Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 2 Chapters 16 18 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 16–18 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 16

Don Quixote is pleased with his victory over the Knight of the Mirrors, and sets his sights on disenchanting Dulcinea del Toboso. He and Sancho Panza meet a well-dressed man named Don Diego de Miranda who is riding to his home in a nearby village. Don Diego doesn't believe in knights-errant or their histories, but he is fascinated by Don Quixote. Don Diego confesses that his son is studying poetry, which he finds to be a waste of time. Don Quixote defends the art form, and Don Diego, "astonished at Don Quixote's speech," doesn't consider him so mad after all. Farther down the road, they spy a cart flying royal flags.

Part 2, Chapter 17

Don Quixote decides to battle the lions being carried by the royal cart, which are a gift to the king. The lion keeper reluctantly opens one of the cages, but the lion just cleans itself and refuses to come out. Don Quixote wants to irritate the lion so it will fight, but the lion keeper points out that no warrior with courage "need do more than challenge his enemy and wait for him to appear." By not appearing, the lion has dishonored himself, not Don Quixote. Don Diego doesn't understand how Don Quixote could put himself in such danger. Don Quixote responds that for a man to be courageous, it is the lesser of two evils to approach "the very edge of rashness, rather than risk falling into the pit of cowardice." Don Quixote now wishes to be called the Knight of the Lions. He has also decided to call Don Diego the Knight of the Green Overcoat.

Part 2, Chapter 18

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza go home with Don Diego de Miranda and meet his wife, Doña Christina, and his son, Don Lorenzo. Before dinner, Don Quixote tells Don Lorenzo all about knight-errantry, and Don Lorenzo agrees with his father that Don Quixote is crazy. Over dinner, Don Quixote asks Don Lorenzo to recite a poem, which is received with much enthusiasm from the guest of honor. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza stay for four days before resuming their adventures.

Analysis

Cervantes packs a lot of his own opinions into Don Quixote's lengthy speeches with newfound friends. Chapter 18, for example, covers modern culture and poetry. Through Don Quixote, Cervantes asserts that 17th-century Spain values "sloth, indifference, gluttony, and pampered luxury." These are all things he has Don Quixote fighting against in an effort to get back to the Golden Age of chivalry. Cervantes didn't necessarily believe that the Golden Age was perfect, like his errant hero. Rather, he could see that the once wealthy and powerful Spain was headed for a great fall. Don Quixote's passion for the good old days is Cervantes's way of cautioning readers about the inevitable fall of Spain.

Cervantes also has a cautionary word for poets, and writers in general, who base their poems on other people's work, for "the second poem can never equal the first one." This is a pointed remark against the author or author(s) of the "false Quixote." Poetry is actually a touchy topic for Cervantes, who was never a successful poet. This is why Don Quixote cautions Don Lorenzo that if he wants to be famous, he needs to move away from poetry to the "even more tortuous path of knight-errantry." Cervantes himself serves as a knight-errant through the writing of Don Quixote, championing honor and moral values while pointing out the intolerance and hypocrisy of the Spanish crown and the Church. His pen, as they say, is mightier than the sword.

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