Don Quixote implores Sancho to whip himself for Dulcinea’s sake, but Sancho says he does not believe that his whipping will help Dulcinea. Don Quixote then decides to be a shepherd during his retirement, and he and Sancho begin to fantasize about their simple, pastoral lives.
Don Quixote wakes Sancho in the middle of the night to ask him again to whip himself, but Sancho again refuses. Sancho discourses on the nature of sleep, and Don Quixote marvels at Sancho’s eloquence. Don Quixote quotes one of Sancho’s own proverbs back to him, much to Sancho’s astonishment. Some hogs that are being driven to a fair trample Don Quixote, Sancho, and Rocinante, but Don Quixote refuses to do battle with the hogs, believing instead that this trampling is punishment for his defeat at the hands of the Knight of the White Moon. Near dawn, ten horsemen ride up, capture the pair, and drive them to the Duke’s castle.
When the horsemen drag Don Quixote and Sancho into the Duke’s courtyard, Don Quixote recognizes Altisidora on a funeral bier, apparently dead. The courtyard has been set up as a court, with the Duke, the Duchess, and two old judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus, sitting above the rest. A musician sings a poem—which Don Quixote recognizes as an adaptation of another poet’s work—telling that Altisidora died out of her unrequited love for Don Quixote. Rhadamanthus demands that Sancho suffer a beating to bring Altisidora back to life. Sancho protests that he is tired of being beaten for Don Quixote’s lovers. He nevertheless receives the beating, and Altisidora revives.
Cervantes says that Cide Hamete Benengeli tells how the Duke and Duchess were able to locate Don Quixote: on his way to defeat Don Quixote in the guise of the Knight of the White Moon, Sampson stopped at the Duke’s house. Sampson knew that Don Quixote and Sancho had been staying there because he had been told so by the Duke’s page, who had visited Teresa Panza to deliver Sancho’s letter. Hearing that Sampson intended to end Don Quixote’s career, the Duke and Duchess determined to have one last bit of fun and put the funeral sequence into action. Cervantes says that at this point, Benengeli declares that he considers the Duke and Duchess almost more mad than Don Quixote and Sancho for poking so much fun at such fools.
Altisidora comes into Don Quixote’s bedroom and tells him about her bizarre trip to the gates of hell. She says she saw devils playing tennis and using books—including the false sequel to Don Quixote—for balls. The devils said that this false sequel should be thrown into hell. The musician from the night before appears, and Don Quixote asks him why he used another poet’s work to describe Altisidora’s situation. The musician answers that people commonly steal one another’s literature in this age, calling the practice “poetic license.” As Don Quixote and Sancho take their leave of the Duke and Duchess, Don Quixote recommends that Altisidora perform more chores so that she will not spend her days pining away for knights who do not love her.
Don Quixote yet again suggests that Sancho whip himself, and Sancho again refuses. Don Quixote offers to pay Sancho, so Sancho goes into the woods and whips the trees so that his master will think he is whipping himself. The two then stop at an inn for the night, where Don Quixote muses about the paintings on the walls, hoping one day to be the subject of such paintings.