Classics and the Western Canon discussion

Don Quixote
This topic is about Don Quixote
35 views
Don Quixote - Revisited > Part 2: Chapters X - XIX

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Thomas | 4409 comments DQ has heretofore avoided the blinding beauty of Dulcinea, but in Chapter X he meets her, or an enchanted version of her, in the guise of a plain peasant girl who smells strongly of raw garlic. DQ rationalizes this disappointing vision, as he has previously, with his theory of enchantment, and something that almost sounds like medieval philosophy:

"I can believe it, my friend,' replied Don Quixote, "because nature put nothing on Dulcinea that was not perfect and compete, and so, if he had a hundred moles like the one you describe, on her they would not be moles but shining moons and stars. But tell me, Sancho: the saddle that seemed like a packsaddle to me, the one you adjusted, was it a simple saddle or a sidesaddle?"

(Which is reminiscent of the packsaddle vs. horse harness dilemma in Part 1 Chapt 45, which DQ also refused to rule on.)

Sancho seems to be taking on a stronger role in Part 2. He engages DQ in these rationalizations and at times seems to act like a psychologist. Unlike DQ's family and friends he does not seem to want to "cure" him though. Why is this, if Sancho knows his master is truly mad?

Sancho explains to the Squire of the Wood in Chapter 13:

"...there's nothing of the scoundrel in him; mine's as innocent as a baby; he doesn't know how to hurt anybody, he can only do good to everybody, and there's no malice in him: a child could convince him it's night in the middle of the day, and because he's simple I love him with all my heart and couldn't leave him no matter how many crazy things he does."

Is this why?

What is important about the Knight of the Mirrors episode, especially when the true identity of the Knight is revealed?

Lots more questions to ask, but I'll let Tomé Cecial have the last one for now:

Don Quixote's crazy, we're sane, and he walks away healthy and laughing, while your grace is bruised and sad. So tell me now, who's crazier: the man who's crazy because he can't help it or the man who chooses to be crazy? (Chap XV)


message 2: by Dave (last edited Sep 04, 2019 10:58AM) (new) - added it

Dave Redford | 144 comments Thomas wrote: "Sancho seems to be taking on a stronger role in Part 2. He engages DQ in these rationalizations and at times seems to act like a psychologist. Unlike DQ's family and friends he does not seem to want to "cure" him though. Why is this, if Sancho knows his master is truly mad?"

Sancho opens up about his motivation for sticking with DQ in chapter XIII, while in conversation with Tomé Cecial, saying the thought of getting his hands on a "sack filled with doblones" and living "like a prince" makes "all the trials I suffer with this simpleton of a master seem easy to bear". There's no doubt that Sancho has affection for DQ, but he doesn't seem to be along for the ride just out of some sense of squirely loyalty.


message 3: by Dave (new) - added it

Dave Redford | 144 comments Thomas wrote: "What is important about the Knight of the Mirrors episode, especially when the true identity of the Knight is revealed?"

That's a good question and I'd be interested to know your thoughts. So far, reading part 2 has felt like being in a hall of mirrors, and just before this episode (in chapter XII) DQ encourages Sancho to have a good opinion of plays and the actors who are "holding up a mirror to every step we take and allowing us to see a vivid image of the actions of human life". Perhaps the Knight of the Mirrors will help DQ see his own eccentricities a bit more clearly?


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1465 comments Thomas wrote: "Sancho seems to be taking on a stronger role in Part 2. He engages DQ in these rationalizations and at times seems to act like a psychologist..."

Sancho has also become more intelligent and more astute in manipulating DQ. DQ recognizes his increased intellectual acuity:

Every day, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "you are becoming less simple and more intelligent."
"Yes, some of your grace's intelligence has to stick to me," responded Sancho, "for lands that are barren and dry on their own can produce good fruits if you spread manure on them and till them . . ."

(Chapt. 12)

Sancho and DQ have developed such a strong bond that they influence each other. Sancho, in particular, is spouting greater familiarity with the norms of knight errantry, indicating he has absorbed DQ's litany of rules and regulations. And for his part, DQ seems more willing to heed Sancho's advice.


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1465 comments Thomas wrote: "Unlike DQ's family and friends he does not seem to want to "cure" him though. Why is this, if Sancho knows his master is truly mad?..."

It may be a combination of factors that cause Sancho to indulge DQ in his madness. Part of it is because, as Dave points out in #2, he anticipates rewards.

But I think a bigger part of it is because he has developed a genuine affection for DQ. He recognizes his child-like innocence and goodness. He stays on to protect DQ from hurting himself. He cautions DQ from launching into yet another misadventure.

In some ways, it is as if Sancho has become the parent wanting to preserve a child's fantasies while, simultaneously, trying to protect the child from hurting himself by carrying the fantasy too far.

It's a bit like playing along with a child wearing a cape, pretending to be superman. You play with the child, but you don't allow him to carry the fantasy too far by believing he can fly if he jumps off a roof.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this (it wouldn't be the first time!) but I do see a definite role reversal here with DQ as the child and Sancho as the parent.


message 6: by Tamara (last edited Sep 05, 2019 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1465 comments Thomas wrote: "What is important about the Knight of the Mirrors episode, especially when the true identity of the Knight is revealed?.."

One thing we know is the Knights of the Mirrors episode was a ploy to force DQ to return home. The knight was expected to defeat DQ in combat. But the whole thing backfires. Because he experiences defeat and is in physical pain, the knight's goal has changed. He now seeks revenge on DQ:

. . . and Sanson remained behind to imagine his revenge, and the history speaks of him again at the proper time . . ."

Maybe the episode explains why Sanson harbors seeds of animosity toward DQ, seeds which will manifest "at the proper time."

I think the tone here is ominous. Everyone else who has tried to help DQ has done so without harboring malicious intent toward him. But Sanson comes across as mean-spirited and acting out of wounded pride. It sounds as if he is now going after DQ with the intention of hurting him.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 328 comments I did not understand a specific thing about the prank that Sancho tries to do to Don Quixote. He, Don Quixote, everytime see things that do not exist, why when "everyone" (Sancho) was "convinced" that the village girl was Dulcinea Don Quixote was not able to see her in the village girl? You can understand me or I was very confuse?


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1465 comments Rafael wrote: "I did not understand a specific thing about the prank that Sancho tries to do to Don Quixote. He, Don Quixote, everytime see things that do not exist, why when "everyone" (Sancho) was "convinced" t..."

Sancho is in a bit of a bind. DQ has sent him to speak to Dulcinea. Sancho reasons that since DQ transforms reality to suit his vision (sees windmills as giants, for example), so he (Sancho) will pretend that the first girl he sees is the beautiful Dulcinea. The peasant girl he claims is Dulcinea is unattractive and her breath reeks of garlic. But Sancho pretends she is the lovely Dulcinea.

When DQ sees the peasant girl who is gruff and smells badly, he complains this can't be Dulcinea. Sancho convinces him he is not seeing Dulcinea in her true beauty because he is under the influence of an enchanter. DQ believes him.

"And to think I did not see all of that, Sancho!" said Don Quixote. "Now I say it again, and shall say it a thousand more times: I am the most unfortunate of men."

When he heard the foolish things said by his master, who had been so exquisitely deceived, it was all the scoundrel Sancho could do to his his laughter,


In other words, Sancho outwits DQ.

I hope that makes sense.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 328 comments Tamara wrote: "Rafael wrote: "I did not understand a specific thing about the prank that Sancho tries to do to Don Quixote. He, Don Quixote, everytime see things that do not exist, why when "everyone" (Sancho) wa..."

It did. But that was my point. For my understanding DQ has the ability to see what he wants to see, when someone tell him that the giant is an windmill he does not believe it, but when Sancho says that the village girl is indeed Dulcinea DQ does not see her. I cannot see what rule his hallucinatory beliefs follows.


message 10: by Thomas (last edited Sep 06, 2019 07:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas | 4409 comments Dave wrote: "Sancho opens up about his motivation for sticking with DQ in chapter XIII, while in conversation with Tomé Cecial, saying the thought of getting his hands on a "sack filled with doblones" and living "like a prince" makes "all the trials I suffer with this simpleton of a master seem easy to bear"...."

Good point. Sancho's "madness" lies in the hope for a very improbable future. Sancho provides a contrast to DQ in almost every way: his physical attributes, his intellectual ability (superficially anyway), his manner of speech, even the animal he rides is slower and more obtuse. Perhaps a more subtle contrast is that DQ lives in the present, or perhaps in the past, while Sancho lives for the future.

ETA: And of course Sancho is a materialist and a sensualist, while DQ is an idealist through and through.


message 11: by Thomas (last edited Sep 05, 2019 11:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas | 4409 comments Dave wrote: "Thomas wrote: "What is important about the Knight of the Mirrors episode, especially when the true identity of the Knight is revealed?"

That's a good question and I'd be interested to know your th..."


Some thoughts, which might or might not congeal.

The Knight of the MIrrors is an intellectual, a man of letters. He thinks he's smarter than DQ and his bumpkin sidekick. Sanson Carrasco thinks he can manipulate DQ by posing as a knight errant -- mirroring or mimicking DQ -- and beat him at his own game. But DQ's delusion is not a matter of mistaking appearance for reality; when he sees that the Knight of the Wood (who has seamlessly become the Knight of the Mirrors) appears to be Sanson Carrasco, he thinks that the Knight must have been enchanted to take on Sanson's appearance. DQ sees what he wants to see, what comports with his ideals, not what appears to him superficially. He is not susceptible to mirrors, but as readers, people "of letters," we might be.

Sanson's stories also act as mirrors. He first tells DQ about the history that has been written about him (a literary mirror of the real DQ) and then posing as a knight, he tells DQ another story about DQ himself -- one that DQ knows to be false. Stories are embedded in stories, just as they are in the novel, like mirrors of DQ.


Chris | 374 comments Thomas wrote:Sanson's stories also act as mirrors. He first tells DQ about the history that has been written about him (a literary mirror of the real DQ) and then posing as a knight, he tells DQ another story about DQ himself -- one that DQ knows to be false. Stories are embedded in stories, just as they are in the novel, like mirrors of DQ.

Love that! Thanks Thomas. I was thinking everyone was getting into the act! Sancho was such a devil as he played the game and deluded DQ into thinking that the peasant girl was Dulcinea. I chuckled quite a bit, along with Sancho at the end of that deception. Then to have the Knight of the Woods/Mirrors & his squire turn out to be Sanson & Tome; I was amazed at how many people were willing to play to get DQ to return home and leave his "adventures" behind.


message 13: by David (last edited Sep 08, 2019 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2613 comments Chris wrote: ". . .everyone was getting into the act!"

Lot of "acting" in these chapters. Sancho acting like an enchanter, the actors in the assembly of death. Bachelor Carrasco and Tomé Cecial acting the parts of Knight and Squire.

I am reminded of "All the world's a stage. . .", and in meeting the assembly of death I am also reminded of "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage...".

Then the gentleman in the green coat puts those metaphors in perspective by realizing that real persons behind one dimensional characters are more complicated and may contain more depth than the scripts of their recorded deeds may suggest.


message 14: by Rhonda (last edited Sep 09, 2019 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments Thomas wrote: "The Knight of the MIrrors is an intellectual, a man of letters. He thinks he's smarter than DQ and his bumpkin sidekick. Sanson Carrasco thinks he can manipulate DQ by posing as a knight errant -- mirroring or mimicking DQ -- and beat him at his own game. But DQ's delusion is not a matter of mistaking appearance for reality;..."

I agree that whatever delusions Don Q has, it is not a matter of mistaking reality, or perhaps, not a simple matter. There is a great deal of the juxtaposition of reality and surreality in these chapters. When we are introduced to the troupe of actors, their very appearance signifies a lack of reality but Don Q is not fooled by them. He does not recognize them as something which is bewitched, but exactly for what they are. He does not attack, as persuaded by Sancho, because they are not knights and, hence, outside his jurisdiction as a knight.
This seems somewhat at odds with the three peasant women with whom they have just dealt because Sancho easily convinces Don Q that this one ugly peasant woman was not only Dulcinea, but that she had been enchanted. He accepts this interpretation readily.
Thus when we are introduced to the Knight of the Woods, we are not quite sure what Don Q will make of him. Even the woman he loves, Casildea de Vandalia, seems suspect. I beliee that the etymological roots of her name, which were probably easily understood at the time, relate to a songstress who is a love thief. As has been discussed, Cervantes is constantly playing with names...and the meanings are integral.

At first, Don Q is attentive and commiserative with the Knight of the Woods, but changes his temper when his honor is insulted. It is interesting to interpret this from Don Q's perspective when we do not yet know who this knight is. Don Q is responding consistently with what he says he believes, what is according to his elevated religion of love and respect. The Knight of the Woods is behaving falsely, claiming that which is not true in order to shock Don Q into a fight. We should ask which is being clever and which is following his chosen set of ethical behavior.

Samson Oak-Tree is a comic character, but one of singular importance for the story, in my opinion. He has a boldness of character far beyond his meager appearance and this is mimicked with his name: he is anything but a great strong man or an oak tree, but a conniving and supercilious character. In addition, he has graduated from a university and is somewhat inflated with his own importance.
I believe that Cervantes wishes us to understand that Samson represents an isolated intellectualism which is incapable of overcoming the spirit of Don Quixote. Don Q, after all, embodies not only an intellectual idea for reforming the world, but a spirit which makes it impossible for him to fail insofar as he never fears to pursue what he believes to be true.

The Knight of Mirrors is, then, a further affectation of what Samson believes to be intellectually good and true. He not only is transformed from one thing into another, but gives further support for Don Q to recognize reality as an enchantment, ironically because Samson is desiring the opposite outcome. But this transformation is also a bare intellectualism, incapable of supporting real truth. When Samson is defeated, however, it is again interesting that Don Q cannot recognize him for who he is, but rather believes him to be another enchantment. Perhaps recognizing people for what they are is too spiritually crushing for Don Quixote. Perhaps it is the recognition of people as manipulative and spiritless drones that make him turn to chivalry in the first place.

There are many Spanish writers with whom Don Quixote has struck a chord, but this issue brings to mind Miguel de Unamuno's book, Our Lord Don Quixote. While I cannot state that Unamuno's interpretation is that of Cervantes, it does extrapolate more than a few things which are significant in the theory of quixotism. Sarah Driggers wrote a paper in 2011 on Unamuno's quixotism which states, in part:
Quixotism is best described as passionate idealism, or the pursuit of an ideal which may not even be attainable. While traditional wisdom frequently clashes with spirituality, quixotism and spirituality coexist because
of quixotism’s ever-present preoccupation with generosity and humility....Quixotism represents the most profound expression of genius: joyful curiosity about the world and a willingness to explore. As thought and action are inseparable, it is both a belief system and a way of life.


While I would be the first to allow that this is not necessarily a pure interpretation of Don Quixote, it seems to understand the character of Don Quixote as far more than a misguided and mad curiosity of a man who is operating capriciously. However one key which he offers is that Don Quixote is spiritually opulent whereas Samson Oak-Tree is devoid of spirit and thus spiritually barren. It is a display that those things which are right and correct by tradition are not necessarily those which are always true.

This second part of Don Quixote shows us a very different kind of Don Q, one who is no longer childishly capricious, but one who is far more elegant and dedicated towards a greater cause. Sancho is still fighting his earthly nature, sometimes recognizing the greatness of our Don Q and then sometimes reverting back to the ease of becoming an an hildago at his rest with a big bag of doblones. Sancho is undergoing transformation, but like most things with which we change ourselves, he retreats to the easier path sometimes. One might liken it to quitting smoking, perhaps.


Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments In chapter XIV, there is a conversation between Don Quixote and the vanquished knight of mirrors wherein the latter says:
"I confess," said the fallen knight, "that the torn and dirty shoe of Senora Dulcinea de Toboso is worth more than the unkempt but clean beard of Casildea,..."

When I first read this, I assumed that there was a joke here, but I did not understand why Don Quixote might have accepted it as an admission. I wondered whether Casildea, more than likely being an imaginary character, might somehow be represented by a male cross-dressing. It's not like there hasn't been any of that!

I was a bit more embarrassed when I discovered that this shoe and beard reference was a common sexual joke from Renaissance literature referring to male and female anatomy, referring not to facial hair but public hair.

I thought I would mention this one which I managed to catch, but there must be others which I am missing due to their subtlety.


David | 2613 comments Rhonda wrote: ". . .there must be others which I am missing due to their subtlety."

Back in Vol 1, Part 4, Chapter 32 there was a similar play on words. . .
No sooner had he closed the door than the innkeeper’s wife rushed at the barber, seized him by the beard, and said: “Upon my soul, you can’t go on using my oxtail for a beard, and you have to give the tail back to me; it’s a shame to see that thing of my husband’s on the floor; I mean the comb that I always hung on my nice tail.”

Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote (pp. 266-267). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.



message 17: by Gary (last edited Sep 18, 2019 06:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 203 comments Rhonda wrote: "but this issue brings to mind Miguel de Unamuno's book, Our Lord Don Quixote..."

Thank you, Ronda, for this reference. I checked it out and found that Unamuno sees Don Quixote as a speaker of the highest truth, indeed even a creator of truth and faith. He says it is the will that fashions for world for us, and it is those of great heart that create truth. One wonders how much Unamuno (1864-1936) was influenced by Nietzsche (1844-1900).

Could Don Quixote be an ubermensch? How would our perspective change if we saw him through this lens?
"To the lies of Sancho, pretending things according to the norms of ordinary life, Don Quijote responded with the highest truths of faith that were fundamental and profound. It is not intelligence, but will, that fashions the world for us, and the old scholastic aphorism “nihil volitum quin praecognitum” (nothing is wanted without knowing about it previously), must be corrected with “nihil cognitum quin praevolitum,” (nothing is known without having previously wanted it).

… what does the truth of a proposal have to do with the proposer’s courage and the strength of his arm? Just because the challenger wins a fight, does what he is saying have to be more truthful than that of the one who is challenged? I have told you, reader, that it is the martyrs who create faith, rather than the faith that creates martyrs. And faith creates truth."



message 18: by Dave (new) - added it

Dave Redford | 144 comments Thomas wrote: "But DQ's delusion is not a matter of mistaking appearance for reality; when he sees that the Knight of the Wood (who has seamlessly become the Knight of the Mirrors) appears to be Sanson Carrasco, he thinks that the Knight must have been enchanted to take on Sanson's appearance. DQ sees what he wants to see, what comports with his ideals, not what appears to him superficially."

Yes, this makes sense to me. I don't think DQ is mad, just deeply delusional, and his delusion isn't a mistake, but instead (as you say) it's a product of his ideals. I think Cervantes intended the image of DQ being in a cage at the end of Part 1 as a symbol for his ideological prison.


Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments Gary wrote: "One wonders how much Unamuno (1864-1936) was influenced by Nietzsche (1844-1900).
Could Don Quixote be an ubermensch? "


I am overjoyed that someone else enjoys Unamuno. If you enjoy his book on the Quixote, perhaps you will enjoy what some suppose his greatest work, A Tragic Sense of Life.

I suggest this because it gives a complete understanding of how Unamuno's sense of tragedy applies, even to Nietzsche. Then too when someone studies someone a great deal, regardless of whether one finds it accommodating or somewhat antagonistic to one's own philosophy, as Unamuno most certainly did, there are no doubt positive influences.
However, with this said, I can say with relative certainty that Unamuno would not have thought that Don Quixote was the ubermensch of Nietzsche.


message 20: by Kerstin (last edited Sep 27, 2019 08:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerstin | 561 comments I am really enjoying the deeper speeches/dialogues/monologues of Don Quixote and Sancho.

Sancho, harking back to the conversation he had with his wife on whether or not one should marry within one's station or "marry up," has a very strong opinion in staying within your own socio-economic strata. This is what you know and where you are accepted as you are, and you will live a happier life. He is very down to earth this way - as he is with most things. It becomes more and more clear that Sancho represents the common man. He may not have enjoyed much formal education, his education is life. His intelligence comes through again and again. By now he knows his master so well he anticipates and even re-directs his master's actions so the outcomes are not so detrimental. Interestingly, the comedy and slapsick have also moved from coarse beatings to silly cheese in the helmet.


back to top