Don Quixote is a Spanish gentleman from La Mancha. Nearing 50, his birth name is Alonso Quixano, which he changes when he becomes a knight-errant modeled after his beloved chivalric romance novels. Accompanied by his elderly horse, Rocinante, and his loyal squire, Sancho Panza, Don Quixote roams the countryside looking for opportunities to right wrongs, aid the poor, and help damsels in distress. While the degree of his insanity is debatable, he's very intelligent and a master orator on a variety of subjects. His service as a knight-errant comes to an end after he is bested by the Knight of the White Moon who forces him to retire for a year. Upon returning home he falls ill, denounces knight-errantry, and dies.
Sancho Panza is Don Quixote's loyal squire who dreams of governing an island and enjoying all of the perks that go along with public office. Greedy yet loyal to a fault, Sancho at first doesn't realize that his master might be insane. As their journey continues, Sancho Panza, a realist, starts taking on some of Don Quixote's idealistic qualities, particularly where promises of wealth and fame are concerned. Sancho Panza is extremely talkative and prone to using four proverbs when just one will suffice. He is always accompanied by his prized possession, his donkey.
Pero Perez, a local priest, has been friends with Alonso Quixano for years, and his friend's decision to become a knight-errant comes as somewhat of a shock. He blames the chivalric romances Don Quixote so enjoys reading, and he, along with Master Nicolas, oversees their burning. Pero Perez is a realist who dislikes these types of stories because they gloss over the realities of day-to-day life and glorify impossible achievements.
Dulcinea del Toboso
Dulcinea del Toboso's real name is Aldonza Lorenzo. She's a peasant from Toboso who caught Don Quixote's eye years ago, but they have never spoken. He takes up the lance of a knight-errant in her honor and, over time, turns her into a mythical woman of great beauty and virtue. Though she is often referenced, she is never actually seen by any of the characters in the book. Her lack of a physical appearance in the novel, however, does not diminish her importance. She is Quixote's symbol of a perfect woman. The truth of her life is replaced with Quixote's vision of her.