Don Quixote: The Misadventures Essay, Research Paper
In the Medieval Period, noblemen known as knight-errants roamed the countryside of Europe, searching for adventure. They rescued damsels in distress and vanquished enchanters, witches, and evil lords. The novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra takes place in this magical time. Don Quixote, formerly Quixana, loved to read books of chivalry. In fact, he was not a don at all. He was a wealthy, intelligent farmer who read too many books about knight-errantry and went crazy. Don Quixote felt he needed a sidekick, so he convinced a simple-minded peasant named Sancho to be his squire by promising him great wealth and a high position in society. Don Quixote is composed of the many adventures that this duo experienced. They believed that they were performing great acts of chivalry and great deeds, when they were actually two idiots running around the countryside causing chaos. However, Don Quixote also did many good things while on his misadventures. He was an idealist, which means he saw things as he wanted them to be. He spread his idea of idealism throughout the cynical world in which he lived. The Don s idealism affected people on both positive and negative ways, and he had the greatest impact on Sancho, Cardenio, and Andrew.
Sancho Panza was a gullible, simple-minded peasant who was easily swayed by Don Quixote s idealism. At first, Sancho is a realist; that is, he sees things as they really are. For example, on one of their adventures, they encounter windmills, which Don Quixote took to be thirty or more huge giants (p. 42). Sancho, being a realist, tried to tell his master that the giants were only windmills, and, of course, Don Quixote did not listen. Sancho could not fathom that his master was mad, so he shut the entire incident out of his mind. In fact, throughout the novel, Sancho does not want to accept the fact that his beloved Don Quixote has gone mad, so he accepts some of his lunacy to make his job easier. When he does that, he shows that he is not only a realist, but also a pragmatist; that is, he is practical and adapts to his environment. As the book goes along, Sancho believes more and more in his master. He finally believes in the Don completely at inn when the barber tries to reclaim Mambrino s sacred helmet. When the helmet was first stolen, Sancho regarded it as a basin (which, in reality, was what the helmet truly was), but, at the inn, Sancho believes that it really is the sacred helmet of Mambrino. Together, the duo convinces the entire inn that it is the helmet, and the barber is forced to give it up. Sancho is not the only person affected on the adventures of Don Quixote; in fact, he also affects perfect strangers along the way.
While in the mountains of the Sierra Morena, Don Quixote and Sancho encounter Cardenio, an unfortunate soul who lost his ladylove and decided to live in the mountains as a hermit. When Cardenio first tells his story of woe, the don rudely interrupts him when he incorrectly describes a book of chivalry. To say the least, Cardenio did not have a good first impression of Don Quixote, and he was cynical about the don s claims that he could help him. Having that attitude, he went his separate way. Later, Don Quixote and Sancho meet with him again and he joins their journey. When they reach the inn and Cardenio is reunited with Lucinda, his lost love, he finally believes in Don Quixote and feels confident in his knight-errantry. However, not everyone that Don Quixote encounters feels the same way.
On one of their adventures, Don Quixote and Sancho meet a boy who is being whipped by his master because he lost a sheep from the flock. Naturally, Don Quixote attempts to stop the whipping of the boy. The don challenges the farmer: by the sun that shines on us I will pierce you through and through with this lance of mine (p.29). The farmer agreed to let the boy, Andrew, go, and the don made him promise to pay Andrew immediately. Andrew was grateful and the don s idealism began to rub off on him. Don Quixote thought he could trust the farmer to honor his word, so he left. No sooner was Don Quixote out of earshot that the farmer tied Andrew up again and gave him the harshest beating of his life. Every bit of idealism in Andrew s mind disappeared. Later in the novel, Andrew finds Don Quixote and Sancho again and gave the don a piece of his mind. He told the don: you, sir, are to blame, for if you had ridden on your own way, and not meddled in other folk s affairs, perhaps my master would have let me go and paid me what he owed (p. 158). In this example of idealism in a cynical world, Don Quixote was not successful in spreading his ideal; however, he did try, but did not do enough.
Idealism is a good quality to have sometimes. Don Quixote had an overdose of idealism, and he went pretty insane. Cynicism is never good, for if one becomes a cynic, there is no point in living. Everyone needs a little idealism in his or her life, and Don Quixote was successful in spreading the word. After all, the world would be a pretty negative place to live without it.