Literature Essay 9 Don Quixote

Prompt: “How was Don Quixote’s knight-errant oath in conflict with his deathbed oath?”

The book, Don Quixote, tells of a man who went mad as a result of obsession. Don Quixote lived in the 16th century, long after the knights of medieval times had been rendered obsolete. Despite this Don Quixote spent his time locked in his library, regaling himself with tales of chivalry and knighthood. He eventually got so obsessed with these stories that he started suffering delusions. He abandoned his house and family, on a deranged quest to find his knights-errant.

He found a woman who he hardly knew, and pronounced her his one and only love. It was in her name that he gave an oath of chivalry, then he rode off to find someone who could dub him an official knight. He rode until he came across an inn, which he interpreted as a castle. He approached the innkeeper, insisting that the head of this “castle” must dub him a knight. The innkeeper played along, and so the official knight Don Quixote was born. He knew that a strapping knight such as himself should have a decent squire, so he once again rode off searching for someone to fill the role.

He met a peasant named Sancho Panza, who he lured into the position of squire with promises of wealth and fortune. Sancho wasn’t completely seduced by Don’s false promises, but he was intrigued enough to abandon his family to come along with him. Together they went on many misadventures, Sancho starting out skeptical but eventually losing himself to Don Quixote’s fantasies. The most famous of these misadventures is the tale of the tilting at windmills. In this Don Quixote spies a group of windmills, and mistakes them for giants. His squire Sancho tries to make him come to his senses, but Don Quixote replies by saying, “It is easy to see, that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.” As you can see Don Quixote was as charismatic as he was insane, and Sancho was eventually so entranced that he began experiencing the same delusions as his counterpart.

On his deathbed Don Quixote finally came to his senses. He realized that his oath of knighthood interfered with his original oath, that is to be a sane and stable head of his household. Don realized that he wasted most of the latter half of his life chasing fantasies and nonsense, and he realized that the chivalry he had obsessed on was as useless as it was a dead practice. In his last few minutes of life he denounced his knightly oath, and re-embraced his original oath of being a fair and stable head of house. Then he died, knowing that after all his mistakes he finally regained his sanity.

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