Course Hero. "Don Quixote Study Guide." Course Hero. 15 Sep. 2016. Web. 31 May 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Don-Quixote/>.
Course Hero. (2016, September 15). Don Quixote Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Don-Quixote/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Don Quixote Study Guide." September 15, 2016. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Don-Quixote/.
Course Hero, "Don Quixote Study Guide," September 15, 2016, accessed May 31, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Don-Quixote/.
Don Quixote sees bad omens everywhere when they enter the town, and Sancho Panza's comforts don't seem to help his spirits. They meet Pero Perez and Samson Carrasco on the way back to Don Quixote's house, where they are greeted by his niece, his housekeeper, Teresa Panza, and Sanchica Panza. Sancho Panza takes his wife and daughter home to tell them about his adventures, and Don Quixote tells Pero Perez and Samson about his plans to become a shepherd. They suspect a new madness has taken hold.
Don Quixote is struck with a fever and stays in bed for six days before suddenly seeming healthier and more sane than ever before. He tells Pero Perez, Samson Carrasco, and Master Nicolas he is no longer Don Quixote de La Mancha but Alonso Quixano. He denounces everything to do with chivalric stories, saying they are "odious and hateful." His friends, convinced a new form of madness has taken root, plead with him to reconsider. He insists that he has been cured, then he announces that he can feel death coming.
Sancho Panza and a scribe are fetched and Don Quixote outlines his will. He leaves money to Sancho Panza and to his niece, who is not allowed to marry any man who has knowledge of stories about knight-errantry, and he asks that he be forgiven by the writer of The Second Part of the Exploits of Don Quixote de La Mancha for providing him with source material in the first place. He dies three days later.
Pero Perez has the scribe record Don Quixote's death so that no other person can continue telling stories about the lunatic knight. Sidi Hamid Benengeli ends his tale with the reminder that his goal had been "to make men loathe the concocted, wild-eyed stories told as tales of chivalry."
Don Quixote's friends spend the entire novel trying to get him home and return him to sanity, but they are confronted with the reality of what living in the real world means for Alonso Quixano. The man who had spent years reading about adventures before embarking on his own has nothing to live for once he's forced into retirement. He knows he's going to die, so he renounces knight-errantry and stories of chivalry as a sort of last confession, hoping that "with Heaven's help, my death will turn to my good."
This is a complicated ending for Pero Perez, Master Nicolas, and the host of other characters who tried to "cure" Don Quixote of his madness. They got their wish, but it resulted in their friend's death. This can be interpreted in a few ways, but it's very likely that Cervantes meant it as a cautionary lesson about what happens when you try to change someone to fit your own standards. Don Quixote's madness and its cure are symbolic of the religious intolerance of 17th-century Spain. Like those who practiced anything but Catholicism, Don Quixote was considered to be different from everyone else. Some people pitied him, others disliked him, and many felt it was perfectly fine to torture him in ways they found amusing. Don Quixote's delusions didn't cause irreparable damage; on the contrary, they made life more interesting for everyone around him. Cervantes's ultimate purpose for writing Don Quixote was not only to encourage readers to distinguish between fact and fiction but to also promote the acceptance of those on the fringes of society.
Don Quixote's death may seem unnecessarily tragic for many readers—it is possible that Cervantes could have imparted the same lesson without sending his hero to the grave—but even more important than the novel's success was the assurance that no one else would steal Cervantes's characters ever again. Cervantes himself never saw much money from Part 1 of the book, and Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda's illicit version irked him until his last days. He would be damned if any more people were going to earn money or notoriety from his creation, and the only way to ensure that was to kill off his hero. In an instance of art mirroring life, Cervantes died shortly after the publication of the second volume of Don Quixote's adventures.