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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapters 30–31 | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 30

Dorotea spins a story about her kingdom and the giant intent on preventing her rule. Don Quixote swears he will accompany Dorotea/Princess Micomicona until she is back on the throne, and he adds that she can marry whomever she wants because he is besotted with Dulcinea del Toboso. Sancho Panza goes berserk upon hearing this. He asks Don Quixote how he (Sancho Panza) can ever "get where I want to go, if your grace keeps chasing the moon?" He says Don Quixote is crazy for not wanting to marry the beautiful princess, especially since Dulcinea doesn't even have half her beauty. Don Quixote is livid and hits Sancho Panza with his lance as he calls him names.

Dorotea convinces Sancho Panza and the Don to make amends. In private, the Don asks Sancho Panza how Dulcinea reacted to his letter. Sancho Panza admits he didn't have the letter at all, but he shared its contents with "a priest" who wrote it down for him. Meanwhile, Pero Perez commends Dorotea on her performance. They marvel at how rational Don Quixote is about some subjects but crazy as a loon when it comes to others.

Part 1, Chapter 31

Don Quixote interrogates Sancho Panza about his visit with Dulcinea, wanting to know absolutely everything. Sancho Panza is petrified his master will find out that he never went to Toboso, but he makes it through the inquiry fairly unscathed. Don Quixote agrees to fulfill Dulcinea's "request" to come home at once, which terribly upsets Sancho Panza, who wants his master to earn a kingdom and give some of it to him.

They stop to rest at a fountain and meet Andrés, the boy whom Don Quixote thought he rescued from an evil master during his first expedition. He tells the group about how valiantly he saved the boy, and he is mortified when Andrés counters that he was never paid and ended up in the hospital for all of his troubles. Andrés asserts that everything would have been just fine if the Don hadn't stuck his nose where it didn't belong.

Analysis

Don Quixote's bouts of lucidity bring up the eternal question: Is Don Quixote actually crazy, or is he just living out his fantasies? Arguments can be made for both sides. Everyone who meets Don Quixote thinks he's completely crazy, yet Sancho Panza, who has known the Don all of his life, thinks he just makes terrible decisions. Perhaps Sancho Panza's obliviousness to his master's lunacy stems from the fact that Sancho Panza isn't far from crazy himself. Though he is skeptical when their adventure begins, he's fully on board when given just the slightest hope of fulfilling his own fantasies.

Those who do think Don Quixote is crazy feel more pity for him than anything else. The deception about Princess Micomicona isn't out of spite or jest but rather out of concern. Dorotea's pity, in particular, rouses the reader's sympathy for Don Quixote. Cervantes is quick to ensure that Don Quixote isn't always the butt of the joke; he is an intelligent, caring, and loyal man. Despite his goofy outward appearance, he has essentially dedicated himself to helping other people.

That's not necessarily a good thing. Andrés's reappearance shows the harm that Don Quixote's insanity inflicts on others. The consequences of their meeting not only disillusioned the young man but also caused him great physical injury. He thinks he would have been better off having never met Don Quixote. He's probably right. The better Don Quixote's intentions, the more dangerous he becomes to others. Andrés's misfortunes prove to the reader that tales of chivalry shouldn't be taken as an instruction manual.

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