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Who Is Don Quixote?

by June Reynolds

Don Quixote is a character in a novel by Miguel de Cervantes, first published in 1605, added on to by Alonso Fernandez, and finished by Cervantes in 1615.

In the "real world" of La Mancha, Spain, Quixote is known as Alonso Quijano, a thin country gentleman, familiar to all as kind and friendly. He lives with his daughter and two servants. As a gentleman, he spends time studying medieval romance stories, full of knights, chivalry, castles, and jousts. This all goes to his head to the point where he goes crazy and actually starts outfitting himself as a knight. He believes that he has been called by voices to change the world and right all wrongs. (Thus the underlying reason for the "Don Quixote Society")

At this point in the story, art imitates life and life imitates art as the innkeeper doubles as a duke of a castle who dubs Don Quixote officially as "knight," and a peasant girl at the inn becomes the princess and lady love for our knight errant. Don Quixote then goes out to fight perceived foes, both real and imagined in the name of his ladylove who stands for purity and perfection.

On a return home, Don Quixote asks Sancho Panza to be his squire, traveling companion, and body-guard. He promises Sancho governorship of the first province they conquer. Sancho is the very opposite of Quixote in every way; he is ignorant and naive, (thus accepting this crazy man's word), as well as fat, lazy, realistic, and greedy. The pair obtains transportation in the form of a bony old nag named Rocinante for Quixote and an ass for Sancho named Dapple.

Don Quixote has selective vision of the real world. Windmills are giant brutes, sheep are attacking armies, and slaves are oppressed gentlemen. This reflects the author's theme of satirizing the Catholic Church at the time, (giant brutes, flailing their arms), and making fun of the Spanish government going to war, (like a flock of sheep). Quixote is an idealist seeing things through rose-colored glasses at times. He fights impossible symbolic battles while the rest of the world says it can't be done and mocks him for trying. It is ironic that a crazy man is showing humanity the "right way" to live. This character has survived the centuries demonstrating his universal appeal to all.

This "fight for the right without question" is what the Don Quixote Society represents. This website takes a stand on political, social, and religious issues that may not be politically popular. Hopefully they will remain politically correct, as Don Quixote would have them.