Why is Cervantes' Don Quixote considered heroic if all he is doing is "tilting at windmills?"
How we view Don Quixote depends a great deal on our attitude toward ideals. Many realists, for example, as the name implies, believe that ideals are interesting but largely not relevant to living because ideals, by their nature, will always be overpowered by real life. On the other hand, there are idealists in this world who absolutely believe that taking action based on one's ideals can improve the world. We only have to look at the recent "Occupy Wall Street" and related protests to see some degree of idealistic behavior in practice.
In Don Quixote , one one level, we are presented with a old man, a relatively low-level aristocrat, whose imagination is so captured by the ideals of chivalry and honor that he turns himself into a 14thC. knight-errant, complete with squire (Sancho Panza), and journeys forth to right as many wrongs that he can. Even before he takes on the persona of a knight, we know that he kept "a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler (to affix a sword to his...
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