February 8, 2023

Duchess of Aragon (Dona Casildea)

The Duchess’s Physical Description: When Don Quixote and Sancho Panza ride out to a green glade outside of the Black Mountains, they see a graceful lady, seated on a silver high saddle, wearing a green riding outfit, riding a pure white palfrey, with a green trim cloth covering to match her hunting outfit. On the Duchess’s left hand is a goshawk—or a Don Quixote large hawk with broad, rounded wings, and grey, brownish plumage—for falconing, which signals that she is a lady of great distinction, since buying and maintaining a hunting falcon was very expensive in those times and is still expensive now.

Duchess of Aragon
Don Quixote Novel

The Duchess Inquires About Don Quixote: To sate her curiosity about Don Quixote, the Duchess asks Sancho Panza if his master is the gentleman about whom the first volume of a true history named The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha has been printed. The “very same knight whose Don Quixote Fiction lady love goes by the name Dulcinea Del Toboso.” Sancho Panza replies that indeed his master is Don Quixote and that he is the squire Sancho Panza. This information so delights the Duchess that she asks Sancho Panza to go and tell his master that he is most “welcome on her estates, and that absolutely nothing else could give her greater pleasure.” Overjoyed at this gracious offer, Sancho Panza returns to Don Quixote and tells him everything the fine lady says, praising her beauteousness, charm, and courtesy to the skies.

The Duchess and Don Quixote: The Knight of the Sorry Face or the Knight of the Two Lions?: When the Duchess of Aragon refers to Don Quixote as the Knight of the Sorry Face, Sancho Panza says that “‘since [his] Don Quixote master has taken on [the] title [of the knight of the Two Lions very recently,’” the Duchess must no longer call him the Knight of he Sorry Face, but must address him from then on as the Knight of the Two Lions.

The Duchess Treats Don Quixote Like A Real Knight Errant: Pleased that the Duke’s instructions to receive Don Quixote with grace and splendor are followed Don Quixote so precisely, the Duchess consents to being sprinkled with scented waters all over by flask bearing pages, so that Don Quixote believes that he is a real knight errant.

The Duchess Questions Dulcinea’s Existence After Reading Part I Of Don Quixote’s History: In response to Don Quixote’s claim that a wicked enchanter transmogrified his lady Dulcinea from a beautiful, witty, and virtuous maiden from El Toboso into a clumsy, unrefined, country bumpkin from Sayago, the Duchess retorts that if she is to believe Part I of Don Quixote’s history, he has never seen Dulcinea and that no such person exists. The Duchess then questions Dulcinea’s pedigree by declaring that when Sancho Panza took a missive to the lady Dulcinea on Don Quixote’s behalf, he found her sieving a sack of buckwheat, as peasants are wont to do, instead of composing poetry, or some other refined activity. To further address her incredulity and skepticism, the Duchess asks Sancho Panza to settle certain doubts she has about Dulcinea El Toboso. One of the Duchess’s Don Quixote Fiction doubts about her is whether Sancho Panza ever took Dulcinea Don Quixote’s letter in the first place, since, it is recorded in part I of the book that the letter was left behind in a notebook in the Sierra Morena. The Duchess then asks Sancho Panza that if he did not take Don Quixote’s letter to her, “how did he invent her answers to his questions, or all of those details about her sieving wheat?” When Sancho Panza says he made all that up, the Duchess believes that Dulcinea does not exist. That she is a creature whom Don Quixote gave birth to in his own mind—providing her with all the charms and perfections that his imagination could endow her with.

The Duchess’s Curiosity About Dulcinea: The Duchess asks Don Quixote what news he has about his lady Dulcinea, and whether he has sent her any “giants or scurvy knaves as recent presents because he could not have failed to vanquish any number of them.” Don Quixote replies that though he tried to send Dulcinea what he thinks are vanquished giants and scurvy knaves, how could they find her, he asks, if she has been enchanted and turned into the ugliest Don Quixote Narrative peasant girl imaginable? After the beard washing episode, the Duchess asks Don Quixote to delineate and depict the beauty and the features of his lady Dulcinea Del Toboso “because if she is to believe what fame proclaims about her, Dulcinea must be quite the loveliest creature in all the world.”

The Duchess Persuades Her Household That Dulcinea is Real: Since Don Quixote does such a fine job of describing Dulcinea’s many virtues, the Duchess declares that she will do everything in her power to make everyone in her household believe that Dulcinea Del Toboso does exist, and that she is alive today, and is beautiful, and high-born, and worthy to have a knight like Don Quixote serving her.


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Originally posted 2020-01-03 18:19:51.