Miguel de Cervantes wrote the highly popular Spanish novel, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha” which was published in 1605. In academic circles, this book satirized chivalry through the protagonist, Don Alonso Quixano, who consumes his time reading old medieval books of chivalry. His mind becomes so saturated with the Medieval adventures of knights and their heroic deeds that he wants to become one himself – 400 years after chivalry slowly became a passing fancy in Europe.
The 50-year-old, gaunt Alonso Quixano decides to dress like a knight by going through his great grandfather’s armor, and rides away from his home to pursue lofty adventures by becoming a “knight-errant” and he rides out on his old nag, he names, “Rocinante”.
His first adventure begins when he leaves his home and comes to an inn, which he believes is a castle. As he approaches, he hears a goatherd blowing his horn to round up his pigs whom Quixote believes to be a dwarf who sounds a trumpet upon his arrival. He spots prostitutes whom he believes are virgin princesses. He quotes lofty old poetry to them, which they can’t help but laugh at him. Also when Don Quixote sits down to eat a meal, he cannot take off his helmet from his head. So he has to be given a straw that fits in his visor that he uses to suck up his meal.
Don Quixote wants to become a legitimate knight, so he asks the innkeeper, who he thinks is the keeper of the castle to officially dub him a knight so that he may go off on adventures where he makes right the wrongs of people who are in distress. However, when Quixote takes off his armor as was customary for knights to put them in a chapel to “keep vigil” or watch over his armor throughout the night, Quixote thinks he is doing the same and puts his arms around a well he believes to be a chapel outside the inn. But when two men come to gather water from the well, Quixote becomes furious when he sees them moving his armor. Don Quixote quickly runs out and beats them severely.
On his first adventure, Don Quixote reveals his antiquated, flowery Spanish language, which sounds out of date. If this knight’s first language were English, and he lived today in England, Australia or the United States, his speech might sound like outdated quotations from William Shakespeare’s plays or the King James Version Bible. He also uses this old language style when he addresses an imaginary lady to whom he dedicates the battles he wins.
Throughout the novel, the strange knight orders everyone he meets to proclaim his ladylove, named “Dulcinea del Toboso” that she is the most beautiful woman in the land. Of course, this act is ridiculous, but this “worshipping” a woman is only reserved for God.
So much plot happens in this first adventure of Alonso Quixano becoming “Don Quixote de la Mancha”. Such an adventure keeps the reader up all night, devouring the book, engaged in all of the frivolity created by the “knight” as well as his “squire” Sancho Panza, who later seeks to serve him on his adventures.
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