* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: Who's crazier, the madman or the sane man that follows him?
** It's lampshaded several times in the first part, that Sancho Panza is a sane man with a very limited intelligence. In the second part, through fifty chapters, [[{{CharacterDevelopment}} we'll see him display his common sense]].
*** In Part II, Chapter XI, Don Quixote claims: ''"from a child I was fond of the play, and in my youth a keen lover of the actor's art"''. Several critics have toyed with the idea that Don Quixote never lost that passion for theater and behaves like an actor: [[{{Obfuscating Insanity}} he does not believe to be a knight, but pretends to be one]], as if he's on stage.
*** Indeed several critics in the 20th Century notably writer Harold Bloom has argued that Quixote is in fact sane and rational and is putting on an act at being crazy to show the absurdity of society. This is borne more in the melancholy Part 2, where Quixote discovers that he has become a cliche in his own lifetime and a LivingLegend much like the great heroes of the past he hoped to emulate.
** ''Theatre/ManOfLaMancha'' is the best display of the school of thought that idealizes Quixote, though arguably FanWank because of it.
*** Let's be fair, though: A lot of people like to point and giggle at Quixote's insanity, but a lot of them would also love to have a hallucination that elaborate, assuming they could recover. Why else would we have games like ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' or ''Franchise/FinalFantasy''?
*** If you are an Hispanist or a Spanish Literature student, you'll know that's not even the tip of the iceberg when discussing alternative interpretations of The Quijote and its characters, particularly the titular character, Sancho and Dulcinea. Even in the same books, the characters don't stay the same. The most accepted characterization changes through history as well. From a funny loon in its original time, to an Idealistic or a Romantic hero on Modern times, etc.
*** Also, see {{Applicability}} below.
* {{Applicability}}: Literary critic Harold Bloom's wrote in his article,[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/dec/13/classics.miguelcervantes ''The Knight in the Mirror'':]] ''"The aesthetic wonder is... when we stand back from the huge book and ponder its shape and endless range of meaning. No critic's account of Cervantes's masterpiece agrees with, or even resembles, any other critic's impressions. Don Quixote is a mirror held up not to nature, but to the reader. How can this bashed and mocked knight errant be, as he is, a universal paradigm?"'' That means that every reader will interpret ''Don Quixote'' in his own way, and all of those interpretations will be valid. It also means that none of them could be valid, because every reader’s impression ''of himself is reflected by the novel''. You can interpret all other novels, but in ''Don Quixote'''s case, the novel interprets YOU!!.
* EvenBetterSequel / FirstInstallmentWins: Part II is considered deeper and more mature than Part I, but the most well-known and influential episodes (like the windmills) come from the first part. Indeed its Don Quixote's first sally with Sancho Panza.
* FridgeBrilliance: In the first part, Don Quixote uses AntiquatedLinguistics/[[{{YeOldeButcheredEnglish}} El Viejo Español Masacrado]], but in the Second Part, he almost doesn't use it. This is because in the first Part he is a DiscoDan in a world when ChivalricRomance is DeaderThanDisco, so he uses this trope to [[{{IRejectYourReality}} reject everyone’s reality and substitute his own]]. In the Second Part, [[MemeticMutation everyone has read the first Part]], knew about ChivalricRomance and stage {{MassiveMultiplayerScam}}s to convince Don Quixote he really is an KnightErrant… so this trope is unnecessary for him.
* IconicCharacterForgottenTitle
* LowestCommonDenominator: Don Quixote and a lot of people in the novel, even those who don’t like chivalry books:
** [[strike:Don Quixote]] Alonso Quijano: What other way can you describe a man that belittles [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Cid Cid Ruy Diaz]], (a real badass warrior) and prefers a silly character of fiction? Part I Chapter I:
-->''"He used to say the [[{{FolkHero}} Cid Ruy Diaz was a very good knight]], but that he was not to be compared with the [[{{EscapistCharacter}} Knight of the Burning Sword]] [[{{RuleOfCool}} who with one back-stroke cut in half two fierce and monstrous giants]]. "''
** At Part I, Chapter XLVIII, [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep the]] [[MeaningfulName canon]] adduces that this trope is the reason he has [[{{Fanfic}} wrote a hundred pages of a chivalry book]], [[DeadFic but he will not finish it]].
-->''"… because I perceived that the [[{{LowestCommonDenominator}} fools are more numerous than the wise; and, though it is better to be praised by the wise few than applauded by the foolish many, I have no mind to submit myself to the stupid judgment of the silly public, to whom the reading of such books falls for the most part]]."''
* MagnificentBastard: Gines de Pasamonte is an ungrateful galley slave whom Don Quixote frees. Gines is [[{{LargeHam}} a vain, shameless, cynical]] [[{{ArsonMurderAndJaywalking}} bandit, thief, swindler and picaresque writer]]. Then, in the second part, we discover that Gines is a [[spoiler: MasterOfDisguise]].
* MemeticMutation: This book generated various memes that have survived for more than four hundred years, and even are words recognized by the Spanish Royal Language Academy’s dictionary:
** '''"¿Leoncitos a mi?"''' Could be translated as [[{{BadassBoast}} "Do they want to scare me with those little lions?"]]
** '''Quixote''': Man who fight for love of the ideal. Man who fight for noble causes
** '''Maritornes''': A rude, ugly and mannish maid.
** '''Rocinante''': Horse thin and weak, almost always full of sores. This one was even documented by Cervantes in the Part II, Chapter III, when Carrasco declares that the first part of the novel got read…
-->''" by heart by people of all sorts, that the instant they see any lean hack, they say, 'There goes Rocinante.'"''
** '''Dulcinea''': the name Don Quixote gives to the (blissfully unaware) woman he has made himself the champion of. In the Spanish of the time, Dulcinea meant something akin to an overly elegant "sweetness". To this day, to refer to one's "Dulcinea" is to refer to the object of one's hopeless devotion and idealized love.
** Most native Spanish speakers who have completed high school can quote the first few lines by heart.
* MisaimedFandom: Many people have misunderstood the point of the parody.
** Lampshaded InUniverse: Alonso Quixano, some time before he had definitely gone nuts and decided [[{{AscendedFanboy}} to be Don Quixote]], but after he devolved from a [[{{Fanboy}} guy interested in chivalry books]] to a [[{{Fandumb}} guy obsessed by them]], displayed this UnexpectedReactionsToThisIndex:
*** Part I, chapter I: Who is Alonso Quixano’s favorite knight? Well, Reinaldos of Montalban. And why? ''[[ComicallyMissingThePoint "because he robbed everyone he meet!"]]''
** Romantic writers lionized ''Don Quixote'' as a praise of hopeless noble ideals in an increasingly cynical and materialistic world. Then, followers of literary Naturalism praised the novel... for {{deconstruct}}ing groundless Romantic enthusiasm.
** TakeAThirdOption: Some people argue that Don Quixote himself is more complex than either division, and that he's essentially a tragic figure who willingly chooses to go insane rather than live his banal life and that by willingly embodying outdated and chivalric ideas which probably never existed in a world of consequence, he's paradoxically more heroic than Amadis of Gaul or Lancelot or as heroic as the legends he hopes to emulate. This makes him a modern day existentialist hero.
* MisBlamed: Even many fans of TheyMightBeGiants assume that the band took their name directly from this novel. It actually comes from the 1971 movie ''They Might Be Giants'', whose main character (who [[NapoleonDelusion believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes]], and has been compared to Don Quixote by another character) muses on the value of being open to the ''possibility'' of windmills being giants. Don Quixote himself had no such doubts; he was positively certain that he was charging against giants.
* NeverLiveItDown: Sancho Panza’s reputation as a BigEater. In the first part of the novel, Sancho Panza has several scenes enjoying food and drink to show his easygoing nature. When Avellaneda [[{{Fanfiction}} published his own second part of the novel]], he accused Sancho of being a BigEater. In Cervantes' second part of the novel, Don Quixote’s niece accuses Sancho of this ([[MaliciousSlander she hates him]]) and later, [[OhCrapThereAreFanficsOfUs when they know about Avellaneda’s second part]], Sancho defends himself against this accusation at chapter LXII of the Second Part:
--> "No, senor, that's not true," said Sancho, "for I am more cleanly than greedy, and my master Don Quixote here knows well that we two are used to live for a week on a handful of acorns or nuts. To be sure, if it so happens that they offer me a heifer, I run with a halter; I mean, I eat what I'm given, and make use of opportunities as I find them; [[TakeThat but whoever says that I'm an out-of-the-way eater or not cleanly, let me tell him that he is wrong]]; and I'd put it in a different way if I did not respect the honourable beards that are at the table."
* RomanticPlotTumor: The last chapters of the First Part solve the LoveDodecahedron between Dorotea, Don Fernando, Lucinda, Cardenio, Clara and Don Luis, leaving Don Quixote as a mere spectator in his own book. In the Second Part Cervantes makes a AuthorsSavingThrow when Don Quixote opines:
--> ''"...and I know not what could have led [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis the author to have recourse to]] [[ShowWithinAShow novels]] and [[RomanticPlotTumor irrelevant stories]], [[ItsAllAboutMe when he had so much to write about in mine; no doubt he must have gone by the proverb 'with straw or with hay, &c.,' for by merely setting forth my thoughts, my sighs, my tears, my lofty purposes, my enterprises]], [[DoorStopper he might have made a volume as large, or larger than all the works of El Tostado would make up"'']].
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: Compared to the stories it parodies.
* SignatureScene: Don Quixote charging against windmills believing they are giants.
* SurprisinglyImprovedSequel: Although Don Quixote is published as a one volume today, it is generally agreed that the mostly philosophical second part is better that the mostly farcical first one.
** Perhaps related to the fact that the first part was written while Cervantes was in jail (Sancho Panza's wife has 2 different names in the same page, none which would be the definitive Teresa Panza).
* ValuesDissonance: Several of the attitudes expressed by the characters are enough to make modern sensibilities cringe. Sancho, a man usually associated with being a loyal and amiable sort actually considers taking up selling people as slaves and turning 'black into gold'.
* ValuesResonance: ''Literature/DonQuixote''’s {{Satire}} will live as long as the justice system is made of human judges capable of corruption that let criminals go for a price. Or as [[SleazyPolitician the people]] who direct TheGovernment only care about ruling the people without making any effort to enhance the live of his subjects. Or while the MoralGuardians are useless. Or while there are people who fanatically defend any kind of entertainment work no matter its faults. Those examples are only a few of the issues the book attacks.
* WeirdAlEffect: Barring a few exceptions such as ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirant_lo_Blanc Tirant lo Blanc]]'' (which is remembered for being one of the first literary texts written in Catalan/Valencian, and has a recent FilmOfTheBook made of it) few people today remember the novels that Don Quixote read and Cervantes lists before throwing them in the bonfire in Chapter 3, and most of them are philologers and historians. One of those novels is remembered today in the USA, sort of: a land conquered for Spain got named for a character in one of those novels - the nymph California.
** Another case of WeirdAlEffect in Don Quixote is that both books were a satire and as such, contained a lot of references not only to now disappeared chivalry books, (the second part contains entire parodies to "Tirant lo blanch", one of the better chivalry books and a Cervantes' favorite) but to Spain's popular culture at the XVII century: (respectful) [[{{NoCelebritiesWereHarmed}} caricatures of then famous celebrities]], unrespectful [[{{TakeThat}} caricatures of contemporary writers]], [[{{ShoutOut}} quotes from Cervantes’ favorite poets]], [[{{HurricaneOfAphorisms}} popular proverbs]], then contemporary UrbanLegends, [[{{DoubleEntendre}} phrases that can be taken in at least two different ways]], [[TheAnnotatedEdition all of them completely unknown for the modern reader if not by the notes provided in the reprints]]. [[{{DontExplainTheJoke}} Cervantes' book was incredibly funny when he published it, but it's very difficult to see it like this now]].
* TheWoobie: Particularly in the era where Don Quixote was considered a tragic hero. Admit it, sometimes you just want to give him a hug.
* {{Woolseyism}}: Early English translations of the novel were unusually creative, coining new phrases and one-liners that became an integral part of English phraseology (e.g., "thanks for nothing").
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