Michael B Reader Response (Don Quixote) Don Quixote is an alias taken up by a middle aged man in La Mancha Spain who has driven himself mad through the reading of old chivalrous stories that tell of knights and great battles. He soon decides to become a knight and after finding and fixes his old family armor sets off for adventures and glory. Obviously these books have had profound effects on him as he loses his grip on reality. The first incident happens when he comes upon an inn that he believes to be a castle where he insists that the innkeeper, who he believes to be a king, knight him.
He spends the entire night there until he gets into a fight with some men who try to take his armor out of their mule’s trough and he attacks them. Soon after the innkeeper pronounces him a knight simply to be rid of him. Cervantes draws the reader in with his use of Don Quixote’s perspective. Quixote sees what his imagination creates from these stories he’s read and not what is actually there or happening. Later after he leaves the inn Don Quixote hears crying and comes across a boy being flogged by a farmer.
When questioned the farmer explains that the boy has been failing in his duties but the boy tells Quixote that the farmer has not been paying him. Don Quixote hearing this thinks that the farmer is a knight and tells the man to pay the boy. When the boy tries to explain that the farmer is not a knight Quixote ignores him and asks the farmer to swear on his knighthood that he will pay the boy and once Quixote leaves the farmer continues to beat the boy but this time more severely.
Cervantes here gives us a perfect example of why the modern term Quixotism was coined from the novel Don Quixote. The definition of quixotism is when someone has succumbed to misguided idealism. In this scene Don Quixote because of his misplaced faith in the old stories of chivalry intervenes in a situation and only succeeds in making things worse for the boy he had originally tried to help.
Another example of this Quixotism in the novel is when Don Quixote attacks a windmill believing it to be giants and ends up making himself look foolish in front of his squire who for some reason tries to ignore the fact that his master is clearly unhinged mentally. This brings to mind that although Quixote’s actions are admirable they are doomed to fail because he is out of touch with the world he lives in. Both of these situations show that our intentions however admirable may succumb to failure if the onsequences of our actions are not considered. Opposingly it was G. K. Chesterton a British journalist of the time that claims that by writing from this perspective it made it difficult for “modern” men and women (of their time) to take the values of chivalry seriously. Don Quixote can be looked at from many different angles whether they be as a commentary on chivalry, a comedy, or even a more philosophical way considering the idealism Don Quixote is so known for.