Turning the Page on Don Quixote

After reading and discussing Don Quixote over the past few months, I will remember him as a character who represents pieces of Cervantes’ identity and criticisms of ¬†social constraints within seventeenth century Spain, but who also has been able to reveal valuable lessons within my time so far at UMW. He is a character who is firm in his chivalrous values, and views life in a unique idealistic way. Although he is criticized by almost everyone he encounters for his outlook, his innocence and idealism teach the other characters that they may need more of those qualities in their own lives.

He arguably has the biggest impact on Sancho Panza, a character who’s pragmatic personality at first makes him seem at odds with Don Quixote. Over time, though, the two characters provide a balance in each other’s lives and form a friendship that neither of them predicted. Sancho initially sets out on his adventure with Don Quixote with materialistic intentions, hoping to become governor of an island for personal gain. However, Don Quixote’s strong convictions inspire Sancho and he realizes he enjoys life outside his narrow practical view. After realizing this, Sancho says¬†“I am like a piece of land that of itself is dry and barren, but if you scatter manure over it and cultivate it, it will bear good fruit. By this I mean to say that your Grace’s conversation is the manure that has been cast upon the barren land of my dry wit, the time that I spend in your service, associating with you, does the cultivating, and as a result of it all, I hope to bring forth blessed fruits by not departing, slipping or sliding, from those paths of good breeding which your Grace has marked out for me in my parched understanding.”

This inspires me to maintain an open mind to things I might normally avoid because they are different from what I’m used to. Don Quixote’s character also reminded me that it can be beneficial to have a balance between imagination and reality. The book also shows what can happen when there are extremes of the two, which is illustrated by the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho.

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