January 28, 2023

Butler (AKA Merlin, Countess Trifaldi, The Dolorous Duenna, Advisor of Barataria)

Introduction: The Duke and Duchess’s butler first appears in the context of Sancho Panza’s beard washing, when he tells the Duchess that “Senor Sancho will want for nothing [because] his every need will be taken care of.” Subsequently, the Duke’s butler whisks Sancho Panza away to have his beard washed in dirty dish water by a group of rascally under chefs. Later, when the Duchess rebukes her butler for not blocking this attempt, the Butler immediately orders the scullion-barbers to remove the ash cloth bib from Sancho Panza’s neck, post-haste, and to leave him alone, without delay.

The Butler As Merlin


The Duke’s butler, “a wag with a ready wit,” pretends to be Merlin.

Merlin’s Description and Function:

Merlin is an elaborate character enacted by the Duke and Duchess of Aragon to convince Don Quixote that a spangled nymph, seated on a high throne, with penitents dressed in white all around her, is actually his beloved Dulcinea Del Toboso, sent by a French Knight named Montesinos, to be disenchanted.

Merlin’s Triumphal War Chariot:

Merlin first enters “Don Quixote” riding a triumphal war chariot pulled by six brown mules.

Don Quixote
Don Quixote Novel

Merlin’s Dress:

Merlin wears a thick black veil and a long black dressing gown, which he “throws open to stand fleshless and hideous looking like death itself.”

Merlin’s Speech:

In the guise of living death, Merlin makes a long speech, in rhymed verse, in a sleepy tone of voice. Though he claims to be a sorcerer, a wizard, and an enchanter, who, in chivalric histories, is depicted as the son of the Devil, Merlin says that by nature he is a “tender, kind, and compassionate man, fond of doing good to one and all.” Merlin then claims that while he was in Montesinos’s cave he heard a faint voice of a beautiful maiden named Dulcinea, who was magically transformed from a high born lady into an ugly village wench. Merlin then says that to disenchant Dulcinea Sancho Panza must lash himself three thousand three hundred times on his bum, in such a manner that his whipping will “smart and sting and vex him sore.”

Merlin’s Alchemy Books:

From his Alchemy books, Merlin distills a fictious remedy for Dulcinea’s disenchantment.

Merlin Sets Terms For Sancho Panza’s Self-Flagellation:

Merlin says that “Sancho Panza must take his lashing of his own free will, not by force, and at a time of his choosing, for no deadline has been established. But, says Merlin, if he “wishes to abate the atonement by one half, he can have his whipping administered by another hand, though it must be a somewhat heavy one.” Later, Merlin tells Sancho Panza that keeping a running count of his lash strokes is unnecessary, since, at the precise moment that he reaches the correct number, Dulcinea will be magically disenchanted. In short, Merlin says that Sancho Panza need not worry about administering too many or too few lash strokes, since his whip count will be automatically registered by an invisible register.

Merlin Magically Builds A Flying Wooden Horse Named Clavelnio the Swift:

Merlin builds a flying wooden horse named Clavileno the Swift. He only lends this horse to either people he is extremely fond of or people who pay him very well. As such, Merlin lends Clavileno the Swift to his friend and great favorite, a French gentleman named Pierres, who uses it to save his lady love, a fair woman named Magalona, from the evil clutches of a wicked tyrant. Just as Pierre saves Magalona from imprisonment by carrying her on the crupper of this horse, Merlin encourages Don Quixote to use this magic horse to save a damsel in distress named Princess Antonomasia from the deadly clutches of an evil giant named Malambruno. Convinced by Merlin’s silky-smooth oratory, Don Quixote attempts to save Princess Antonomasia by riding Clavileno the Swift through the air, which, in turn, leaves Merlin—“the protoenchanter of all enchanters”—satisfied with his attempt.



Originally posted 2019-12-24 13:54:18.

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Originally posted 2020-02-14 17:20:33.