full title The Adventures of Don Quixote
author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
type of work Novel
genre Parody; comedy; romance; morality novel
time and place written Spain; late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
date of first publication The First Part, 1605; the Second Part, 1615
narrator Cervantes, who claims to be translating the earlier work of Cide Hamete Benengeli, a Moor who supposedly chronicled the true historical adventures of Don Quixote
point of view Cervantes narrates most of the novel’s action in the third person, following Don Quixote’s actions and only occasionally entering into the thoughts of his characters. He switches into the first person, however, whenever he discusses the novel itself or Benengeli’s original manuscript.
tone Cervantes maintains an ironic distance from the characters and events in the novel, discussing them at times with mock seriousness.
tense Past, with some moments of present tense
setting (time) 1614
setting (place) Spain
protagonist Don Quixote
major conflict The First Part: Don Quixote sets out with Sancho Panza on a life of chivalric adventures in a world no longer governed by chivalric values; the priest attempts to bring Don Quixote home and cure his madness. The Second Part: Don Quixote continues his adventures with Sancho, and Sampson Carrasco and the priest conspire to bring Don Quixote home by vanquishing him.
rising action The First Part: Don Quixote wanders Spain and encounters many strange adventures before the priest finds him doing penance in the Sierra Morena. The Second Part: Don Quixote wanders Spain and has many adventures, especially under the watch of a haughty Duke and Duchess.
climax The First Part: Don Quixote and the priest meet in the Sierra Morena, and Dorothea begs for Don Quixote to help her avenge her stolen kingdom. The Second Part: Sampson, disguised as the Knight of the White Moon, defeats Don Quixote.
falling action The First Part: the priest and the barber take Don Quixote home in a cage, and Don Quixote resigns himself to the fact that he is enchanted. The Second Part: Don Quixote returns home after his defeat and resolves to give up knight-errantry.
themes Perspective and narration; incompatible systems of morality; the distinction between class and worth
motifs Honor; romance; literature
symbols Books and manuscripts; horses; inns
foreshadowing Cervantes’s declaration at the end of the First Part that there will be a second part and that Don Quixote will die in it, coupled with the niece’s and the housekeeper’s fear that Don Quixote will run away again, hints at Don Quixote’s fate in the Second Part.