Don Quixote Quotes

We all know the story of Don Quixote, an amusing yet bittersweet story about adventures of the last knight errant. Deeply satiric, this novel was often portrayed like a comedic story and indeed, lots of people used to laugh while reading about Don Quixote’s hopeless dreams of chivalrous ideals. But in the book, we encounter much more laughing people and see how cruel and insensitive they look in comparison with Don Quixote, who, despite his madness, has the noblest intentions and is ready to help anyone disregarding of their status, gender and race.

Looking at the world through his eyes and having Sancho Panza as a connection between the fantasy world of Don Quixote and the reality, we still see that our world has a lot to be improved. The methods of Don Quixote are flawed and his understanding of reality is dim, but Sancho stays with him not only because of the good payment, but because deep inside he feels that his master is right, though in a weird way. Let us read through the most famous Don Quixote quotes to see how much we need some chivalry in our cynical world.

“Having thus lost his understanding, he unluckily stumbled upon the oddest fancy that ever entered into a madman’s brain; for now he thought it convenient and necessary, as well for the increase of his own honour, as the service of the public, to turn knight errant.”

Book 1 Chapter 1

This quote, one of the most well-known in all the book explains the sudden desire of Don Quixote to become knight errant. Despite the author is overly sarcastic, using such expressions as “having lost his understanding, he unluckily stumbled”, “oddest fancy” and blatantly calls Don Quixote a madman, we see that this sarcasm is very bitter, because the intentions of the poor old man who read just too many knight novels are still pure.

He believes that his service as a knight errant is “convenient and necessary” for the people. In the times of Cervantes this book was often considered funny and full of humor, but in these words we see the tragedy of the mind, soul and a kind and noble heart that lies underneath Don Quixote’s misfortunes. He was so dissatisfied with the real world that he immersed himself into fantasies, deciding finally to shape the reality according to them – with the only intention to make it better.

“At those words they made a halt to view the unaccountable figure of their opponent; and easily conjecturing, both by his expression and disguise, that the poor gentleman had lost his senses, they were willing to understand the meaning of that strange confession which he would force on them.”

Book 1 Chapter 4

This quote shows the reaction of Don Quixote himself and the random people to their encounter. His first meeting with other people turns out to be confusing – he sees the strangers on the road and immediately believes that there is some adventure for him (like we are used to think when we encounter an NPC in video games – they are surely there for purpose of giving us a quest. Too bad that the reality wasn’t tailored for Don Quixote personally).

The strangers from their side see the oddly dressed old madman and react accordingly. They are quite gently, though, they call him “poor gentleman” and sincerely try to understand what he really wants from them. Later Don Quixote will encounter much more cruel people who will mock him, beat him or trick him into doing something utterly ridiculous for their own amusement.

But the main response stays the same: he sees noble knights and fair ladies, thinking of people much better than they usually deserve, when the rest of the world sees an old crazy man, a very convenient laughingstock for them.

“All the rest of the company gave great attention to this discourse; and even the very goatherds and shepherds were now fully convinced that Don Quixote’s brains were turned topsy-turvy. But Sancho Panza believed every word that dropped from his master’s mouth to be truth, as having known him from his cradle to be a man of sincerity.”

Book 2 Chapter 5

Here we see that the only person who never mocks or doubts Don Quixote’s intention is Sancho Panza. He knows Don Quixote from his childhood and has always considered him a man of honor and sincerity. Of course, he sees that Don Quixote does something inconvenient or outright crazy and dangerous, but, being the common sense in their duo, he tries to talk his master away of it as gently as it is possible.

He plays Don Quixote’s game, clearly understanding the mundane world, but Sancho Panza does it not because of mockery or blind obedience. He deeply cares about Don Quixote and he doesn’t consider him mad, seeing that his true intentions are to help people, to be important and needed and to finally let himself follow his heart.

“[Sancho] was very uneasy at hearing that knights errant were out of fashion, and books of chivalry full of nothing but folly and fiction; he resolved, however (in spite of all their contempt of chivalry) still to stick by his master.”

Book 4 Chapter 5

Here we see another proof of Sancho Panza’s loyalty. He hasn’t read all the books his master read, so it takes some time for him to figure out that knights errant are just an old legend and chivalry and nobility in the way Don Quixote shows them are hopelessly outdated and only make people laugh. Sancho has to make one of the hardest moral choices in his life: he understands that his master is now doing something inconvenient.

But still, his deep care for Don Quixote, respect to his ideals and the concepts of chivalry he finds strangely appealing to his own soul (though not in an overwhelming way) make him stay on Don Quixote’s side anyway. Not knowing this, Sancho Panza demonstrates loyalty that is worthy of a knight legend.

The loyalty of Sancho isn’t the only one unshakable thing in all the book. Don Quixote himself is forever faithful to his imaginary fair lady Dulcinea. Despite being quite cynical about the other women, he cherishes the image of Dulcinea as the most ideal and precious thing he has. He is ready to resist any temptations and fight any enemies just to not let anything tarnish her name.

“The divine Tobosan, fair/ Dulcinea, claims me whole;/ Nothing can her image tear; ‘Tis one substance with my soul.”

Book 1 Chapter 46

We see Don Quixote here resisting the temptation of flesh (no matter that the woman just entered the wrong door, like the most events in the book this one happens almost entirely in his imagination). But the evil succubus has to go away, because even if the body of the knight desires her, his soul forever belongs to Dulcinea.

“Whoever says that Don Quixote de la Mancha has forgot, or can forget, Dulcinea del Toboso, I will make him know with equal arms that he departs wholly from the truth; for the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso cannot be forgotten.”

Book 1 Chapter 59

We see how fierce Don Quixote becomes when any doubts of his love to Dulcinea appear. She is his ideal, one of the cornerstones of his legend and worldview. Don Quixote doesn’t feel the real love to her, he doesn’t even know the real woman (and Sancho Panza doubts Dulcinea exists at all), but, as a knight of the legend, he is full of chivalrous, platonic love and that’s enough for him to defend his own and Dulcinea’s honor everywhere.

“By the Mass, she is a notable, strong-built, sizable, sturdy, manly lass, and one that will keep her chin out of the mire, I warrant her.”

Book 3 Chapter 11

These words, shockingly, also describe Dulcinea. Sancho Panza finally figures out who is the mysterious lady – she is a peasant girl, Aldonza Lorenzo, who doesn’t resemble a fragile ethereal princess at all. She is nothing Don Quixote imagines her, but his fantasies and his devotion to imaginary Dulcinea are so overwhelming that he doesn’t want to notice this.

Usually sceptical about the peasant women and women in general, outright to being mildly misogynistic (though for his age and country that was normal), here Don Quixote melts completely, proclaiming Dulcinea a lady of all the virtues. We don’t know if the reality would have ever clashed with his beliefs, or poor Aldonza could have to live her life as a princess, surrounded by awe and devotion no real, close-to-earth man could provide her.