The Fantasies Of Don Quixote Essay, Research Paper
.The Fantasies of Don Quixote
A Literary Critical Analysis
Don Quixote lived in a fantasy world of chivalry. Chivalry had negative and
positive effects on the lives of the people. Don Quixote emphasizes a cross-section of
Spanish life, thought, and feeling at the end of chivalry. Don Quixote has been called
the best novel in the world, and it cannot be compared to any other novel. Don
Quixote has been described as “that genial and just judge of imposture, folly, vanity,
affectation, and insincerity; that tragic picture of the brave man born out of his
time, too proud and too just to be of use in his age” (Putnam, 15).
The novel has been translated by different people, but it has been said that
Shelton’s translation has a charm that no modern translation has because he
belonged to the same generation as Cervantes the author of Don Quixote. He could
see things as Cervantes saw them. Cervantes’ life had influence on Don Quixote. He
could look back on his ancestry of genuine knights-errant. He had a strong feeling
on the subject of the sham or false chivalry of the romances. Cervantes says, “any
point of view affords only partial insights, even a man’s judgment of his own
qualities” (Ortega, 101).
John Ormsby, in his translation, states that to speak of Don Quixote as it
were just a humorous book would be a misdeception. Cervantes at times makes it
a kind of commonplace book for observations and reflections and gathered wisdom
of a long and stirring life. According to Ormsby, it is a mine of shrewd observations
on mankind and human nature. “Perhaps,” Cervantes said, “more people would be
better people if they were able to recognize the knights within them” (Church, 6).
It has been said that the humor of Don Quixote is what distinguishes it from
All other books of romance. This is what makes it “the best novel in the world.” It is
Don Quixote was a Spanish knight about fifty years old. His real name was
Alonso Quijano. He lived in the village of La Mancha with his neice, his house-
keeper, and a handy man. He gave up hunting and taking care of his estate to satisfy
his passion of reading books of chivalry. He had a large collection of romances of
chivalry and in the end they turned his brain. His mind became weak from his
reading his many romances of chivalry (Samuel, 57). His mind became stuffed with
fantasy accounts of tournaments, knightly quests, damsels or women in distress, and
strange enchantments (Grossvogel, 89). His high spirit and his courage never failed
him, but his illusions led him into trouble. Warddropper says, “Don Quixote’s
madness is not the result of unrequited passion. It is the result of reading too many
books of chivalry. He is a knight gone mad from a platonic love” (Warddropper,
One day he decided to imitate the heroes of the books he had read and to
revive the ancient custom of knight-erranty. Don believed that he had been called to
become a knight-errant (Putnam, 63). Nothing would satisfy him but that he must
ride abroad on his old horse, armed with spear and helmet, a knight-errant, to
encounter all adventures, and to redress the innumeral wrongs of the world. The
people laughed at Don Quixote and his insane ideals of knighthood.
Don made preparation to put his plan into effect. “So many things were
wrong that were to be righted, the grievances to be redressed, the abuses to be done
away with, and the duties to be performed” (Church, 64). He changed his name to
Don Quixote de la Mancha and decided to roam the world righting wrongs (Church,
He was determined to dress himself in rusty armor, a cardboard helmet and
become a knight-errant (Putnam, 70). Knights were chivalrous and brave. No man
could be a knight unless it was bestowed upon him. Knights were true and loyal to
their countries, their ladies and to themselves. The morals of a knight were to be
respected and noted. Knights were protectors and held in high acclaim. Knights no
longer existed, however, the adoration of knighthood was not unlikely. Don’s
fascination and obsession with knighthood is not without merit. Don Quixote’s view
of knighthood, realistic or not, of knighthood was based upon such reasoning.
He rode a bony horse named Rosinante. He persuaded a neighbor of his, a
poor and ignorant peasant called Sancho Panza to be his squire ( Jarvis, 82). He
believed in Don’s fantasies. “Sancho is a symbol of the common man of the
Renaissance who is discovering himself and his rights and has begun to
assert himself but still continues to look to the nobility for protection” (Church, 15).
Sancho is not as intelligent as Don Quixote. Church states, “Through his suffering
as a tortoise and in the pit, Sancho has learned his rightful identity, whereas Don
Quixote has emerged from his cave even more deeply entangled in his fantasies of
knighthood” (Church, 144).
Without informing any one of his intentions, Don rode out of town. He saw
how easily he had made a beginning toward the fulfillment of his desire (Church,
64). Don saw in the mirror what the wanted to see based on the romances he
loved. He mistook inns for enchanted castles, windmills for giants, and prostitutes
for respectable women. Because of his fantasies, Don was ridiculed and beaten.
People laughed at him. He got into trouble when he showed a group of men he had
met the picture of his fair lady Dulcinea of Toboso. They called Dulcinea ugly. Don
became so angry that he fell from his horse. He could not get up because of the
weight of his armor. What is sad about this is that Dulcinea, his lady love, did not
want Don. She believed that he was insane. Sancho also thought that Don was not in
control of himself. At times Sancho would try to help Don, but Don would not listen.
Sancho stayed with Don because he wanted to govern his own island one day. You
see, Sancho had a dream, too.
While Don and Sancho were in Barcelona, a man came to Barcelona who was
called a Knight of the White Moon, he was really a student they had met. “The
white moon is a symbol of winter and death in contrast to a yellow harvest
moon; the moon also symbolizes lunacy to which Don Quixote has fallen prey and
which will at last defeat him” (Grossvogel, 295). The student was a part of the plan
to get Don to go home. The student was claiming to be a knight, and he wanted to
fight Don Quixote. He and Don had already fought once and Don Quixote beat him.
He challenged Don to a second duel and claimed victory over Don Quixote. The
knight did not want to kill Don Quixote, instead, he made a bargain with Don
Quixote (Van Doren, 253). The bargain was that Don Quixote was sentenced to
go home. The bargain included that Don would return home for a year without
Don went home determined to follow a pastoral shepherd life. He became ill,
and his health began to weaken. Before he died, he renounced as nonsense the idea
of knight-errantry. Don Quixote died after he had regained his senses. “I was mad,
but I am sane now” (Jarvis, 279). He did not realize that he had been a great man of
Don Quixote is not a story about an insane man who had crazy, impossible
dreams and followed them. He set out to conqueror his dreams, and he fulfilled his
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