Essay Book and Reference Guide
By EMRE GURGEN
Though Don Quixote’s many jokes, memorable episodes and characters are timeless, some may pass over the heads of readers. To help navigate the classic, this reference guide takes the form of a Don Quixote encyclopedia with several independent sections: a large character dictionary; a dictionary of relationships between characters and groups; an extensive section on the book’s multiple themes; a digest of the novel’s slap-stick humor, and other odds and ends, such a section of Latin translations, a diagram of the book’s internal structure, a lexicon of archaic vocabulary words, and a reproduction of the novel’s many letters and poems. Organized, alphabetically, by topic, this reference guide arranges easily forgotten details in an easily digestible format, so readers can keep track of all that goes on in Don Quixote and why.
Appearance- Don Quixote is a tall man with a wrinkled face, long skinny arms, an eagle like nose that is somewhat hooked and graying. Typically, he has a dried-up face, a knotted and grizzled beard, a brown, streched neck, and a big black droopy mustache to disguise his bony underbite. On his backbone is a mole with long stiff hairs growing out of it.
Age- Don Quixote is 49 years old, which, for the Middle Ages, is old, since the typical life-span in the early reniassance was 50 years of age.
Occupation- Since Don Quixote is a nobleman of the lowest rank he derives a small income from his acres of arable land. Besides having a bit of ready money passed down from his forebears Don Quixote makes a small profit on his vineyards. When he is not managing his property, which is most of the year, either he hunts boar, to while away the time, or reads chivalry books, as a leisure activity.
Sanity/Insanity- When Don Quixote is in his right mind he talks with good sense and a clear and balanced judgment, which makes people think he is clever, studious, and to the point. But when he focuses his mind on chivalry he interlards sense and nonsense, reason and unreason, reality and unreality because what he says is coherent, elegant, and well-expressed, yet what he does is absurd, foolhardy, and stupid. Since he performs mad actions in the world―but speaks words that dissipate the effects of his deeds―most people think that he is mad, in streaks, complete with lucid intervals. Unable to decide whether he is more sane than mad or more mad than sane, his examiners conclude that he is a sane man with madness in him, and a mad man with sane tendencies.
Injuries- Don Quixote’s first injury comes when his ribs are bruised and battered by a muleteer who pounds him with a piece of his broken lance pummeling him until he is well-threshed like the finest chaff. Then his shoulder is half-dislocated when a windmill’s sails yank him off his horse with enough force to send him rolling over the Montiel plain in a very sore predicament indeed. Later, half his ear is lopped off by a Basque who sends a large part of his helmet, along with a bloody chunk of his ear, to the ground in hideous ruin. Next a group of Yanguasian mule carriers pound him with their walking-staffs until he is knocked senseless. Then a muleteer at a tavern delivers such a terrible punch to Don Quixote’s lantern jaws that his mouth is bathed in blood. Not content with his opening blow, the muleteer climbs on top of Don Quixote’s ribs and trots up and down from one end to the other until he lays unconscious atop a ruined bed. To top off his loss of blood, a peace-officer smashes an oil lantern on Don Quixote’s head leaving a good size dent there and raising two sizable lumps as well. Later, a group of goatherds break two of Don Quixote’s ribs, smash three or four of his teeth, and crush two of his fingers in retaliation for their dead sheep. Next, a group of convicts fire a hailstorm of rocks at Don Quixote hitting him with enough force to knock him to the ground. Once Don Quixote is down, a student outlaw snatches a barber’s basin from off his head and smashes it three or four times on Don Quixote’s back leaving him in a sorry state indeed. Afterwards, when Don Quixote hurls a loaf of bread at a goatherd’s face, the goatherd climbs on top of Don Quixote and flails away at his face until blood pours from the poor knight’s face. Later, a penitent delivers such a blow to Don Quixote’s sword arm that he smashes his shoulder to smithereens. Next, a snarling cat latches onto Don Quixote’s nose leaving his face riddled with holes. Then Don Quixote is scorched and singed and hurled to the ground by an exploding wooden horse. Finally, Don Quixote is stampeded into the mud by a herd of pigs. Though Don Quixote’s injuries heal over a number of years―sometimes in his own bed and sometimes in the battle field―it is a wonder that he musters the strength to continue after such numerous and extensive beatings.
Chivalric Delusions- Don Quixote mistakes: inns for castles; windmills for giants; sheeps for armies; wine-filled pigskins for headless giants; black-clad mourners for shadowy enchanters; copper basins for golden helmets; country barbers for warrior knights; simple farm girls for noble damsels; sweat smelling peasants for perfume smelling princesses; wooden horses for flying steeds; air pumping bellows for the earth’s natural wind; water mills for castle fortresses; dinghies for ships; and blanket tossers for enchanted ghosts, to name just a few of his chivalric delusions.
Family- Besides having a twenty two year old niece, Don Quixote has no blood relations to speak of.
Don Quixote is a unique novel because it discusses itself within the pages of itself. For example, when an old notebook of the history of Don Quixote is found at a bazaar in Toledo Catholic Cannon reminds us that chivalry books do not follow the rules of Aristotelian writing. Also when Cide Hamete El Benengeli, the book’s narrator, analyzes Don Quixote’s artistic genres he shows a concern for literature and language that signals Don Quixote’s Metafictionality. Given Don Quixote’s self-reflexive nature the book’s author becomes a character in the story who steps in-and-out of the tale to offer a variety of criticisms of the book. Also, during the Captive Captain’s tale, we are told that Miguel Cervantes was the only man who emerged unscathed from his slavery. By referring to the author throughout the story, Don Quixote does not let the reader forget that he is reading a fictional work. Another feature which defines Don Quixote as a work of Metafiction is that it mentions several works of fiction. For example, during the inquisition of Don Quixote’s library, Cervantes’s Galatea is retained for its original style. Later, when the innkeeper produces Rinconete and Cortadillo, another story by Cervantes, a local priest decides to read The Tale of Inappropriate Curiosity instead. Finally, since Don Quixote tends to call attention to itself as a literary artifact characters within the story are acutely aware that they are in a work of fiction. In brief, since Don Quixote self-consciously evaluates itself throughout its’ story-telling it is fiction about fiction, or Metafictional in nature.
Appearance- Sancho Panza has a short body, a plump paunch, long shanks, and a thick, unkept, beard.
Age- Sancho Panza is in his mid-thirties.
Occupation- Sancho Panza is a poor country farmer who was a swineherd then a geese keeper later a steward and finally a country beadle. During his later years, before he squires for Don Quixote, Sancho Panza is a farm laborer.
Family- Sancho Panza comes from a medium sized family consisting of an older brother who is a priest, a wife who runs his house, his two children (Sanchico 15, Sanchita 14) his maternal grandmother, who he often quotes, as well as two wine-connoisseur forebears on his father’s side. Thus, his nuclear family consists of four people, and his extended family consists of 3 people.
Practicality- Sancho Panza has a practical sense of what it takes to live in hard-reality. This is why he: eats out of his saddle-bags to avoid starvation; treats his injuries by mixing poultices; heals his wounds by fastening bandages; avoids jail by paying at inns; and earns money to take care of himself and his family. What’s more, since Sancho Panza not only solicits a fixed salary from Don Quixote, but also sells a hunting outfit he acquires, he is always looking for ways to make money. This, in turn, signals his practicality, since earning money is required to maintain his house, provide food and clothing for his family, and pay for his children’s education, too. In short, Sancho Panza’s desire to earn money is definitely a sign of his practicality.
Glutton- Sancho Panza is prone to excessive eating and drinking binges. From devouring pies by flowing rivers to stuffing himself with geese and hens at Basilio’s wedding, Sancho Panza eats like there is no tomorrow. Sancho Panza also likes to drink a lot, since he takes swigs of wine from his leather bottle, sometimes drinking before breakfast. Though he likes to eat and drink to excess, the Duchess puts Sancho Panza on a restraint enhancing diet, during his governorship of Barataria, by assigning him a good doctor to limit his food and liquid consumption. Indeed, before taking office, Sancho Panza says that he has never drunk wine to get drunk, but rather drinks intoxicating beverages to not seem choosy, or rude, because, asks Sancho Panza, what can be more hard hearted, if a friend drinks to your health and one does not drink to his back?
(more characters in the study guide)