Don Quixote (Alonso Quixano)
Don Quixote Appearance:
Don Quixote is a tall man with a wrinkled face, long skinny arms, and an eagle like nose that is somewhat hooked and graying. Typically, he has a dried-up face, a knotted and grizzled beard, a brown, stretched neck, and a big black droopy mustache to disguise his bony underbite. On his backbone is a mole with long stiff hairs growing out of it.
Don Quixote is 49 years old, which, for the 17th century is old, since the typical life-span during the early renaissance was 50 years of age.
Since Don Quixote is a nobleman of the lowest rank he derives a small income from his acres of arable land. Besides having a bit of ready money passed down from his forebears Don Quixote makes some profit on his vineyards. When he is not managing his property, which is most of the year, either he hunts boar, to while away the time, or he reads chivalry books, as a leisure activity.
During the weekend, Don Quixote wears “a cape of black brocade with breeches of velvet and slippers to match [while on weekdays] he wears the finest homespun linen.” Underneath Don Quixote’s armor he wears baggy-knee breeches, a chamois leather doublet, date-brown leather leggings, waxed shoes, a short cloak of light-brown flannel, and an unstarched cotton shirt. In the Duke’s castle Don Quixote wears a robe of scarlet around his body, green hose stockings, and a green satin cap. When Don Quixote sleeps in the Duke’s country house he wears pajams consisting of a green flannel singlet and a knitted red Toledo cap. Before he rides a wooden, magical, horse named Clavileno the Swift, Don Quixote takes a handkerchief from his waist-pouch.
Don Quixote Family:
Besides having a twenty-two-year-old niece, Don Quixote mentions no other blood relations.
Don Quixote descends in the direct male line from Guiterre Quixada, a Spanish knight who underwent many adventures and challenges in Burgundy. According to the Catholic Cannon of Toledo, Don Quixote’s scion, Guiterre Quixada, was a knight errant chosen by King Francis of France. He was called a peer to other brave and famous knight errants (like Juan de Merlo, Pedro Barba, Don Fernando de Guevara, and Sero de Quinones) because of his worth, courage, and rank.
Don Quixote is an early riser who does not take pleasure in the “slothful feathers of his bed.”
Don Quixote can “swim like a goose.”
Don Quixote Characteristics:
Sense of Smell and Hearing:
Don Quixote’s sense of smell and hearing is acute.
Besides suffering from kidney trouble, Don Quixote has never had any teeth extracted, nor have any fallen out or been destroyed by decay or infection.
Don Quixote is an inquisitive man, always anxious to discover new information, which shows he has an excellent memory for facts of all sorts. His fine attention to detail shines through twice: once, when he recites a wide range of poetic verses, and, again, when he catalogues the recipe of the Balsam of Fierbras from memory.
Don Quixote’s speech is formal and concise with a definite beginning, middle, and ending that can be logically followed. As such, he provides well reasoned accounts of his progress with a terse economy of words. When it comes to chivalry, Don Quixote uses high-flown language with rhetorical flourishes sprinkled in his oratory like garnish.
When Don Quixote is in his right mind he “talks with good sense and a clear and balanced judgment,” which makes people think he is “clever, studious, and to the point.” But when he focuses his mind on chivalry he interlards sense and nonsense, reason and unreason, reality and unreality, because “what he says is coherent, elegant, and well-expressed, yet what he does is absurd, foolhardy, and stupid.” Since Don Quixote performs mad actions in the world—but speaks words that dissipate the effects of his deeds—most people think that he is “mad, in streaks, complete with lucid intervals.” Unable to decide whether Don Quixote is more sane than mad or more mad than sane, his examiners conclude that he is a sane man with madness in him, and a mad man with sane tendencies.
Don Quixote mistakes: inns for castles; windmills for giants; sheeps for armies; wine-filled pigskins for headless giants; black-clad mourners for shadowy enchanters; copper basins for golden helmets; country barbers for warrior knights; simple farm girls for noble damsels; sweat smelling peasants for perfume smelling princesses; wooden horses for flying steeds; air pumping bellows for the earth’s natural wind; water mills for castle fortresses; dinghies for ships; and blanket tossers for enchanted ghosts, to name just a few of his chivalric delusions.
Don Quixote’s first injury comes when his ribs are bruised and battered by a muleteer who “pounds him with a piece of his broken lance pummeling him until he is well-threshed like the finest chaff.” Then his shoulder is half-dislocated when a windmill’s sails yank him off his horse with enough force to send him rolling over the Montiel plain “in a very sore predicament indeed.” Later, half his ear is lopped off by a Basque who “sends a large part of his helmet, along with a bloody chunk of his ear, to the ground in hideous ruin.” Next, a group of Yanguasian mule carriers pound Don Quixote with their walking-staffs until he is knocked senseless. Then, a muleteer delivers such a terrible punch to Don Quixote’s lantern jaws that his mouth is bathed in blood. Not content with his opening blow, the muleteer climbs on top of Don Quixote’s ribs and trots up and down from one end to the other until he lays unconscious atop a ruined bed. To top off his blood loss, a peace-officer smashes an oil lantern on Don Quixote’s head leaving “a good size dent there and raising two sizable lumps,” as well. Later, a group of goatherds break two of Don Quixote’s ribs, smash three or four of his teeth, and crush two of his fingers in retaliation for their dead sheep. Next, a group of convicts fire a hailstorm of rocks at Don Quixote hitting him with enough force to knock him to the ground. Once Don Quixote is down, a student outlaw snatches a barber’s basin from his head and smashes it three or four times on Don Quixote’s back leaving him “in a sorry state indeed.” Later, when Don Quixote hurls a loaf of bread at a goatherd’s face, the goatherd climbs on top of Don Quixote and flails away at his face until blood pours from our poor knight’s face. Later, a penitent delivers such a blow to Don Quixote’s sword arm that he smashes his shoulder to smithereens. Next, a snarling cat latches onto Don Quixote’s nose leaving his face riddled with holes. Then, Don Quixote is scorched and singed and hurled to the ground by an exploding wooden horse. Finally, Don Quixote is stamped into the mud by a herd of pigs. Though Don Quixote’s injuries heal over a number of years—sometimes in his own bed and sometimes in the field of battle—it is a wonder that he finds the strength to go on after such extensive beatings.
Brave or Rash?:
Sometimes Don Quixote is brave, like when fights a wild boar, and sometimes Don Quixote is rash, like when he tangles with the Holy Brotherhood. But a coward, he most certainly is not. What’s more, sometimes Don Quixote refrains from being overbrave: like when he surrenders to more than forty live bandits who swarm around him outside of Barcelona; like when he takes flight when two villages fight over a donkey bray misunderstanding. And when Don Quixote is reckless, Sancho Panza puts him in check by reminding him that “withdrawing isn’t running away because when danger outweighs hope the wise man saves himself for tomorrow and doesn’t risk everything on one day.” In short, the events of the story prove that Don Quixote is both brave and rash but craven, most certainly he is not.
The common people think Don Quixote is “a raging lunatic.” The hidalgos think that Don Quixote has gone beyond the proper limit of hidalgos by calling himself “Don” and staking a claim to be a noblemen when all he owns is a tiny vineyard, a couple of yokes of land and hardly a rag on his back. The nobles think it improper that hidalgos try to rival them, especially those who are more like squires because they mend “the cracks in their boots with soot and oil, and darn their black hose with green silk.” As for his valor, courtesy, exploits and decision, opinions differ—some say “mad but funny” others “brave but unlucky,” still others “polite but a meddler.” Some are overawed by Don Quixote’s presence and regard him with wonder and respect. Others think that he is the “finest bravo in the world with a heart of steel and arms of bronze.” The innkeeper is amazed at Don Quixote’s capers and generosity while most people are eager to know what sort of man Don Quixote is and why he is so different from the normal kind.
Arms and Armor:
Don Quixote is one of those country gentlemen whose forefathers leave him a rusty, moldy, suit of armor lying in disrepair in a long forgotten corner of his house. After mending, patching, and cleaning it’s chest plate, back plate, hauberk, gorget, and greaves as best he can, Don Quixote attachés an iron barred face-guard (first, of cardboard, then of iron) to a steel cap to complete what he thinks is a sturdy visored helmet. Before embarking on his first sally Don Quixote grabs a musty lance from a disused rack, along with an ancient leather shield, to commence his dream-quest. When Don Quixote’s helmet is dented and his leather shield is smashed, he borrows a little round infantryman’s shield from a neighbor and patches up his shattered helmet as best he can before he sets out on his second sally. During his second sally, when Don Quixote’s lance is smashed to pieces by the blades of a turning windmill, he tears a dead branch from a tree and fastens it to his broken lance’s iron head. This transforms his lance into a pike, which he brandishes at a thumping fulling mill that sounds-off in the night. When he arrives at the second inn, Don Quixote seizes a watchman’s short pike leaning in the corner of a room in lieu of his rustic tree lance. Later, when Don Quixote sees a country barber wearing a copper basin on his head, he doffs his battered steel cap and swaps it for what he thinks is a golden helmet. Before setting out on his third sally, Don Quixote supplies himself with proper offensive weapons by equipping himself with a shiny double-edged sword hung from a sturdy sealskin strap.
At first Don Quixote is known as the “Knight of the Sorry Face,” which is symbolized by a woeful countenance painted on his coat of arms. Then he calls himself the Knight of the Two Lions, after he challenges a pair of big-cats to mortal combat.
Personality of Don Quixote:
Immune to Enchantment:
One of Don Quixote’s many chivalric delusions is that he, personally, is immune from enchantment, while his lady love, Dulcinea is not. For example, when he is encaged in an oxcart cage, Don Quixote thinks that a set of “wicked enchanters, unable to practice their wicked arts on his person, take their revenge by striking at what he loves most.” Thus, Don Quixote thinks that an evil wizard named Freston the malevolent turned Dulcinea into a vile peasant wench to spoil his life. Just as a warrior knight named “Roland cannot be wounded except by a pin prick in the sole of his left foot,” our knight thinks that he cannot be enchanted expect through Dulcinea. Evidently, Don Quixote believes that his life is purposely ruined by a group of malicious magicians who transform Dulcinea into an ugly commoner, just like Roland’s impenetrable flesh is penetrated by a mere pin. Indeed, since Don Quixote believes that all, or nearly all, famous knights, have some special gift, or another, he imagines that his special gift is immunity from direct enchantment.
Four times in the story Quixote cools combative situations. For example, he calms flaring passions between a young nobleman named Don Luis, and his father’s servants by calling for peace and quiet in stentorian tones. Likewise, Quixote restores peace between two warring towns by telling the combatants that a whole town’s honor cannot be diminished by a harmless mock donkey bray. Again Quixote eases tensions between Camacho the Rich’s friends and Basilio the Poor’s comrades by telling them that “it is not right to take revenge for the wrongs done to people by love.” Similarly, when Sancho Panza and a wandering goatherd grab each other’s beards and begin to exchange punches over a madman named Cardenio, Quixote pulls them apart.
Don Quixote Thinks He Is a Real Knight:
Because the Duchess executes an elaborate plan to treat Quixote with great chivalric formality, Don Quixote is “truly and fully convinced (for the first time) that he is a real knight errant, not a fantasy one,” since he sees himself treated in the same way that valiant knights of old used to be treated in centuries past.
Don Quixote’s Character Traits:
Quixote is a do-gooder who intends “to do good to all and harm to none.” Since his mental energies are always directed towards worthy ends, either he “strives to repay good deeds with good deeds of his own or he puts in their place his desire to do them by making other people’s benevolence towards himself well-know.” To show his benefactors that he would repay their favors if he could, Quixote etches their services into his memory and is forever grateful. He is also very generous. For example, when Don Quixote discovers that a convict is imprisoned for a debt of ten ducats he gives him twenty ducats to relieve his plight. When he detains a lionkeeper to battle his lion he gives him two gold escudos to compensate his delay. When he busts-up Master Pedro’s puppet show he treats everyone at the inn to dinner to compensate for their loss of entertainment. When Sancho Panza’s donkey is stolen by Gines de Pasamonte, he writes a warrant to him for three of his own donkeys. Besides being generous, Don Quixote is also merciful. For example, when he defeats a Basque in battle, instead of killing him outright, he puts his sword between his eyes to compel him to surrender. In addition, Cide Hamete El Benengeli tells us that Don Quixote is an honest hidalgo, the noblest of his time. Noble he truly is as his speeches reflect. In addition, Don Quixote is heroic because he tries to right wrongs; correct injustices; relieve the needy; defend maidens; protect widows; succor orphans; avenge the offended; punish treachery; assist the helpless; redress grievances; succor the wretched; favor the oppressed; defend women’s honor; uphold promises; protect wards; punish insolence; redress outrages; remedy distress; forgive the modest; destroy the cruel; and observe the will to do good to people of all kinds. In fact Quixote illustrates his heroism when he helps poor people: like a farmer labourer named Andres who he saves from being flogged by a wicked farmer; like Donna Rodriguez’s daughter who he marries to Tosilos; like a chain-gang of outlaws he frees from rowing in the Spanish galleys for minor offenses: (i.e. like pilfering linen, selling sex, stealing horses, inbreeding, and defaulting on a loan). Therefore, Quixote’s actions, though crazy, are always well-intentioned, and occasionally, he really does help people in real ways.
Don Quixote Analyzes The Qualities Of A Good Governor:
According to Quixote, good governors should always mean well and do what is right, and, thus, should “refuse all bribes and insist on their dues.”
Don Quixote Refuses Luxuries:
Since Quixote thinks that knight errants should get used to the harsh exercise of arms, he refuses a worsted green hunting outfit that the Duke and Duchess of Aragon offer him, insisting that he “cannot encumber himself with a fine wardrobe.” After staying in the Duke and Duchess’s country estate for over a week, Quixote is glad to get away from “the luxury and abundance he had been enjoying in the castle:” like “delectable banquets,” for example, or “snow chilled drinks,” for instance. Don Quixote even says that he cannot enjoy these luxuries, and creature comforts, “with the same freedom as if they had been his own, since the obligation to repay benefits and favors received is a bond that prevents the spirit from campaigning freely.” In fact, Quixote tells Sancho Panza that he “intends to abandon the idle life that he lives in the Duke and Duchess’s castle, since he [is] not born for it.” Later in the story, Don Quixote leaves Don Diego’s house because he wishes “to go and do his duty, looking for adventures that abound in that land.” Though Quixote is “grateful for Don Diego’s hospitality, [he leaves his house anyway] since it [does] not become knights errant to give themselves over to leisure and luxury for too long.” Thus, four-days of luxury in Don Diego’s house is “quite enough” for Don Quixote.
Don Quixote Speculates On Why He Became a Knight Errant:
Don Quixote says that while “some take the broad road of proud ambition, [some] take the low road of base flattery, [some] delight in deceitful hypocrisy, [and] a few teach true religion,” he, on the other hand, follows the narrow path of knight errantry, in which exercise he pursues great honor through his battle prowess. By righting wrongs, redressing outrages, punishing insolence, vanquishing giants, and felling evil monsters, Quixote lives a heroic life, at least in his own mind, even though he suffers from intense mental delusions.
Don Quixote Says That A Knight Errant Must Have A Lady Love:
Quixote says that since he is a knight errant he is a first rate lover of women, since, according to ancient tales of chivalry, knight errants, like him, bolster their strength in battle, and heighten their resolution in confrontation, by loving fair damsels.
Don Quixote Offers To Recue Don Gregario From Algeria:
When Quixote insists that he can free Don Gregario from Algeria—since he thinks he is “strong enough to conquer the whole world if need be”—Sancho Panza says that he better “leave this rescuing business to a Muslim Renegade who knows where Don Gregario is being held and how to get there.” Though Quixote wants to rescue Don Gregario himself by overcoming hordes of Moors on an Algerian beech, he has no choice but to go home for a year, after being defeated by the Knight of the White Moon.
Don Quixote’s Positive Actions:
Though Quixote’s zany chivalry inflicts gratuitous harm on many people, it is also true that Quixote’s bravery brings about real, tangible benefits in Cervantes’s literary microcosm. For example, Quixote stops a young farme laborer named Andres from being whipped by a wicked farmer named Juan Haldudo. (At least for a while). Quixote also frees a chain gang of outlaws because they are overpunished for minor crimes. Finally, Quixote convinces a footman named Tosilos to marry a woman that he loves.
Don Quixote’s Third Sally:
Even though Quixote’s niece, housekeeper, village barber, and parish priest, feed, rest, and care for Don Quixote (so he does not venture forth into the world again) our knight is so fixated on chivalry, that, despite their best efforts, he sets out again, on his third sally, to right wrongs, correct injustices, and do good to one and all.
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Originally posted 2019-12-20 14:04:22.
Originally posted 2020-02-02 03:37:38.