Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 723
Don Quixote (kee-HOH -teh), possibly a gentle but impoverished man named Alonso Quijano (or perhaps Quixana) of Argamasilla, in the Spanish province of La Mancha. Driven mad by reading many romances of chivalry, he determines to deck himself out in rusty armor and a cardboard helmet and...
(The entire section contains 723 words.)
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- Critical Essays
Don Quixote (kee-HOH-teh), possibly a gentle but impoverished man named Alonso Quijano (or perhaps Quixana) of Argamasilla, in the Spanish province of La Mancha. Driven mad by reading many romances of chivalry, he determines to deck himself out in rusty armor and a cardboard helmet and to become a knight-errant. Under the name of “Don Quixote” he will roam the world, righting wrongs. His squire calls him “The Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.” He has moments of lucidity, especially at the end of the novel when a victorious enemy forces him to give up his questing. He returns home, repents of his folly, and dies.
Sancho Panza (SAHN-choh PAHN-sah), a paunchy rustic at first described as “long-legged.” He is persuaded by promises of governorship of an island to become squire and attendant of the knight. He is the best drawn of the 669 characters in this 461,000-word novel. He does get his island, but he abdicates upon news of the approach of a hostile army.
Rocinante (rroh-see-NAHN-teh), the nag that carries Don Quixote on his journeying. His companion is Dapple, the donkey of Sancho Panza.
Aldonza Lorenzo (ahl-DOHN-sah loh-REHN-zoh), a sweaty peasant girl of Toboso, whom Don Quixote idealizes under the name of Dulcinea del Toboso; he chooses her to be his queen of love and beauty, the inspiration of his knightly questing.
Antonia Quixana (kee-HAH-nah), Don Quixote’s niece, who by the terms of his dying will can marry only a man who is not given to reading books of chivalry.
Teresa Cascajo (teh-REH-sah kahs-KAH-hoh), also called Juana Gutierrez (HWAH-nah gew-tee-EH-rrehs), the wife of Sancho Panza.
An innkeeper, the fat master of a roadside inn that Don Quixote mistakes for a fortress. He dubs Don Quixote a knight.
Andrés (ahn-DREHS), an unpaid servant, temporarily saved from a beating in Don Quixote’s first attempt at righting wrongs.
Pedro Pérez (PEH-droh PEH-rehs), the curate who burns the knight’s library of chivalric romances in an attempt to cure him of his madness.
Master Nicolás (nee-koh-LAHS), the village barber, who assists in burning the books. Dressed in women’s clothes, he impersonates Dulcinea in an effort to persuade Don Quixote to leave the Sierra Morena.
Cardenio (kahr-DEH-nee-oh), who meets Don Quixote in the Sierra Morena and tells his sad story.
Dorotea (doh-roh-TEH-ah), another ill-starred wanderer with a melancholic tale. She pretends to be a damsel in distress in order to persuade the knight to go home.
Ginés de Pasamonte
Ginés de Pasamonte (hee-NEHS deh pah-sah-MOHN-teh), a criminal condemned to the galleys. Don Quixote rescues him and a dozen more from the chain gang, only to be stoned by them.
Two friars, acting as escort for a noble lady in a coach. The knight believes they are abducting her and attacks the retinue; they beat up Sancho Panza.
Roque Guinart (rroh-keh gee-NAHRT), a man driven to banditry by bad luck. He captures Don Quixote and Sancho. Refusing to be persuaded by them to turn knight-errant, he sends his prisoners to a neighboring bandit and recommends them as entertaining persons.
Master Pedro, the owner of a divining ape and a puppet show whose characters the knight mistakes for real people. He tries to rescue the leading lady.
A barber, whose shaving basin Don Quixote mistakes for Mambrino’s golden helmet.
A carter, taking caged lions from the governor of Oran to King Philip. In outfacing one of them, Don Quixote achieves his only successful adventure in the novel.
A duke and his duchess
A duke and his duchess, who invite Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to their palace and play jokes on them, such as a supposed ride through space on a magic wooden horse, Clavijero. They make Sancho governor of an island, a village owned by the Duke.
Samson Carrasco (kah-RRAHS-koh), a neighbor who disguises himself as the Knight of the Mirrors and the Knight of the White Moon. He eventually overcomes Don Quixote and sentences him to abandon knight-errantry and return home. There Don Quixote dies after denouncing knight-errantry as nonsense, never realizing that he himself has been a true knight and a gallant gentleman.