I desire thee to sit down here by my side, in company with these worthy people: and that thou may’st be on an equal footing with me thy natural lord and master, eating in the same dish, and drinking out of the same cup that I use; for what is said of my love may be observed of knight-errantry, that it puts all things upon a level.
After the goatherds invite Don Quixote and Sancho to dine with them, Don Quixote sits down and sees that Sancho remains standing, so he asks Sancho to sit next to him. Sancho comes from the peasant class, but Don Quixote goes out of his way to put himself on equal footing with Sancho, saying that a knight’s tradition demands he treat everyone the same regardless of circumstances. Don Quixote takes pride in exemplifying such an uncommon, and perhaps unpopular, behavior in Spain at the time.
Since then it is essential to every knight to be in love, we may conclude that your worship being of that profession, is no stranger to the passion; and if you do not value yourself upon being as secret a knight as Don Galaor, I earnestly entreat you, in behalf of myself, and the rest of the company, to tell us the name, country, station and qualities of your mistress, who must think herself extremely happy in reflecting that all the world knows, how much she is beloved and adored by so valiant a knight as your worship appears to be.
As Don Quixote and Vivaldo discuss knight-errantry, Vivaldo draws on the tradition of a knight’s performance of his deeds in the name of a lady. He asks Don Quixote to give details of the woman he loves. Vivaldo wants to know her name, origin, and station rather than the reasons why Don Quixote cares for her. Vivaldo later says, “I wish we knew her lineage, race, and family.” Such a comment reveals that Vivaldo feels more concern for the woman’s match to Don Quixote in terms of class than compatibility.
Never think of that, Sancho! cried Teresa, match her with her equal; which will be more prudent than to raise her from clogs to leather pumps, from good fourteen-penny hoyden grey, to hoop skirts and petticoats of silk, and from Molly and thou, to Doña and my lady such-a-one: the girl’s head would be quite turned, and she would be continually falling into some blunder, that would discover the coarse thread of her home-spun breeding.
Sancho’s wife, Teresa, protests Sancho’s declaration that he plans to find a husband with a high station for their daughter, Mari. Society at that time viewed Sancho and his family as peasants. Understanding how status affects their reality, Teresa lays out how Mari would not be prepared for life in a different class of society. Teresa’s reaction shows that not only members of the upper class wish for tradition and status to remain in place. Members of lower classes seem to be comfortable in their stations as well and understand the difficulties that might arise with attempts to move above the status quo.