Classics Summarized: Don Quixote

Classics Summarized: Don Quixote

Don Quixote was written in 1605 by Miguel de Cervantes, as a critique and dissection of the at-the-time
popular genre of chivalric romance. Basically, the body of work that made up the
Arthurian, and expanded, chivalric mythos. He published a second part in 1615 as a direct response to someone else’s fanfic-y
continuation of his story that he HATED, but today I’m just gonna be
talking about the first part, since that’s basically the story people
mean when they talk about Don Quixote. …Now, here’s the thing. The most popular trend in modern adaptions
reimagines the plot of Don Quixote to be almost completely unrecognizable, putting the story focus on Don Quixote
as a dreamer chasing his passions in the face of an unfeeling
and frequently cruel world. This Don Quixote is a noble, almost
tragic hero, born in the wrong era, trying to recall a golden age of chivalry
in the face of constant ridicule. At worst, he’ll be characterized as delusional,
but well-meaning and fundamentally heroic. This interpretation is terrible enough, I half
suspect Don Quixote wrote it himself. The book version of Don Quixote
isn’t even well-meaning. He’s explicitly dangerously violent
and prone to destructive fits of rage, and is pretty much a public
menace from minute one. So no, “Don Quixote, misunderstood dreamer
daring to follow that star,” is not accurate. “Don Quixote, loud incoherent man you try not to
make eye contact with and cross the street to avoid” is significantly closer to the truth. But the aim of the novel is not to
point and laugh at the mentally ill. Don Quixote is a clownish figure,
but over the course of the novel, he crosses paths with a large and complicated
secondary cast of characters, each of whom will either be living parodies of chivalric
or pastoralist fantasies to drive home their silliness, or will be fully-developed and complex
characters living out very interesting lives, which Don Quixote is completely unaware of
because they don’t revolve around him and they don’t fit with his
chivalric vision of reality. If anything, the overarching message of Don Quixote is
that reality is better and more interesting than fantasy, and that fantasy blinds you to the
fascinating potential of reality. Which makes it even more annoying that the
modern takes will try and spin it to be that “dreaming the impossible dream
is super noble and dope” when the reality is the exact opposite. Ugh… So our story begins with our protagonist, Alonso Quixano, a forty-something stay-at-home dude without much going on in his life, who buries himself in chivalry books to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. He stays up too many nights reading and dries out his brain. According to the humoric theories of the day, this makes him choleric, and as a result, he is prone to fits of violent anger, hallucinations, and completely believes that the fantastical contents of his novel are reality. So he decides he wants to emulate his heroes by becoming a knight-errant, and cleans up an antique suit of armor that’s been rotting in a corner for four generations, DIYs a helmet, spends four days thinking of a name for his horse before settling on Rocinante, and chooses a local farm girl to be his courtly lady love, a staple of chivalric romances where the dashing knight-errant has a lady he holds in his heart, pines for daily, defends the honor of, and sends his vanquished enemies to serve. This girl is named Aldonza Lorenzo, and they’ve never even talked to each other, so he mentally renames her Dulcinea, and ventures out into the world in search of grand adventure. He spends the whole day on horseback, monologuing in the crazy heat, which does no favors to his poor long-suffering brain, but come evening, he arrives at an inn, which he interprets as a castle, which is good, because it’s been bumming him out that he’s not actually been knighted, and he was hoping to find a local lord or king or something, who could officially knight him before he goes harrying off on grand adventures. Of course, the inn-people are pretty weirded out, but the innkeeper decides to err on the side of politeness, and he tolerates Don Quixote’s awkwardly archaic speech as he asks him to knight him, and to let him stand guard over his armor in the ‘castle’s’ chapel. The innkeeper says their chapel has been torn down for repairs, but if he wants to stand watch, he can do it anywhere. Don Quixote heads over to a trough by the well, and drops his armor in to guard it, and spends the night seriously injuring anyone who gets too close or tries to remove his armor from the horse trough. The innkeeper ‘knights’ him in a hurry to get him out of there, and Don Quixote rides off in search of adventure, though first he decides to head home and pick up some supplies, since all those chivalric novels never explicitly feature the knight in shining armor paying for anything, the innkeeper gently informed him that he should really carry some money so he could pay any innkeepers he happens to meet. But, on his way home, Don Quixote hears the tell-tale sounds of someone in distress. Upon investigation, he finds a young man named Andres getting thoroughly walloped by his master. Don Quixote intervenes, and orders the farmer to pinky-swear that he’ll stop, before confidently riding off, where upon the ass-kicking immediately resumes. On the way back to town, Don Quixote spots a group of traders, and decides they must be fellow knights, so plants himself in the road and demands they acknowledge his Dulcinea as the hottest woman on earth. When they ask if maybe they could see her, so they can make that judgement, Don Quixote takes this as the highest insult and charges them. Unfortunately, his horse trips and his armor is too heavy to let him get up, so the traders grab his lance, break it, smack him with it, and leave him in the road. Don Quixote reacts to his horrible injury as only the finest knight would, by which I mean, he rolls around wailing about his lady love, Dulcinea. Until one of the peasants from his home town happens to pass by, recognizes him, and bundles him onto his mule to bring him back to the village. The peasant returns after dark to avoid publicly embarrassing him, and finds Casa Quixote in a uproar. Don Quixote’s niece, housekeeper, barber, and priest are all freaking out over his disappearance, and upon his return, they agree something has to be done about his insane obsession with these damn books. So while Don Quixote is unconscious and recovering, the priest goes through his library, choosing a handful of books that deserve to exist, and dumping the rest onto a big pile to burn. And afterwards, they wall up and cover over the library, so the room’s completely inaccessible. When Don Quixote wakes up and asks about his books, they tell him it’s the darnest thing. A wizard stopped by and stole the entire room. Don Quixote knows exactly which wizard they’re talking about, calls him his nemesis, and buys it. He spends two uneventful weeks recovering at home, but in that time, he approaches his neighbor, a farmer, Sancho Panza, and convinces him to be his squire, with the promise knights win land and governorships basically every week, and they’ll be fabulously famous and wealthy in no time. Now, Sancho isn’t very invested in the chivalry knightly stuff, but he is pretty dumb, and buys most of what Quixote tells him, unless it’s directly contradicted by his observed reality. So Sancho agrees, and they sneak away at night to pursue grand chivalric adventures and stuff. Don Quixote’s first grand adventure is the most iconic, where he sees a large number of windmills, he insists they’re giants, and charges. Unfortunately, the wind picks up at just the wrong time and the spinning sails shatter his lance and flings him off his horse. His next grand adventure happens when he spots a couple Benedictine monks and a lady in a coach, traveling down the road with an entourage, and he decides the monks are sorcerers kidnapping a princess. After assaulting the monks, one of the lady’s guards moves to defend her and winds up getting seriously concussed by Don Quixote, who only stops when the lady begs him to leave the poor guy alone. Sancho nervously suggests that maybe they should take refuge in a church or something, since they just assaulted a random dude, but Don Quixote confidently insists knight-errants are never arrested, no matter how many people they injure or kill, so they’ll obviously be fine. When they go to find shelter for the night, they wind up hanging out with a posse of goatherds, and it’s here Cervantes starts getting really snarky about pastoralist tropes. See, the goatherds explain that a dude named Chrysostom (Spanish Translation: The Sad Student) recently died in a village nearby, Chrysostom was a well educated student and occasional shepherd who fell in love with Marcela (ST: The Woman with a Heart of Ice) a beautiful woman who didn’t really love him back. In fact, the goatherds chime all in with their personal ‘loving Marcela’ stories, to explain that Marcela is very polite and friendly to everyone, but the minute someone starts trying to get their flirt on, she shuts them down. It’s really bumming them out, how she’s not … interested in … any of them. Now this is a very common trope in the contemporary literature, ‘Local Beauty Who’s Super Mean Because She Won’t Date Me Even Though I Love Her So I Must Instead Pine From Afar, Cursing Her Name For Ensorcering Me’ so Cervantes takes this opportunity to spin it on it’s head. Chrysostom has ordered that at his funeral, they should read all the whiny poetry he wrote about Marcela and how she’s super mean, but as they’re working their way through his extensive collection, who should appear to crash the party but Marcela herself, who, in defense of herself, pretty much vivisects the entire concept of the friendzone. Her argument is basically that her beauty makes them feel entitled to her, but the fact that someone finds her attractive doesn’t mean she owes it to them to find them attractive. They’re acting like she choosing to not be interested, when she certainly can’t, and won’t force herself to be pretend to be attracted to someone she isn’t, just because they’ll be upset she doesn’t reciprocate their feelings. She didn’t lead Chrysostom on, he just refused to process his emotions like an adult, and treat like an act of malice for her to not be into him. So yeah, file this under ‘Pleasant Surprises I Wasn’t Expecting To Find In A 400-Year-Old Novel’. I guess Cervantes was ahead of his time. Anyway, after that, Marcela makes her exit and Don Quixote decides that the lady who just presented a dissertation on why she wants to be left alone, is the exactly the kind of person he should follow into the woods and convince to let him be her knight. So he and Sancho book it after her, but can’t find her, which is probably for the best. But while they’re chilling in the woods, some Galicians are watering their ponies nearby, and Don Quixote’s horse, Rocinante, decides this is a good time to get his flirt on, and start humping some lady ponies. The Galicians start whacking him to make him stop, Don Quixote charges to the defense of his horse, and he and Sancho both get their asses kicked. They scoot to the nearest inn to recuperate, which, again, Don Quixote thinks is a castle. Anyway, the innkeeper has a pretty daughter, who Don Quixote, of course, assumes is a princess, and more than that, assumes is definitely in love with him, dashing yet vulnerable knight-errant that he is. This goes from wacky delusion to wacky misunderstanding when that night, the inn servant girl attempts to quietly sneak past him to sleep with the messenger guy in the next bed. He mistakes her for the daughter, and grabs her, to nobly explain that he appreciates her affection and all, but he is far too devoted to Dulcinea to ever stray. When the messenger guy notices the servant trying very quietly and very desperately to escape, he attacks Don Quixote and the whole thing rapidly escalates into a very complex brawl. After it winds down, Don Quixote rationalizes the events, by deciding they must be in a weird enchanted castle and the guy who kicked their asses was a enchanted Moor, which is why he couldn’t beat him. Yeah, the Reconquista may be in the past at this point, but the racism is still a thing. But you might be wondering about how Don Quixote and Sancho are even functioning after their string of beatdowns, and Don Quixote reassures Sancho that knows how to make a potion that will heal their injuries completely. He mixes up a batch of something he calls ‘The Balm of Fierabras’ …fire… …bras… …fear-e-are-brozs? which instead of healing his injuries, just makes him violently sick, but he does feel a lot better after he gets it all out of his system. Sancho, on the other hand, is not so lucky and feels absolutely terrible after evacuating his entire g.i. tract. Anyway, then Don Quixote skips out on the bill, leaving Sancho behind. When Sancho also fails to pay, a bunch of the inn-people randomly wrap him in a blanket and start tossing him around. I don’t… I guess it’s slapstick? Eventually, they stop, and Sancho leaves. Don Quixote explains that inn-castle-thing was hella enchanted, which was why he couldn’t help him during the blanket thing. But then he gets distracted by an approaching dust cloud, which he is convinced is an enormous army of knights. Another dust cloud behind them is similarly judged to be an army, and despite the fact that Sancho insists they’re both clearly large herds of sheep, Don Quixote wades in and starts… …stabbing… sheep. The shepherds try to make him stop by throwing rocks at him, knocking out four of his teeth, and when he tries to down some of his ‘magical healing brew’, it just means he throws up on Sancho, when he tries to determine how many of his teeth he actually lost. So that was a bad day, overall, and it only gets worse when night falls with no shelter or food in sight. But the pair sees a large and ominous procession of people carrying a funeral bier, which Don Quixote immediately decides is the funeral of some noble murdered knight that he must obviously avenge. He leaps out into the middle of the road, demands information about the dead guy, gets mad when they laugh him off, and attacks them. One of the mourners breaks his leg and gets stuck under his mule, while the others run off into the plains, and the mourner explains the dead guy was just a dead guy, who died of fever and was being returned to his home town of Baeza. Don Quixote decides he obviously doesn’t need avenging then, and while Sancho robs the packs the mourners left behind, Don Quixote berates the remaining mourner for being out at night dressed like that if he didn’t want to get randomly attacked. Wow Cervantes. Seriously ahead of your time. Anyway, as they continue, Sancho offhandedly refers to Don Quixote as, ‘El Caballero De La Triste Figura’ which is normally translated as ‘The Knight of the Rueful Countenance’ but could also be translated as ‘The Knight of the Sad Sack’ which I like a lot better. When they continue down the road, Don Quixote spots a dude in the distance wearing what appears to be a very shiny hat. He immediately decides this dude is wearing something he calls ‘The Helmet of Mambrino’, and that he deserves to have it instead. In actuality, this dude is just a barber, and his hands are full, so he’s wearing his brass basin on his head. But Don Quixote charges him anyway, and the barber falls off his horse and runs away, as Don Quixote triumphantly claims his prize, even though it doesn’t fit and Sancho insists it’s a barber’s basin, not a hat. The next big misadventure comes when they run into a line of galley slaves, who Don Quixote decides he simply must rescue, because it is the duty of a knight-errant to help anyone and everyone who’s stuck in a situation they don’t wanna be in. He frees the galley slaves, but gets infuriated when they refuse his order to present themselves to Dulcinea, and when he attacks them, they quickly overwhelm and then rob him blind before scattering. Sancho is very alarmed at this, since freeing galley slaves is a much worse crime than just random assaults, and he persuades Don Quixote that they need to hide in the nearby Sierra Morena mountains to evade the judgement of the Holy Brotherhood. Now, this kicks off a portion of the plot I tend to refer to as ‘the love square’. It’s the longest, most complicated meta story included in the book, and Don Quixote and Sancho are almost completely incidental to how it plays out. It’s also pretty much a telenovela and I’m super into it. So the subplot begins when Sancho and Don Quixote find a torn saddlebag, that contains a decent amount of money, and a notebook full of sad poetry and letters that seem to be about some kind of romantic betrayal. Don Quixote is struck by the poetry in the writer’s soul and decides he must track the author down. They flag down a local goatherd to ask him about the bag, and he explains that six months ago, a well-dressed young man had ridden into the area, asked for directions to the most remote and miserable part of the mountains, and ridden off again. Since then, he reappeared a couple times, very disheveled and not entirely in his right mind, seemingly prone to random fits of violent anger during which he frequently yells about someone named Fernando. When Don Quixote manages to track the young man down, he hugs him like a friend (awkward), and tells him he wants to help him escape his tragic situation, (whatever that may be). So the young man sits down to tell him his life story. To start off, his name is Cardenio and ever since childhood, he’s been in love with this girl named Luscinda. Their parents totally approved, and everyone agreed it was basically only a matter of time before they got married. But one day, Cardenio is summoned by the duke, who wants him to come work for him. Whereupon, Cardenio befriends the duke’s son, Don Fernando, a pathological skirt-chaser, who, when Cardenio first meets him, is utterly smitten with a peasant girl. But once he manages to sleep with her, he loses interest, and starts scouting around for another girl to chase. Unfortunately, Cardenio of course trusts his friend, and frequently gushes about how wonderful his Luscinda is, and when they’re first introduced, Don Fernando is worryingly smitten. Cardenio incidentally mentions that Luscinda had recommended a book of chivalry to him, at which point, Don Quixote jumps in to interrupt that he’s read that book and really liked it. Cardenio is clearly pissed to be interrupted, but when he continues his story with an analogy from that book of chivalry, Don Quixote immediately switches into rage mode, because Cardenio’s interpretation of the story involved a perceived romantic relationship between two characters that Don Quixote interpreted as being just friends. Yep. He’s one of those fans. Cardenio snaps, chucks a rock at Don Quixote, punches Sancho, and vanishes into the mountains without finishing his story. Ever the drama queen, Don Quixote is quite impressed with Cardenio’s tragic madness, and decides he wants to go mad from lost love too. He finds a nice flower field to go crazy in, writes a letter to Dulcinea for Sancho to deliver (even though she’s illiterate) and tells Sancho to tell her all the tragic forms of madness he’s currently bound up in. To prove his insanity, he strips off his armor, prances around a bit, and does a couple somersaults. Sancho heads back towards the village, riding Rocinante, while Don Quixote contemplates which famous knight’s madness he should imitate. As Sancho heads village-ward, he ends up at the inn the blanket misadventure happened, and who should he find there but the village priest and barber, who recognize him and ask where the heck Don Quixote is, and if he doesn’t tell them, they’ll just assume he killed him and took his horse. Sancho caves and tells them everything, and after spending a suitable amount of time completely amazed at the madness of Don Quixote, the barber and priest come up with a plan to bring Don Quixote back home. One of them will dress up like a damsel-in-distress, and beg Don Quixote for his help in righting some wrongdoner, and in doing so, they’ll lure him back to the village and get him the help he needs. They head into the mountains, and tell Sancho to first try convincing Don Quixote that Dulcinea ordered him to return, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll try the cross-dressing thing. But while the priest and barber are waiting around, they hear Cardenio, and track him down to hear the rest of the story. So Cardenio fills them in up to the point he told Don Quixote, and then continues. The couple-to-be just needs the approval of both their fathers, and Don Fernando sends Cardenio off on an eight-day trip while he does the negotiating for him, like the good friend he is. Four days into his absence, Cardenio receives a panicked letter from Luscinda, telling him that Don Fernando has convinced her father to have her marry him instead, and the ceremony is going to happen in only two days. Cardenio immediately saddles up and makes it back to town, finding Luscinda moments before she’s due to called up for the ceremony, and she tells him she’s going to kill herself before she marries Don Fernando. But instead, at the ceremony, she very quietly agrees to marry him, and then immediately faints. Cardenio doesn’t stick around to see what happens next, because he’s so overwhelmed with crushing misery and despair, so instead he rides into the mountains, cursing Luscinda for obviously being taken in by Don Fernando’s superior social standing. So before they have a chance to fully process this tragedy, the barber, priest, and Cardenio are distracted by a weird sound, and when they go to investigate, they see what appears to be a very pretty young man washing his feet in the river. Upon further investigation, however, this pretty young man turns out to be a pretty young woman, dressed up like a pretty young man. She freaks out when they approach, but when she realizes they’re not hostile, she settles down and fills them in on her life story. So she tells them her name is Dorothea, and her parents are low-class vassals but very rich. And one day, their lord’s second son, one Don Fernando, (what a coincidence) becomes totally taken with her. He starts bombarding her family with money and gifts, and sending her an endless train of love letters. She’s creeped out at his persistence, since she knows for all his flowery words, he’s just looking to bang her, and she’s not that kinda girl, thank you very much. Her parents are also aware of this, and tell her that if she wants to marry someone to get this guy off her back, they’ll approve of whoever she picks. Don Fernando catches wind of the fact that’s she’s liable to be married soon, and thus inaccessible to him, so he breaks into her room one night, grabs her, and starts trying to convince her to bang him. Classy, and very much not illegal. When this angle obviously fails to persuade her, Don Fernando tries proposing to her. She is initially doubtful, but he is very convincing, and a marriage would give her the one thing she doesn’t have: status. So eventually, she agrees, they bang, and the next morning, Don Fernando leaves her a ring and bounces. The next time she hears about him, it’s a month later because of the announcement that he’s now married Luscinda, which enrages her. She grabs one of her servants, dresses up like a dude so she can travel in peace, and marches on over to Don Fernando’s city of residence to give him a piece of her mind. But upon arrival, she hears the whole story. Apparently, immediately after saying yes, Luscinda fainted, and they found a letter on her saying that she couldn’t marry Don Fernando, because she was already married to Cardenio, and if she said yes, it was only to honor her parents wishes. They also found a dagger on her that she clearly planned to kill herself with, and Don Fernando was so enraged, he tries to use it to kill her. He’s stopped by her parents, and storms off. Luscinda wakes up a day later and learns that Cardenio has also left, leaving a note about how hurt and wronged he is and he’s going to go somewhere he never has to see her again. Shortly thereafter, Luscinda also disappears. Dorothea thinks that maybe Don Fernando’s failure to marry Luscinda means that her honor has a chance at being restored by properly marrying him, because if there’s one thing if there’s one thing this guy sounds like, it’s a catch. But before she can do that, she hears that her parents are looking for her because they think her servant kidnapped her. She and the servant run into the woods but that night, the servant tries to put the moves on her, and when she refuses, he tries to assault her, so she pushes him off a cliff and books it into the mountains. She’s been working as a herdsman for one of the goatherds on the mountain, but when he recently discovered her not-boyness and also started putting the moves on her, and in absence of a convenient cliff to push him off of, she just decided to run further into the mountains to escape. What a excellent goddamn soap opera. So Cardenio finally breaks his silence by completely freaking out, because he totally knows who she is. She’s that peasant girl Don Fernando lost interest in before falling for Luscinda. And she’s totally shocked to learn this wild man is that Cardenio she kept hearing about. But the good news is since both of their chosen spouses have failed to marry each other, they each have a chance to right the problems that drove them into the mountains in the first place. Cardenio vows he’ll do everything in his power to get Don Fernando to do right by Dorothea, and she’s overwhelmed with gratitude. The priest and the barber obviously agree to help however they can, and oh right. This book is not about these people. Sancho bursts onto the scene and tells them that he found Don Quixote, half-starved and slightly crazier than usual, and he refuses to return home to Dulcinea because he hasn’t accomplished anything great yet. The priest and the barber fill in Cardenio and Dorothea on their plan to lure him in with a damsel-in-distress, and Dorothea suggests that maybe she could make a more convincing damsel than the barber, especially since she’s read books of chivalry and knows all the right tropes to play into. So she introduces herself to Sancho as the Ethiopian princess, Micomicona, which I’m pretty sure is Spanish for Princess Monkey Monkey. (Captioner’s Note: It is) So they scoot over to Don Quixote, who Dorothea entreats for help in killing a big giant that’s usurped her kingdom, and he of course agrees, armoring up and getting back on the horse. Sancho is internally displeased, because the kingdom of Micomicona is supposedly in Ethiopia, which means when he inevitably earns a governorship as a reward, all his subjects will be black. Okay … But he brightens up significantly when he realizes he can always just sell them. OOOOkay! So the gang heads village-ward as they work to keep up the charade, oh, and by the way, remember that Andres kid from way back at the beginning? He pops up too! Don Quixote, of course, brags about how he ‘rescued’ him, but Andres is very upset, since instead of actually letting him go, the farmer just beat him waay worse than before, and Andres had to be hospitalized since then. Don Quixote offers to avenge him, but Andres just tells him to leave him alone. So the gang gets back to the inn, Don Quixote immediately goes to sleep, and everyone else hangs out and talks about books of chivalry. The innkeeper is almost as into them as Don Quixote is, and specifically believes they’re completely factual, fantastical elements and all. Because you really think someone would put fiction… …in a book? But reading is briefly interrupted by a panicked Sancho, bursting in to tell them Don Quixote has been fighting somebody, although ‘fighting’ turns out to mean ‘flailing his sword around while sleepwalking’ and ‘somebody’ turns out to mean ‘the inn’s entire supply of red wine’. Anyway, while they’re resolving that, five mysterious figures ride up to the inn, including two veiled people, a man and a woman. The woman seems very upset, the man seems pissed, as soon as one of them speaks, Dorothea and Cardenio freak out, because, surprise, surprise, the woman is Luscinda and the man is Don Fernando. Luscinda immediately tells Don Fernando to get stuffed and runs over to Cardenio, while Dorothea has a full-on breakdown and demands Don Fernando do right by her, and marry her, like he swore he would do. He eventually calms down enough to have a change of heart, and agrees to marry her, for real this time. And also stops staring down Cardenio with murder in his eyes. Hurray! Happy ending! And… oh right. The book is not about these people. So the next morning, while Don Quixote is lecturing everyone on why knights are more important than scholars, because writing is boring nerd junk, and raw, physical might is where it’s at (which is funny, because he is of course only into this because he read a bunch of boring nerd junk) another couple of interesting characters walk in. A Moorish Christian man, and a Moorish veiled woman who doesn’t appear to speak Spanish. The man explains she’s Algerian, and her name is Zoraida, but she’s come to Spain to be baptized, and wants to change her name to Maria to reflect that. So, the man tells his life story, the short of it being: he left home to become a soldier, fought in a number of interesting wars, was taken prisoner, worked as a galley slave for a while, and wound up in prison. But Zoraida had fallen in love with him from afar, and snuck him a letter explaining she wants to become a Christian and also she’s very much in love with him. She also includes enough money to ransom himself. At which point, he breaks her out of her father’s compound, and they escape for Spain, where, after a brief run in with some pirates, they arrived without incident. Also, a random Moorish judge walks into the inn, and turns out to be this guy’s long lost brother. Boy, this inn is getting crowded. Also present is the judge’s daughter, Clara, which becomes relevant when that night Dorothea wakes up to hear someone singing love ballads outside. Clara explains that the person singing is a cute boy she likes but she’s never really spoken to. They’ve been doing that ‘You Belong With Me’ window flirtation thing and when he learned they were leaving, he seems to have followed them. So, as if the ‘Inn of Fortuitous Character Reunions’ wasn’t already crowded enough, four big and heavily-armored dudes ride up to the inn, looking for a young man named Don Luis. Who is, specifically, Clara’s admirer. They’ve been sent by his father who’s worried sick in his absence. Don Luis is located but refuses to return home, and when the judge comes out to see what’s up, Don Luis tearfully explains he’s in love with Clara. The judge is surprised but reassures him that he’ll consider his proposal and asks him to return home and stop stressing out his dad. Also, a full-on tavern brawl breaks out for complicated and very stupid reasons, but it winds down pretty quickly. But the four big dudes who came for Don Luis are also members of the Holy Brotherhood, who have a warrant for Don Quixote’s arrest for release of those galley slaves. One of them recognizes him and goes to arrest him, but the priest convinces them that Don Quixote is clearly insane, and they should let them take him home and receive proper treatment. They eventually agree, and the gang figure out that the best way to wrangle Don Quixote back home is to literally tie him up and stick him in a cage so he can’t run off. They convince him that he can’t move because he’s been enchanted, which he buys wholesale, and they hit the road to head home. But we’re not done. We’re nearly done, I promise, but we got at least two more characters to go through to before we call this a done deal. The first of those characters is another priest, a canon who stumbles on the group, is fascinated by Don Quixote’s madness, and commiserates with the priest over how terrible books of chivalry are, and goes so far as to suggest that certain stories shouldn’t be allowed to exist, and maybe the government should get to decide what art gets made. …Um … The second of those characters is a goatherd that bursts onto the scene, angrily pursuing a goat. The goatherd chills out and decides to tell everyone why he’s a goatherd. See, in his home village, there was a rich guy with a hot daughter named Leandra who everybody loved. The goatherd, Eugenio, had a pretty good shot at her, being young, rich, and high-class. But his romantic hopes were dashed when glamorous, globe-trotting soldier, Vicente De La Roca sweeps through town and Leandra is immediately smitten, and runs away with him. But she doesn’t run very far, as they find her three days later, in a nearby cave, robbed completely blind. Turns out Vicente only interested in her money. Leandra is sent to a convent to un-dishonor her, and all of her suitors fall into a deep and abiding despair. Eugenio decides to take the classic lost-love mourning route of vanishing into the mountains, to become a tragic love lorn goatherd, but Eugenio mentions that all of Leandra’s suitors followed suit, and now the mountain is literally crowded with lonely, tragic pining pastorialists wailing their romantic failures to the sky. This feels like something Terry Pratchett would write. Anyway, the goatherd explains that the moral of this tale is that this is why he hates women, and therefore why he was yelling insults at his goat. Ne–at. But of course, the ‘hero’ of our story, Don Quixote overhears this story and tells Eugenio that if he were him, (or not-enchanted) he would ride off to that convent right now and rescue Leandra. Eugenio is unimpressed, this turns into a fistfight, and Don Quixote gets distracted by the sound of trumpets and charges off to investigate. What he finds is a bunch of penitents in a procession, carrying a covered statue of the Virgin Mary. Don Quixote decides the statue is actually a kidnapped girl, so he hops on Rocinante, makes a quick speech about the vital role knights play in today’s society, and charges off to attack the procession, at which point, he is one-hit KO’d by one of the penitents. Sancho thinks he’s dead, and loudly, and surprisingly eloquently mourns his loss. But Don Quixote wakes up and asks to be put back in the cart, please. They FINALLY RETURN TO THE FREAKING VILLAGE, and dump Don Quixote into bed, and Sancho heads off to explain to his wife why being a squire is the freaking best. Oh yeah, so there’s technically a framing sequence for these stories. The narrator claims that these documents are true tales of someone’s exploits, recently translated from Arabic. And while this is where his sources run out, he has found evidence of further adventures of Don Quixote as well as some stuff about his epitaph. It’s a half-dozen layers of narrative telephone that’s just there for satire, and not especially plot relevant, so let’s just… call it… that’s it, that’s a wrap, I don’t care, I DON’T CARE! Just let it be over, please, WHY IS THIS BOOK SO MUCH? ♪To dream the impossible dream♪ (The Impossible Dream – Mitch Leigh) ♪To fight the unbeatable foe♪ (CN: Thanks to Wikipedia for allowing me to write these names!) ♪To bear with unbearable sorrow♪ (CN: This took me 12 hours but I’m DONE) ♪To run where the brave dare not go♪ (CN: I spent the equivalent of half a day on this & did 22/23 minutes by myself) ♪To right the unrightable wrong♪ (CN: I hope you’re proud of me) ♪To love pure and chaste from afar♪ (CN: Signed, A Devoted Captioner) ♪To try when your arms are too weary♪ (CN: P.S.: I Feel Really Happy Now) ♪To reach the unreachable star♪ ♪This is my quest♪ ♪To follow that star♪ ♪No matter how hopeless♪ ♪No matter how far♪ ♪To fight for the right♪ ♪Without question or pause♪ ♪To be willing to march into Hell♪ ♪For a heavenly cause♪ ♪And I know if I’ll only be true♪ ♪To this glorious quest♪ ♪That my heart will lie peaceful and calm♪ ♪When I’m laid to my rest♪

100 thoughts on “Classics Summarized: Don Quixote

  • This story goes on for way too damned long. You could assign it to a freshman and by the time they gave their report in English class they'd be a senior.

  • If you're ever doing more international classics, I really would love it if you cover Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, the two novels widely known to bring about the Philippine Revolution. They're quite fun^^

  • Ironically the barber and priest are more heroic and chivalrous than Don Quixote. The two spend time and energy helping a senile, crazy old man (40 years old?) who had personally screwered them over.

  • Why are you so proud everytime you spot something that doesn't fit todays politically correct standards?

    Unable to understand cultural products in the context of their time?
    There was racism in the 1600s? Don't you say!!
    Surprised about the ability to conceptualize an autonomous female character? Was Cervantes ahead of his time? Or is this just your uninformed prejudices speaking?

  • you can argue both interpretations of don Quixote are correct the one that the author intended and the one people got as the reader interpreting the intent of the author doesn’t matter as much as people think

  • Isn't it amazing? If a place that was colonized by Spaniards writes a story and mentions Spaniards in a bad light it isn't racism… But if Spain mentions Moors, who colonized them for 400 years? FUCKING RACISM!!!!
    Americans are a joke lol

  • "That's it, its a wrap, it's done, I don't care I DON'T CARE WHY IS THIS BOOK SO LARGE"
    Aaah yes, the typical reaction of any spanish speaking high schooler when your fucking spanish teacher asks that you read this monster in YE OLDE UNREADABLE SPANISH

  • If you were surprised to find complex female characters existed before 2005, your knowledge of literature must be very poor. I recommend you to read a few more real books. They are easy to recognize, look for the ones that don't contain the words "Harry" and "Potter" in the title.

  • Hmmm…is anyone else pondering what I'm pondering?

    'It's not important whether he succeeded or not. What's important is…
    To scheme the improbable scheme
    To plan the unthinkable plan
    To build when your arms are too tiny
    To walk in the suit of a man

    This is my fate
    To conquer the earth
    To play with the big boys
    Though I lack the girth
    To reach for the stars
    On a whim or a dare
    I could climb to the top
    If I only could reach the first stair

    And the world doesn't know what they'll miss
    If a mouse doesn't follow his dream
    To scrawl with his last bit of graphite
    To scheme the improbable scheme!'

    (See for at least partial context, yes…?'

  • 3:56

    Either Quixote is extremely out of shape, or that armor was never meant to be used, because no real knight was ever encumbered by the weight of their armor over a short time span. That is a myth. While wearing armor for extended periods of time can result in exhaustion, it is entirely possible to do running, backflips, and even rock climbing while wearing it.

  • Fierabras = "Fier-à-bras" (litt. "arms pround" ?) french expression about someone being arrogant about his capacities (cf. Gaston in beauty and the beast)

  • I want a re-telling of this story taking place in the modern-day, with a fat weeaboo obsessed with anime who thinks he's a samurai.

  • I never knew what this was when people mentioned it, and I thought it was about a donkey. I thought it was "Donkey Hotey."

  • can you practice playing guitar more like ffs learn to press a string down fully those twangs at the end of every video kill me

  • That song you sing in the end remind me one of the Disneyland Paris commercial The Little Duck 2018. Its a bit sad but yet a bit joyful

  • I didn't even listen when red was talking about Marcela crashing chrysostom's funeral i was just jamming to take a hint lol i had to play it again

  • Theory: This entire story is a therapy LARP taking place on a two-mile square of property (ala “The Village”). Smack in the center there’s one inn with four different facades. The perimeter is neatly delineated by mountains (so that Quixote never tries to exit the space), and the same group of NPCs is wailing about the woman who wronged them at each part of the story. Kind of “Shutter Island”, kind of “Dogville”.

  • Hi! Spaniard here to provide some context. The sheet toss around is definitely not slapstick. They just use the sheet as a tool to throw him over a freaking wall. Also i don't remember it exactly but depending on how it was written, "manteo" might just mean that a number of people threw him using inertia.

  • The whole four-person love subplot just makes me think that Cervantes had an idea for a completely different novel but instead got lazy and stuffed it randomly in his satire novel as a two for the price of one deal.

    Buy now and get a free windmill!

  • It's been a couple years since I read the book and the sudden shipping war still makes me cry with laughter. It's so validating to see everyone else that did not expect it either lmao. I really hope you do make the second part, this is so much fun! 💚💚
    And, for the fun of it- you can pronounce Fierabrás as fee-err-uh-BRASS! If you would like to hear it pronounced, the band Mägo de Oz has a whole album dedicated to the don Quixote books, and one of the songs in it is "el bálsamo de Fierabrás". Worth a listen!

  • I thought I had problems with the ladies but this Quixote is utterly mad. Guys, if she's not into you; try not to get down on yourself. You'll move on quicker if you go out with friends often and enjoy your hobbies. Sure saves time.

  • I just started to read that book and it's hilarious (just got to the "enchanted castle" part after the Marcela chapter). And even though the book was written over 400 years ago, it's still very up to date. Don Quixote represents the close-minded toxic fandom that got out of control and does more harm than good. At some parts Don Quixote reminds me of these kinds of cosplayers who take their roleplay too far and dont know when it's time to stop

  • Can we all agree the love tetrahedron is much more interesting than a crazy man who assauls people and weas bowls on his head

  • Priest: "If we burn books, everything will instantly become better! Or we burn a heretic at the stake. Either works."

  • In the musical 'Man of La Mancha', the main character is not Don Q; he is Cervantes, the author, as a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition (not historically accurate) who is awaiting a hearing before them (Cervantes DID say he thought up the book while in prison). At the insistence of his fellow prisoners, he begins to tell his (as yet unpublished) story of Don Q. But, although he seems to be telling the same story, he gives it a different meaning by the way he tells it: he is facing an all-too-horrible reality and is searching for something 'more real.' The 1960's Wasserman retelling is certainly a story re-told for its time and, like its inspiration, tries to get people to look at the value in the drama of human reality through the use of fiction.

  • Literal Translations

    El caballero de la triste figura

    The Horsemen/Knight(male)= El caballero

    Of the(usually referring to a female but is an overall “the” as well)= de la

    Sad Person/leader/figure= Triste figura

    The Knight of the sad figure
    (You could change the second the to “a” but that in translation would be wrong but it makes a tad bit more grammatical sense)

  • Why is this the first time in my 25 years i have heard of this, this shit is funny😂 keeps running into random situations and getting his ass kicked and carried off by hos gormless squire

  • "Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
    (Don Jon of Austria rides homeward with a wreath)
    And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
    Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
    And he smiles, but not as sultans smile, and settles back the blade…
    (But Don Jon of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

  • 8:30
    Its pronounced like this:
    Fiera = Fee ey(as in hey) ra(as in rat but the "r" is trembling)
    Bras = just like bra, the boob shield

  • can anyone please tell me what's the music in the start?? It's been ringing in my head since i've gone off my meds. I am gonna lose it if i don't get an answer within hours.

  • My favourite part was when Don Quixote took over a small island and turned half the population into toys, then tried to kill everyone on it

  • What thirsty idiots don’t know is every woman hits the wall with few exceptions and will be promptly replaced with a fresh batch of beauties.

  • Fierabras comes from french "fier-à-bras" which means originally a strong-armed ("bras") and proud ("fier") man, then an arrogant bully. Another possible etymology is "fier"="fer", so iron, which would mean "arms of iron".

  • Hmm. Your opinion of Don Quixote as a dangerous crazyman is interesting. It’s been one of my favorite stories since childhood, and I’ve always tended to see him as a character to be pitied. I may just need to read it again.

  • The fork is the bull shirt! Who reads half a book and claims to be expert enough to post a summery video? I can only assume the video poster is Trump supporting millennial… aka, dumb as dirt… Respect yourself more and try to finish the book next time… Or don't, but don't read half a book and pretend you are knowledgeable enough to post a video about it…. I mean, come on! Is your next post going to be a summery on Ulysses after you stop reading it 50 pages in?

  • This story was almost painful to read btw if only someone wrote a spinoff about the other characters who are far more interesting

  • I like how the happy ending to that tragic love story is happening in the inn while don quixote is fighting wine barrels upstairs.

  • i can't stand this stupid bitch and her stupid snark voice
    fuck off
    leave content making to the boys sweetie

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