Don Quixote Character Analysis

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The legendary character of Don Quixote is revered for his strong convictions and dedication to love, nobility, and courage in a world that does not fully embrace those ideals. He is revered for his unapologetic worldview and strong commitment to his own moral compass. Nonetheless some may suggest he has a twisted sense of the real world and of reality and may even be considered crazy. Yet he has a firm grasp on what he is doing, what his goals and beliefs are, and what morals and principles he plans to adhere to. Don Quixote knows who he is and what his intentions are. He was not a madman living in a fairy tale, but an idealist and a romantic trapped in a harsh, unsympathetic world.

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Don Quixote is in his later years and has less and less to fill his days so he begins to read novels of chivalry and romance. After obsessively consuming literature starring his heroes, the distinguished and honorable knights of the medieval period, he decides to devote his life to the pursuit of this outdated yet idealistic code of conduct. As Professor Ilan Stavans, author of Quixote (2015) explains in his interview with Robert Seigal, host of All Things Considered on NPR, how many of us desire to emulate the superheroes or role models we read about or see on screen. He describes how Don Quixote must have felt and Cervante’s ability to “figure out the connection between the world of fantasy and the world of reality where we are in constant need of finding something that justifies our days.”

Don Quixote visualizes himself as a genuine hero in the truest sense. A protector of all that is good and innocent, and an upholder of chivalry, courage, and valiance, our protagonist has deemed himself a savior to society. However this seems to be a self-appointed title only. The author, Cervantes, calls him a “madman”, a ” poor fellow”, and describes how he makes decisions with “madness prevailing over reason”. (p.1680) The townspeople he encounters treat him similarly. To them, he is a clownish madman, to either be laughed at or to be feared as insane, but never to be admired or looked up to. The innkeeper he forces to knight him does so only to be rid of the strange man, and the women he meets there look at him skeptically alternating between fear and amusement.

True, our protagonist does indulge in some delusional fantasies, such as confusing windmills for Giants he must slay, or an inn for a beautiful castle with turrets and a drawbridge, but overall appears to have a firm grasp reality. He simply perceives these gigantic, looming objects differently than everyone else. He desires to live in a fair and just world and sets out to do everything in his power to achieve that. He faces what he perceives as true danger so that he may protect others that cannot protect themselves. His intentions, albeit a bit misguided, can only be described as noble. He believes with great passion which can sometimes be mistaken as madness. Although not everything he sees is true, it doesn’t mean that his worldview doesn’t have some value and worth.

Don Quixote seems to suffer from a very specific version of lunacy. In his article “Cervantes and Don Quixote De La Mancha”, Femi Oyebode concludes that Cervantes “introduces the notion that there is an accepted version of madness, but that Don Quixote’s version is distinctive.” In other words, everyone in society suffers from sort of madness or delusions, but only socially-acceptable forms of insanity go unnoticed. Cervantes is highlighting the hypocrisy of a world in which only certain kinds of fantasy and deception are acceptable. Oyebode explains that while Cervantes allows the reader to be privy to the reactions of various people to Don Quixote, he “also leaves us, the readers, to judge the nature and quality of Don Quixote’s affliction.” As the audience, we draw on our own perceptions when making that judgment of the extent of Don Quixote’s sanity.

Don Quixote wants to be the heroic knight who saves the world. He desires to right the wrongs of the humanity despite the abuse he must endure from the very people he wishes to save. Although his sense of duty can borderline meddling and intrusive, his intentions remain pure and true. He sets out in the world ready to take on so much as he believed “so many were the wrongs that were to be righted, the grievances to be redressed, the abuses to be done away with, and the duties to be performed.” (p.1680) Despite his sometimes strange and unorthodox ideas and methods, his intentions remain grounded in reality. His purpose and aim is simply for the world to be a better place than before he arrived. And while he does desire praise and gratitude from those he saves, he doesn’t seem to mind when they don’t give it.

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Don Quixote Character Analysis. (2021, Feb 26). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from
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