Don Quixote Novel Analysis

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Don Quixote is a rather lengthy fictional parody written by Miguel De Cervantes. The main character, Don Quixote, becomes so fascinated by chivalrous romances that he loses his wits and sets out on his very own mission as a heroic knight. He persuades Sancho Panza to come along as his faithful squire on his “journey” to defend the less fortunate and defeat evil. The novel goes on to tell the stories of their many experiences on this quest. It is thought to be pretty obvious that Don Quixote, Cervantes’ most famous work, satirizes chivalry romances; however, the underlying message in his work is the battle between reason and faith.

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Cervantes makes it very evident that his intent in writing this novel is to make fun of the popular chivalric romances at the time he wrote it. In his own prologue, he states, “for the entire work is an attack upon the books of chivalry” (1675). And as if that statement was not clear enough, the beginning line in chapter one says, “In a village of La Mancha the name of which I have no desire to recall, there lived not so long ago ” (1676). This has a clear similarity to the usual intro to romantic stories that usually begin with “In the city of [blank], long, long ago there lived a princess…”. Cervantes also highlights the ridiculous style of writing in romantic novels when he writes “the famous Feliciano de Silvia, whose lucid prose style when he said “The reason of the unreason that afflicts my reason “’ (1677). This line is very obviously the opposite of lucid, which further proves his point that people are un-mindedly reading these novels. However, even though his original intention was to make fun of the popularity of chivalric romance, it could be thought that the message between the line was the battle between faith and reason.

Cervantes had a great influencer, Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was “the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance” (Tracy). He wrote editions of the New Testament, so it is safe to assume he was a religious man. However, he believed that your relationship with God is unique to the individual and you are not required to participate in church or ceremony. The Renaissance Era that Cervantes lived in was the age of logic and reason and a lot of people started to question the religious ideals they had followed for so long. Cervantes could have been having his own internal struggle with the separation between logic and faith. This struggle is shown throughout his major work with the two contrasting main characters. Don Quixote, the idealist who fantasizes fiction verses Sancho Panza, the realist who sees the world as it is, these two characters represent his own self-battle of idealist and realist views, respectively. The idealist character, Don Quixote, transforms into less of a comedic fictional character and more of an influencer. For example, at the beginning of the novel, many characters try to persuade Quixote to stray away from his unconventional view of life as a knight. However, to be able to communicate with him they must play along in his fictional world. I think the inability to change Don Quixote’s idealist view of life reflects that ultimately Cervantes relies on faith rather than logic when deciding what is the truth.

By the end of the story, despite the immediate desire to change Quixote’s way of thinking, all of the characters achieve a harmonious relationship with him as they accept his ideas and values. On the surface, as I have already mentioned, this work is a mockery of the chivalric novels of this time; however, the underlying reason Cervantes wrote this story was to express his own conflict of faith and logic. Even though this reason is unknown, it could be considered that the understanding the characters show towards Don Quixote and his idealist values portray that he himself sees faith as the truth in an era that began to question the ideas of religion.

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Don Quixote Novel Analysis. (2021, Mar 15). Retrieved August 11, 2022 , from
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