Literature / Don Quixote

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.

In a place of La Mancha, the name of which I don't want to recall, there lived not long ago one of those gentlemen with a lance on the rack, an old shield, a worn-out horse, and a racing greyhound.

These are the very first lines of Don Quixote, full title The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha ("El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" in the original Spanish). The novel was written by Spanish writer and satirist Miguel De Cervantes. Cervantes wrote the story in two parts, the first part published in 1605 and the second in 1615.

The story is about an old hidalgo named Alonso Quijano, who was so into chivalric novels that he became insane and decided that he was a vagrant knight. Quijano renames himself as "Don Quixote de La Mancha" and decides to win eternal fame through the besting of criminals and general upholding of the Chivalric Code. Unfortunately for a lot of innocent people, his delusions make him pick fights with innocent bystanders, some of whom do not fight back because Don Quixote is obviously crazy. Of course, there are strangers who are not that sympathetic, and after one of those delivers a brutal beating to Don Quixote, a neighbor from his village meets the wounded Don Quixote and takes him home, where his friends and family burn out the cursed books of chivalry to try to cure him, but he soon returns to his delusion and journey. This time he manages to convince a simple farm-man, Sancho Panza, to become his squire and sidekick under the promise of a governorship in the future. Then they live a lot of adventures, including the famous one where Don Quixote attacks some windmills because they might be giants in disguisenote . At the end of the book, Don Quixote’s friends trick him by making him believe he is enchanted and take him back to his village.

Throughout the novel, Don Quixote never, even for a moment, doubts that the fictional adventures that he has read were real and that he really is a knight errant. Not even the petitions of his loved ones, the continuous ridicule of his peers, or the brutal beatings he suffers made him break his resolution: Don Quixote always continues trying to impose his quixotic (literally; he's the word's origin) beliefs on the world.

The first part of the novel was published in 1605, when the books of chivalry were pushing Deader Than Disco and Don Quixote's dreams of reviving chivalric ways were really a strange, misbegotten idea. The novel became a big success among the public of the time (although that success was nothing unheard of at the time with other titles, and certainly that was not the case with the contemporary Spanish critics), and was reprinted several times in the next decade and even translated into French and English. But most notable was the change in Spanish popular culture. A few months after printing, virtually all of Spain knew about Don Quixote’s exploits: Memetic Mutations arose, those ridiculous books of chivalry became popular again, and even apocryphal "continuations" appeared. Cervantes created a character to mock the Fan Dumb and the books of chivalry that perverted true heroism, only to find that Don Quixote, thanks to his readers, had achieved his goal: to change reality.

Cervantes had promised a sequel at the end of Volume I and had begun writing it when he caught word of a spurious fake sequel of Don Quixote written as a cash grab. This led him to denounce the book in his own pages and led him to make Vol II, the hidalgo's final adventure. The second part has a more serious tone, taking advantage of the change operated by the first part of the book in Real Life, where Don Quixote has evolved from a Lord Error-Prone to an honest (but still insane) man whose noble attitude and delusions makes him the Butt Monkey of a lot of people. Don Quixote has to confront his delusions (but only in the very last chapter), and the harshness of reality makes him realize that his naïve dreams were shallow, which brings him back to sanity before his death.

It has been adapted to every medium, among those illustrated by Gustave Doré. Also made into a couple of animated adaptations (one of them with Funny Animals) and even a Musical.

Very commonly cited in literary criticism as "the first modern novel" and is probably among the most influential books of all time (just take a look at The Other Wiki's list). It's also largely considered the best book ever written in the Spanish language, and nowadays every single Spaniard kid must read it and study it in school at one point or another, pretty much as every kid in the USA and UK must read and study Shakespeare.

The star Mu Arae is now named for Cervantes, and the planets (in increasing order of distance) are Dulcinea, Rocinante, Quijote, and Sancho.

Tropes found in Don Quixote:

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  • Achilles in His Tent: Parodied when Don Quixote invokes this trope for no other reason that a lot of other Knights (Amadis of Gaul, Beltenebros, and Orlando) did it. At the Sierra Morena forest, Don Quixote sends Sancho with a letter to Dulcinea (his imaginary love interest) explaining to her that he will be in the forest until she forgives him… Even when Don Quixote has not made anything against her. This madness will force the Curate and the Barber to ask Dorotea to pretend to be a princess and ask Don Quixote a favour to get him out of the forest.
    "It seems to me," said Sancho, "that the knights who behaved in this way had provocation and cause for those follies and penances; but what cause has your worship for going mad? What lady has rejected you, or what evidence have you found to prove that the lady Dulcinea del Toboso has been trifling with Moor or Christian?"
    "There is the point," replied Don Quixote, "and that is the beauty of this business of mine; no thanks to a knight-errant for going mad when he has cause; the thing is to turn crazy without any provocation, and let my lady know, if I do this in the dry, what I would do in the moist;
  • Antiquated Linguistics/El Viejo Español Masacrado: In the original Spanish book, at least, Don Quijote uses outdated forms of speech and pronunciation, like maintaining the initial 'f' in words like 'fermosa' (hermosa), in an attempt to emulate the outdated forms of speech used on chivalry novels.
    • This shows up in some translations as a Woolseyism: Don Quixote simply uses more archaic vocabulary than everyone else around.
    • Really toned down in the second part, so it appears that the Spanish language was modernized in 10 years, or for the people missing the joke (because they don't know if words like 'fermosa' were used back in the 1600s) thinking it's a more up to date transcription.
    • The very name of the book itself. The 'x' in the name denotes an antiquated ortography for a very strong "h" phonem (similar as Scottish loch) and not 'eks'. It is written in Modern Spanish as 'j'. Thus don Quijote, (ki-ho-tey) not Quixote (quick-sot). The Spanish edition uses the modern ortography, Don Quijote.
    • A special mention deserves the Spanish word insula, an Altum Videtur that means island or place limited and isolated, the Standard Hero Reward Don Quixote has promised to Sancho. Sancho keeps using that word even when he doesn’t know what it is.
  • Affectionate Parody: Cervantes was a connoisseur of chivalry novels (evidenced by the famous scene where the priest and the barber go into a lengthy discussion of Don Quixote's library), and his parody of the genre isn't as vicious and destructive as commonly thought.
  • Altum Videtur: This trope is lampshaded twice by Cervantes:
  • Animated Adaptation: "Don Coyote & Sancho Panda"
    • Burbank Films Australia adapted this story.
    • An earlier example (1979), without Talking Animals.
    • And a hilarious anime adaptation, too: Zukkoke Knight Don de la Mancha.
    • Mr. Magoo also had a cartoon where he played the titular knight. There has never been more perfect casting.
    • The Disney film Bolt is arguably a retelling of this story with Bolt in the place of Don Quixote, Rhino filling the role of Sancho Panza, Penny playing Dulcinea, and Mittens standing in for Cordonza. The windmill is the television show Bolt but there is a real windmill too.
      • The hamsterball is Rocinante.
  • Arcadia: Don Quixote considers becoming a shepherd instead of a knight at the end. Foreshadowed by the Golden Age speech he gives to the shepherds in the book's beginning; pastoral tropes in general are very important in the novel for deconstruction and parody. The real shepherds are Country Mouse-ish ignorant people who have enough common sense and work as shepherds by need. They want to help and are sympathetic enough. The problem comes when a lot of City Mouse types try to invoke this trope:
    All this long harangue (which might very well have been spared) our knight delivered because the acorns they gave him reminded him of the golden age; and the whim seized him to address all this unnecessary argument to the goatherds, who listened to him gaping in amazement without saying a word in reply.
    • In any Arcadia poem, one of the various shepherds complains about the shepherdess that ignores him. Marcela and Grisostomo deconstruct this at chapter XII – XIV, where the Shepherdess Ice Queen claims she is So Beautiful, It's a Curse and so she had to be a shepherdess only to get her freedom, but all the city mice that courted her decided to be shepherds too. She states plainly that just because you are attracted to someone doesn't mean that you are entitled to that person's affections or that they are obligated to love you back, and if someone's rejection of your advances is so very torturous, then the onus is on you to get over them and move on, not to continue chasing after them when they've already made it clear that they want nothing to do with you. If you continue to do so, the only one who is being cruel to you is yourself, not the object of your affections for merely existing and asserting their basic right to not have to be with anyone they don't love. Thus, if Grisóstomo killed himself, it is unjust to blame her.
    • Deconstructed again at chapter LII from the first part, Eugenio tells the story of the beautiful Leandra, who elopes with a soldier that left her. Leandra gets Locked Away in a Monastery while her various City Mouse admirers decided to become shepherds and make poems about how Leandra betrayed them... even when she never gave them any hope. Eugenio tells that all those shepherds curse Leandra’s indiscretion, and they seem so unhappy that he lampshades that Arcadia is really a living hell. Eugenio then says he has decided to follow the easier way, claim All Women Are Lustful and become a Politically Incorrect Hero who hates all women.
    • Parodied in Chapter LVIII of the Second Part: Don Quixote meets some beautiful shepherdesses who are part of a crew of noble and rich people who invoke this trope by retiring to a forest to play to be shepherds and shepherdesses. They are so sophisticated that they have studied two poems from Garcilaso (In Spanish) and Camoes (in Portuguese). Only the truly rich CityMouse can afford to live in a happy Arcadia.
    • Don Quixote considers becoming a shepherd instead of a knight at the end of the second part, before he can invoke this trope, his housekeeper tries to dissuade him by lampshading the truth:
    ''Will your worship be able to bear, out in the fields, the heats of summer, and the chills of winter, and the howling of the wolves? Not you; for that's a life and a business for hardy men, bred and seasoned to such work almost from the time they were in swaddling-clothes. Why, to make choice of evils, it's better to be a knight-errant than a shepherd!
  • Ascended Fanboy: Quixote takes a more proactive approach than most.
  • Author Avatar: Cervantes dedicates some chapters of the first part of the novel to “The story of the Captive Captain”, Ruy Pérez de Viedma, a Spanish captain who was prisoner of the Moors. Curiously, this man, like the Priest, claims to know some guy called “de Saavedra”.
  • Author Filibuster: Parodied and lampshaded. The critics have said that the chivalry books were plagued by a lot of lengthy discourses from different abstract themes, immobilizing the action and discouraging the reader. Cervantes lampshaded this when Don Quixote talks for nearly two pages in the Discourse on The Golden Age, Part I, Chapter XI: "All this long harangue (which might very well have been spared)" and satirized it when in the Discourse on Arms and Letters, Part I, Chapter XXXVIII, the action really never stops, because all the other characters eat their dinners while Don Quixote talked: "All this lengthy discourse Don Quixote delivered while the others supped, forgetting to raise a morsel to his lips, though Sancho more than once told him to eat his supper, as he would have time enough afterwards to say all he wanted."
  • A Wizard Did It: Quite literally. Just replace "Wizard" with "Enchanter." When the events of the story veer far enough away from Quixote's account in the style of Knights Errant, Quixote explicitly invokes this trope to explain the discrepancy.
  • Badass: Don Quixote is, arguably, one. He is extremely good at jousting and sword fighting, and can survive being thrown into the air by a windmill. Also, despite all the beatings he takes throughout the novel, he still survives to the end. Quixote also receives some serious damage during his fights, he loses half his right ear about half a dozen teeth, and shrugs them off with nothing more than a quip about the nobleness of Knight-Errantry. Indeed as noted by novelist and critic, Vladimir Nabokov, despite being seen as a crazy knight, Don Quixote actually wins more fights than he loses.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: invokedLampshaded: In the Preface of the Author, Part I, Cervantes’s friend mentions a quote in Latin that a lot of people attributed to Horace, but Cervantes's friend really has done the research, so he mentions "or whoever said it".
    • "Con la Iglesia hemos topado" ("We stumbled upon the Church") is a popular misquote of Con la iglesia hemos dado, Sancho ("We found the church, Sancho" - small letter, as they are talking of a physical building) from Part II, Chapter IX. The stock phrase version is used in Spain to express annoyance at the meddling or lobbying of the Catholic Church (the institution) in a political matter.
    • "Ladran, luego cabalgamos" ("They bark, therefore we ride") or "Ladran, Sancho, señal que cabalgamos" ("They bark, Sancho, sign that we ride") is also atributed to the book but it actually comes from Goethe's 1808 poem Kläffer ("Barker"; obviously, without the interjection of "Sancho": But their strident barking / is only a sign that we ride). In its stock phrase version, it's used to say that an attack from one's enemies over a recently taken action is a sign that you are doing the right thing. There is an even more insulting version, "Ladran, señal que son perros" ("They bark, sign they are dogs").
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Sancho Panza
  • Bilingual Bonus: Quijote means "cuisse", thigh armour, in Spanish.
  • Bittersweet Downer Ending: Don Quixote, after a string of betrayals and especially cruel practical jokes, regains his sanity and negates chivalry just before his death, while his squire has ingrained the chivalry lifestyle so deeply that he practically cries for Don Quixote to come back to the adventure.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Subverted with the Biscayan, who is another of the many Victimized Bystanders Don Quixote finds in his adventures. He talks exclusively in this fashion when he engages with Don Quixote in a duel to the death, even when Don Quixote understands him perfectly:
    One of the squires in attendance upon the coach, a Biscayan, was listening to all Don Quixote was saying, and, perceiving that he would not allow the coach to go on, but was saying it must return at once to El Toboso, he made at him, and seizing his lance addressed him in bad Castilian and worse Biscayan after his fashion, "Begone, caballero, and ill go with thee; by the God that made me, unless thou quittest coach, slayest thee as art here a Biscayan."
    Don Quixote understood him quite well, and answered him very quietly, "If thou wert a knight, as thou art none, I should have already chastised thy folly and rashness, miserable creature." To which the Biscayan returned, "I no gentleman!—I swear to God thou liest as I am Christian: if thou droppest lance and drawest sword, soon shalt thou see thou art carrying water to the cat: Biscayan on land, hidalgo at sea, hidalgo at the devil, and look, if thou sayest otherwise thou liest."
  • Book Burning: A subversion of this trope given that books ''then'' were new media: Don Quixote’s niece and Old Retainer asked the Moral Guardians' permission to do the Book Burning in a desperate attempt to cure him. The Moral Guardians are the most educated people in the village (a curate and a barber), they never wanted to impose their ideas and are doing this as a favor to the family, so they don’t care much for this Book Burning. And a lot of those are really bad written books that destroyed Don Quixote’s mind, and the good books were stolen by the Moral Guardians.
  • Book Ends: At chapter I of the first part, Don Quixote spends four days thinking how to give his horse a new name, and another eight days how to rename himself, showing us that he is a Mad Dreamer. At the penultimate chapter of the second part, Don Quixote immediately thinks of the names he and his partners will adopt as shepherds, and Sanson Carrasco even says some names in a carelessly manner. Don Quixote laughed at the adaptation of the name, showing us that he now is Bored With Insanity.
  • Bored With Insanity: In the last chapter of Don Quixote, a poster boy for Fandumb of Chivalric Romance, his Fan Disillusionment is so great that he comes back to his senses.
    "I was mad, now I am in my senses; I was Don Quixote of La Mancha, I am now, as I said, Alonso Quixano the Good."
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Surprisingly, played straight and lampshaded, not because Don Quixote wants to be a Knight in Shining Armor (Don Quixote wanted to revive a past that really never was, a past with good and bad wizards, fierce giants, fabulous monsters, imaginary reigns, incredible dresses, poisonous snakes, terrible battles, incredible encounters, lovesick princess, funny dwarfs, squires made counts and a lot of outrageous adventures) but because he is an Hidalgo (noble). Alonso Quijano lives in the wrong century and is lampshaded in the famous Discourse on Arms and Letters, Part I, Chapter 38. Cervantes' genius let him realize that technological advances like the gunpowder and the artillery demanded the end of the cavalry and the initiation of new strategies and organizational forms in the armies, as well as a redefinition of the role of nobility in a society where individual courage and skill are useless, and the organization of nameless masses of soldiers (infantry) becomes important. With Don Quijote, Cervantes is saying that for him, and for all the nobility (rich or poor) they were born in the wrong century, and they must reform or die.
    • Though with the rise of video games and such, you could make a case for Don Quixote being, unbeknownst even to the author, born too early.
  • Buffy Speak: See You Keep Using That Word.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Sancho. Don Quixote himself is also quite put-upon, but whatever happens to him tends to be that much worse for Sancho.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Don Quixote suffers from this.
  • Canon Immigrant: In a way, Álvaro Tarfe may be one of the first examples, if not the first. He is a character from the non canon sequel written by Avellaneda, who appears at the end of the legitimate second part of the Quijote, the one written by Cervantes, talking to the real Don Quijote and Sancho.
  • Central Theme: Each book you can say has two themes related to the power of fantasy and the clash of chivalry with the real world, pulling in effect a Decon-Recon Switch:
    • Part I — The Golden Age of chivalry is not only Deader Than Disco but never existed outside the pages of a book. Real-Life doesn't have noble knights, damsels in distress and plucky common folk in need of saving, but people doing what it takes to survive in an unfair society. Someone who tries to be a Knight in the real-world has to be crazy since anyone with a sense of reality would know it's impossible.
    • Part II — Our fictions affect our perceptions of reality, yet at the same time, fiction and storytelling can inspire and change reality. Anyone who becomes a Self-Proclaimed Knight from reading books of chivalry is crazy, but trying to live up to this obsolete code of chivalry in the hard real world despite repeated failures is way more heroic than any fictional knight could ever be.
  • Character Witness: Hilariously subverted by Andres and Tosilos, who come back Laser-Guided Karma not to help, but to denounce Don Quixote.
    • Andres, a boy that Don Quixote thinks has rescued at chapter IV part I shows up again at Chapter XXXI part I. Don Quixote wants him to defend his Chivalric Romance delusions, but instead Andres denounces him as with a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • Lacquey Tosilos appear at chapter LVI of the second part when Don Quixote is trying to We Help the Helpless, and comes back in chapter LXVII to inform Don Quixote that all was a Shaggy Dog Story.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Played perfectly straight: In Chapter I, Part I, Cervantes mentions the people who lived in Don Quixote’s house: his niece, his housekeeper and a lad who helps them with the field and the marketplace... this last of whom we’ll never see or hear of again. Obviously, Cervantes had completely forgotten about this character, and didn't want to write him even in the Second Part of the novel; but in his defense, one of Don Quixote’s themes is about how silly it is to detect errors of continuity in a silly fictional tale.
  • Civil War: Don Quixote travels to Barcelona, a Spanish province that is in a Civil War in The Cavalier Years.
  • Cliffhanger: Parodied by the end of Part I, chapter 8: that chapter ends with a dramatic description of Don Quixote and a poor innocent bystander charging at each other... only to have the next chapter start with the narrator telling us that he doesn't have the page in the original manuscript that describes the fight, and wasting three pages telling us how he could get the next part. The critics have said that the cliffhanger was a regular resource of the chivalry books.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: There is nothing else to call a man who attacks windmills.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bernardo del Carpio is one of Alonso Quixano favorite knights, because he found the way to defeat Roland the enchanted: instead of attacking him with a sword, Bernardo just strangled him.
  • Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch: In-Universe with Don Quixote: At Part II Chapter LIX, When Don Quixote hears someone talking how he is not more in love with Dulcinea del Toboso, he is full of wrath and indignation. So he read only a few pages of Avellaneda’s Fan Fiction about him. After a discussion of how this Continuation Fic is full of Character Derailment for Don Quixote and Sancho, Don Quixote believes that the book is bad and not worthy of his time or effort:
    ... though Don Juan wished Don Quixote to read more of the book to see what it was all about, he was not to be prevailed upon, saying that he treated it as read and pronounced it utterly silly; and, if by any chance it should come to its author's ears that he had it in his hand, he did not want him to flatter himself with the idea that he had read it; for our thoughts, and still more our eyes, should keep themselves aloof from what is obscene and filthy.
  • Concepts Are Cheap: Deconstructed In-Universe: In the first part of the novel, Don Quixote wants to be an Knight Errant For Great Justice. In the second part of the novel, his motivation changes For Happiness. But this time Don Quixote is an honest man that must admit at the end of the novel that his efforts didn’t help anyone and his Chivalric Romance dreams were shallow.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: Sancho is very aware that the man he is following is pretty insane and often tells him so, but sometimes has to act according to his master's delusions.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Sancho Panza invokes this trope so he can avoid a fight with the squire of the Knight of the Grove, who insists that given that Don Quixote and his master are going to fight, their squires must be doing the same, and bullies Sancho into a fight. Sancho menaces him:
    …”if a hunted cat, surrounded and hard pressed, turns into a lion, God knows what I, who am a man, may turn into..."
  • Crack Is Cheaper: Alonso Quijano was a victim of this phenomenon In-Universe. At chapter I Part I we learn that he has acquired a lot of chivalry books (almost three hundred), and if you think that the printing had been discovered in Europe only some years ago, it's a considerable feat. But alas! Then as now, his relatives and friends, who certainly think that this hobby is getting out of control, had no second thoughts to send a lot of his books to the bonfire, even if Don Quixote has spent a lot of money in those books:
    "and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre of tillage land to buy books of chivalry to read"
    • It should be noted that just having a few hundred books in the time in which the story was written would have been a huge expense. It's not like they had Barnes and Noble back then.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Although Don Quixote is a loon and almost always beaten and humiliated, sometimes he shows that he's got some real balls and fighting chops (e.g., the lion episode).
  • Crushing The Populace: When Don Quixote travels to Barcelona, Sancho gets lost at night in a forest whose trees are filled with feet wearing shoes and stockings. Don Quixote calmly explains that the authorities hang outlaws by the twenties and thirties when they catch them.
  • Damsel in Distress: Deconstructed and Played for Laughs. Don Quixote believes that just about every lady he meets needs to be rescued from villains. Then, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Don Quixote aspires to be one, and actually does pull off some real badassery (e.g., his adventure with the lion).
  • Daydream Believer: Quixote himself is the archetype of this. And he does not only believe in chivalry books, in Part II, Chapter LXXI, he declares that if he had lived in Homeric times, he could have saved Troy and Carthage by slaying Paris.
  • Dan Browned: This trope is lampshaded by Cervantes... and then played for laughs. In the Preface of the Author, Part I, Cervantes denounces authors who claim that the verses they use in the preface of the book commending that work (a common literary practice at the time) were made by personages identified as famous poets, when with a little research we easily discover they were not, or worse yet, they were illiterate. Simply put, he defines this trope in the 17th century. And then, Cervantes proceeds to make "some commendatory verses" whose authors are some wizards, knights and damsels protagonist of other chivalry books.
  • Deader Than Disco: In-Universe: At Part II Chapter XVI, Don Quixote claims that the Chivalric Romance (and its Real Life counterpart, knight-errantry is this trope and he is merely trying to bring it to life again.
    My desire was to bring to life again knight-errantry, now dead, and for some time past, stumbling here, falling there, now coming down headlong, now raising myself up again
  • Deadpan Snarker / Sarcastic Devotee / Servile Snarker: Deconstructed by Sancho Panza: What happens in Real Life to the employee that cannot say anything about his master without being sarcastic? Why, Sancho is beaten by Don Quixote at chapters XX and XXV of Part I, and gives him a hurricane of insults at chapter XLVI. The problem is that a lot of people enjoys Sancho’s sarcasm (he is good at it) and so he feels compelled to say it, even when he is in perilous situations, like when he denied payment to a Innkeeper (Chapter XVII part I), and he mocked the entire people of the Braying Town or the highwaymen of Barcelona (Chapters XXVII and LX of the part II) The first give him a beating, the highwaymen almost kill him.
  • Death by Despair:
    • Parodied by the "resurrection" of Altisidora, a girl who claims to love Don Quixote and invokes this trope (it’s really a prank). Don Quixote and Sancho didn’t believe it for a minute. When Don Quixote rejects her again:
    Hearing this, Altisidora, with a show of anger and agitation, exclaimed, "God's life! Don Stockfish, soul of a mortar, stone of a date, more obstinate and obdurate than a clown asked a favour when he has his mind made up, if I fall upon you I'll tear your eyes out! Do you fancy, Don Vanquished, Don Cudgelled, that I died for your sake? All that you have seen to-night has been make-believe; I'm not the woman to let the black of my nail suffer for such a camel, much less die!"
    "That I can well believe," said Sancho; "for all that about lovers pining to death is absurd; they may talk of it, but as for doing it-Judas may believe that!"
    • Forced to return to his hometown and lay down his arms by his defeat to the Knight of the White Moon (really his friend Sansón Carrasco), Don Quijote falls seriously ill. His friends believe he is dying of despair over his defeat, but unexpectedly the sickness snaps him out of his delusion, and he expresses relief that he has regained his sanity before dying.
  • Deal with the Devil: Invoked by Don Quixote in chapter XXV of the second volume, in which he and Sancho encounter a magician with a supposed clairvoyant monkey.
  • Deconstruction: Not only of chivalric romances themselves (see below for details), but also of the attitudes they foster in their readers. While Don Quixote takes things to extremes for the sake of a good laugh, Cervantes uses him to make the point that living one's life in the real world strictly by an idealized, incomplete, and oft-contradictory code of chivalry is ultimately an exercise in absurdity.
    • Literary critics, note, that the second part of the book is perhaps an even more comprehensive deconstruction than Part 1, in that it tackles the thin line between fiction and reality. When Don Quixote and Sancho Panza meet aristocrats, Dukes, Kings, Village Prefects, the latter engage in petty and cruel games intended to see Don Quixote do something crazy. In their interactions, critics from Miguel de Unamuno and Harold Bloom note, the books make a larger point that all of society essentially rests on a fiction, aristocrats have to act like aristocrats to be aristocrats when their authority and power is actually unearned and arbitrary. In the episode where Sancho Panza who is made-to-believe that he's actually a governor of a small village, he proves to be far more competent than the real and actual governor of the village. The point at the end is that, Don Quixote in openly making himself a hero out of chivalry isn't anymore crazy than aristocrats making themselves rulers based on imagined lineage or traditions rather than merit.
    • The nature of reality and fiction get tackled even further in the Puppet Theatre episode of Part II. Don Quixote criticizes a puppet theatre's poor staging of an event in the Crusades and keeps heckling him/stage directing to make it real. Don Quixote's constant needling and addition of details ultimately culminates in a staging so realistic that Don Quixote goes nuts and charges in and fights the puppets himself, completely falling in with the fiction he created. Likewise, Don Quixote while an annoying madman in the first book, in the sequel discovers that he's actually become a Living Legend, with fan authors writing spurious legends of his life while Cide Hamete Benengeli is accurate but denies him royalties. In other words, Don Quixote somehow managed to become a real-life legendary hero with many alternate versions and apocrypha of his adventures spreading around.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Books of chivalry are ridiculed by having their tropes applied to real, everyday life.
    • The other trope deconstructed and parodied is Fan Dumb.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The novel not only deconstructs the Chivalric Romance genre, but applies Genre Deconstruction to the next genres: Romance Novel, (May–December Romance, Fille Fatale), the Arcadia, Secret Test of Character, Sweet Polly Oliver, Gentleman Thief literature, the Deadpan Snarker, (and all kind of snarkers). It also has Unbuilt Tropes like Straw Fan, Lord Error-Prone, Mad Dreamer, Cut Lex Luthor a Check and Book Burning... and given its status as the first modern novel, it’s full of Postmodernism.
    • Reconstruction: At the very end of the novel, the narrator notes that Don Quixote's bull-headedness and steadfast impossible perseverance and commitment to his idea made him an even greater hero than all the false chivalric heroes that he aspired to, and who his own story would completely eclipse.
  • Disco Dan: Deconstructed: Don Quixote's obsession with Chivalric Romance leaves him mentally stuck in an era that barely even existed, and at The Cavalier Years is Deader Than Disco: few people at Spain know, and even less care, what an Knight Errant is. So, Don Quixote has to explain what a KnightErrant is every time and again throught the first part of the novel. First he makes CharacterFilibusters, then he makes his explanations shorter, and then comes chapter XLVII when Don Quixote is tired and gives up:
    "Haply, gentlemen, you are versed and learned in matters of errant chivalry? Because if you are I will tell you my misfortunes; if not, there is no good in my giving myself the trouble of relating them;"
  • Door Stopper: It's quite a long book, although not obscenely so. The romances of chivalry it parodies tended to be even lengthier.
  • Fan Disillusionment: After two novels being a literal Ascended Fanboy Up to Eleven of the Chivalric Romance, Don Quixote must accept in the last chapter that the Cliché Storm that he read as the adventures of a Knight Errant is not as joyous as he thought it would be:
  • Fan Fiction:
    • In-Universe:
      • Chapter I, part I: Alonso Quijano has read The tale of Don Belianis of Greece and notes that the author has not finished that adventure, so he planned to write a continuation of it, and it would have been a great continuation if not because he abandoned that idea to become Don Quixote (this is not an Informed Ability: In Part I, Chapter II, Don Quixote begins the story of his own heroic exploits, that will undoubtedly write a sage in the future, and in Part I, Chapter XXI, Don Quixote narrates Sancho a perfect summary of the plot and all the typical situations of a chivalry book):
    "He commended, however, the author's way of ending his book with the promise of that interminable adventure, and many a time was he tempted to take up his pen and finish it properly as is there proposed, which no doubt he would have done, and made a successful piece of work of it too, had not greater and more absorbing thoughts prevented him."
  • Flanderization: In the first part of the novel, Sancho Panza gives an Hurricane of Aphorisms only once (Chapter XXVII, part I). In the second part, he gives it continuously, and also his wife and his daughter.
  • Flyover Country: Critics have said La Mancha, don Quixote's home, is the Spanish version of this trope, as the preface to the Gutenberg project said:
    on many of his readers in Spain, and most of his readers out of it, the significance of his choice of a country for his hero is completely lost. It would be going too far to say that no one can thoroughly comprehend "Don Quixote" without having seen La Mancha, but undoubtedly even a glimpse of La Mancha will give an insight into the meaning of Cervantes such as no commentator can give. Of all the regions of Spain it is the last that would suggest the idea of romance. Of all the dull central plateau of the Peninsula it is the dullest tract. There is something impressive about the grim solitudes of Estremadura; and if the plains of Leon and Old Castile are bald and dreary, they are studded with old cities renowned in history and rich in relics of the past. But there is no redeeming feature in the Manchegan landscape; it has all the sameness of the desert without its dignity; the few towns and villages that break its monotony are mean and commonplace, there is nothing venerable about them, they have not even the picturesqueness of poverty; indeed, Don Quixote's own village, Argamasilla, has a sort of oppressive respectability in the prim regularity of its streets and houses; everything is ignoble; the very windmills are the ugliest and shabbiest of the windmill kind.
  • Folk Hero
  • Forgotten Trope: The novel show us an example of the Captivity Narrative when Ruy Pérez de Viedma relates all his biography in “The story of the Captive Captain”, you can see more at Life Embellished.
    • Don Quixote mentions The Nine Worthies: Nine characters who personified the ideal values of a brave knight. They were three pagans (Alexander The Great, Hector and Julius Ceasar), three Jewish (Joshua, Salomon and Juda Maccabee) and three Christians (King Arthur, Charlomagne and Godfrey of Bouillion). All of those figures are still very well-know, but most people are not familiar with the idea of all of them united in a single rethoric concept. When Quixote was wounded by some Badass Bystander and helped by some neighbor. When the neighbor claims Don Quixote is not a Knight Errant, Don Quixote claims: "I know who I am," replied Don Quixote, "and I know that I may be not only those I have named, but all the Twelve Peers of France and even all the Nine Worthies, since my achievements surpass all that they have done all together and each of them on his own account." Justified, since Quixote is The Monomaniac about Chivalric Romance and he must know everything about KnightErrants. The real ironic part is that In-Universe Quixote is only a Loony Fan who cannot match them, but in Real Life, more people know who is Don Quixote that the Nine Worthies… so this Badass Boast became Hilarious in Hindsight.

  • Genius Ditz: Don Quixote despite his reputation as a crazy is highly intelligent and several characters who come across him note that he occassionally sounds rational and sane before going off tangent on his chivalric ideals. Several characters who later trick him note that he's fairly astute about the minor points that concern a given situation but neglects the bigger picture altogether.
  • Genre Deconstruction: See Deconstructor Fleet
  • Genre Savvy: Apart from the protagonist (who is Wrong Genre Savvy), many other characters are familiar with chivalric tropes and invoke or discuss them. Note that at the end of both volumes, Don Quixote is defeated and forced to return to his village in strict accordance with the laws of the genre.
  • Gentle Giant: Part I Chapter I reveals that the giant Morgante is one of Alonso Quixano’s favorite characters, because despite being a giant, he is affable and well bred.
  • Giver of Lame Names: The protagonist is probably the Trope Codifier.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Inverted: Don Quixote goes mad trying to make sense of the Purple Prose that plagued the chivalry books he has read, but there never was any reveal because even Aristotle could not have made sense of it.
  • Grand Dame: Small Name, Big Ego Dueña Doña Rodríguez is the only one character stupid enough in all the novel (and In-Universe, in all Spain) to sincerely believe that Don Quixote is a real Knight Errant.
  • Healing Potion: Parodied. Don Quixote claims to have the recipe for an elixir that heals all wounds, but beng who he is, it instead induces severe pain and vomiting.
    • Although after throwing up he does seem to get up easier...
  • Heroic Wannabe: Practically made this trope.
  • Hero's Muse: The eponymous hero fights for his lady love, whom he refers to as Dulcinea. In his mind, he elevates her to a princess and the most beautiful woman in the world, although she is in reality a peasant girl named Aldonza.
  • Hikikomori: Somewhat of an Ur-Example. Don Quixote seems to be living in his village for years, doing nothing but hunting, reading romances of chivalry, selling his property to pay for them (books were a lot more expensive then) and discussing them with his friends. Justified, because the landed gentry of the time were expected to do little else.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Don Quixote reads some pages of the Second Part of 'Don Quixote of La Mancha, he claims there are obvious errors from the author, the most important is that he errs on the name of Sancho’s wife (see Series Continuity Error to understand why this is hypocritical). that he goes wrong and departs from the truth in the most important part of the history, for here he says that my squire Sancho Panza's wife is called Mari Gutierrez, when she is called nothing of the sort, but Teresa Panza; and when a man errs on such an important point as this there is good reason to fear that he is in error on every other point in the history."
    "A nice sort of historian, indeed!" exclaimed Sancho at this; "he must know a deal about our affairs when he calls my wife Teresa Panza, Mari Gutierrez; take the book again, senor, and see if I am in it and if he has changed my name."
  • Honor Before Reason: The protagonist falls victim to this trope countless times.
  • Hot-Blooded: Don Quixote sure makes a lot of passionate speeches, and charges forward with aplomb, later subverted when he denies chivalry with the same passion.
  • Hourglass Plot: In the first part of the novel, Don Quixote is a Daydream Believer Mad Dreamer and Sancho Panza has Simpleminded Wisdom and represents realism. Both are Static Characters. At the second part, Sancho is influenced by Don Quixote and becomes more and more of a Daydream Believer, while at the end, Don Quixote will become Bored With Insanity by Sancho’s influence. The relevance is that they maybe were the very first characters in literature to use this trope and become Dynamic Characters.
  • Humiliation Conga: Practically every single chapter ends up being this to Quixote and Sancho.
  • Hurricane of Aphorisms: Sancho Panza does this, usually so poorly that it just makes him look stupider. Interestingly, in the First part of the novel he does it only once. In the second part, he gives those almost always.
  • Idiot Hero: If not the Trope Maker, pretty much the Trope Codifier. Up to Eleven if you think that in the end when he denies chivalry, Don Quixote is portrayed as the Only Sane Man and even as the ideal man.
    • It's subverted: Don Quixote is not an idiot, and we know it since the very beginning of the novel. He is a very intelligent, well-educated man, who is perfectly normal as long as he is not talking about his obsessions: "apart from the silly things which this worthy gentleman says in connection with his craze, when other subjects are dealt with, he can discuss them in a perfectly rational manner, showing that his mind is quite clear and composed; so that, provided his chivalry is not touched upon, no one would take him to be anything but a man of thoroughly sound understanding." Part I, chapter 30. Of course, when he is indulging his chivalry fantasies... well...
  • If I Can't Have You: Part II, chapter LX, Claudia Jeronima and Don Vicente Tornellas, from different factions of the civil war that was plaguing Barcelona, secretly fall in love and planned to marry, but one day Claudia Jerónima learned that Don Vicente wants to marry another woman. The next day, overwhelmed and exasperated, she shot him. And then she learned that he never intended to marry any other woman than Claudia.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Alonso Quijano is an Hidalgo that still has the ancient arms of his ancestors, but has so little money that almost all of it is spent on food. What can he do? He is very smart and talented, so he could work, but if he does, he will lose the few privileges he has as an hidalgo (like, to be excused from paying taxes). He is poor and bored. It does not help that he spent a lot of time in those silly chivalry books. Sure, they help him with the boredom, and the knight life is certainly exciting, but they are only absurd tales, right?
  • In-Name-Only: Joel Silver is threatening to produce a big-budget, "Pirates of the Caribbean-like" film about a Swashbuckler Don Quixote that is not crazy and fights real monsters from Another Dimension. Ironically, Don Quixote would have preferred this kind of adaptation to any other.
  • The Insomniac: Alonso Quijano is a type B, as described in Part I Chapter I: lead by his obsession to read chivalry books, he sleeps less and less while reading more and more and that sends him over the edge.
  • Insanity Defense: The reason why Don Quixote is never killed (but often beaten) by the poor Innocent Bystander of the day.
    The landlord shouted to them to leave him alone, for he had already told them that he was mad, and as a madman he would not be accountable even if he killed them all.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Played Straight with Almost All the Chapters of the Two Parts because the Beginning of a Chapter Summarizes the Chapter's Events, but then Inverted in Some Chapters that Do Not Summarize Anything:
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Deconstructed by Roque Guinart, a deconstruction of the Gentleman Thief, who leads a band of highwaymen at Barcelona’s Civil War. He is an armed beggar, that takes only a part of the money of his victims... by asking them. His 60 men assault two soldiers (300 crowns), a Noblewoman (600 crowns) and some pilgrims (60 reals). That would have been 15 crowns and a real for each highwayman. Roque asks for 60 crowns for the soldiers (20%) and 80 crowns from the Noblewoman (13.6%). That’s 140 crowns. He gives 2 crowns to each highwayman and the 20 crown left he gives 10 to the pilgrims (that’s almost 100 reals) and 10 crowns to Sancho Panza in a clear attempt to Buy Them Off. The people who attacked are happy to keep most of their own money, and Roque Guinart is considered a hero. Everyone is happy! Except for the highwaymen who were cheated of 13 crowns and a real, but Roque manages to Make an Example of Them by murdering the one who dares to be a Deadpan Snarker.
  • "Kick Me" Prank: They play this prank on Don Quixote at Barcelona:
    That afternoon they took Don Quixote out for a stroll, not in his armour but in street costume, with a surcoat of tawny cloth upon him, that at that season would have made ice itself sweat. Orders were left with the servants to entertain Sancho so as not to let him leave the house. Don Quixote was mounted, not on Rocinante, but upon a tall mule of easy pace and handsomely caparisoned. They put the surcoat on him, and on the back, without his perceiving it, they stitched a parchment on which they wrote in large letters, "This is Don Quixote of La Mancha." As they set out upon their excursion the placard attracted the eyes of all who chanced to see him, and as they read out, "This is Don Quixote of La Mancha," Don Quixote was amazed to see how many people gazed at him, called him by his name, and recognised him, and turning to Don Antonio, who rode at his side, he observed to him, "Great are the privileges knight-errantry involves, for it makes him who professes it known and famous in every region of the earth; see, Don Antonio, even the very boys of this city know me without ever having seen me."
  • Knight in Shining Armor and Knight Errant: What Don Quixote thinks he is, and thereby thoroughly deconstructs.
    I would have thee know, Sancho, that the famous Amadis of Gaul was one of the most perfect knights-errant—I am wrong to say he was one; he stood alone, the first, the only one, the lord of all that were in the world in his time. A fig for Don Belianis, and for all who say he equalled him in any respect, for, my oath upon it, they are deceiving themselves! ... In the same way Amadis was the polestar, day-star, sun of valiant and devoted knights, whom all we who fight under the banner of love and chivalry are bound to imitate.
  • Knighting: Parodied at Part I Chapter III when Don Quixote insists that an innkeeper (who he thinks is a castellan) knight him after he has watched his armor in the castle chapel — that is, in the stable of the inn. This shows that Don Quixote could be mad, but he knows exactly how the ceremony must be.
  • The Lady's Favour: Deconstructed when (even if it’s only part of a Massive Multiplayer Scam), Altisidora gave Don Quixote three kerchiefs that later are stolen by bandits:
    Roque on coming up asked Sancho if his men had returned and restored to him the treasures and jewels they had stripped off Dapple. Sancho said they had, but that three kerchiefs that were worth three cities were missing.
    "What are you talking about, man?" said one of the bystanders; "I have got them, and they are not worth three reals."
    "That is true," said Don Quixote; "but my squire values them at the rate he says, as having been given me by the person who gave them."
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: This law is invoked by the Innkeeper when he and Don Quixote discuss at Part I Chapter III the need for money being a Knight Errant who is Walking the Earth, (Don Quixote doesn't have any money because he never has read about a Knight Errant paying for anything) and helps to deconstruct those tropes in the book.
    On this point the landlord told him he was mistaken; for, though not recorded in the histories, because in the author's opinion there was no need to mention anything so obvious and necessary as money and clean shirts, it was not to be supposed therefore that they did not carry them,
  • Life Embellished: Ruy Pérez de Viedma relates all his biography in “The story of the Captive Captain”. He was a handsome captive captain who wanted to escape the Moors and was helped by Zoraida, a beautiful Moor princess who wanted to convert to Christianity. The captain organized a successful evasion to Spain, was well received by his powerful and rich relatives and married Zoraida. Cervantes was a captive who failed all his evasion intents, his family paid his rescue and he always was an Impoverished Patrician.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: Cervantes (only referred in the book as "The second author") says that the book was based on some manuscripts he found and made translate to Spanish by an Arab translator.
    • Written by some Arabian named Cide Hamete Benengeli (or Sidi Ahmed bin Engeli, as it would be rendered today) whose first name, "Cide", could be translated as "Mister", and whose last name is a pun on "berenjena" (eggplant/aubergine).
      • This trope is parodied, because a lot of chivalry books have his authors claim that they are based in an old manuscript found in an ancient pyramid or another ruined building in some faraway country, written in an exotic language by a wise, famed wizard who favored the hero of the novel. Those claims are made to feign that the chivalry book was inspired by real events. Cervantes twist this and uses it to a comic effect, explaining that the next part of the novel was found in some pamphlets and papers (only a few years old) found in Alcana de Toledo (a real city in Spain) in a silk mercer store, written in Arabic (a fairly known language in Spain) by a (foolish) boy who didn't know what was written in them and so sold the papers to Cervantes for peanuts. If we include the funny name of the wizard and the fact that the second author, the translator and Cide Hamete Benengeli are always making comments about the book, we can see that Cervantes want us to admit that all this tale is a long sequence of lies and nonsense... just like all the chivalry books.
  • Long List: This trope is played straight and parodied:
  • Loony Fan: Sanson Carrásco presents himself as one fan of Don Quixote and discuss with him and Sancho the Series Continuity Errors, and wants to help that poor, mad fool to regain sanity. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Pretty much the Trope Maker and the Ur-Example: In the first part of the novel, Cervantes settles Don Quixote characterization as this: he almost kills the Vizcayan at chapter IX and maimed for life the Licenciate at chapter XIX. Misaimed Fandom insisted in seeing him as the much more sympathetic Mad Dreamer.
  • Lost in Translation: A joke in the Spanish version is that even when everyone understands the term island, only truly sophisticated people understand the term ''insula''. So, Sancho doesn’t really understand what an insula really is, but he desperately wants to rule one, so he would be tricked later in a Massive Multiplayer Scam to rule a little town that is not an island. In some English translations (for example, the Gutenberg project this joke is Lost in Translation).
    • Cervantes is constantly making puns and wordplay, most of which is untranslatable.
  • Love Martyr: Part II, chapter LX, Don Vicente Tornellas has been shot by his fiancée Claudia Jeronima because she believed that Don Vicente wanted to marry another woman. Don Vicente's last words are to tell her that he was innocent, never intended to marry any other woman, that he considers himself lucky to talk with her in his last moments of life, and then his last act before dying is to give Jeronima his hand and ask her to make him his husband.



Alternative Title(s): Don Quijote