novel’s tragicomic hero. Don Quixote’s main quest in life is to
revive knight-errantry in a world devoid of chivalric virtues and
values. He believes only what he chooses to believe and sees the
world very differently from most people. Honest, dignified, proud, and
idealistic, he wants to save the world. As intelligent as he is
mad, Don Quixote starts out as an absurd and isolated figure and
ends up as a pitiable and lovable old man whose strength and wisdom
have failed him.
in-depth analysis of Don Quixote.
peasant laborer—greedy but kind, faithful but cowardly—whom Don
Quixote takes as his squire. A representation of the common man,
Sancho is a foil to Don Quixote and virtually every other character
in the novel. His proverb-ridden peasant’s wisdom and self-sacrificing
Christian behavior prove to be the novel’s most insightful and honorable
worldview. He has an awestruck love for Don Quixote but grows self-confident
and saucy, ending the novel by advising his master in matters of
deep personal philosophy.
in-depth analysis of Sancho Panza.
Quixote’s barn horse. Rocinante is slow but faithful, and he is
as worn out as Don Quixote is.
donkey. Dapple’s disappearance and reappearance is the subject of
much controversy both within the story and within the literary criticism concerning Don
Cide Hamete Benengeli
The fictional writer of Moorish decent from whose
manuscripts Cervantes supposedly translates the novel. Cervantes
uses the figure of Benengeli to comment on the ideas of authorship
and literature explored in the novel and to critique historians.
Benengeli’s opinions, bound in his so-called historical text, show
his contempt for those who write about chivalry falsely and with
Dulcinea del Toboso
The unseen force driving all of Don Quixote’s adventures.
Dulcinea, a peasant woman whom Don Quixote envisions as his ladylove,
has no knowledge of his chivalric dedication to her. Though constantly mentioned
and centrally important to the novel, she never appears as a physical
in-depth analysis of Dulcinea del Toboso.
supposed translator of Benengeli’s historical novel, who interjects
his opinions into the novel at key times. Cervantes intentionally
creates the impression that he did not invent the character of Don
Quixote. Like Benengeli, Cervantes is not physically present but
is a character nonetheless. In his prologues, dedications, and invention
of Benengeli, Cervantes enhances the self-referential nature of
the novel and forces us to think about literature’s purpose and
The Duke and Duchess
The cruel and haughty contrivers of the adventures
that occupy Don Quixote for the majority of the novel’s Second Part.
Bored and snobby, the Duke and Duchess feign interest in Don Quixote
and Sancho but continually play pranks on them for their personal entertainment.
The Duke and Duchess spend so much money and effort on their ploys
that they seem as mad as Don Quixote.
Duchess’s bratty maid. Altisidora pretends to love Don Quixote,
mocking his concept of romantic love.
A sarcastic student from Don Quixote’s village. Sampson
mocks Don Quixote at first but loses to him in combat and then dedicates
himself to revenge. Self-important and stuffy, Sampson fails to
grasp the often playful nature of Don Quixote’s madness.
friend of Don Quixote’s. The priest disapproves of fictional books
that, in his opinion, negatively influence society. Nonetheless,
he enjoys tales of chivalry so much that he cannot throw them away.
Moreover, despite his social conscience, he enjoys Don Quixote’s madness
Quixote’s friend who recognizes Quixote’s
madness but intervenes only to help the priest carry out
his plans. The barber strenuously disapproves of Don Quixote’s chivalry.
good-hearted wife. Teresa speaks in proverbs, exhibiting more wisdom
than most other characters. Unambitious but a bit greedy, she endures Sancho’s
exploits and supports him with her prayers.
honorable man who is driven mad by the infidelities of his wife,
Lucinda, and the treachery of a duke, Ferdinand. Cardenio is the
quintessential romantic lover.
wife. Silent and beautiful, Lucinda is a model of the courtly woman.
Docile and innocent, she obliges her parents and her lover.
arrogant young duke who steals Lucinda from Cardenio with no remorse.
faithful and persistent love. Dorothea flouts tradition to hunt
down Ferdinand when he takes her chastity but refuses to marry her.
Deceptive and cunning, smart and aggressive, Dorothea is not the typical
female character of her time.
A fictitious maidservant in distress who is impersonated
by the Duke’s steward. The countess’s sob story sends Don Quixote
and Sancho off on their expedition on the wooden horse. She is more
ridiculous and fantastic than anyone except Don Quixote.
Gines de Pasamonte
An ungrateful galley slave whom Don Quixote frees.
Gines appears mostly for comic relief, but his justifications for
his crimes force us to be more critical of Don Quixote’s justifications
chivalrous bandit. Inherently conflicted, Roque believes in justice
and generosity but kills an underling who challenges him for being
so generous to others.