Essay title: The Knight
Don Quixote is a very long novel, but its basic plot is fairly simple. A certain middle-aged gentleman named Alonso Quixano has read so many romantic stories about the knights of the Middle Ages that he goes out of his mind and imagines that he really is a knight. He also imagines that he is in love with a princess named Dulcinea-in reality a local girl who has never paid any attention to him. Changing his name to Don Quixote de la Mancha, he puts on a rusty old suit of armor and sets forth in search of adventure. At a certain inn, which he mistakes for a castle, Don Quixote asks the innkeeper to officially dub him a knight. The innkeeper agrees-just to humor his crazy guest. Later, after mistaking a group of merchants for knights, the Don challenges them to fight and ends up much the worse for wear. A passing neighbor takes him home, where his niece, his housekeeper, and two friends-the local priest and a barber named Nicholas-burn his books in an attempt to shock him back into sanity.
Don Quixote is still determined to seek adventure. He convinces a local workingman, Sancho Panza, to accompany him as his “squire.” Don Quixotes mad delusions get him and Sancho into many scrapes. He mistakes a group of windmills for giants. He takes a funeral procession for ghosts. He even “captures” a brass bowl, which he believes is a valuable helmet. Finally, he meets a young man, Cardenio, who has been driven out of his wits by an unhappy love affair. The Don decides that he will become a hermit, like his new friend.
In the meantime, Don Quixotes friends-the priest and the barber-have devised a plan to lure him back home. They get a girl named Dorothea to pretend to be the Princess Micomicona. In this disguise, Dorothea begs Don Quixote to follow her back to her kingdom and kill an ogre who has usurped her late fathers throne. The Don, his friends, Cardenio, and Dorothea all travel together until they reach the same inn where the Don was “knighted.” Here Cardenio and Dorothea are reunited with their lost loves, Lucinda and Don Ferdinand.
The priest now decides that the only way to get Don Quixote back home is to take him there in a cage. He even manages to convince Don Quixote that the cage is a test of his courage, and that once he passes the test he will be able to marry his imaginary love, the divine Dulcinea. But when Sancho lets Don Quixote out of the cage at a rest stop, the Don gets into more trouble. Finally, he attacks a religious procession because he believes the marchers are kidnappers. After this, the Don at last allows himself to be taken back to his native village.
In Part II of the novel, you discover that six weeks of bed rest have not cured Don Quixotes madness. He and Sancho Panza take to the road again. First, Don Quixote wants to visit his true love, the lady Dulcinea. Sancho knows that Dulcinea is not a lady at all,