Don Quixote is one of the classics of world literature, the "great forefather of the novel" in critic Lionel Trilling's phrase, and widely acknowledged as Spain's national masterpiece. It has entertained readers of all kinds for more than three hundred years and has been translated into all the major world languages. A selective bibliography of criticism published on Cervantes from 1894 to 1970 lists no less than 660 entries.
One anecdote, although of questionable authenticity, illustrates the book's entertainment value. Reportedly, King Philip III was standing on the balcony of his palace when he noticed a student reading a book on the bank of the Manzanares River. The student interrupted his reading from time to time to slap his forehead in laughter. The king remarked, "Either that student is out of his mind or he is reading Don Quixote." Much of the novel's humor derives from the difference between Don Quixote and the knights errant on whom he bases his behavior. Knights perform useful deeds, restoring queens to their thrones, helping kings repel invaders, and eliminating menaces to public order. Don Quixote, however, sets prisoners free and attacks armies of sheep. Pigs run toward him, and he thinks of it as an "adventure."
Quite apart from its humor, Don Quixote treats interesting dilemmas that remain as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago. For example, the conflict between appearance and reality is...
(The entire section is 372 words.)
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Part 1 Summary
Don Quixote opens with a prologue. Much of the prologue, however, is devoted to a discussion of what a prologue should include, offering the reader some insight into what a seventeenth-century audience might expect.
Don Quixote is the story of Alonso Quijano, an aging gentleman of La Mancha. He reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity. As the narrator reports: "With virtually no sleep and so much reading, he dried out his brain and lost his sanity."
Don Quixote decides to become a knight-errant, which is a knight who travels the countryside performing good deeds and seeking adventure. He puts on an old suit of armor, mounts a bony old horse he calls Rocinante, and renames himself Don Quixote de La Mancha. He also appoints a peasant woman, Aldonza Lorenzo, as his ladylove, and renames her Dulcinea del Toboso. Like the knights of old, Don Quixote performs good deeds in the name of Dulcinea, although she does not know that she is the object of the older man's attention.
Don Quixote then rides in search of adventure. Just as he considers himself a knight, he imagines that a local inn is a castle and the innkeeper a castellan. As a result of his madness and odd behavior, a group of travelers beat him.
After the beating, he makes his way home, where he is interrogated by the local priest and barber. Concerned, they decide to cure him of his madness by burning his books. Don Quixote attributes...
(The entire section is 402 words.)
Part 2 Summary
Don Quixote's friends are unable to keep him at home for long. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza take off in search of adventure again, this time meeting with the Knight of the Wood (a village student in disguise who had promised to impede Don Quixote's adventures), joining a wedding party, and destroying a traveling puppet show.
The second volume of the novel also includes a long section in which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza stay with a duke and a duchess who have read about the pair's famous adventures. The Duke and the Duchess play a series of tricks on Don Quixote, including the "disenchantment" of Dulcinea and the enthronement of Sancho as ruler of an island.
Next, Don Quixote and Sancho decide to go to Barcelona where they have additional adventures. Finally, the student from the earlier episode finds Don Quixote and challenges him to combat. Don Quixote is defeated. He decides to return home and become a shepherd.
On his return home, Don Quixote falls ill. He instructs his niece and housekeeper, "Take me to my bed because I don't feel at all well, and just remember: whether I'm a knight errant, as now, or a shepherd, later on, I'll never stop doing for you whatever needs to be done, as you will see in the event."
Although his friends try to cheer him up, Don Quixote grows weaker and weaker. Finally he writes his will and apparently returns to sanity:
I was mad, and now am sane; I was Don...
(The entire section is 331 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary
The Quality and Manner of Life of the Renowned Don Quixote de la Mancha
In the village of La Mancha lives a fifty-year-old man, an old-fashioned gentleman who always has with him a lance, an old target, a scrawny horse, and a greyhound. He eats more beef than mutton and three-fourths of his income is spent on food; he spends the rest on velvet robe and slippers for holidays and a suit of the very best homespun cloth for the rest of the year. His family includes a fortyish housekeeper, a teen-aged niece, and a serving man who works both inside and outside of the estate and can saddle a horse. The gentleman is fit and hearty, a lover of hunting, and according to tradition his surname is Quixana, though that is not a certainty.
When the gentleman has nothing to do with his days (which is often for this gentleman), he reads books about knight-errantry. He is so absorbed by his reading that he sells off good land in order to purchase more romances, books about knights, damsels, chivalry, and service. Soon he owns every book on the subject. Some of the writing he does not understand and some adventures he does not like as well as others; however, he so wholly devotes himself to his reading that he spends all of his days and nights doing it.
The lack of sleeping and eating causes the gentleman to lose his reason. Now his books have come to life in his mind, and his head is full only of enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, armor, and tournaments: an “abundance of…impossibilities, insomuch, that all the fables and fantastical tales which he read seem to him now as true as the most authentic histories.” He has his favorite knights, among them Bernardo del Carpio who killed Orlando; the giant Morgante is among his favorites because he was civil, though he came from a monstrous brood.
Of all the men in the world, though, the gentleman most of all admires Rinaldo of Montalvan for his feats of bravery and despises the traitor Galalon who would have given away his housekeeper and niece to ensure his own pleasures.
Now the gentleman moves the delusions of his imaginary world into his real world and wants to redress every wrong, defying danger and earning everlasting renown. He cleans and repairs his grandfather’s armor, creating a cardboard visor to complete the helmet. When he tests it, however, he is dismayed at how easily it breaks and puts a piece of iron on...
(The entire section is 577 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary
Of Don Quixote’s First Sally
Don Quixote has made his preparations and, before dawn in the heat of July, he prepares to leave for adventures unknown. After he laces his helmet, straps on his target, grasps his lance, and mounts the noble Rozinante, he rides out the private door of his back yard. He is thrilled at how well his adventure is going so far, but he does not travel long before he has a terrible thought: because he has not yet been knighted, according to the rules of chivalry he cannot bear arms against any foe, should have no adornment on his shield, and should wear white armor until he performs an act of valor.
This realization nearly deters Quixote, but he decides to get knighted at the first opportunity and to scour his armor along the way until it shines white. He continues his journey, speaking in exaggerated poetry in the fashion of the romances he so loves. The sun is beating down so violently that “it would have been sufficient to have melted his brains had he had any left.”
Nearly the entire day passes uneventfully and Quixote is in despair, for his greatest desire is to meet someone on whom he can wield his weapon. Just when Rozinante is exhausted and famished, Quixote sees an inn which he reaches at dusk. In the romantic glow of near-darkness, the inn appears to him to be a castle, complete with towers, moats, and drawbridge. Because of that, he draws close and then waits for a dwarf to appear on the battlements and announce him with a horn. That, of course, does not happen.
Finally he arrives at the inn door, and all the serving wenches are frightened at the sight of this strange-looking man in battered armor and they immediately begin to run. Sensing their fear, Quixote lifts his visor and begs the young virgins not to flee. These wenches are no virgins, and they laugh at him; with grave concern, he admonishes the girls that laughter is unbecoming to the loftiness of their position. The fat innkeeper enters the conversation and wants to laugh along with the girls; instead he speaks civilly to his armored guest.
Quixote addresses the innkeeper formally (but incorrectly) and says he requires little in the way of comfort; unfortunately, the innkeeper is insulted by Quixote’s well meaning words and threatens to make him sleep on the pavement. While the innkeeper tends to Rozinante, the wenches try to help Quixote take off his armor. As they...
(The entire section is 595 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
An Account of the Pleasant Method Taken by Don Quixote to Be Dubbed a Knight
Don Quixote cuts his awkward meal short and begs the innkeeper to follow him to the stable where he promptly falls prostrate at the man’s feet and begs a favor of him. He tells the landlord that he intends to spend the night with his armor in the castle’s chapel and would be honored if the innkeeper would dub him a knight in the morning so he can continue his adventures.
By now the innkeeper is well aware of Quixote’s delusional mind and determines to have some fun with him. He tells Quixote that he, too, was once a knight-errant and traveled the world doing deeds of destruction and mayhem. He is sorry to report that his castle’s chapel is under construction but assures him chapel is not necessary. Quixote is welcome to spend his vigil in the courtyard.
The landlord then asks if Quixote has any money; the would-be knight says he has none and never read of any knight who carried money with him. The innkeeper assures Quixote that all knights carry not only money but a box of shirts and a small box of salve to heal their wounds, for most are not fortunate enough to have a sage or magician to travel with them. Knights are also obligated to take care of their squires, and since Quixote will soon be the innkeeper’s “son in chivalry,” he makes the knight-errant promise to carry such necessities from now on.
Quixote prepares for his vigil by gathering his meager arms, placing them in a trough near the well, and watching them as he paces through the night. The innkeeper gathers other to watch the spectacle with admiration by the light of a bright moon. As Quixote keeps his vigil, a carrier from the inn has to bring his mule to the fountain to drink and cannot do so without moving the man’s weaponry. Though Quixote hails the man and warns him against creating a conflict with such a great knight, the donkey’s owner is not deterred; he takes the pile of weapons and throws them aside.
At this insult, Quixote puts on his armor, invokes the name of Dulcinea, and strikes the inconsiderate man over the head with his lance, knocking the carrier unconscious. Quixote then removes his armor, rests his lance against the trough, and continues his vigil. Soon another carrier, unaware of the last man’s fate, also comes to water his mules. When he offers to move the armor, Quixote raises his lance and...
(The entire section is 742 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary
What Befell the Knight After He Had Left the Inn
Don Quixote is thrilled to be riding forth as a true knight, and he is determined to equip himself as the innkeeper recommended; he is going back home to seek a squire and provision himself with the other things necessary for knights-errant. On the way, Quixote hears an “effeminate voice complaining in a thicket” on his right. Quixote knows this is his first opportunity to help someone in distress.
As fast as Rozinante can carry him, Quixote rides to the source of the sound and discovers a teenage boy, naked to the waist, being whipped by a large country man. The boy is crying out that he will never again steal anything from his master, and Quixote demands that the older man desist in the beating and challenges him to take up his lance (for Quixote sees something lance-like resting against a nearby tree), get on his horse, and fight a fair fight.
The boy is a shepherd for the rich farmer and pleads with Quixote to save him; the farmer appears to be impressed by the knight and explains that he loses sheep every day the boy works. Quixote insists that the master pay the boy what he owes him and release him. After they figure the amount the boy is owed, Quixote says the master must pay the boy’s wages immediately. When the master finally agrees to do so, Quixote rides off, satisfied that he has successfully completed his first act of valor. Once the knight is gone, however, the master ties the boy back up and continues to beat him. He finally releases his servant boy and tells him to go seek justice if he that is what he wants. The boy is determined to find the valorous knight whom he is sure will redress this great wrong on his behalf.
Pleased with himself for such a successful encounter, Quixote continues riding until he arrives at a four-way intersection. This is just the kind of decision-making which knights love, and after much thinking Quixote decides to let his trusty steed make the choice. Of course, Rozinante chooses the path which leads closest to his own stable. Before long, horse and rider see an entourage approaching them on the road. Six silk merchants from Toledo are riding on mules and are covered by umbrellas; they are accompanied by four servants and several muleteers.
Quixote decides to fight this battle the same way as one of the favorite exploits he read about, so he stands firmly in the middle of...
(The entire section is 725 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary
A Further Account of Our Knight’s Misfortunes
As he lies by the side of the road, sore and unable to move, Quixote recalls the romance story of Baldwin and the Marquis of Mantua and he immediately feels better. He recalls the lament of that tale and sings out the question: where, oh where, is the Marquis of Mantua? As fortune would have it, a ploughman who lives in the village near Quixote’s house happens to be walking by with a sack of wheat from the mill. When he sees and hears the strange man lying prostrate near the road, he asks the man who he is and why he is lamenting so sadly.
Quixote sees the man as his uncle, the Marquis, and immediately shares the imaginary woes of the romance story. The farmer thinks it all odd and lifts the man’s visor; he immediately recognizes his neighbor and calls him by the name he knows, Quixada. The would-be knight continues to talk as if the man is his uncle; so the ploughman helps the man unto his donkey, which is gentler than Quixote’s horse, and gathers up every splinter of the man’s gear and ties it to Rozinante. He slowly guides both animals into town and ponders the odd utterances of the old man behind him.
Quixote is bruised and sits uncomfortably on the donkey, sighing greatly in his discomfort. When the farmer asks what is wrong with him, Quixote suddenly changes stories and begins to relate the adventures he read in another romance. Convinced his neighbor’s “brains have turned,” the man moves more quickly so he can get rid of the old man. He denies being anyone Quixote claims he is and tells Quixote that he is not a brave knight but his neighbor, Quixada. Quixote, of course, denies such an ordinary persona and continues describing himself in grandiose terms.
This continues until they arrive at the village at sunset; the countryman waits until it is dark so no one will see the man in this condition. When they arrive, Quixote’s house is in disarray. The housekeeper is distraught, and his young niece explains to the curate and barber, both intimate friends of Quixote’s, that her old uncle has left with his armor and weapons after reading “cursed books of errantry.” Neither he nor his horse have been seen for six days, and she recounts stories of Quixote acting out scenes from these books as he believed them to be true for his life. Now she blames herself for not having told these two men about this odd behavior so...
(The entire section is 714 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary
Of the Pleasant and Curious Scrutiny With the Curate and the Barber Made of the Library of Our Ingenious Gentleman
The curate, the barber, and the housekeeper enter Quixote’s library and see more than a hundred large, neatly bound volumes in addition to many small ones. As soon as she sees them, the housekeeper runs to get a pot of holy water and sprinkler and brings it back to the library, begging the curate to purify them. She is convinced that these books contain nothing but evil and is afraid of them. The curate smiles at her simplicity before he and the barber look at the title page of each book to determine if any of them are worth saving.
There is disagreement over the first book, and it is saved only because it is believed to be the first book of knight-errantry ever written and thus has merit. Others are sent flying out the window by the housekeeper as soon as the men condemn each book to be burned. Great books of romance and history pass through three pairs of hands and are summarily dismissed as vile rubbish.
The process takes quite a long time, as the two men peruse and discuss, sometimes at length, each title. It is amazing that these two men know every title; in fact, judging by the depth and intensity of their discussions, they seem almost as fanatic about the books as Quixote.
It is decided that all of the books “treating of French affairs” will be placed in a vault until they can be looked at more closely. The housekeeper wants to destroy everything, but the barber is willing to defer to the curate’s pronouncements because he is a holy man, a lover of truth, and a Christian who would never lie. Despite that, he makes arguments for and against each book along with the curate. Some volumes represent the best work in one field or the finest work of a certain author, and these books are saved from the fire.
At last the curate grows weary of looking at each book and decides that the remaining books should just be thrown out the window with the rest. The barber opens one of them by chance and shows it to the curate; he is mortified at almost burning such a great book. It was written by one of the finest authors in Spain, a man who translated “with extraordinary success” many of the fables of Ovid.
(The entire section is 415 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary
Don Quixote’s Second Sally in Quest of Adventure
While others are sorting books in his library, Don Quixote has a “raving fit,” calling all able knights to arms. His outcry is loud enough to take the inquisitors away from the library. When the men leave, the housekeeper and the niece burn several more volumes which might have escaped if the men had been there to save them.
When the curate and barber reach Quixote’s room, they find him as mad as ever, standing on his bed and fighting an invisible enemy with all his strength. After they remove the raging man from his bed and calm him down, Quixote says they have caused him to dishonor the tournament by carrying him away. The curate tells him even greater victories may be in store for him once he has recovered, for surely he has been wounded in the fighting.
Quixote insists he is only tired and bruised, for his rival has battered him with an oak tree; however, Quixote will seek his revenge once he has eaten his dinner. The men have a meal brought to Quixote, and after he eats he falls asleep. Everyone leaves the room amazed at what they had just seen. That night the housekeeper burns every book in the house and the yard; even some worthy volumes are lost in the purging.
One thing the curate and barber think might help their mad friend recover his wits is to close up the room where Quixote’s books are, so he will neither miss them nor find them when he awakes. They hope the effects will end when the cause is removed, and they tell the servants to tell Quixote, if he asks, that a “certain enchanter” had taken away his books as well as his entire study. Two days later, Quixote wakes up and the first thing he wants to do is go visit his beloved books. He is frantic when he cannot find his study. When he finally asks the housekeeper where it is, she denies knowing anything about a study, just as she was told to do.
The niece says a conjurer came to the house, mounted on a dragon, and cast a spell; after he left they could find no trace of Quixote’s study or his books. Quixote knows who the nefarious necromancer must have been, as he is the knight-errant’s mortal enemy. He vows to seek his revenge against the conjurer, but his niece asks why he must seek after quarrels and wonders why her uncle cannot just stay at home and live in peace rather than live like a vagabond.
Quixote tells her she does not...
(The entire section is 738 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary
Of the Good Success Which the Valorous Don Quixote Had in the Most Terrifying and Never-to-Be-Imagined Adventure of the Wind-Mills, With Other Transactions Worthy to Be Transmitted to Posterity
Quixote and Panza spy thirty or forty windmills across the plain, and Quixote immediately prepares to fight what he sees as courageous giants and capture their spoils. As he describes the giants with long arms, Panza tells his master that those are not arms but sails, and they are not giants but windmills. Quixote is undeterred and spurs Rozinante into battle. He calls on the name of his beloved lady, Dulcinea, and rushes the first windmill. When his lance runs into the sail, the wind is strong enough to shatter the lance and hurl horse and rider into a distant field.
Panza rides to Quixote as quickly as his donkey will take him and says he tried to warn Quixote that the giants were actually windmills and no one could have thought otherwise unless “he also had windmills in his head.” Quixote is now convinced that Freston, the necromancer who stole his study and his books, transformed these giants into windmills to deprive Quixote of an honorable victory. Panza agrees and the pair continues their journey, Rozinante a bit worse for the fall.
They make their way to Lapice, for it is a well traveled road and sure to provide them an opportunity for battle. Quixote mourns the loss of his lance and tells his squire that he once read of a knight who, after losing his sword, ripped a tree from the ground, or at least tore a branch from a tree, and won a tremendous battle with his makeshift weapon. He will do the same when they find a tree. Panza encourages the idea but begs Quixote to ride more upright in his saddle, as he is riding “sidelong,” no doubt because of the bruises from his fall.
Quixote refuses to speak about his pains because a knight-errant never complains about his wounds. Panza assures his master that he will speak about even the smallest pain he has unless the same rule applies to squires as to knights; Quixote smiles at the simple-minded man and gives him permission to complain freely of his pains. Panza eats and drinks greedily from his stores, without any thought beyond satisfying his hunger and thirst.
They spend the night under some trees; from one of them Quixote tears a withered branch to serve as his new lance. He does not sleep, thinking of his...
(The entire section is 785 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 9 Summary
The Event of the Most Stupendous Combat Between the Brave Biscainer and the Valorous Don Quixote
At the end of the last book, Don Quixote and a valiant lady’s squire were engaged in a battle in which each man is ready to “discharge on each other two furious and most terrible blows” which, if they fell uncontested, would have divided each man from “head to heel.” Unfortunately, though, the original author of this story did not provide the ending to this battle nor offer any place where one might discover it. This author cannot believe that the story of such a grand and valorous man as Quixote could have remained unfinished.
Because he refuses to accept that nothing more has been written about Quixote, he resolves to discover everything he can about the life and miracles of the renowned Spaniard of La Mancha. This knight-errant is worthy of everlasting and universal praise, and the author gives credit to Providence for putting the lost text back into his hands. Here is how it happened.
A young boy is selling a pile of old written papers to a shopkeeper; the author is intrigued by old manuscripts and cannot resist examining one of them. He has to find someone who understands Spanish to read it for him, and the man he finds immediately starts chuckling at what he reads. When asked, the Spaniard says that a note in the margin says that the Dulcinea del Toboso mentioned in this story is known for being the best at salting pork of anyone in La Mancha. Surprised, the author realizes these old papers must contain the history of Don Quixote de la Mancha.
He is overjoyed at the discovery and immediately makes a deal with the young boy to purchase the manuscript for far less than he would have been willing to pay. He takes the man with him to translate the work exactly, and all the man asks for his labor is many pounds of raisins and wheat, promising to do the work quickly and faithfully. Unwilling to wait longer than he must, the author takes the man home with him and the translation is finished in less than six weeks.
The battle between Don Quixote and the lady’s squire is depicted in a drawing on one leaf of the manuscript. Rozinante is drawn as if the horse is wasted from consumption, and Sancho Panza is drawn as thick, short, and extremely pot-bellied. If there is anything in this story which is not accurate, the author blames it on the translation or the fact that...
(The entire section is 750 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 10 Summary
What Farther Befell Don Quixote With the Biscainer; and the Danger He Ran Among a Parcel of Yanguesians
After the beating, Sancho Panza finally gets slowly up and, seeing his master in a fight, begins to pray. He prays Quixote will be victorious, win an island, and appoint Panza governor of it as he promised. When it is clear the battle is over, Panza runs to help his master; however, before the knight can speak, his squire begs him to grant him the governorship of the island he won in this bloody battle.
Patiently Quixote explains that there are few spoils to be had in these kinds of battles and to be patient. Panza thanks Quixote and helps him mount Rozinante before leaping on his own donkey; Quixote has galloped quickly into the woods and Panza struggles to follow. Finally he shouts for his master to slow down, and Quixote gives Panza “leisure to overtake him.” The squire fearfully suggests they should hide in a church to avoid any retribution by the defeated squire.
Quixote quickly tells his squire to be silent, that he has never read of a knight-errant who was punished for any acts he committed in valor. He asks his squire if he really thinks there is any other knight in the world who equals Quixote in valor, either now or in history. Panza assures him he can think of no one who has ever showed “more resolution to undertake, more vigour to attack, more breath to hold out, more dexterity and activity to strike, and more art and force to overthrow his enemies. No one in the world is like Don Quixote de la Mancha.
The squire pulls out a few medical supplies to dress his master’s bloody ear. This prompts Quixote to lament that he could have prepared a most amazing elixir before leaving if he had thought about it, made from a recipe he read about and memorized from one of his books. If he had that elixir, he would have given it to his squire so that, when some part of him were cleaved in two, Panza could use a few drops of the potion to heal him completely and immediately. Panza says he will forego being governor of an island if he can have that recipe and make a nice living selling it.
The elixir does not cost much to make, so Panza suggests Quixote teach him how to make it. When the distraught knight sees the damage his opponent did to his helmet, he raises his sword to heaven and makes a great (lengthy), passionate vow to avenge himself for the great wrong done...
(The entire section is 724 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary
What Passed Between Don Quixote and the Goatherd
The goatherds receive the knight graciously, and Panza makes his way to a kettle of boiling meat after he cares for the horses. The goatherds spread their rustic meal on some sheepskins on the ground and invite their guests to join them. Quixote sits on an upside-down trough and Panza stands behind his master to serve him as needed; however, the knight wants to demonstrate to Panza that even the lowest servant can be esteemed and honored by the world and asks Panza to sit next to him and eat from the same dishes as Quixote.
Panza is thankful for the offer but says he would enjoy his meal more if he were standing by himself rather than sitting next to an emperor. He would rather eat without being bothered by the niceties of good manners and proper etiquette, such as chewing his meat properly and wiping his fingers when they are soiled. He thanks Quixote for the honor but hereby forfeits that right now and forever. Quixote is unmoved by this speech and forces Panza to sit down next to him.
In the meantime, the goatherds are unfamiliar with the language of knights-errant, chivalry, and squires and eat heartily as they gawk at the two men. They begin the second course as they drink horns full of wine. Quixote eats some acorns which reminds him of another, simpler time. He then delivers a lengthy oration on the golden age of man, when life was simple and men were civil, and contrasting it with the depravity of men in the current age. He ends the lengthy monologue with thanks to the goatherds for their hospitality.
While the kindly goatherds listened to the drawn-out (and unnecessary) diatribe, Quixote’s words did nothing to edify them because it was “unsuited to their capacities.” Panza was also silent during his master’s speech; instead he was gorging himself on acorns and drinking plenty of wine. In contrast, Quixote spends more time and energy on speaking than eating.
After the meal, the goatherds tell their guests that they will soon be treated to the songs of a “good notable young lad” who is deeply in love and sings beautifully as he plays his Rebeck (shepherd’s fiddle). Just then the young man, Antonio, appears and the goatherds ask him to sing for their honored guests. They request that he sing the love song adored by everyone in their town, and Antonio agrees.
When Antonio finishes his song,...
(The entire section is 571 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 12 Summary
The Story Which a Young Goatherd Told to Those That Were With Don Quixote
The young fellow who brings the goatherds provisions from the next village brings the news that Chrysostom, a shepherd and scholar, died this morning. It is said he died from his love for a “devilish, untoward lass” named Marcella, who flaunts herself in shepherdess clothing. Even worse, Chrysostom’s will states that he should be buried in the field, on the exact spot, where he first saw Marcella. The other wishes of the dead man are so odd that they will not be allowed by the parish, but a scholar named Ambrose (who also dresses like a shepherd) intends to carry out his friend’s wishes.
The town is in an uproar, but the odds are in Ambrose’s favor and the elaborate funeral will take place in the morning. The goatherds determine will go; one will stay behind because the thorn in his toe is bothering him. Don Quixote is astounded by this and begs one of the goatherds, Peter, to tell him everything about the deceased man.
Chrysostom was a wealthy gentleman who lived not too far away; he studied at university all day and continued his learning at night. He had a great knowledge of the astrology and made predictions for his family and friends based on that knowledge. One day he came home from university dressed like a shepherd and leading a flock, and his friend Ambrose did the same to keep him company. Chrysostom wrote wonderful verses and songs and was a good friend to everyone. His father died and left his wealth to Chrysostom.
Soon people discovered that Chrysostom made this life change so he could follow the shepherdess Marcella. (Quixote keeps interrupting the story and Peter scolds him into silence.) Marcella’s father was richer than Chrysostom’s and left her all his money when he died. She grew up with her uncle, the parson, and was a fine child and exceptionally beautiful. Men would see her and immediately fall in love with her, but her uncle kept her close to him.
Suitors came from everywhere, and the uncle would have been glad to have her choose one; however, he was unwilling to make a match for her against her will. He spoke of each eligible man’s admirable traits, but Marcella insisted she was too young to wed and finally left to become a shepherdess in the fields, keeping her own sheep along with other shepherdesses of the town. This only caused all the young suitors who...
(The entire section is 651 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary
A Continuation of the Story of Marcella
It is barely dawn and five goatherds, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza, leave for the funeral service. In a short time they meet six shepherds wearing black skins, crowned with cypress-tree garlands, and carrying long staves made of holly. Behind them are two gentlemen on horseback accompanied by three servants on foot. After greeting one another, the strangers decide to travel together to the funeral.
One of the men on horseback, Vivaldo, explains that the shepherds who are wearing black in mourning told them about “the dead shepherd and his murdering mistress” and he and his companion want to see the funeral for themselves. Quixote asks what his fellow travelers have heard about Chrysostom and Marcella, and it is much the same story which Quixote heard last night.
When Vivaldo asks Quixote why he is so heavily armed in such a peaceable country, the knight-errant tells him it is part of the profession he has chosen. A life of luxury is for “effeminate courtiers.” A knight-errant must live a life of labor, arms, and vigilance, and Quixote is the unworthiest of that brotherhood. Vivaldo knows nothing about knight-errantry, and of course Quixote takes the opportunity to regale the strangers with many stories from his extensive reading. This recounting is enough to convince the astonished travelers that Quixote is not completely rational, and the mischievous Vivaldo decides to amuse himself at the old man’s expense.
Vivaldo suggests that the life of a knight-errant is even more stringent than that of a friar who has taken an oath of austerity. While Quixote does not believe that his calling is higher than a man of God’s, he does believe that being a knight-errant is much more difficult: bloodier, hungrier, thirstier, and more miserable. Despite the assistance of kings and emperors, sages and enchanters, knights-errant lead difficult lives. Vivaldo is dismayed that such men commit their lives and exploits to their ladies but not to God.
Quixote explains that this is the long-held tradition of knights-errant. Each man must, when faced with adversity or beginning a battle, keep the face of his lady ever in his mind. Vivaldo suggests a dying knight probably wishes he had commended himself more often to God than his lady, and he is certain that every knight does not have a lady to love. Quixote disagrees and explains that “it...
(The entire section is 806 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary
The Unfortunate Shepherd’s Verses and Other Unexpected Matters
Vivaldo reads Chrysostom’s poem; it recounts Marcella’s great beauty but laments her cruelty before he asks the Greek gods to greet him warmly in the afterlife. It does mention his jealousies and fears regarding the shepherdess, but when Vivaldo asks about those things, Ambrose explains them away as a fault of his friend, not Marcella. Vivaldi is convinced and is prepared to read a second poem, but suddenly Marcella appears near the rock where the grave is being dug.
Those who have never seen her “gaze on her in wonder and delight,” and those who have seen her before are equally enraptured by her presence. As soon as Ambrose sees her, he cries out in anger and indignation, wondering she is here to see if her presence can make the dead man’s wounds bleed again or to revel in the “final effects of her native unhumanity.”
Marcella tells Ambrose she is here to clear her name among those who blame her for Chrysostom’s death. People say that heaven made her beautiful and men are then compelled to fall in love with her despite their efforts not to do so; because of that, men tell her she must love them in return. She does not believe that “what is loved for being handsome should be bound to love that by which it is loved, merely because it is loved.” If two people are handsome, it does not follow that they must love one another; if a characteristic of love is that it must be voluntary and unforced, people do not have to love simply because they are loved by another.
If she had been born ugly, she could not complain that no one loved her. She cannot be blamed for the gifts with which heaven endowed her, and those she has attracted by sight she has “undeceived with her words.” Marcella has never given encouragement to any suitor, including Chrysostom; it was his own stubbornness, not her cruelty, which shortened his life. She told him she intended to die a single woman, but he persisted; now she asks those gathered for the funeral if they still think she is to blame for Chrysostom’s death. If any other young man dies proclaiming his love for her, she cannot be blamed for that, either.
After she says these things and without expecting an answer, Marcella turns and runs into the woods, leaving everyone behind her charmed by her character as well as her beauty. Despite that, several young men...
(The entire section is 576 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary
Giving an Account of Don Quixote’s Unfortunate Encounter With Certain Bloody-Minded and Wicked Yanguesian Carriers
After Don Quixote leaves Chrysostom’s funeral, he and his squire wander through the woods for two hours looking for Marcella. When they do not find her, they sit in a meadow and eat their lunch. Panza does not tie Rozinante, and normally the docile horse would not be tempted to leave his master. This afternoon, however, some Yanguesian carriers are resting in a nearby field and have left their mares free to eat and drink.
Rozinante is drawn to them; however, they are not enticed by his advances. In fact, they attack the poor steed with their hooves and teeth, disrobing him of all his gear. The carriers are also insulted by Rozinante’s ungentlemanly behavior and beat the horse until he sinks to the ground “under the weight of their unmerciful blows.”
When Quixote and the squire perceive what is happening, they immediately run toward Rozinante. As they draw close, panting at the exertion, Quixote sees the carriers as a “pack of scoundrels and fellows of the lowest rank” and wants to punish their actions. Panza is afraid, pointing out that the odds are twenty to two—or more accurately, one and a half. Quixote believes he is equal to a hundred and immediately draws his sword and flies at the Yanguesians; the squire does the same.
The knight-errant strikes the first blow and cuts one of the carriers; this causes his comrades to grab their staves and levers. The carriers surround the two attackers and furiously charge them. Panza is the first to fall, and Quixote falls practically on top of the still-prone Rozinante. The rustic men are afraid at what they have just done and immediately gather their mares and depart, leaving the fallen men in woeful condition.
Panza is the first to awaken and asks the fallen knight for some wine to speed his healing. Unfortunately, Quixote has no wine but promises to get some when he has recovered. He blames himself for their current condition, knowing that these men were not knights and therefore he should not have attacked them. It may be that God allowed this punishment to befall him for transgressing the laws of chivalry.
Quixote warns Panza that from now on, whenever they meet such rough characters, he will not be raising a sword to harm them. If, however, they are accosted by knights, Quixote will...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary
What Happened to Don Quixote in the Inn Which He Took for a Castle
When the innkeeper sees Don Quixote “lying quite athwart” on the donkey, he is concerned. Panza says nothing at all is wrong with him except that he fell from the top of a rock top the bottom and has some bruises on his sides. The innkeeper’s wife is a compassionate woman who, along with her daughter, immediately begins caring for Quixote. They are assisted by a rather odd-looking servant from the inn, Maritornes, a woman only three feet tall and too heavy for her body.
The bed the women make for Quixote is in a sorry room, a loft, which used to contain straw. The carrier also lodges here, and his corner of the loft is far nicer than the knight’s. Quixote is laid in this “ungracious bed” and the innkeeper’s wife smears his body with ointment. She does not believe a fall alone could have caused Quixote’s bruising, but Panza insists it was a particularly violent rock. He asks the woman to save some ointment for him, as his back is also hurting. He was so frightened at the sight of his master falling down the rock that he is as sore as if he had fallen down the rock himself. The innkeeper’s daughter understands, as she has several times dreamed of falling out of a tower, only to find in the morning that her body feels as if it actually happened.
The squire explains that this is Don Quixote de la Mancha, one of the bravest knights-errant the world has ever known. He has to explain to the women that a knight-errant is one of the grandest men in the world. While one moment he might be horribly beaten and bruised, in the next he might be an emperor who gives a kingdom or two to his squire. When the women question why the Panza does not at least have an earldom by now, he tells her they have only been at this business for a month and have often looked for one kind of adventure only to find another. If Panza escapes being crippled, he will keep fighting for his share of their grand winnings.
Quixote has been listening and in elegant prose tells the woman that she should be honored to have him in her castle, for he will remember her kindness and show his gratitude to her as well as the beautiful Maritornes. The women, of course, do not understand his lofty language but know they have been complimented. Maritornes remains to rub ointment on Panza but had already made plans to spend the night with the carrier....
(The entire section is 816 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 17 Summary
A Further Account of the Innumerable Hardships Which the brave Don Quixote, and His Worthy Squire Sancho, Underwent in the Inn
Don Quixote comes to and calls out pitifully to his squire. Panza is in a foul mood and says “all the imps of hell have been tormenting him” all night. Quixote claims this is an enchanted castle and makes Panza swear not to tell anyone what he is about to say, at least until Quixote is dead. The squire agrees and hopes that happens tomorrow, as he hates to keep things around too long.
Quixote explains that a great adventure happened to him last night. The daughter of the lord of this castle, a stunningly beautiful and charming woman, came to him. When they were engaged in the most “tender and passionate discourses,” a mighty, unseen giant knocked Quixote in the jaw. Soon the woman joined in and “barbarously bruised” him, and this morning he feels even worse than after yesterday’s beating. He suspects this damsel is protected by some enchantment and is not allowed to adore any but the man who cast the spell—probably a Moor.
Panza agrees and explains that he was assaulted last night by four hundred Moors. He wonders why the knight calls this a pleasant adventure, since they both got “lamentably pounded” in it. At least Quixote got to hold a lovely woman for a while; Panza whines that he will never be a knight-errant but is consistently treated more horribly than his master. Quixote plans to make the special healing potion for his squire.
The peace officer comes to see who was murdered last night; the squire sees the man’s strange outfit and assumes this must be the enchanted Moor who has come back to finish beating him. Quixote says it cannot be the Moor, for enchanted people cannot be seen by others; Panza says perhaps they cannot be seen, but they can certainly be felt. As they argue, the officer approaches and sees the bruised and bloody knight. Quixote gets insulted and says that is no way to address a knight-errant. The officer, insulted at being spoken to in such a way by such a “scurvy figure,” whacks Quixote hard with his lantern and quickly leaves under the cover of darkness.
Quixote is now convinced that he was the enchanted Moor and asks his squire to hurry to the lord of the castle and gather the ingredients for the potion, as he is bleeding profusely from the officer’s blow. Panza gimps his way to...
(The entire section is 812 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 18 Summary
Of the Discourse Between the Knight and the Squire, With Other Matters Worth Relating
Sancho Panza finally catches up with his master but he is so “pale, so dead-hearted, and so mortified” that he can barely stay seated on his donkey. Don Quixote tells his squire that he is certain the castle, or inn, must have been enchanted because normal people would not have abused Panza so, for when Quixote tried to rescue Panza he could not surmount the wall or even dismount. The squire is equally certain there was no enchantment and they should go back home before they are unable to walk at all because of their misadventures.
Quixote says Panza clearly has no understanding of chivalry and how honorable their mission is. There is nothing more satisfying than defeating one’s enemy, he says; Panza says this is something he has had no experience with, as they have always been the vanquished. All Quixote has won is the loss of an ear, a broken visor, uncountable blows, and innumerable bruises. The squire would love to vanquish even one of the foes who have so abused him.
His master quickly agrees that they are “both sick of the same disease,” and Quixote determines to procure such an artful sword that anyone who wears it will be protected, even from any sort of enchantment. Panza is not convinced, certain that such a sword might be useful to a knight but utterly useless in protecting his squire.
A cloud of dust appears in the distance. Quixote is confident this is the day and the enemy for which they have been waiting; the cloud of dust is two mighty armies preparing to clash on the road ahead of them. His imagination is so crowded with the adventures, enchantments, and battles he has read about that Quixote transforms anything he sees into what he imagines it to be and is unable to discern that the cloud of dust is from two different flocks of sheep converging on the road ahead. So convinced and convincing is Quixote, though, that Panza eventually believes Quixote’s vision.
Quixote, in his fancy, explains to his squire exactly who is fighting whom and Panza chooses sides and swears to defend one leader over the other. Quixote claims they will be in possession of countless horses at the end of today’s battle. The flocks are close enough now that the men could have seen that it was sheep if the dust had not obstructed them. Instead, Quixote looks at the...
(The entire section is 792 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 19 Summary
Of the Wise Discourse between Sancho and his Master; as also of the Adventure of the Dead Corpse, and other Famous Occurrences
Sancho Panza believes the misfortunes he and his master have been experiencing are because Quixote has not kept every part of his sworn oath of knighthood. Quixote agrees that he has forgotten some things and says Panza has suffered abuse because he failed to remind his master of them. Panza, of course, does not believe it was his job to remind Quixote and warns the knight to do what he is supposed to do so Panza does not suffer any further harm or disgrace.
They do not find shelter before it gets dark and are starving since they have no money because the squire’s wallet was stolen. As they travel “dolefully in the dark,” the men suddenly see many lights ahead of them. The lights approach and get larger as they come; the men are awestruck at the sight. Panza is dismayed and sees some kind of abuse in his near future; Quixote, however, is certain that he will be able to defend them both in a fight now that they are in the open field rather than the enchanted walls of some castle or inn.
The two men move off the road and watch the lights approach. It is an eerie funeral procession. In front are riders dressed all in white and carrying torches. Behind them is a hearse covered with black and six men in deep mourning riding six black mules. It is a dreadful sight, and Panza trembles; his courage has left him. Quixote sees the same sight and imagines it to be a scene straight from one of his romance adventure books. The dead man is undoubtedly some slain knight; so Quixote takes up his lance, sits firmly in his saddle, and waits for the procession to approach.
When the group draws near, Quixote challenges the men, asking what happened to the slain knight and vowing to avenge his death if necessary. One of the men in white dismisses Quixote and says they have no time for such questions and must hurry to an inn. He spurs his mule forward, but Quixote is not satisfied with the man’s reply and holds the mule’s bridle and stops his progress. When the skittish mule rears on his hind legs and throws the rider in white, one of the footmen begins to curse Quixote, which is the beginning of a fight. Quixote is incensed and strikes out at the first man he can find, one of the mourners. After he pummels that man to the ground, Quixote rages in fury at the others. The...
(The entire section is 808 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 20 Summary
Of a Wonderful Adventure Achieved by the Valorous Don Quixote de la Mancha; the Like Never Compassed With Less Danger by Any of the Most Famous Knights in the World
Don Quixote and his squire are desperately thirsty but it is dark when they begin searching for water. Soon they hear a waterfall and begin to rejoice—until they hear the sound of horrible blows along with the rattling of chains and irons. Panza, “naturally fearful and pusillanimous,” is terrified at the sound. Quixote is not deterred by the horrors of darkness or the terrifying sounds of such awful blows accompanied by the roaring water. He makes a lengthy speech in which he explains why, as a knight, he is not afraid to face such unutterable circumstances; he is undaunted and unshaken. Then he makes Panza promise that, if he does not return within three days, the squire will go to the village of Toboso and tell the fair Dulcinea that Quixote died attempting valorous feats in her name.
Panza immediately erupts into tears, begging his master not to go forth into such danger. He reminds Quixote that he left his wife and children to come with him on this quest because of the promise of an island which he can govern. Instead, he has suffered great harm. He only asks that if Quixote will not be dissuaded from his plan, he will at least wait until it is light before he enters this battle and leaves Panza to fend for himself in the darkness. The knight-errant is not moved and says he is no knight at all if he is swayed from his duties by tears or entreaties.
Seeing that his master is resolved, Panza plays a trick on him. As he is preparing Rozinante for battle, Panza surreptitiously ties the horse’s hind legs with his donkey’s halter. When Quixote tries to ride off, all Rozinante does is leap up and will not move forward despite all of Quixote’s efforts to move forward. Panza has also clasped the pommel without notice, to help keep Rozinante from moving. Finally Quixote is resigned to wait until morning, and Panza passes the time by telling his master a story.
The story Panza tells is convoluted, repetitive, and ridiculous, and Quixote interrupts often to question or correct his squire. Finally the tale ends and Quixote tries to ride Rozinante again, but the horse is still fettered and will not budge. Now Panza is suffering the effects of something he ate and has to gently remove his hand from the pommel in order to...
(The entire section is 745 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary
Of the High Adventure and Conquest of Mambrino’s Helmet, With Other Events Relating to Our Invincible Knight
It is raining, but Quixote is ashamed and will not seek shelter; instead he starts riding and soon espies a horseman wearing something glittering with gold on his head. This, says Quixote, will be a true adventure, as the rider is obviously wearing Mambrino’s helmet. Panza sees only a rider wearing something shiny on his head, but he does not confront his master for fear of being beaten.
The stranger is a barber riding a grey donkey and wearing a brass bowl on his head, but Quixote sees a knight on a grey steed wearing the famous helmet. The knight-errant positions his lance and charges the poor man; the barber’s only defense is to fall off his donkey and run away, which he does, leaving his basin behind. Quixote claps the enchanted helmet on his head, though Panza quickly realizes it is only a basin. Since Quixote does not know of any specific law of chivalry against taking an opponent’s animal, he allows Panza to trade his poor creature for the barber’s better animal.
As they follow the high road, Panza talks to Quixote about some of his concerns. He wonders why Quixote is so committed to doing all his deeds where no one can see them or give him any glory. Quixote patiently explains his delusional belief that a knight must prove himself by traveling the world. His deeds will then be made known to kings, and the knight (Quixote) will be treated with glorious honor. Quixote will be attended on and feted in every way. He will be given one of the richest apartments in the kingdom, dine with the king and queen, and become the object of affection for the lovely princess. It will be the Quixote’s good fortune if the king is at war, so the knight-errant will fight for him in the princess’s name. The princess will be so stricken with grief at his absence that, when Quixote returns (after winning many great battles, of course) the king will insist that he marry the princess to make her happy again. Once the king dies, Quixote will become king and inherit everything.
Panza says this is exactly what he has been hoping for since they began their journey and vows to remain steadfast, knowing these things will all undoubtedly come to pass. Quixote reminds his squire that some men rise to greatness through their noble blood and some through their noble deeds. All Panza asks is...
(The entire section is 506 words.)