The Fantasies Of Don Quixote Essay Research

The Fantasies Of Don Quixote Essay, Research Paper .The Fantasies of Don Quixote A Literary Critical Analysis Don Quixote lived in a fantasy world of chivalry. Chivalry had negative and

The Fantasies Of Don Quixote Essay, Research Paper

.The Fantasies of Don Quixote

A Literary Critical Analysis

Don Quixote lived in a fantasy world of chivalry. Chivalry had negative and

positive effects on the lives of the people. Don Quixote emphasizes a cross-section of

Spanish life, thought, and feeling at the end of chivalry. Don Quixote has been called

the best novel in the world, and it cannot be compared to any other novel. Don

Quixote has been described as “that genial and just judge of imposture, folly, vanity,

affectation, and insincerity; that tragic picture of the brave man born out of his

time, too proud and too just to be of use in his age” (Putnam, 15).

The novel has been translated by different people, but it has been said that

Shelton’s translation has a charm that no modern translation has because he

belonged to the same generation as Cervantes the author of Don Quixote. He could

see things as Cervantes saw them. Cervantes’ life had influence on Don Quixote. He

could look back on his ancestry of genuine knights-errant. He had a strong feeling

on the subject of the sham or false chivalry of the romances. Cervantes says, “any

point of view affords only partial insights, even a man’s judgment of his own

qualities” (Ortega, 101).

John Ormsby, in his translation, states that to speak of Don Quixote as it

were just a humorous book would be a misdeception. Cervantes at times makes it

a kind of commonplace book for observations and reflections and gathered wisdom

of a long and stirring life. According to Ormsby, it is a mine of shrewd observations


on mankind and human nature. “Perhaps,” Cervantes said, “more people would be

better people if they were able to recognize the knights within them” (Church, 6).

It has been said that the humor of Don Quixote is what distinguishes it from

All other books of romance. This is what makes it “the best novel in the world.” It is

a classic.

Don Quixote was a Spanish knight about fifty years old. His real name was

Alonso Quijano. He lived in the village of La Mancha with his neice, his house-

keeper, and a handy man. He gave up hunting and taking care of his estate to satisfy

his passion of reading books of chivalry. He had a large collection of romances of

chivalry and in the end they turned his brain. His mind became weak from his

reading his many romances of chivalry (Samuel, 57). His mind became stuffed with

fantasy accounts of tournaments, knightly quests, damsels or women in distress, and

strange enchantments (Grossvogel, 89). His high spirit and his courage never failed

him, but his illusions led him into trouble. Warddropper says, “Don Quixote’s

madness is not the result of unrequited passion. It is the result of reading too many

books of chivalry. He is a knight gone mad from a platonic love” (Warddropper,


One day he decided to imitate the heroes of the books he had read and to

revive the ancient custom of knight-erranty. Don believed that he had been called to

become a knight-errant (Putnam, 63). Nothing would satisfy him but that he must

ride abroad on his old horse, armed with spear and helmet, a knight-errant, to

encounter all adventures, and to redress the innumeral wrongs of the world. The


people laughed at Don Quixote and his insane ideals of knighthood.

Don made preparation to put his plan into effect. “So many things were

wrong that were to be righted, the grievances to be redressed, the abuses to be done

away with, and the duties to be performed” (Church, 64). He changed his name to

Don Quixote de la Mancha and decided to roam the world righting wrongs (Church,


He was determined to dress himself in rusty armor, a cardboard helmet and

become a knight-errant (Putnam, 70). Knights were chivalrous and brave. No man

could be a knight unless it was bestowed upon him. Knights were true and loyal to

their countries, their ladies and to themselves. The morals of a knight were to be

respected and noted. Knights were protectors and held in high acclaim. Knights no

longer existed, however, the adoration of knighthood was not unlikely. Don’s

fascination and obsession with knighthood is not without merit. Don Quixote’s view

of knighthood, realistic or not, of knighthood was based upon such reasoning.

He rode a bony horse named Rosinante. He persuaded a neighbor of his, a

poor and ignorant peasant called Sancho Panza to be his squire ( Jarvis, 82). He

believed in Don’s fantasies. “Sancho is a symbol of the common man of the

Renaissance who is discovering himself and his rights and has begun to

assert himself but still continues to look to the nobility for protection” (Church, 15).

Sancho is not as intelligent as Don Quixote. Church states, “Through his suffering

as a tortoise and in the pit, Sancho has learned his rightful identity, whereas Don

Quixote has emerged from his cave even more deeply entangled in his fantasies of


knighthood” (Church, 144).

Without informing any one of his intentions, Don rode out of town. He saw

how easily he had made a beginning toward the fulfillment of his desire (Church,

64). Don saw in the mirror what the wanted to see based on the romances he

loved. He mistook inns for enchanted castles, windmills for giants, and prostitutes

for respectable women. Because of his fantasies, Don was ridiculed and beaten.

People laughed at him. He got into trouble when he showed a group of men he had

met the picture of his fair lady Dulcinea of Toboso. They called Dulcinea ugly. Don

became so angry that he fell from his horse. He could not get up because of the

weight of his armor. What is sad about this is that Dulcinea, his lady love, did not

want Don. She believed that he was insane. Sancho also thought that Don was not in

control of himself. At times Sancho would try to help Don, but Don would not listen.

Sancho stayed with Don because he wanted to govern his own island one day. You

see, Sancho had a dream, too.

While Don and Sancho were in Barcelona, a man came to Barcelona who was

called a Knight of the White Moon, he was really a student they had met. “The

white moon is a symbol of winter and death in contrast to a yellow harvest

moon; the moon also symbolizes lunacy to which Don Quixote has fallen prey and

which will at last defeat him” (Grossvogel, 295). The student was a part of the plan

to get Don to go home. The student was claiming to be a knight, and he wanted to

fight Don Quixote. He and Don had already fought once and Don Quixote beat him.

He challenged Don to a second duel and claimed victory over Don Quixote. The


knight did not want to kill Don Quixote, instead, he made a bargain with Don

Quixote (Van Doren, 253). The bargain was that Don Quixote was sentenced to

go home. The bargain included that Don would return home for a year without

seeking knighthood.

Don went home determined to follow a pastoral shepherd life. He became ill,

and his health began to weaken. Before he died, he renounced as nonsense the idea

of knight-errantry. Don Quixote died after he had regained his senses. “I was mad,

but I am sane now” (Jarvis, 279). He did not realize that he had been a great man of


Don Quixote is not a story about an insane man who had crazy, impossible

dreams and followed them. He set out to conqueror his dreams, and he fulfilled his


Bruno, Frank. A Man Called Cervantes. New York: Viking Press, 1935.

Church, Margaret. Don Quixote: The Knight of La Mancha. New York: New York

University Press, 1971.

Grossvogel, David I. Cervantes: Don Quixote. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,


Jarvis, Charles. Don Quixote de la Mancha. New York: Oxford University Press,


Kaiser, Walter. “The Last Fool” in Praises of Folly. Cambridge: Harvard Press,


Nelson, Lowry. Cervantes, A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs:

Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969.

Ortega, Jose. Meditation on Quixote. New York: The Norton Library, 1963.

Predmore, R. L. The World of Don Quixote. Cambridge: Harvard University Press,


Putnam, Samuel. The Portable Cervantes: Don Quixote. New York: The Viking

Press, 1951.

Russell, P. E. “Don Quixote as a Funny Book.” Modern Language Review. (1969).

Sarmiento, Edward. “On the Interpretation of Don Quixote.” Bulletin of Hispanic

Studies. 1960.

Spitzer, Leo. “Linguistic Perspectivism in the Don Quixote.” Linguistics and

Literary History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948

Van Doren, Mark. Don Quixote’s Profession. New York: Columbia University

Press, 1958.

Warddropper, Bruce W. “Don Quixote: Story or History?” Modern Philology.


Willis, Jr., Raymond S. The Phantom Chapters of the Quixote. New York: Hispanic Institute of the United States, 1953.