Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 2 Chapters 36 39 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Part 2, Chapters 36–39

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 2, Chapters 36–39 from Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote.

Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 36–39 | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 36

Sancho Panza shows the Duchess a letter he has written to his wife, and she scolds him for being so greedy. At lunch, a mourning party enters the garden. Trifaldín the White-Bearded, the squire for Lady Dolorida, asks if his mistress may be permitted to speak to the famed Don Quixote.

Part 2, Chapter 37

Sancho Panza and Doña Rodríguez get into an argument about dueñas, who are ladies-in-waiting, matrons, and chaperones. Sancho thinks dueñas are nothing but trouble; Doña Rodríguez, as a lady-in-waiting herself, thinks highly of them.

Part 2, Chapter 38

Lady Dolorida, also known as the Countess Trifaldi, introduces the reason for her visit by telling the story of how she was responsible for allowing a teenage princess in her charge to be seduced by a commoner. The story isn't true; everyone who is in on the joke is "quietly congratulating Trifaldi on her wit and her acting ability."

Part 2, Chapter 39

The princess's mother dies from the shame of her daughter marrying a commoner. Her cousin Malambruno, who also happens to be a wizard, appears at the funeral. He turns the princess and Don Clavijo, the commoner, into a bronze monkey and a metal crocodile, which cannot be "changed back to their original form until the brave Knight of La Mancha" meets him in hand-to-hand combat. Malambruno then curses all of the ladies in waiting for Lady Dolorida's foolishness. Each woman immediately grows a beard that they reveal to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in the present. Now no man will have any interest in the dueñas.


Sancho Panza, who has up until this point probably never met a lady-in-waiting, has an inexplicable hatred for them. As a squire to a lunatic, he is lower in class than the women who serve nobility. But he feels like a governor now, which means he "stopped wasting time on squirely silliness." He thinks he's better than the dueñas; in particular, Doña Rodriguez who insulted both him and his donkey. His mental leap onto a higher rung of the social ladder causes him to speak and act cruelly toward a woman whom he barely knows. Through Sancho Panza, Cervantes is showing that members of the upper class believe their social position excuses them from treating others well.

The Duke and the Duchess are pulling out all the stops when it comes to messing around with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They spare no expense, creating elaborate dramas that suck in even those who are in on the joke. Literary experts speculate that the Duke and Duchess are modeled after real nobles. Cervantes must not have liked them very much, as he uses these two characters solely to point out how cruel people in positions of power and who also have idle time on their hands can be.

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