The Imperative Characters of Don Quixote

Published: 2021-08-25 11:55:07
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Dulcinea Del Toboso is first mentioned in part one chapter one. Don Quixote insists that he must have a mistress to think about as he goes on his adventures. “Oh, how our good knight reveled in this speech, and more than ever when he came to think of the name that he should give his lady! As the story goes, there was a very good-looking farm girl who lived nearby, with whom he had once been smitten, although it is generally believed that she never knew or suspected it. Her name was Aldonza Lorenzo, and it seemed to him that she was the one upon whom he should bestow the title of mistress of his thoughts” (Cervantes, 2366-2367). Quixote did not like the fact that her name was too harmonious with his, so he decided to change her name to Dulcinea Del Toboso. He felt that this conveyed the suggestion of a princess or a great lady. Quixote often falls asleep thinking of Dulcinea, and she often fuels the continuation of his journey.
The Duke and Duchess, although they are not in this series of stories, are mentioned in the full version of Don Quixote. They make their appearance in part 2 chapter 29. Quixote and Panza run into them in the woods hunting, and they all travel back to their castle. Don Quixote, seeing that the Duke and Duchess are treating him according to traditions, feels certain that he is a true knight. The Duke and the Duchess indulge Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s fantasies, validating both Don Quixote’s belief that he is a grand knight and Sancho’s belief that he will gain a governorship by being a good right hand man. Through all of their trickery they exhibit their willingness to engage Don Quixote’s madness. Don Quixote’s imagination does not much help in turning normal days into fantasies, but the Duke and Duchess find it quite entertaining to make his fantasies even crazier. By playing along with Don Quixote and Sancho rather than mocking them outright, the Duke and Duchess gain Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s trust. This trust gives them power over Don Quixote and Sancho. So, the Duke and Duchess, although smaller characters in the book, help Quixote on his quest, but do not have his best intentions at heart.
Sancho Panza is by far the most important character in Don Quixote’s quest. He is first mentioned in part I, chapter 7. Don Quixote persuades him to leave his wife and children to be his side kick on his adventures. “Don Quixote was bringing his powers of persuasion to bear upon a farmer who lived nearby, a good man- if this title may be applied to one who is poor- but with very few wits in his head. Don Quixote told him that he ought to be willing to go, because no telling what adventure might occur which could win them an island, and then the famer would be left to be the governor of it” (Cervantes, 2383). Quixote tells Sancho Panza that if he abandons his family to be his right hand man, he will be rewarded with an island that he will rule; so Panza agrees to go with him. As the two make their journey, Sancho gets a view of Quixote’s insanity: from thinking windmills are giants, to two monks and a carriage carrying a lady and her attendants which Quixote mistakes for enchanters who have captured a princess. Sancho Panza serves as an aide to his master’s madness. Cervantes contrasts these two men even on the most simplest of levels: Don Quixote is tall, skinny, and deprives himself of many things in his pursuit of noble ideals, while Sancho is short and pudgy and finds happiness in the basic pleasures of food. Sancho is a peaceful laborer who easily leaves his family after Don Quixote promises to make him a governor. Don Quixote’s violent ways confuse Sancho, who consistently warns him of his errors. Sancho eats when he is hungry but accepts Don Quixote’s fasting as a knightly duty. He complains when he is hurt and marvels at his master’s capacity to withstand suffering. Sancho’s perception of Don Quixote aides in our own perception of him, and we identify and sympathize with Sancho because he reacts to Don Quixote the way most people would. Through Sancho, we see Don Quixote as a human being with an oddly admirable yet challenging outlook on life. Panza, although concerned with Quixote’s behavior, continues to follow him in his quest, which fuels Quixote into believing that he is doing his knightly duty.

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