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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 56–57 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 56

Don Quixote and Tosilos, the footman impersonating the farmer, are ready for battle. If Don Quixote wins, the farmer has to marry Doña Rodríguez's daughter. If he loses, his opponent is a free man. Tosilos catches a glimpse of the wronged girl before the battle and immediately falls in love. He calls off the match just as Don Quixote starts to charge toward him, saying that he wants to marry her. The Duke is shocked and angry at this change of plan.

Tosilos takes off his helmet, revealing a face that belongs to the footman, not the farmer. Don Quixote is pretty sure the magicians are playing tricks on him again, which absolutely delights the Duke. Surprisingly, Doña Rodríguez's daughter says she's happy to marry Tosilos no matter who he is, for she would prefer to become the "wife of a footman [instead of] the rejected lover and deceived victim of a gentleman."

Part 2, Chapter 57

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are ready to leave the castle when Altisidora starts to sing another lovesick song, this time about how Don Quixote has both broken her heart and stolen her handkerchiefs and garters. Sancho Panza gives back the garters, and master and squire leave the castle.

Analysis

The interlude between Tosilos and Doña Rodríguez's daughter once more highlights the extreme importance of virtue in 17th-century Spain. The wronged girl is willing to marry pretty much anyone to keep her reputation intact—she seems neither surprised nor dismayed that another man is willing to take the place of the farmer who jilted her. Class doesn't even matter in this case. She's willing to forgo marrying above her position just so she can be seen as respectable in the eyes of society and the eyes of the Church.

This event is also a commentary on the unrealistic portrayal of love found in most chivalric romances. Tosilos sees Doña Rodríguez's daughter just once and decides that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. This isn't love—it's lust. Just as mother and daughter look forward to the marriage, so does Tosilos, particularly the "consummation for which [he] was every bit as eager." Cervantes is pointing out that the desire for sex in a society that condones it only after marriage leads to more than a few too-hasty couplings.

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