What does Don Quixote symbolize to you? Is he representative of a simple or broad set of ideas? Can you sum up his meaning in one or two words?

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Well, I don't see how it's possible, when looking at Don Quixote in context of .. well ... the text, to see him as a noble idealist. The dear man was a bit daft. He was obsessed, in his isolation, with reading chivalric literature of old and he got a notion in his head that he could conjure up a return of that chivalric era (for himself, at any rate) by reclaiming a few household odds and ends and an aged plow horse for armor and a steed. This is not noble idealism; this is unstable obsession with a past glory that was fictionalized into unrecognisability (or so one theory goes about mythological beings--Robin Fox Lane posits another). His pursuit of glory led him to thinking a shaving bowl was a "Golden Helmet" and that a joust with a building was a means of attaining "honor" and "glory" for himself in his make believe chivalric world.

What I understand from the character Don Quixote is that we mustn't be fools, now matter how charming the prospects are, and that we must negotiate the real world as it is--that we must see the real world as it is--in order to attain any honor or glory or success or respect or attainment in any regard at all. What else can possibly be understood from a guy who is slightly daft and wears a shaving bowl as a helmet?

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Idealism seems to be a generally agreed upon trait for Quixote. But does this idealism imply a nobility? I would guess that this might be where some people would differ. 

For some, he may be a comic figure enmeshed in his own idealistic fantasies, owning no nobility whatsoever. For others, maybe Quixote is honorably and nobly dedicated to his ideals, regardless of how fantastic they are. 

It's a bit ironic though that he was intended to be a satirical character, mocking the mawkish sentimentalism of contemporary adventure fiction...he is supposed to be a jerk; a lucky one, but a jerk. This is ironic, anyway, if Quixote is seen as representing a noble adherence to a fanstatic set of ideals. 

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I usually think of Don Quixote as an idealist.  People generally refer to him that way.  If someone is trying to do something deemed impossible, we refer to it as “tilting at windmills” sometimes.  I think that there is an element of humor there, but I think we also appreciate imagination and idealism.

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To me Don Quixote represents the idea of a person pursuing a goal that might be foolish or unattainable in eyes of others. It is the idea that we can only act in accordance with our own perceptions and beliefs, and although we may be wrong in the eyes of the world, it's still our own quest that matters to us.

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