Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 2 Chapters 30 32 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 30–32 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 30

Sancho Panza is ready to turn around and go home when he and Don Quixote meet the Duke and Duchess, both of whom are delighted to stumble upon the subjects of The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Master and squire are invited to stay with the Duke and Duchess as long as they like.

Part 2, Chapter 31

The Duke runs ahead of the group and tells his servants to treat Don Quixote as if he were a valiant knight in a chivalric romance. Don Quixote's arrival is therefore greeted with enormous fanfare, but Sancho Panza makes one verbal blunder after another, embarrassing his master. Don Quixote dines with the Duke, the Duchess, and the resident priest, who calls Don Quixote a "brainless wonder" and exhorts him to go home instead of parading around the countryside pretending to be a knight.

Part 2, Chapter 32

Don Quixote makes his rebuttal to the priest, defending both himself and knight-errantry. The Duke promises Sancho Panza a governorship, and the priest is so disgusted that he leaves and refuses to return until Sancho and Don Quixote leave.

Four girls bring in water and soap for the customary after-dinner washing, but they soap up Don Quixote's beard instead of his hands. Surprised and amused by his servants' actions, the Duke insists on having his beard washed, too. The butler takes Sancho Panza away for his own dinner, and the Duke, the Duchess, and Don Quixote talk about Dulcinea del Toboso. The Duke theorizes that "she is nothing more than a phantasm conjured up and born in your grace's brain," and Don Quixote doesn't disagree.

Sancho Panza returns in a rush followed by boys from the kitchen who are trying to wash his beard in a bowl of dirty dishwater. The Duchess jokingly tells them off and invites Sancho Panza to join her and her ladies during the afternoon siesta.

Analysis

Cervantes outwardly supported the Catholic Church, but that support didn't extend to all of its members. This is evident in his description of the Duke and Duchess's resident priest, whom the narrator describes as incapable of understanding individuals different from themselves and therefore unable to teach others how to behave. These men serve to guide nobility, but, in Cervantes's opinion, their narrow-mindedness causes more harm than good. This is the closest Cervantes gets to saying something derogatory about the Church, as he needed to stay in its good graces to continue publishing.

Cervantes makes a harsher jab at governors, saying that "one needs neither great skill nor much learning to be a governor," which is why Sancho Panza would be perfect for the office. Cervantes believes governors are just puppets of the people who surround them. When Sancho Panza eventually does get into office, Cervantes uses him to show what a governor's role truly should be.

In a switch of positions, it is now Sancho Panza, not Don Quixote, who has become the butt of every joke. The Duke and Duchess, well aware of Don Quixote's reputation as a lunatic knight, treat him with a sort of tenderness and kindness. His madness is endearing because he fully believes it. Sancho Panza is a much more delightful target due to his blundering stupidity. Sancho Panza is of a lower class than Don Quixote, which is perhaps why the Duke and Duchess have no qualms about treating him like a low-rent court jester. This fits in with Cervantes's ongoing exploration of class and how those in the upper echelon treat those at the bottom.

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