Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 1 Chapters 28 29 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapters 28–29 | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 28

Pero Perez, Cardenio, and Master Nicolas meet a young woman disguised as a boy. Dorotea is the farmer's daughter whom Don Fernando promised to marry just so he could sleep with her. She leaves her home to search for Don Fernando upon hearing of his marriage to Luscinda, and learns that the letter in Luscinda's bodice said that she was already married to Cardenio.

Dorotea can't find Don Fernando and decides "it was better not to find Don Fernando than to find him married" because she wants to uphold her vows. She hears that her family is looking for her, and there are rumors about her and the boy who helped her escape. The boy tries to rape her, and she throws him off a cliff to his death. Disguised as a boy, Dorotea finds work as a shepherd. Her master's unwanted advances send her into hiding.

Part 1, Chapter 29

Cardenio tells Dorotea who he is. He's hopeful that they can both have their happy endings and be reunited with their intended spouses. Pero Perez asks both of them to come home with him and Master Nicolas so they can assist in finding Don Fernando.

The barber-surgeon tells Cardenio and Dorotea about Don Quixote, and Dorotea is eager to help. She takes on the role of the damsel and changes into clothes more befitting a princess. Master Nicolas dresses as her squire. Sancho Panza returns, and he is introduced to Dorotea, now Princess Micomicona of Micomicón in Ethiopia. Sancho Panza, eager for the Don to meet and marry the princess, takes her and her squire to him. Dorotea falls to Don Quixote's feet and begs him for assistance in killing the giant who is keeping her from the throne. He agrees.

Analysis

Dorotea's story is about the perils of protecting one's virtue (namely, virginity) in 17th-century Spain. Women were expected to dress and act modestly, covering themselves and keeping their eyes averted from interested parties. Such "virtuous" behavior made already beautiful women even more attractive and boosted the appeal of their less-attractive sisters. Dorotea explains that her virtue also affects her parents, because "their honor and reputation lay entirely in [her] goodness and virtue, in which they trusted."

Like Marcela, Dorotea's beauty attracts men in whom she has no interest, and these men are not willing to take no for an answer. She knows that refusing Don Fernando's pleas of marriage will end in her own rape, a direct assault on her virtue, so she agrees to marry him even though she doesn't love him. Yet when he disappears after the consummation of their hasty vows, she desperately wants him back. She would rather be married to someone she doesn't love than to be shamed by the loss of her virtue. This isn't an instance of satirical exaggeration on Cervantes's part. Marital partnerships weren't always based on love, and a "good match" needed to be made on several levels, including wealth and social status.

Dorotea's agreement to play Princess Micomicona turns Pero Perez's and Master Nicolas's hastily thrown-together ruse into a convincing fantasy story. Their decision to appeal to the irrational part of Don Quixote's brain is a good one, though hypocritical. Their disdain for such fantastical stories is temporarily forgotten as they plot to help their friend. This sleight of hand on Cervantes's part indicates that not all chivalric stories are as useless as he purports them to be.

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