thwarted love and coincidences. Now, suddenly, all their problems are resolved. More surprising still, Don Ferdinand, the cause of much of the trouble in the first place, seems to be completely reformed. It is important to remember that Cervantes did not expect his readers to take these twists of plot very seriously. No doubt he is parodying the improbable but lovely "goings on" which delighted readers such as Maritornes who were addicted to chivalric romances. Do you think that the public has grown more sophisticated in its expectations over the last four centuries? Now one final traveler arrives at the inn--the wandering barber whose basin Don Quixote stole in Chapter 21. The barber wants his basin back, along with the ass' pack saddle that Sancho is now using on Dapple. Quixote's friend Nicholas the barber thinks it is very funny that the Don has mistaken a brass basin for "Mambrino's Helmet. " He goes along with the joke, swearing to the other barber that the basin is really a helmet and the pack saddle the fine trappings of a horse. The wandering barber thinks the whole world has gone crazy. Soon the argument begins to get out of hand. Four troopers of the Holy Brotherhood arrive and take the wandering barber's side in the quarrel. Then Don Quixote appears and attacks the barber. The troopers attack Don Quixote. In the course of the fracas you learn that the troopers are carrying a warrant for the arrest of the man who helped Gines de Pasamonte and the other galley slaves escape. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 47-52 The troopers finally decide that Don Quixote is too crazy to be worth arresting. The other guests prepare to leave the inn in a very happy mood. All their troubles have been resolved, and the various pairs of lovers are happily reunited. The priest decides that he had better think of a way to get Don Quixote back home before he gets into any more trouble. He builds a crude wooden cage and hires an oxcart and driver to transport it. Don Quixote, still asleep after his hard night's vigil, is locked inside. When he awakens, Nicholas the barber tricks him into believing that he is under a magic spell. The cage is not really a cage at all, he tells Quixote. It is an enchanted vehicle, a final test of the Don's faith. If the Don behaves with courage he will be transported to a triumphant wedding with the "dove of Toboso," the beautiful Dulcinea. On the road, the priest meets a canon (a learned churchman) and falls into an earnest conversation about the theater. Sancho, meanwhile, is just beginning to sort out his reactions to the crazy goings-on. He finally decides that the cage really is a cage after all. But his attempts to make his master believe this end in total frustration. Finally, Sancho convinces the priest that it isn't sanitary to keep Don Quixote penned up day and night. The priest agrees to open the door of the cage so the Don can relieve himself in the woods. While Don Quixote is free, a young goatherd joins the group. He tells another sad, romantic tale. This story concerns Leandra, the most beautiful girl in his village. Leandra could have had her pick of young men. The goatherd, Eugenio, was in love with her himself. But she fell in love with a newcomer in town, a handsome but worthless fellow who did nothing but brag about his past deeds. Leandra agreed to elope with this fellow, only to learn too late that he was interested only in stealing her jewelry. Abandoned and disgraced, she was placed in a convent by her father. Don Quixote is always alert for stories about damsels in distress. He declares that he's going to find the convent and rescue Leandra. Eugenio the goatherd thinks this is ridiculous. In his opinion, Leandra got exactly what she deserved. He is no longer in love with her himself now that he knows how foolish she is. Soon Eugenio and the Don are involved in a scuffle. As they are fighting, a religious procession appears. Some of the marchers, or penitents, are carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders. Quixote mistakes the statue for a noble lady and the penitents for kidnappers. He charges into the group, hoping to spear one of the kidnappers on the point of his lance. Instead, one of the penitents knocks the Don senseless. NOTE: THE DON AND THE VIRGIN MARY This attack on the sacred image of the Virgin Mary is the Don's most outrageous escapade yet. Some readers feel that Cervantes uses this incident to ridicule the Roman Catholic church's adulation of Mary. Others argue with equal conviction that Quixote, the pure Christian, is moved by Mary's suffering. In any case, these readers say, Cervantes' humor is directed only against the superstitious excesses of the cult of Mary. Which view you agree with will depend to some extent on your view of the Don's character: Is he the champion of religious ideals in an unworthy world? Or is he merely an impractical fool--one who is unable to tell the difference between ordinary lies and the kind of lies sanctioned by the church and society? For a while, everyone thinks that Don Quixote is dead. Sancho even delivers a tearful eulogy over his master's body. Finally, however, the Don comes to. He is so ashamed of himself that he agrees that he had better get back into his cage and be taken straight home. As you read these last chapters of Part I, pay special attention to the changing attitude of Sancho Panza. In the beginning of this section, Sancho is completely disillusioned. Then he hears a conversation between Don Quixote and the learned canon. Quixote argues forcefully in defense of chivalric romances. However unrealistic these tales may be, he says, books containing them have been published with the approval of the king and the church. They have not been censored. Therefore, if you attack the books, you undermine religion itself. Quixote also defends Sancho's worthiness to become a nobleman. Although Sancho comes from the lower classes, he has done his best to show courage and loyalty. Doesn't the Bible teach that God rewards the good intentions of the humble? Even the canon has to admit that this is so. By the time he returns to his own house, Sancho is more convinced than ever that his master is a true knight-errant. He tells his amazed and skeptical wife that there is nothing more pleasant than to be a knight's loyal squire. NOTE: Do you agree with Don Quixote that Sancho has behaved nobly? Remember that Sancho has shown courage time and again by staying and fighting at his master's side--even though, unlike the Don, he sees that they are hopelessly outnumbered. What is the true test of nobility? To be truly noble, must we be winners at everything we do? Or is nobility a matter of style, of doing whatever we do gracefully? Or, as the Don suggests, do good intentions count? DON QUIXOTE: PROLOGUE In the dedication to Part II of the novel, Cervantes takes a poke at the ungrateful patrons who have failed to reward him for his literary efforts. He jokes that the Emperor of China has offered to found a school that will use Don Quixote to teach Spanish to the Chinese. Yet the author still prefers to stay at home in Spain where his efforts have so far not brought him any great wealth. In the prologue proper, Cervantes goes on to launch a bitter attack on the author who has dared to publish a counterfeit sequel to Part I of the adventures of Don Quixote. Not only has this author tried to capitalize on Cervantes' work, he has written insultingly about Cervantes himself. From the tone of this prologue you may guess that Part II of Don Quixote will not be quite as light-hearted as Part I. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 1-7 Don Quixote has been back home for a month, convalescing in bed from his adventures in Part I. His friends the priest and the barber pay him a visit to see how he is getting along. They are dismayed to find that the Don, though seemingly more rational, still believes that the knight-errant heroes of his favorite books really exist. He even suggests that the King of Spain would have no trouble defeating the Turks if only he summoned these great heroes to fight under his banner. The Don, his friends conclude, is as mad as ever. Sancho Panza arrives at the house with very exciting news. A student named Sampson Carrasco has returned home from the university with word that Cide Hamete Benengeli's history of Don Quixote is already being read and enjoyed all over Europe. NOTE: Here the author is introducing a new twist on the theme of reality vs. fantasy. The Don and Sancho Panza suddenly realize that they are characters in a book. They can't wait to hear what their readers have had to say about them. The student, Sampson Carrasco, is delighted to come to Don Quixote's house for dinner and discuss the faults that some readers have found with Part I. In fact, the objections he raises reflect actual criticisms that were made of Cervantes' work by his contemporaries. You may have caught one of the mistakes that Carrasco complains about in the course of your own reading. At one point, after Gines de Pasamonte steals Sancho's donkey--and before it is returned-- Cervantes describes Sancho as riding on it. If you have been finding the twists and turns of the plot of this novel a bit hard to follow, you may find it comforting to realize that even Cervantes occasionally lost track of what had happened in his own story. Sampson Carrasco is described as a young man, excessively proud of his own cleverness, who enjoys making fun of others. (Later on, we are told that he longs to become a poet and is jealous of the success of the literary version of Don Quixote's adventures, Part I.) You may well be suspicious, then, when Sampson seems not to notice that Don Quixote is mad. He even mentions a jousting tournament that will be held in the town of Saragossa and suggests that Don Quixote attend. Sancho Panza, meanwhile, is having trouble convincing his wife Teresa that he ought to continue as Don Quixote's squire. Sancho still believes that Don Quixote will eventually make him a rich man, the governor of his own island. Teresa Panza is not impressed. She is not even sure she wants to be rich. She is a plain person who feels that by putting on airs she would only be making a fool of herself. Sancho disagrees. The whole world, he argues, is impressed by ready money and fine clothes. Appearance is everything. No one cares what people are really like, as long as they can put up a good front. In Part I, Sancho was a naive country bumpkin. Here, he is not only cynical but able to defend his opinion with a certain eloquence. Whom do you agree with--Sancho or Teresa? NOTE: You may recall that in Part I you read that Sancho's wife was named Juana. Once again, Cervantes seems to have gotten confused. Back at Don Quixote's house, his niece Antonia is desperately trying to convince the Don to give up his plan to leave home once more in search of adventure. The Don refutes every one of his niece's practical arguments. No one is too old, too sick, or too poor to do brave deeds, he insists. Antonia turns to Sampson Carrasco, hoping that as an educated man he will have better luck in talking Don Quixote out of his folly. To her surprise, Sampson does nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he even encourages the Don. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 8-11 At the beginning of Chapter 8, Don Quixote and Sancho take to the road once again. The Don decides that he will first go to Toboso to see the lovely Dulcinea and renew his vows of loyalty to her. Sancho is panic-stricken. He knows very well that Dulcinea is not a princess and does not live in a magnificent castle. Moreover, he only pretended to deliver the letter to Dulcinea that Don Quixote entrusted to him in Part I. Now he is sure to be found out. Sancho decides to humor his master. He tells the Don that the wicked enchanter has cast a spell over Dulcinea. The Don will not be able to see her as she really is. Instead, she will look like an ordinary country girl. So too, her fine steed will seem to be a humble she- donkey. Just then, three very ordinary girls riding on donkeys come into sight. Look! says Sancho, here come Dulcinea and her attendants now. Don Quixote is terribly disappointed. All he sees are three peasant girls. The one who is supposed to be Dulcinea even has garlic on her breath. Tearful and confused, the Don begs Sancho to describe the beautiful Dulcinea that he, the Don, has been tricked out of seeing. You may have noticed that in this scene the Don's and Sancho's roles have been reversed. It is Sancho who claims to be seeing a vision. Don Quixote, for once, sees reality all too clearly. He only believes that the peasant girl is Dulcinea because he trusts Sancho. You might wonder why suddenly the Don's vivid imagination has failed him. Some readers think it is because he truly loves Dulcinea--or at least the image of her he has created in his mind. The Don might mistake windmills for giants, but he would never wrong his imaginary love by mistaking a rough country girl for her. Suddenly, he is plain old Alonso Quixano again, heartbroken at being deprived of a glimpse of the girl he longs for. Other readers think that it is Sancho's betrayal that has destroyed Quixote's confidence in his own mad delusions. A few readers have another answer. They suggest that the Don has been acting all along. He only pretends to be insane to teach Sancho and the world a moral lesson. Since the Don knows very well that Sancho is trying to trick him, he gets even by refusing to go along with the ruse. How do you assess this situation? At the end of this section, a wagon comes into view. The passengers are a strange crew, indeed. The wagon driver is the Devil. With him are Death, an angel, and a jester. In reality these creatures are a band of traveling actors, still wearing the costumes from their last performance. Nevertheless, their appearance would seem to be a perfect occasion for Don Quixote to get involved in another of the knock-down battles you saw so often in Part I. This time, with a little prompting from Sancho, Don Quixote sees that the actors are not worth fighting. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 12-15 Don Quixote and Sancho next meet up with another knight-errant, The Knight of the Wood, and his squire. This knight boasts of the beauty of his true love, Casildea. He even claims to have bested the great Don Quixote himself in single combat. Naturally, the Don is outraged by this lie. "I am Don Quixote," he announces. And he challenges the other knight to fight. The next morning, at the appointed time, the knight arrives in a glittering suit of armor, covered with mirrors. He tells the Don that his real name is The Knight of the Mirrors. He makes the Don promise that if he is defeated, he will give up knight-errantry for two years. By pure luck, Don Quixote wins the fight. Sancho, meanwhile, has discovered that the other squire, under his false nose, is really Thomas Cecial, Sancho's neighbor. And the Knight of the Mirrors is Sampson Carrasco! The disguises are a trick invented by Sampson, the priest, and the barber to get Don Quixote to come home. NOTE: When the knight changes his costume, you might guess that the new costume and name are meant to symbolize something. In this case, it isn't very difficult to figure out the symbolism of the mirror suit. Sampson has made himself the mirror image of Don Quixote. Some readers have called him the "false Quixote." Like the Don, Sampson is an ordinary man dressing up as a knight for what is supposedly a good cause--getting the Don safely back home. The difference is that Sampson is sane and the Don is crazy. Or is it the other way around? Since Don Quixote really believes in fair ladies and evil enchanters, you might say that his behavior is logical. Perhaps Sampson, who knows better, is the foolish one. It all depends on your point of view. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 16-18 Another traveler happens along. This well-to-do, sensible gentleman is at first known only as "the man in green" because he is wearing a green suit of clothes. At first, the traveler takes Don Quixote for a madman. But when they start to discuss poetry, the Don expresses some very sensible opinions. Amazed, the gentleman concludes that Quixote is only half-mad. Next, a wagon appears carrying two caged lions, gifts to the King of Spain from the Sultan of Oran. Don Quixote insists that the wagon driver open the cage so that he can fight one of the lions. The terrified driver opens the cage and stands aside. Don Quixote confronts the lion bravely. However, the lion takes one look at Don Quixote and lies down inside its cage, totally uninterested in attacking him. Don Quixote considers this a great victory. From now on he will call himself Knight of the Lions. Do you think he has proved his courage or just given another example of his foolishness? NOTE: Readers in seventeenth-century Spain would have surely recognized this scene as a parody of a famous confrontation between a lion and El Cid, Spain's great epic hero. In that story, the lion refuses to fight because it is abashed in the presence of El Cid's courage. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 19-21 Two students whom the Don and Sancho meet on the road invite them to attend a wedding. The bride and groom are the beautiful Quiteria and Camacho the Rich, a wealthy farmer. Their wedding festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Basilio, a young man who loves Quiteria but has been rejected by her family because he is poor. Basilio announces that he is going to kill himself in grief. He falls on his dagger in front of the horrified wedding guests. Apparently dying, he begs to be granted one last wish. He asks that Quiteria marry him. Since he will be dead in a few minutes anyway, she will be free to marry Camacho as planned. The guests decide to humor him. Of course, it's all a trick. As soon as Quiteria says "I do," Basilio revives. He had only pretended to stab himself. Quiteria, however, is not sorry, for she had wanted to marry Basilio all along and has been in on the plan. Naturally, though, Camacho and his family are furious. For once, Don Quixote plays peacemaker, He points out that in a way Basilio has done Camacho a good turn. Since Quiteria loves Basilio, her marriage to Camacho would have brought misery to all concerned. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 22-23 Don Quixote now decides to explore the famous Cave of Montesinos, which is supposed to be enchanted. He has Sancho let him down into the cave on a rope to a ledge about sixty feet below ground. There he falls asleep and has a dream. In his dream the Don sees himself in a castle where he meets the knight Sir Montesinos himself. Montesinos shows the Don the body of Durandarte, one of the greatest knights-errant in history. Durandarte had been "killed" in combat centuries ago. According to legend, his last wish was that his heart be cut out and given to his beloved, Belerma. In the dream, Don Quixote learns that because of the curse of a wicked enchanter, Durandarte cannot really die. He lies on his mortuary slab, weeping and moaning and begging to be released from the burden of life. Belerma, too, is cursed with immortality. She has turned into a yellow-complexioned old crone who wanders around carrying her knight's heart. NOTE: Durandarte and Belerma were famous characters of medieval legend, celebrated in poems and ballads. The story of Durandarte's last wish, to have his heart cut out and taken to his beloved, was considered exquisitely romantic. Cervantes may be saying that this rather gory example of the chivalric romance has outlived its usefulness and deserves to be killed off. At the end of his dream, Don Quixote sees the three peasant girls that Sancho told him were Dulcinea and her two ladies-in-waiting. One of the "ladies" approaches the Don and asks him to lend Dulcinea some money. The Don is stunned by this request. Cadging money from a stranger is totally out of character for the Dulcinea of his imagination. Nevertheless, he hands over what little he has. Shortly after this, Sancho hauls Don Quixote out of the cave and he wakes up. This episode differs from any of Don Quixote's previous adventures. Even the Don is confused by his dream, since it seems to mock the values of chivalry. Also, for the first time you cannot be sure what is real. Is the dream just another of the Don's delusions? Or is it a "real" dream--one which may shock the Don back in the direction of sanity? How might a psychiatrist interpret it? The uniqueness of the dream is emphasized in the succeeding chapter when the author tells you that even Cide Hamete Benengeli found this dream hard to believe. If the Don were not so truthful, Cide Hamete would have suspected him of lying, of making the whole story up. For this reason, the dream episode is sometimes called "Don Quixote's lie." A few readers, those who think that the Don is only pretending to be mad, take this suggestion literally. The Don concocts this "dream," they say, to repay Sancho for inventing the story of Dulcinea's enchantment. Another view is that it is Alonso Quixano, Don Quixote's sane alter ego, who dreams this dream. Alonso knows that the real Dulcinea is a peasant girl who would be interested in an old man like himself only for his money. If you had to vote for one of the choices, which would it be? Why? Could you suggest another possibility? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 24-29 On their way to a roadside inn, the Don and Sancho meet a man driving a mule loaded with weapons. The man tells a strange story: Two aldermen from his village went looking for a lost jackass. Each of them brayed loudly, hoping to lure the ass in his direction. The two friends never recovered the ass (which was later found dead) but they brayed so well that they fooled each other. Soon the rest of the village, having heard of the friends' braying contest, started to make fun of them by braying every time the friends appeared in public. The joke got so out of control that people from other villages started to make fun of the jokesters. The village became known as the braying village. Now, to restore their reputation, the villagers are going out to fight those who mocked them. You might think that the Don would rush to champion the cause of the braying village. Not at all. In Chapter 27 he intervenes as the fight is about to start. He lectures the villagers sternly, telling them that wars should be fought for important causes, not over silly quarrels. Sancho, however, can't resist showing off his own imitation of a jackass. When he starts braying, the villagers think he is making fun of them and beat him up. They didn't have adhesive bandages in Cervantes' time, but does it seem to you that his characters would have purchased them by the car load? Inside the inn, the Don meets a traveling entertainer, Master Peter. Master Peter has a pet ape who, for money, is supposed to be able to answer any question put to it. This is an obvious fraud, since the ape only "whispers" the answers in his master's ear. It is Peter who relays them to the audience. Nevertheless, the ape seems to perform impressively. He recognizes Don Quixote and Sancho and gives Sancho "news" of his wife Teresa. Later, Master Peter gives a puppet show depicting a fight between Spanish knights and the Moors. Don Quixote is so carried away that he draws his sword and attacks the puppets, totally destroying them. Still later, you learn that Peter the puppet master is really Gines de Pasamonte, the rogue whom Don Quixote freed in the episode of the galley slaves (Part I, Chapter 22). This is how Master Peter was able to recognize Quixote and Panza and answer their questions. Perhaps Don Quixote was not so mistaken after all in attacking the puppets. Gines, alias Master Peter, really was making fun of him. NOTE: This is one of the few times in the novel when Cervantes draws comparisons between art or theater and real life. Cervantes seems to be saying that all authors are, at least in part, swindlers. Writers manipulate their characters in order to deceive their readers into mistaking fiction for real life. In what way could the writing of fiction be a kind of lying? Are the readers of novels, like Sancho Panza, partners in their own deception? If not, why not? Notice that Cervantes goes to great lengths, even inventing the imaginary historian Cide Hamete, to convince you that Don Quixote is a true story. If someone said this is just carrying artistic lying to another level, what would he mean? Is there evidence that he is trying to set his book apart from the frivolous products of popular culture? Where do you find it? At the end of this section, the Don and Sancho arrive at a flour mill, where a large waterwheel is being used to turn the grindstone. The Don mistakes the mill for an enchanted castle and tries to reach it by boat. His boat is about to be swept into the waterwheel and smashed when the millers run out to save him. Naturally, the Don mistakes the flour-covered workers for demons. He seems to be as crazy as he was in Part I. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 30-41 Before you can catch your breath, the next series of adventures begins. Don Quixote and Sancho meet a Duke and Duchess out hunting and accept their invitation to be guests at the Duke's castle. The Duke and Duchess have read Part I of Don Quixote, and they arrange to play some very elaborate tricks on Quixote and Sancho, all for their own and their court's amusement. The Duchess decides that Sancho is even funnier than his master, so she convinces the Duke to promise to make Sancho a governor after all. One trick that the Duke and Duchess play involves getting a servant to dress up as the evil wizard Merlin. This "Merlin" tells Quixote and Sancho that there is only one way that Dulcinea can be transformed back from a peasant girl into a princess: Sancho must promise to give himself 3300 lashes on his own bare buttocks. Of course Sancho is horrified. For one thing, he made up the story of Dulcinea's enchantment himself. For another, he can't see why he should be the one to suffer. Dulcinea is Don Quixote's beloved, not his. The Duchess cleverly persuades Sancho that Dulcinea really is enchanted. She also hints that Sancho will never get an island to rule if he doesn't agree to "save" Dulcinea. After much moaning and groaning, Sancho promises to do what Merlin wants. By the next day, however, he has given himself only five perfunctory spanks. He's still 3295 blows short of his quota. NOTE: With this incident Sancho becomes thoroughly "quixotized." Through a combination of greed and affection for his master, Sancho has taken on Don Quixote's mad quest as his own. If you've ever been talked into accepting a dare against your own better judgment, perhaps you know how Sancho feels at this point. One compromise has led to another until finally he feels he has no choice but to carry the logic of the enchantment story to its conclusion. Some readers, however, see a positive moral in Sancho's dilemma. Sancho, they say, represents the miracle of religious faith that inspires people to believe in the existence of God. Sancho's agreeing to whip himself might even be compared with the sufferings of Christ, who died for the sins of mankind. What weaknesses, if any, do you detect in those theories? A second practical joke played by the Duke and Duchess involves a group of court ladies who dress up as "Countess Trifaldi" and her ladies-in-waiting. They tell Quixote that they have been cursed by an evil giant who has caused them to grow beards. The Don is fooled by the women's false whiskers into believing this, and he gallantly promises to do battle with the giant. But to reach the giant's faraway kingdom, he and Sancho will have to ride on a magical wooden horse that flies through the air. Trembling with fear, the Don and Sancho mount the horse. They are blindfolded, supposedly because the giant does not want them to see where they are going. Of course, the horse, Clavileno, is really a wooden toy stuffed with firecrackers. A servant blows air over the Don and Sancho with a bellows to make them think they are really flying. Then someone sets fire to the horse's tail. The firecrackers explode and Quixote and Sancho are thrown high into the air. After a good laugh at both men's expense, the courtiers convince them that their courage has made the giant relent. The "Countess" and her ladies remove their false beards and pretend to be very grateful. During the course of these chapters, Sancho loudly expresses his dislike and fear of ladies-in-waiting--an opinion that is easy to understand if you realize that such ladies traditionally served as chaperones. The staunchly forbidding lady-in-waiting was a universally recognized figure of fun, much like the stereotypical interfering mother-in-law today. But what of the Duke and Duchess' behavior? Some readers have pointed out that elaborate practical jokes such as they play were more acceptable in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than today. Some noblemen even had trick fountains which spewed water at unsuspecting guests. On the other hand, it is one thing to play jokes on one's equals, another to enjoy teasing a crazy man and his peasant servant. The Duke and Duchess are so far removed from the problems of everyday life that they treat the whole world as their playground. In a way, they are living a fantasy just as the Don is. One difference is that their fantasy is the product of boredom and aimlessness. Perhaps you can think of other differences. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTER 42-53 The Duke keeps his promise and makes Sancho the governor of the town of Baratario. Sancho is so gullible that he even believes Baratario is on an island, although it is actually landlocked. NOTE: Barato means cheap in Spanish. Sancho has become the ruler of "Cheapsville." Sancho has achieved his impossible dream. Much to the surprise of the Duke and his steward, Sancho turns out to be an excellent governor. Presented with a series of tricky legal cases to judge, he bases his decisions on common sense and does very well, indeed. You, however, may feel that a few of Sancho's decisions are sexist, at least by modern standards. For example, he tells a young girl who longs for more freedom that an honest maid should stay at home "as if she had one leg broken." This advice probably represented the majority male opinion of the time. On a lighter note, Sancho has problems dealing with an overenthusiastic doctor who is so aware of the health dangers of different types of food that he won't let Sancho eat anything at all. The character of the doctor shows that health food fanatics are not just a modern phenomenon. The Duchess has written a letter to Teresa Panza, who is amazed and delighted to find that her husband has succeeded after all. However, the Duke has no intention of allowing Sancho to keep his island. When Sancho's governorship starts to turn out too well, the Duke is not pleased; he does not enjoy the thought that a mere peasant can rule as wisely as a lord. So he stages a mock invasion that ends Sancho's brief reign. Don Quixote, meanwhile, has remained at the Duke's castle where he is having problems with women. One young lady of the court, fourteen- year-old Altisidora, has fallen madly in love with him. When the Don tells Altisidora that he is going to remain faithful to Dulcinea, Altisidora takes the rejection angrily. She begins to scheme for revenge. Another lady, the middle-aged Dona Rodriguez, presents Don Quixote with a different type of problem. She comes to the Don's bedroom late at night and begs him to help her save her daughter's honor. A young man has seduced the daughter but refuses to marry her. The Don will have to fight the young man to force him to do the right thing. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 54-57 On his way back to meet Don Quixote at the Duke's castle, Sancho runs into a Moor named Ricote, a shopkeeper from his own village. Ricote has been forced to leave the country; however, he has returned in disguise to recover a buried treasure of gold that he left behind. Sancho does not have time to help Ricote recover the treasure, but he promises not to betray his former neighbor to the authorities. NOTE: The Moors, descendants of Arabs who had once ruled much of Spain, were a despised minority. Between 1609 and 1613, Moriscos-- Moors like Ricote who had adopted Christianity--were expelled from the country. Cervantes is obviously sympathetic to the Moors. He has Ricote note, ironically, that it is easier for a Moor to live as a good Christian in Algeria than in Europe. On the other hand, Cervantes seems to defend the reasoning behind the expulsion of the Moriscos. Passages like this one lead some readers to believe that Cervantes was basically a conservative--he sympathized with downtrodden individuals but did not challenge the system. Other readers think Cervantes merely outwitted the censors by using irony and humor to soften the impact of his social criticisms. You will have to decide for yourself which view is right. Back at the castle, the Duke has arranged a tournament so that Don Quixote can defend the honor of Dona Rodriguez's daughter. Unfortunately, the young man the Don was supposed to fight has fled the country. (You are told, in passing, that he wanted to escape having Dona Rodriguez for a mother-in-law.) The Duke gets his servant Tosilos to take the young man's place. Tosilos is coached on how to put up a good show without actually hurting the Don, since the Duke wants only to have some fun at Don Quixote's expense. However, when Tosilos sees Dona Rodriguez' daughter, he calls off the fight at the last minute. He has fallen in love with the girl and wants to marry her. Even though Dona Rodriguez and her daughter know that Tosilos is the wrong young man, they are delighted by this turn of events. In the seventeenth century, a young lady who was no longer a virgin considered herself lucky to find a loving husband. NOTE: In spite of all the tricks the Duke and Duchess have played on them, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have fared rather well. Sancho Panza was a good governor. He has even overcome the greedy side of his nature in refusing to betray the Moor Ricote. A letter written by Sancho's wife Teresa has revealed her inner dignity and her touching pride in her husband's success. Don Quixote, meanwhile, really has been able to help Dona Rodriguez, though in a roundabout way. He also shows some restraint in refusing to take advantage of the lovesick Altisidora. The Duke and the Duchess, who think they are so smart and sophisticated, have been exposed as petty, rather foolish people. What are these reversals telling you about Cervantes' philosophy? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 58-60 Don Quixote and Sancho leave the castle, continuing their journey to the jousting tournament described by Sampson Carrasco at the beginning of Part II. Don Quixote is hiking through a wood when he gets caught in some threads strung between the trees. A young woman appears and explains that the threads are snares set to trap birds. She and her companions introduce themselves as well-to-do ladies who have retired to this part of the countryside to play at being shepherdesses. The young women and their male companions make a big fuss over Don Quixote. He, in turn, offers to stand in the middle of the road and challenge anyone who comes by to acknowledge the shepherdesses' beauty. Unfortunately for Don Quixote, the first "travelers" to come along are a herd of bulls. They stampede right past the Don and Sancho, leaving both men bruised and breathless. NOTE: The young ladies playing shepherdesses are acting out the fantasies of the pastoral romances that were still quite popular in Cervantes' time. Their modern equivalent would be a group of wealthy young people going to a town in the Old West to play at being cowboys and frontier dwellers. You might also be reminded of the hippie communes of the 1960s and early 1970s that were founded by young people from the cities who tried, often very self-consciously, to "live off the land." Moving on, Don Quixote is quite depressed to hear two gentlemen at an inn discussing the unauthorized Part II of Don Quixote that has just been published. In fact, it was while writing this chapter of the novel that Cervantes learned that such a sequel, written by another author, had appeared in print. Cervantes took his revenge through the characters in his story. Because the author of the unauthorized Part II supposedly had his characters travel to Saragossa, the "real" Don Quixote--Cervantes' character--decides to prove the sequel false by changing his destination. He and Sancho will go to Barcelona instead. In the meantime, Don Quixote has another problem. He is upset because Sancho has not yet given himself the 3300 lashes that will free Dulcinea from her magic spell. At night, while the pair are camping out under the stars, the Don creeps up on the sleeping Sancho and tries to deliver the lashes himself. Sancho wakes up and wrestles with his master. Next, the Don and Sancho meet a band of highway robbers led by a notorious outlaw named Roque Ginart. The knight and his squire are afraid that their end has come. To their surprise, however, Roque turns out to be a gentleman outlaw. Recognizing that the Don is mad, Roque does not rob him. The outlaw treats his other victims with similar courtesy. He takes only from the rich and undeserving, and even then he limits himself to stealing no more than they can afford to lose. NOTE: Roque Ginart was a real outlaw who operated in eastern Spain during the time Cervantes was writing. You might compare him to the legendary Englishman, Robin Hood. Roque's philosophy of robbing from the rich to give to the poor is a real-life example of "quixotism." Yet Roque does not recognize Don Quixote as a kindred spirit. Why not? One reason might be that Roque knows the score, so to speak. He realizes that in the eyes of the law he is still an outlaw. Unlike Don Quixote, he is in touch with reality. What other differences did you find between the two characters? DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 61-62 The Don and Sancho finally reach Barcelona. Roque has given them a letter of introduction to a gentleman named Don Antonio Moreno who welcomes them as guests in his home. Quixote and Sancho discover that they are now celebrities. The townsfolk recognize them as characters in a famous book. Don Antonio even gives a ball in Quixote's honor. It does not take Don Quixote and Sancho very long to discover that being famous has as many drawbacks as being poor and unappreciated. The Don wears himself out dancing at the ball. He and Sancho grow weary of being stared at every time they appear in public. Furthermore, the wonders of city life turn out to be greatly overrated. In one scene, Don Antonio shows off a disembodied "talking head." Of course this is just an elaborate parlor trick. The head is made of bronze, and its voice is produced by Don Antonio's nephew, hiding in a room below and shouting through a pipe. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 63-66 During a visit to a ship docked in the harbor, Don Quixote and Sancho meet a young woman named Anna Felix, who has just escaped from Algeria. Anna Felix turns out to be the daughter of Sancho's Morisco neighbor, Ricote. Anna tells a complicated story about her lover, Don Gaspar, who is still a captive in Algiers. Everyone agrees that if Ricote cannot buy the young man's freedom, Don Quixote will have to rescue him. Before this can happen, however, Don Quixote meets his last defeat. While he is enjoying a quiet walk on the beach, the Don sees a mounted knight in full armor riding out of the mist. It is the Knight of the Full Moon. The Don challenges him to acknowledge Dulcinea's beauty. In reply, the knight offers to fight one-on-one. If the Don wins, the knight will praise Dulcinea. If the Don loses, he must give up knight-errantry for a full year. Don Quixote accepts the challenge. He charges forward on Rozinante and is promptly knocked to the ground. Defeated, he must now give up his quest. Does this knight's request sound familiar? This is the same trick that Sampson Carrasco tried to play as the Knight of the Mirrors. You soon learn that the "Knight of the Full Moon" is indeed the persistent Sampson. But this time his plan has worked. You may find yourself wondering at this point why Sampson has been so persistent. We learned one reason at the beginning of Part II when the author describes Sampson as an arrogant young man out to prove himself cleverer than any small-town hidalgo. It is tempting to suppose that in creating the character of Sampson, Cervantes had in mind the imposter who was arrogant enough to publish a counterfeit sequel to Part I of his novel. At the same time, you may have encountered some real-life counterparts of Sampson. Sampson brings to life the phrase "Too smart for his own good." He plays along with behavior he considers crazy hoping that in the end his superiority will be obvious to all. Instead, he often seems sillier than poor, mad Don Quixote. DON QUIXOTE: CHAPTERS 67-74 On his way home to keep his promise to the knight, Don Quixote encounters Tosilos, the young man he had almost fought at the Duke's castle. Tosilos tells the Don and Sancho that the Duke did not keep his promise to let him marry Dona Rodriguez' daughter after all. So another of Don Quixote's "successful" adventures has turned out to be a failure. Arriving at the Duke's castle, Quixote and Sancho find a funeral in progress. Altisidora is lying stretched out on the funeral bier. Two black-robed figures appear, supposedly the judges of Hell personified. They announce that Altisidora has died of unrequited love for Don Quixote. Only Sancho can bring her back to life by allowing himself to be pinched, pricked, and slapped by the Duchess' ladies-in-waiting. The ladies fall upon the protesting Sancho. Just then Altisidora sits up, not dead at all. Don Quixote never quite realizes that Altisidora's resurrection was an act, invented by the Duke and Sampson. Convinced of Sancho's powers of disenchantment, he offers to pay his squire if he will only give himself the lashes necessary to free Dulcinea from her magic spell. That night, Sancho finally agrees. But he only pretends to whip himself, yelling in pain while beating his lash on the tree trunks nearby. Don Quixote believes that Sancho has kept his promise. Yet he still has not found Dulcinea. He looks for her everywhere, his depression turning to despair. Don Quixote overhears two young boys talking. One of them says to the other, "Thou shalt never see her while thou hast breath in thy body." The Don begins to think that this message is meant for him. He will see Dulcinea only after he dies. Don Quixote arrives back at his own house. His niece and his friends are overjoyed to see him safe. But the Don knows that he will soon die. He tells his surprised friends that he is now cured of his madness. Don Quixote of La Mancha no longer exists. He is plain Alonso Quixano once again. Sancho begs his master not to die. In tears, he reminds him that there are still brave deeds to be done, many wrongs that need to be set right. But Alonso Quixano, now sane, cannot see what this has to do with him. His last act is to write into his will the provision that his niece must promise to marry a man who has no interest in reading books about chivalry. After this, he dies. NOTE: Some years ago, Don Quixote was made into a musical play, Man of La Mancha. In this version of the Quixote story, you are led to believe that Sancho will continue the Don's mission after his master's death. Do you think this is what Cervantes had in mind when he wrote this final scene? Has Sancho been infected permanently with the Don's "madness"--with his idealism? Or, does Don Quixote's advice to his niece represent Cervantes' feelings? Is the author saying that the "quixotic" idealism of Don Quixote belongs only in books, and in rather silly, dangerous books at that? These are only two of a broad spectrum of conclusions that thoughtful readers have drawn from the ending of this novel. Deciding upon the meaning of all that has taken place is now your quest. DON QUIXOTE: GLOSSARY ALONSO FERNANDEZ DE AVELLANEDA The pen name of the author of the spurious sequel to Part I of Don Quixote. AMADIS OF GAUL The most famous chivalric romance in the Spanish language. The adventures of Amadis and his lady love Oriana take place in Wales, the setting of the legends of King Arthur. ARCADIA Originally a district in ancient Greece, the home of the god Pan. By Cervantes' time Arcadia was known as a mythical land of happy shepherds and shepherdesses, the setting of many of the pastoral romances. BACHELOR A title accorded to university students who had completed a certain portion of their studies. BISCAYAN (BASQUE) In Cervantes' time the people of the Basque country had a reputation for being plain-spoken, honest, and a bit humorless. "HERE TYRIANS AND TROJANS ALL WERE SILENT" The opening line of Book Two of Virgil's Aeneid. A good example of Cervantes' use of classical references for humorous contrast, this heroic line introduces the ridiculous episode of the puppet show in Part II, Chapter 26. HIPPOGRIFF A winged horse with the head of an eagle. THE HOLY BROTHERHOOD A kind of lodge whose members were sworn to keep the highways safe from bandits. THE HOLY OFFICE The official name of the Inquisition, a group of officials appointed by the Pope to stamp out heresy. In the beginning, the Spanish arm of the Inquisition concentrated on punishing converted Jews and Moslems who practiced their former religions in secret. Later, its duties included censorship. KNIGHT-ERRANT A knight who has taken to the road in search of adventure. LA MANCHA An arid, thinly populated region of central Spain. The people of La Mancha (known as Manchegans) were considered backward and unsophisticated, so the concept of a knight-errant calling himself Don Quixote de La Mancha was something of a joke. LAZARILLO DE TORMES The title and main character of the most famous of the picaresque novels--tales of lower-class rogues who lived by their wits. Gines de Pasamonte compares himself to Lazarillo. MAMBRINO'S HELMET The legend of King Mambrino and his helmet can be found in Orlando Furioso by Ariosto. MARAVEDI A copper coin worth very little. MELISENDRA (also spelled Melisande or Melusina) The heroine of perhaps the best-known French chivalric romance. The heroine of Gines de Pasamonte's puppet show does not necessarily bear any resemblance to the original heroine. MOOR A North African Muslim. The Moors conquered Spain in the eighth century and held most of it until the thirteenth century. The last Moorish stronghold in Spain was conquered at the end of the fifteenth century. MORISCO A Moor who converted to Christianity. Spain's Moriscos were descendants of the Moorish invaders who had conquered Spain. By Cervantes' time they were a despised minority. MR. MERRYMAN This nickname, which the Don gives to Sancho, recalls the custom of referring to a knight's companions in arms as "merry men." ORLANDO FURIOSO A chivalric romance (dealing with the Medieval hero Roland) written in the form of an epic poem. The Italian author, Ludovico Ariosto, was known for his sophisticated wit. A number of incidents in Don Quixote, including the adventure in the Sierra Moreno, parody episodes in this famous poem, which appeared in 1532. RHADAMANTHUS Along with Minos, two of the mythological judges of hell. ROLAND One of Charlemagne's commanders and, according to legend, a hero of the Christian forces that in the eighth century defended Europe against Moorish invaders (in fact, Roland fought the Basques). His exploits are recounted in the French Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) and the Italian Orlando Furioso (Roland is Furious). SANTIAGO AND CLOSE! A Spanish battle cry. Santiago was Saint James, the patron saint of Spain. "Close" was an exhortation to close in on enemy lines. "SLEEVES ARE GOOD EVEN AFTER EASTER" A Spanish proverb meaning "better late than never." TIRANT LO BLANCH (Tirante the White) The title of a romance written in the Catalan language. It was said to be one of Cervantes' favorite books. See the comments made about it in Part I, Chapter 7. There is no one so stupid as to praise Don Quixote. -Lope de Vega, Cervantes' contemporary and rival This harsh judgment of Don Quixote was unusual, even for its times. Nevertheless, it reflects the general tendency of the early readers of Don Quixote to see the novel as a comic entertainment, unworthy of serious criticism. A few critics today still insist that Don Quixote should be read for its humor alone. In the nineteenth century, the majority opinion on the novel swung to the opposite extreme. Readers found the novel almost unbearably sad and poignant. Typical of this reaction was the comment of the critic John Ruskin, who said: "Don Quixote always affected me throughout to tears, not laughter. It was always throughout real chivalry to me:... and because all true chivalry is thus by implication accused of madness and involved in shame that I find the book so deadly." George Tyler Northup in his Introduction to Spanish Literature (1925) summarizes the twentieth-century view of the Cervantes masterpiece: The vast majority of critics have considered Don Quixote the greatest novel ever written. What are the qualities which give it this pre-eminence? Other novels show more carefully constructed plots, greater perfection of technique, characters more perfectly drawn, a deeper philosophy, a style more polished. These very limitations contribute to its universality. It appeals to both the cultured and the uncultured. It was addressed to no narrow group.... What makes it appeal to all countries, to all ages, and to all classes is that it taps the well-springs of human nature, and human nature is the same everywhere. The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, in Meditations on Don Quixote (1914), discussed Quixote as a Christ-like figure: The figure of Don Quixote, set in the middle of the work like an antenna which picks up all the allusions, has attracted exclusive attention, to the detriment of the rest of the book, and, consequently, to the character himself.... in a certain way, Don Quixote is the sad parody of a more divine and serene Christ: he is a Gothic Christ, torn by modern anguish; a ridiculous Christ of our own neighborhood, created by a sorrowful imagination which has lost its innocence and its will and is striving to replace them. Gerald Brenan stresses the influence of Erasmus and other Renaissance thinkers on Cervantes and sees Don Quixote as the portrait of a revolutionary: Its subject is militant--which is as much to say revolutionary-- faith. It explains the psychology of the believing and half- believing man with a subtlety and penetration not approached by any other writer. If one wanted a modern equivalent, one could rename it the adventures of the [Communist] party man and his fellow traveller. And where do its sympathies lie? The revolutionary is the hero of the book, yet its author has not only made him mad, but casts doubt on the purity of his motives.... [Nevertheless,] With all his failings, Don Quixote towers above the other characters as the one great and noble man in the book. The noted American critic Joseph Wood Krutch, in Five Masters (1930), calls attention to the novel's realism, which makes it an honorable progenitor of the modern novel: But he [Cervantes], on the other hand, could not but be aware that Don Quixote violated the literary canons of his age. Outwardly it was nearer to the picaresque romance than to anything else--it was strung upon a thread of comic misadventures and it not only dealt realistically with the common people but carried such realism further than it had ever been carried before--yet it touched upon high things which had no place among the vulgarities of the picaresque romance and it seemed to strive for that synthesis of the comedy and tragedy of life which we recognize as the distinguishing mark of the modern novel... The following are two recent views of Don Quixote. Both parts of Don Quixote form a veritable encyclopedia of cruelty. From that viewpoint it is one of the most bitter and barbarous books ever penned. And its cruelty is artistic. The extraordinary commentators who talk through their academic caps or birettas of the humorous and humane mellowly Christian atmosphere of the book, or a happy world where 'all is sweetened by the humanities of love and good fellowship,' and particularly those who talk of a certain 'kindly duchess' who 'entertains the Don' in the second Part--these gushing experts have probably been reading some other book or are looking through some rosy gauze at the brutal world of Cervantes' novel. Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Don Quixote, 1983 Don Quixote may have failed at the herculean task of rebuilding his society: he managed at the very least to establish in his own mind, and perhaps also in the mind of his readers, the legitimacy of dreams and protest. It is undeniably true that we would seek in vain for a precise conclusion, a moral to the fable. The fact that many messages, often contradictory, have been found, seems to prove that we can approach Cervantes' meaning only 'through a glass, darkly.' Lord Byron thought that Cervantes' novel had sounded the death knell for the Spanish heroic spirit and therefore had accelerated the political decadence of Spain. The authors of the modern musical comedy, Man of La Mancha, on the contrary, believe that the enthusiasm and idealism of the knight are infectious: Sancho and Dulcinea, somehow, will continue the struggle and the quest. Manuel Duran, Cervantes, 1974 THE END