Don Quixote

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha
Don Quixote, sketched by Pablo Picasso on August 10, 1955.
Original Title: El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha
Written by: Miguel de Cervantes
Central Theme: the dangers of confusing reality with fiction, the power of positive action and noble actions on people.
Synopsis: Consumed with tales of chivalry, a man takes the original quixotic journey.
Genre(s): Satire
First published: 1605
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In a place of La Mancha, the name of which I don't want to recall, there lived not long ago one of those gentlemen with lance on the rack, old shield, worn-out horse, and racing greyhound.

These are the very first lines of Don Quixote, full title The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha( "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" in the original Spanish). The novel was written by Spanish writer and satirist Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes wrote the story in two parts, the first part published in 1605 and the second in 1615.

The story is about an old hidalgo named Alonso Quijano, who was so into chivalric novels that he became insane and decided that he was a vagrant knight. Quijano renames himself as "Don Quixote de La Mancha" and decides to win eternal fame through the besting of wrongdoers and general upholding of the Chivalric Code. Unfortunately for a lot of innocent people, his delusions make him pick fights with other knights innocent bystanders, some of whom do not fight back because Don Quixote is obviously superior in his fighting skills crazy. Of course, there are strangers who are not that sympathetic, and after one of those delivers a brutal beating to Don Quixote, a neighbor from his village meets the wounded Don Quixote and takes him home, where his friends and family burn out the accursed books of chivalry to try to cure him, but he soon returns to his heroic quest delusion and journey. This time he manages to inspire convince a simple farm-man, Sancho Panza, to become his squire and sidekick under the promise of a governorship in the future. Then they live a lot of adventures, including the famous one where Don Quixote attacks some windmills because they are might be giants in disguise. At the end of the book, Don Quixote’s friends trick him by making him believe he is enchanted and take him back to his village.

Throughout the novel Don Quixote never, even for a moment, doubt that the fictional adventures that he has read were real and that he really is a knight errant. Not even the petitions of his loved ones, the continuous ridicule of his peers or the brutal beatings he suffers made him break his resolution: Don Quixote always continues trying to impose his quixotic (literally; he's the word's origin) beliefs on the world.

The first part of the novel was published in 1605, when the books of chivalry were pushing Deader Than Disco and Don Quixote's dreams of reviving chivalry ways were really a strange, misbegotten idea. The novel became a big success among the public of the time (although that success was nothing unheard of at the time with other titles, and certainly that was not the case with the contemporary Spanish critics), and was reprinted several times in the next decade and even translated into French and English. But most notable was the change in Spanish popular culture. A few months after printing, virtually all of Spain knew about Don Quixote’s exploits: Memetic Mutations arose, those ridiculous books of chivalry became popular again, and even apocryphal "continuations" appeared. Cervantes created a character to mock the Fan Dumb and the books of chivalry that perverted true heroism, only to find that Don Quixote, thanks to his readers, had achieved his goal: to change reality.

Cervantes, in an early attempt at killing a Misaimed Fandom, decided to end the story and wrote a still hilarious second part with a more serious tone, taking advantage of the change operated by the first part of the book in Real Life, where Don Quixote has evolved from a Lord Error-Prone to a honest man whose noble attitude and his delusions makes him the Butt Monkey of a lot of people. Don Quixote has to confront his delusions (but only in the very last chapter), and the harshness of reality make him realize that in reality there are no heroes his naive dreams were shallow, and brings him back to sanity before his death. To his chagrin, Book II is considered even more brilliant than Book I.

It has been adapted to every medium, including a couple of animated adaptations (one of them with Funny Animals) and even a Musical.

Very commonly cited, in literary criticism, as "the first modern novel" and is probably among the most influential books of all time (just take a look at the The Other Wiki's list).

Don Quixote is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Don Quixote include:
  • Achilles in His Tent: Parodied when Don Quixote invokes this trope for no other reason that a lot of other Knights (Amadis of Gaul, Beltenebros and Orlando) did it. At the Sierra Morena forest, Don Quixote sends Sancho with a letter to Dulcinea (his imaginary love interest) explaining her that he will be in the forest until she forgives him… Even when don Quixote has not made anything against her. This madness will force the Curate and the Barber to ask Dorotea to pretend to be a princess and ask Don Quixote a favor to get him out of the forest.

All this long harangue (which might very well have been spared) our knight delivered because the acorns they gave him reminded him of the golden age; and the whim seized him to address all this unnecessary argument to the goatherds, who listened to him gaping in amazement without saying a word in reply.

will your worship be able to bear, out in the fields, the heats of summer, and the chills of winter, and the howling of the wolves? Not you; for that's a life and a business for hardy men, bred and seasoned to such work almost from the time they were in swaddling-clothes. Why, to make choice of evils, it's better to be a knight-errant than a shepherd!

  • Ascended Fanboy: Quixote takes a more proactive approach than most.
  • Author Avatar: Cervantes dedicates some chapters of the first part of the novel to “The story of the Captive Captain”, Ruy Pérez de Viedma, a Spanish captain who was prisoner of the Moors. Curiously, this man, like the Priest, claims to know some guy called “de Saavedra”.
  • Author Filibuster: Parodied and lampshaded. The critics have said that the chivalry books were plagued by a lot of lengthy discourses from different abstract themes, immobilizing the action and discouraging the reader. Cervantes lampshaded this when Don Quixote talks for nearly two pages in the "Discourse on The Golden Age", Part I, Chapter XI: "All this long harangue (which might very well have been spared)" and satirized it when in the "Discourse on Arms and Letters", Part I, Chapter XXXVIII, the action really never stops, because all the other characters eat their dinners while Don Quixote talked: "All this lengthy discourse Don Quixote delivered while the others supped, forgetting to raise a morsel to his lips, though Sancho more than once told him to eat his supper, as he would have time enough afterwards to say all he wanted."
  • Badass Spaniard: Don Quixote aspires to be one, and actually does pull off some real badassery (e.g., his adventure with the lion).
    • Don't forget the author.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty: Lampshaded: In the Preface of the Author, Part I, Cervantes’s friend mentions a quote in Latin that a lot of people attributed to Horace, but Cervantes's friend really has done the research, so he mentions "or whoever said it".
    • There are some cases of this trope in the Spanish pop culture, see some examples in the link.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Sancho Panza
  • Bittersweet Downer Ending: Don Quixote, after a string of treasons and especially cruel practical jokes, regains his sanity and negates chivalry just before his death, while his squire has ingrained the chivalry lifestyle so deeply that he practically cries for Don Quixote to come back to the adventure.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Subverted with the Biscayan, who is another of the many VictimizedBystanders Don Quixote will find in his adventures. He talks exclusively in this fashion when he engages with Don Quixote in a duel to the death, even when Don Quixote understand him perfectly:

One of the squires in attendance upon the coach, a Biscayan, was listening to all Don Quixote was saying, and, perceiving that he would not allow the coach to go on, but was saying it must return at once to El Toboso, he made at him, and seizing his lance addressed him in bad Castilian and worse Biscayan after his fashion, "Begone, caballero, and ill go with thee; by the God that made me, unless thou quittest coach, slayest thee as art here a Biscayan."
Don Quixote understood him quite well, and answered him very quietly, "If thou wert a knight, as thou art none, I should have already chastised thy folly and rashness, miserable creature." To which the Biscayan returned, "I no gentleman!—I swear to God thou liest as I am Christian: if thou droppest lance and drawest sword, soon shalt thou see thou art carrying water to the cat: Biscayan on land, hidalgo at sea, hidalgo at the devil, and look, if thou sayest otherwise thou liest."

"I was mad, now I am in my senses; I was Don Quixote of La Mancha, I am now, as I said, Alonso Quixano the Good"

  • Born in the Wrong Century: Surprisingly, played straight and lampshaded, not because Don Quixote wants to be a Knight in Shining Armor (Don Quixote wanted to revive a past that really never was, a past with good and bad wizards, fierce giants, fabulous monsters, imaginary reigns, incredible dresses, poisonous snakes, terrible battles, incredible encounters, lovesick princess, funny dwarfs, squires made counts and a lot of outrageous adventures) but because he is an Hidalgo (noble). Alonso Quijano lives in the wrong century and is lampshaded in the famous "Discourse on Arms and Letters", Part I, Chapter 38. Cervante's genius let him realize that technological advances like the gunpowder and the artillery demanded the end of the cavalry and the initiation of new strategies and organizational forms in the armies, as well as a redefinition of the role of nobility in a society where individual courage and skill are useless, and the organization of nameless masses of soldiers (infantry) becomes important. With Don Quijote, Cervantes is saying that for him, and for all the nobility (rich or poor) they were born in the wrong century , and they must renovate or die.
  • Buffy-Speak: See You Keep Using That Word.
  • Canon Immigrant: In a way, Álvaro Tarfe may be one of the first examples, if not the first. He is a character from the non canon sequel written by Avellaneda, who appears at the end of the legitimate second part of the Quijote, the one written by Cervantes, talking to the real Don Quijote and Sancho.
  • Character Witness: Hilariously subverted by Andres and Tosilos, who come back Laser-Guided Karma not to help, but to denounce Don Quixote.
    • Andres, a boy that Don Quixote thinks has rescued at chapter IV part I shows up again at Chapter XXXI part I. Don Quixote wants him to defend his Chivalric Romance delusions, but instead Andres denounces him as with a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero speech and left with a bitter Stop Helping Me!.
    • Lacquey Tosilos appear at chapter LVI of the second part when Don Quixote is trying to We Help the Helpless, and comes back in chapter LXVII to inform Don Quixote that all was a Shaggy Dog Story.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Played perfectly straight: In the Chapter I, Part I, Cervantes mentions the people who lived in Don Quixote’s house: his niece, his housekeeper and a lad who helps them with the field and the marketplace… whom we’ll never see or hear of again. Obviously, Cervantes completely forgotten about this character, and didn't want to write him even in the Second Part of the novel, but in his defense, one of Don Quixote’s themes is about how silly it is to detect errors of continuity in a literary work silly fictional tale.
  • Civil War: Don Quixote travels to Barcelona, a Spanish province that is at a Civil War at The Cavalier Years
  • Cliff Hanger: parodied by the end of Part I, chapter 8: that chapter ends with a dramatic description of Don Quixote and another knight a poor innocent bystander charging at each other... only to have the next chapter start with the narrator telling us that he doesn't have the page in the original manuscript that describes the fight, and wasting three pages telling us how he could get the next part. The critics have said that the cliffhanger was a regular resource of the chivalry books.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: There is nothing else to call a man who attacks windmills.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bernardo del Carpio is one of Alonso Quixano favorite knights, because he found the way to defeat Roland the enchanted: instead of attacking him with a sword, Bernardo just strangle him.
  • Concepts Are Cheap: Deconstructed In-Universe: In the first part of the novel, Don Quixote wants to be an Knight Errant For Great Justice. In reality, he is The Hedonist and all his efforts are really guided to live his dreams, but he doesn't accept it because he is an Hypocrite. In the second part of the novel, his motivation changes For Happiness. But this time Don Quixote is an honest man that must admit at the end of the novel that his efforts didn’t help anyone and her Chivalric Romance dreams were shallow.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: Sancho is very aware that the man he is following is pretty insane and often tells him so, but sometimes has to act according to his master's delusions.
  • Crack is Cheaper: Don Quixote Alonso Quijano was a victim of this phenomenon. At chapter I Part I we learn that he has acquired a lot of chivalry books (almost three hundred), and if you think that the printing had been discovered in Europe only some years ago, it's a considerable feat. But alas! Then as now, his relatives and friends, who certainly think that this hobby is getting out of control, had no second thoughts to send a lot of his books to the bonfire, even if Don Quixote has spent a lot of money in those books:

"and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre of tillage land to buy books of chivalry to read"

My desire was to bring to life again knight-errantry, now dead, and for some time past, stumbling here, falling there, now coming down headlong, now raising myself up again

  • Deadpan Snarker / Sarcastic Devotee / Servile Snarker: Deconstructed by Sancho Panza: What happens in Real Life to the employee that cannot say anything about his master without being sarcastic? Why, Sancho is beaten by Don Quixote at chapters XX and XXV of Part I, and gives him a hurricane of insults at chapter XLVI. The problem is that a lot of people enjoys Sancho’s sarcasm (he is good at it) and so he feels compelled to say it, even when he is in perilous situations, like when he denied payment to a Innkeeper (Chapter XVII part I), and he mocked the entire people of the Braying Town or the highwaymen of Barcelona (Chapters XXVII and LX of the part II) The first give him a beating, the highwaymen almost kill him.
  • Death by Despair:
    • Parodied by the "resurrection" of Altisidora, a girl who claims to love Don Quixote and invokes this trope (it’s really a prank). Don Quixote and Sancho didn’t believe it for a minute. When Don Quixote rejects her again:

Hearing this, Altisidora, with a show of anger and agitation, exclaimed, "God's life! Don Stockfish, soul of a mortar, stone of a date, more obstinate and obdurate than a clown asked a favor when he has his mind made up, if I fall upon you I'll tear your eyes out! Do you fancy, Don Vanquished, Don Cudgelled, that I died for your sake? All that you have seen to-night has been make-believe; I'm not the woman to let the black of my nail suffer for such a camel, much less die!"
"That I can well believe," said Sancho; "for all that about lovers pining to death is absurd; they may talk of it, but as for doing it-Judas may believe that!"

  • Fan Fiction:
    • In-Universe:
      • Chapter I, part I: Don Quixote Alonso Quijano has read The tale of Don Belianis of Greece: ]] and notes that the author has not finished that adventure, so he planned to write a continuation of it, and it would have been a great continuation if not because he abandoned that idea to become Don Quixote (this is not an Informed Ability: In Part I, Chapter II, Don Quixote begins the story of his own heroic exploits, that will undoubtedly write a sage in the future, and in Part I, Chapter XXI, Don Quixote narrates Sancho a perfect summary of the plot and all the typical situations of a chivalry book):

on many of his readers in Spain, and most of his readers out of it, the significance of his choice of a country for his hero is completely lost. It would be going too far to say that no one can thoroughly comprehend "Don Quixote" without having seen La Mancha, but undoubtedly even a glimpse of La Mancha will give an insight into the meaning of Cervantes such as no commentator can give. Of all the regions of Spain it is the last that would suggest the idea of romance. Of all the dull central plateau of the Peninsula it is the dullest tract. There is something impressive about the grim solitudes of Estremadura; and if the plains of Leon and Old Castile are bald and dreary, they are studded with old cities renowned in history and rich in relics of the past. But there is no redeeming feature in the Manchegan landscape; it has all the sameness of the desert without its dignity; the few towns and villages that break its monotony are mean and commonplace, there is nothing venerable about them, they have not even the picturesqueness of poverty; indeed, Don Quixote's own village, Argamasilla, has a sort of oppressive respectability in the prim regularity of its streets and houses; everything is ignoble; the very windmills are the ugliest and shabbiest of the windmill kind.

  • Folk Hero
  • Forgotten Trope: The novel show us an example of the Captivity Narrative when Ruy Pérez de Viedma relates all his biography in “The story of the Captive Captain”, you can see more at Life Embellished.
  • Genre Savvy: Apart from the protagonist (who is Wrong Genre Savvy), many other characters are familiar with chivalric tropes and invoke or discuss them. Note that at the end of both volumes, Don Quixote is defeated and forced to return to his village in strict accordance with the laws of the genre.
  • Gentle Giant: Part I Chapter I reveals that the giant Morgante is one of the Don Quixote Alonso Quixano’s favorite characters, because despite being a giant, he is affable and well bred.
  • The Ghost: There are two examples:
    • Played straight with Aldonza Lorenzo, a young peasant girl from a town called Toboso, who is blissfully unaware that Don Quixote's had a crush on her. She never appeared in neither parts of the novel, only was referred to by other characters.
    • Parodied by Dulcinea del Toboso, the imaginary love interest of Don Quixote. Since the first part of the novel, Don Quixote imagines her as a beautiful noblewoman who lives in a castle, or in other words, a person completely different from Aldonza Lorenzo. This imaginary entity is a literal ghost, but it's mentioned so many times across the novel that she can be considered the third protagonist besides Don Quixote and Sancho. Besides, in the second part, one of the plot points is Don Quixote's quest to disenchant Dulcinea and to find her at last, even when he knows he imagined her, this is another proof of Don Quixote's madness.
  • Giver of Lame Names: The protagonist is probably the Trope Codifier.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Inverted: Don Quixote goes mad trying to make sense of the Purple Prose that plagued the chivalry books he has read, but there never was any reveal because even Aristotle could not have made sense of it.
  • Healing Potion: Parodied. Don Quixote claims to have the recipe for an elixir that heals all wounds, but being who he is, it instead induces severe pain and vomiting.
  • The Hedonist: At the first part of the novel, Don Quixote is a Lord Error-Prone who only cares about living his Chivalric Romance fantasies, no matter who else pays for it. The second part he evolves to a For Happiness motivation.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Practically made this trope.
  • Hero's Muse: The eponymous hero fights for his lady love, whom he refers to as Dulcinea. In his mind, he elevates her to a princess and the most beautiful woman in the world, although she is in reality a peasant girl named Aldonza.
  • Hikikomori: Somewhat of an Ur Example. Don Quixote seems to be living in his village for years, doing nothing but hunting, reading romances of chivalry, selling his property to pay for them (books were a lot more expensive then) and discussing them with his friends. Justified, because landed gentry of the time was expected to do little else.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Don Quixote reads some pages of the Second Part of 'Don Quixote of La Mancha, he claims there are obvious errors from the author, the most important is that he errs on the name of Sancho’s wife (see Series Continuity Error to understand why this is hypocritical). that he goes wrong and departs from the truth in the most important part of the history, for here he says that my squire Sancho Panza's wife is called Mari Gutierrez, when she is called nothing of the sort, but Teresa Panza; and when a man errs on such an important point as this there is good reason to fear that he is in error on every other point in the history."
"A nice sort of historian, indeed!" exclaimed Sancho at this; "he must know a deal about our affairs when he calls my wife Teresa Panza, Mari Gutierrez; take the book again, senor, and see if I am in it and if he has changed my name."

The landlord shouted to them to leave him alone, for he had already told them that he was mad, and as a madman he would not be accountable even if he killed them all.


On this point the landlord told him he was mistaken; for, though not recorded in the histories, because in the author's opinion there was no need to mention anything so obvious and necessary as money and clean shirts, it was not to be supposed therefore that they did not carry them,

  • Life Embellished: Ruy Pérez de Viedma relates all his biography in “The story of the Captive Captain”. He was a handsome captive captain who wanted to escape the Moors and was helped by a Zoraida, a beautiful moor princess who wanted to convert to Christianity, organized a successful evasion to Spain, was well received by his powerful and rich relatives and married Zoraida. Cervantes was a captive who failed all his evasion intents, his family paid his rescue and always was an Impoverished Patrician.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: Cervantes (only referred in the book as "The second author") says that the book was based on some manuscripts he found and made translate to Spanish by an Arab translator.
    • Written by some Arabian named Cide Hamete Benengeli (or Sidi Ahmed bin Engeli, as it would be rendered today) whose first name, "Cide", could be translated as "Mister", and whose last name is a pun on "berenjena" (eggplant/aubergine).
      • This trope is parodied, because a lot of chivalry books have his authors claim that they are based in an old manuscript found in an ancient pyramid or another ruined building in some faraway country, written in an exotic language by a wise, famed wizard who favored the hero of the novel. Those claims are made to feign that the chivalry book was inspired by real events. Cervantes twist this and uses it to a comic effect, explaining that the next part of the novel was found in some pamphlets and papers (only a few years old) found in Alcana de Toledo (a real city in Spain) in a silk mercer store, written in Arabic (a fairly known language in Spain) by a (foolish) boy who didn't know what was written in them and so sold the papers to Cervantes for peanuts. If we include the funny name of the wizard and the fact that the second author, the translator and Cide Hamete Benengeli are always making comments about the book, we can see that Cervantes want us to admit that all this tale is a long sequence of lies and nonsense... just like all the chivalry books.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Critics have counted six hundred characters in the book (a lot of them unnamed).
  • Long List: This trope is played straight and parodied:
  • Loony Fan: Sanson Carrásco presents himself as one fan of Don Quixote and discuss with him and Sancho the SeriesContinuityErrors, and wants to help that poor, mad fool to regain sanity. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Pretty much the Trope Maker and the Ur-Example: In the first part of the novel, Cervantes settles Don Quixote characterization as this: he almost kills the Vizcayan at chapter IX and maimed for life the Licenciate at chapter XIX. Misaimed Fandom insisted in seeing him as the much more sympathetic Mad Dreamer.
  • Lost in Translation: A joke in the Spanish version is that even when everyone understands the term island, only truly sophisticated people understand the term insula. So, Sancho doesn’t really understand what an insula really is, but he desperately wants to rule one, so he would be tricked later in a Massive Multiplayer Scam to rule a little town that is not an island. In some English translations (for example, the Gutenberg project this joke is Lost in Translation).
  • Love Martyr: Part II, chapter LX, Don Vicente Tornellas has been shot by his fiancee Claudia Jeronima because she believed that Don Vicente wanted to marry another woman. Don Vicente?s last words are to tell her that he was innocent, never intended to marry any other woman, that he considers himself lucky to talk with her in his last moments of life, and then his last act before dying is to give Jeronima his hand and ask her to make him his husband.
  • Mad Dreamer: The first part of the novel settles Don Quixote as Lord Error-Prone. Misaimed Fandom insisted to see him as the Ur Example of the much more sympathetic Mad Dreamer. Cervantes wanted to explore all ramifications of this new trope: Don Quixote is welcomed by people of all classes… because they want to mock him. One character even gives the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that "the gain by Don Quixote’s sanity can never equal the enjoyment his crazes give"
  • May–December Romance: Don Quixote is around 50; Dulcinea, being an unmarried peasant girl, is probably less than 20. Not that she knows anything about her pretender's interest, though.
    • Deconstructed with Altisidora and Don Quixote in the second part: Altisidora, a 14 year old maiden at the Duke’s palace, pretends to be in love with Don Quixote. He stoically supports her teasing and mean pranks because he believes she’s in love with him, but he never attempts anything because he wants to be loyal to Dulcinea and is very happy when he abandons her and the palace. Being an honest man, he confesses to Sancho that Altisidora’s feelings caused him more confusion than pity, showing us how awkward and foolish would be this kind of relationship in reality.
  • Meaningful Name: Dulcinea, the name Don Quixote gives to his random Love Interest, could be translated as "Sweety". For the others, see Punny Name. Another example: Doctor Pedro Recio (could be translated as "Doctor Hard Rock"), a doctor who insists that Sancho, as a governor, must have a very strict diet. There are many, many others. The very name itself, quixote (Modern Spanish quijote) means "cuisse", the thighplate of a knightly armor.
  • Mook Chivalry: At chapter IV, Don Quixote lampshades it and invokes it, but he concedes to the Victimized Bystanders that they don’t have to follow it:

The instant Don Quixote heard his own name be started to his feet and listened with open ears to catch what they said about him, and heard the Don Jeronimo who had been addressed say in reply, "Why would you have us read that absurd stuff, Don Juan, when it is impossible for anyone who has read the First Part of the history of 'Don Quixote of La Mancha' to take any pleasure in reading this Second Part?"
"For all that," said he who was addressed as Don Juan, "we shall do well to read it, for there is no book so bad but it has something good in it. What displeases me most in it is that it represents Don Quixote as now cured of his love for Dulcinea del Toboso."
On hearing this Don Quixote, full of wrath and indignation, lifted up his voice and said, "Whoever he may be who says that Don Quixote of La Mancha has forgotten or can forget Dulcinea del Toboso, I will teach him with equal arms that what he says is very far from the truth; for neither can the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso be forgotten, nor can forgetfulness have a place in Don Quixote; his motto is constancy, and his profession to maintain the same with his life and never wrong it."

  • Older Than They Think:
  • Only Sane Man: Sancho. And even then, he still willingly follows Quixote and even believes some of the ridiculous things he's told, because he's a simple peasant who doesn't know any better.
    • Better examples are the unnamed ecclesiastic from chapter XXXI and the unnamed Castilian for chapter LXII, both from part II. They are the only ones who publicly recognize that Don Quixote is a crazy fool, and lampshade that everyone who makes jokes on him is also a crazy fool too.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Lampshaded: In the first part, it's very clear that Sancho Panza is a naive simpleton. In the second part, Sancho suddenly says very intelligent things to his wife. One of the "narrators" of this tale, seeing this inconsistence, decides to warn us: "The translator of this history, when he comes to write this fifth chapter, says that he considers it apocryphal, because in it Sancho Panza speaks in a style unlike that which might have been expected from his limited intelligence, and says things so intelligent that he does not think it possible he could have conceived them; however, desirous of doing what his task imposed upon him, he was unwilling to leave it untranslated, and therefore he went on to say": This could be considered the beginning of Sancho's slow transformation into a wiser person.
  • Pitying Perversion: The Barber and the Curate, two Moral Guardians, and later Loony Fan Sanson Carrásco, whose sincere desire to help that poor fool, Don Quixote and cure his madness is sabotaged by this attitude, rendering all of them into Threshold Guardians. (Also, all three do things to help him that could be easily described as "crazy")
  • The Presents Were Never From Santa: At Part I Chapter II, Don Quixote meets a rascally innkeeper who he thinks he is a Castellan (a castle warden) and asks him for Knighting. Ironically, in Real Life, to be knighted as a joke would have disabled Don Quixote to become a real Knight by the rules of the Siete Partidas of Alphonso X the Wise.
  • Punny Name: In a 17th century's pun, Quixote means "cuisse", the piece of armor covering the thigh. Modern Spanish form is quijote.
    • Don Quixote's real name, Alonso Quijano, is a pun on "quijada" (jaw), as he's also a rather skinny guy.
    • Panza means "belly", specifically a big one. Accordingly, Sancho is fat.
    • Rocinante comes from "rocín", still used today in Spanish to name any ugly, skinny or generally bad-quality horse.
      • Even better: Rocinante is a contraction from "rocín antes", which means that it was a "rocín" before.
  • Purple Prose: Parodied and Lampshaded: Cervantes achieved the rare miracle of having a florid style that is clearly understandable. But he recognized and denounced this trope:
  • Random Events Plot: Given that the first part of the novel is a Deconstructive Parody of Chivalric Romance, and those books were not more than a Knight Errant in the road reacting to the events that happened to him, the first part is this (the second part has a plot in Dulcinea’s rescue). Only that instead of being boring or confusing, Cervantes aimed, and was able, to reproduce the feel of Real Life in his book.
  • Rashomon Style: At chapter XII of Part I, Don Quixote hears conflicted versions of the story of Chrysostom and Marcela in his way to Chrysostom’s funeral: Shepherd Pedro thinks Marcela is a good person. Ambrosio, Chrysostom’s best friend, calls her cruel, but admits it’s an Informed Flaw. Chrysostom poem claims he is a Love Martyr and Marcela is a cruel Ice Queen. At the end, Marcela claims she is So Beautiful It's a Curse and he has the right, as a free woman, to reject anyone. Nobody says, but everybody implies, Spurned Into Suicide.
  • Reality Ensues: This is what happens when an aging nobleman with little fighting skills and crappy armaments imagines himself a knight-errant.
  • Retcon: In Part II, Cervantes tried to correct some of the most glaring continuity errors of the first book, particularly the mysterious disappearance of Sancho's donkey.
  • Revealing Coverup, parodied by the MoralGuardians who become ThresholdGuardians: In his first sally, Don Quixote. doesn’t find any dragon, enchanter nor any Damsel in Distress. He is very disappointed when he comes back to his house, where their family and two MoralGuardians have made a Book-Burning of his Chivalric Romance books. To avoid Don Quixote’s ire, the MoralGuardians advise the family to tell him, literally, that A Wizard Did It. That excuse was Don Quixote’s first contact with the Medieval European Fantasy he so desperately wanted to live! If the Moral Guardians would have tell him the truth, he would never have persevered in his madness.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Sancho Panza deconstructs this trope, see Deadpan Snarker.
  • Satire, Parody, Pastiche: Cervantes, both in the prologue and in the the novel itself parodies the way contemporary writers wrote, satirized characters, books, made allusions to many, MANY other works and made a huge impact at the time it was printed.
  • Scheherazade Gambit: Sancho tries to do this to Quixote to keep him from charging against a watermill (Quixote had something with mills). He forgets about what he was telling.
    • It's actually even funnier than that: the story he tells Quixote was a common children's story of the time, and is supposed to work like a lullaby, repeating a useless element over and over until the kid goes to sleep.
  • Screening the Call: If Quixote's reading induced insanity is his Call to Adventure, then the attempt to burn his books is an attempt to Screen The Call.
  • Secret Test of Character: Deconstructed in the Novel Within A Novel "The Ill-Advised Curiosity" where Anselmo asks his best friend Lotario to test the fidelity of his wife, Camila. In any other story, Lucinda will pass the test and everyone will have lived Happily Ever After. In the novel, Lucinda and Lotario became lovers causing the tragic deaths of the three.
  • Series Continuity Error: For a book that only has one continuation, there are various examples of those errors. Then again, Cervantes was mocking fans who put too much attention to continuity… There are two types:
    • Lampshaded In-Universe:
      • Chapter I, part I: Alonso Quijano has some continuity questions about The tale of Don Belianis of Greece:

'For the love of God, sir knight-errant, if you ever meet me again, though you may see them cutting me to pieces, give me no aid or succour, but leave me to my misfortune, which will not be so great but that a greater will come to me by being helped by your worship, on whom and all the knights-errant that have ever been born God send his curse

"But consider, brother," said the curate once more, "there never was any Felixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio of Thrace, or any of the other knights of the same sort, that the books of chivalry talk of; the whole thing is the fabrication and invention of idle wits, devised by them for the purpose you describe of beguiling the time, as your reapers do when they read; for I swear to you in all seriousness there never were any such knights in the world, and no such exploits or nonsense ever happened anywhere."
"Try that bone on another dog," said the innkeeper; "as if I did not know how many make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't think to feed me with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke for your worship to try and persuade me that everything these good books say is nonsense and lies, and they printed by the license of the Lords of the Royal Council, as if they were people who would allow such a lot of lies to be printed all together, and so many battles and enchantments that they take away one's senses."

...if I were wise I should have left my master long ago; but this was my fate, this was my bad luck; I can't help it, I must follow him; we're from the same village, I've eaten his bread, I'm fond of him, I'm grateful, he gave me his ass-colts, and above all I'm faithful; so it's quite impossible for anything to separate us, except the pickaxe and shovel.

  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The first part of the novel settles Don Quixote characterization as a Lord Error-Prone: he almost kills the Biscayan at chapter IX and maimed for life the Licentiate at chapter XIX. This makes easier to read the continuous Humiliation Conga in practically all the chapters for Don Quixote. Misaimed Fandom insisted in seeing him as the much more sympathetic Mad Dreamer. The second part deconstructs the Mad Dreamer into a Wide-Eyed Idealist that everyone else mocks mercilessly because Humans Are Bastards.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Several layers of this, actually.
    • Lampshaded: In the very first paragraph, Don Quixote's literary portrait has the narrator NOT telling us the name of Don Quixote's town, and the narrator admits he doesn't know very well if his name was Quixada, Quesada or Quexana. For the people of the seventeen century, this was an infringement of a very well known rule of the literary portrait, and so they immediately had the real impression that the author was a liar. Also, the original author (Cide Hamete Benengeli) and the Translator (an anonymous moor) comment the text when the plot is being implausible, and the second author (Cervantes), constantly remind us that this is a true history. All these tricks show that Cervantes clearly want the reader realizes that this tale cannot be true.
      • Not to mention the fact that the so called original author has an Arabic name. At that time in Spain, Arabs were thought to be liars.
  • Up to Eleven: Every major female character on Part 1 tops the beauty of all preceding ladies of the Novel. Even when the previous most beautiful girls are present, everyone is amazed by the incomparable beauty of the newly introduced, challenging the reader to imagine them increasingly better good looking. It finally peaks with Leandra, whose beauty was famous even in the halls of the royalty of distant cities. It seems it "overflows" in Part II, where the person Sancho chooses to be the new Dulcinea is described as the ugliest woman you can imagine. How? A Wizard Did It! and the plot becomes to try to disenchant her.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The Captive's Tale is loosely based on the author's own life.
  • Victimized Bystander: Most of the people Don Quixote encounters fall in this trope, espacialy Sancho.
  • Walking the Earth: Well, they try to.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Don Quixote perceives this as a common theme for a knight and his lady. Part II, Chapter XXXII:

" I am in love, for no other reason than that it is incumbent on knights-errant to be so; but though I am, I am no carnal-minded lover, but one of the chaste, platonic sort".

"and bear in mind, my son, that a good hope is better than a bad holding, and a good grievance better than a bad compensation"

  • Warrior Poet: The author, most definitely. Just read his biography. Don Quixote naturally, being a Knight in Shinning Armor. He takes the poetry just a little to seriously though.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Symbolic: Don Quixote sounds suspiciously like what the young Cervantes setting out for the wars would have been like. And maybe Sancho Panso was more then a little like the mature Cervantes coming home.
  • What Would X Do?: Parodied when Don Quixote invokes Achilles in His Tent in the Sierra Morena, he asks himself What would two KnightInShiningArmors do? The catch is that being a deconstruction, Don Quixote must choose between the Knight in Shining Armor played straight (Amadis cries and prays for days because his lady Oriana doesn’t want to see him anymore) and the Knight in Shining Armor deconstruction (Roland went mad and killed humans, animals and plants when he discovered princess Angelica slept with Medoro).
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: First line: "In a village of La Mancha the name of which I have no desire to recall." It's even lampshaded in the very last chapter: Part II, chapter 74: "Such was the end of the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha, whose village Cide Hamete would not indicate precisely, in order to leave all the towns and villages of La Mancha to contend among themselves for the right to adopt him and claim him as a son, as the seven cities of Greece contended for Homer".
    • Which, guess what, is what happened.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Quixote.
    • Well, it is where the word 'quixotic' comes from...
    • This trope is severely deconstructed: In the first part, Don Quixote cares more for fulfilling his fantasies than for anyone else. He confides that the farmer Haduldo will stop floggin the boy Andrés and that the Galley slaves he liberates will be grateful enough to make him a favor. (They´re not). His actions make him the original Lord Error-Prone. In the second part is even worse: he really acts For Happiness and after some Massive Multiplayer Scam aventures that convince him he is a real Knight Errant he must face the sad fact that he has not helped anyone and therefore, all those Chivalric Romance tropes were Blatant Lies. This is so heartbreaking that he becomes Bored with Insanity and dies. Being called "Quixotic" is not always a good thing.
  • A Wizard Did It: All over the place in the books Don Quixote reads, so naturally when reality blatantly deviates from how he imagines it, he assumes that enchanters are behind it.
    • Much more literally, when the priest and the barber burn Don Quixote's books, they tell him that a wizard stole them. Don Quixote goes off to find the wizard.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Probably the Trope Maker.
  • You Keep Using That Word / Buffy-Speak: Sancho doesn’t really understand that the insula he was promised as a Standard Hero Reward by Don Quixote means an island, as we see at Chapter II of the Second part:

"May evil insulas [islands] choke thee, thou detestable Sancho," said the niece; "What are insulas [islands]? Is it something to eat, glutton and gormandiser that thou art?"
"It is not something to eat," replied Sancho, "but something to govern and rule, and better than four cities or four judgeships at court."

  • You Watch Too Much X: Even when Quixote could be the Ur Example and Trope Maker for this trope, in the novel this is a Unbuilt Trope: the Stock Phrase never appears in the novel, and Don Quixote is not Genre Savvy but Wrong Genre Savvy: When in some situation Don Quixote comments about how similar situation have happened in the tales he has read in his chivalry books , the people hearing him don’t answer with “You read too much X”. Even so, there are some examples that are very near to this situation, and the fact that Don Quixote read too much and that drove him to believe that he was a knight errand is the core of the novel, and is lampshaded by the narrator since the very beginning (Chapter I Part I).
  1. Alfonso de Madrigal, philosopher whose works "have more than twenty volumes.".