S450 Cervantes' Don Quijote
Study Aids - Don Quijote, Primera Parte: Prólogo -
Título (p. 1):
The full original title for Part One is El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote
de la Mancha, This first volume was published in 1605 (Part Two, published
in 1615, has a slightly different title: Segunda parte del Ingenioso caballero
Don Quijote de la Mancha.).
What is an hidalgo? What are the various meanings of la Mancha?
What is the effect of these various meanings when the phrase de la
Mancha is applied to the main character?
Accompanying materials (pp. 2-6). You may skip this part.
Prólogo (pp. 7-12):
How does Cervantes describe his relationship with Don Quijote? Why?
Look for Cervantes' literary philosophy as expressed here (and in other parts
of the book). That is, what is literature? What is good literature? What
should an author do or not do? What does Cervantes do with this novel and
According to the prologue, What is Cervantes' purpose in writing the work?
(Who says this?) What do you think are Cervantes' reasons for writing it?
(You can change your mind on this as you read more of the novel.)
Poesías (pp. 13-19):
Read through them (rapidly), but don't worry about details. Can they be taken
seriously? Or why are they included?
Capítulo 1: This begins the "first part" [first section] of
the "First Part" [first volume, the one published in 1605].
Remember (i.e., memorize) the first two or three lines of of this chapter.
The word lugar here is used in the sense of "village", rather
The opening paragraph describes the protagonist in terms of food and dress.
What does all this tell us about the man and his life?
Why does Don Quijote go mad? (Note the use of the terms loco and
locura here and in other parts of the work.)
Why does Don Quijote consider it fit and proper to become a knight errant?
I.e., what purposes does this serve?
Note the playing with names: e.g., la Mancha; Rocín
+ ante; Dulcinea [dulce]
What basic information do we know about the lead character: real name, parents,
family, place of birth/residence, etc.?
What are the four things Don Quijote feels he must do to prepare himself
to be a kinight errant? Are they really the preparation/qualities needed
to be a knight errant? Why are these the ones Don Quijote chooses?
Capítulo 2, Don Quijote at the first inn:
Why does Don Quijote see the inn not as an inn but as a castle?
P. 27 (l. 32) to 28 (l. 8): The part in single quotes is a parody of the
style seen in novels of chivalry.
P. 29-30: Don Quijote's salute to the women of easy virtue is horribly archaic
even for the 16th century and thus almost unintelligible for common people.
Why does he speak this way?
Pp. 31: The poem quoted here is a popular Spanish ballad (romance);
Don Quijote has substituted his name for that of Lancelot (Lanzarote). In
the rest of the ballad Lancelot leaves Queen Guinevere's bed to go out and
kill a man who had insulted her, then returns to enjoy more of her favors;
the reading public of Cervantes' time would recognize the ballad and know
the story. Note the irony between Don Quijote's situation and that of Lancelot.
Capítulo 3. The knighting ceremony:
According to Spanish law, such a ceremony (done in jest) was of course not
valid. But could Don Quijote ever truly be a caballero andante?
Capítulo 4. The first adventure of our "knighted" Don Quijote,
The merchants. This episode and Capítulo 5 were probably inspired
by a playlet called the Entremés de los Romances, in which
a fellow goes mad from overexposure to Spanish ballads (romances).
Note the use of romances in the novel.
You do remember that:
Romances are Spanish ballads: they tell a story poetically, and are
characterized metrically by eight-syllable lines with asonancia
(assonance) in the even-numbered lines.
Asonancia is a type of rhyme in which the vowels are the same starting
with the last stressed vowel; consonants are ignored, e.g.:
muertas and bella [feminine rhyme:
two syllables are involved, an accented syllable plus an unaccented one following
comió and sol [masculine rhyme: one syllable
is involved, since the last syllable is a stressed one]
To determine the number of syllables in a line, you count up to the last
stressed syllable, and then add one more, e.g. (from page 45):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 + 1 = 8
syllables in this line
¿Dónde_estás, señora mía,
[verso llano, rima femenina]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 + 1 = 8
syllables in this line (not 7)
que no te duele mi mal?
[verso agudo, rima masculina]
Note that when counting syllables there are other factors to consider, for
example, sinalefa: if a word ends in a vowel and the next word begins
with a vowel (or h plus a vowel), and one of those vowels is unstressed,
the two vowels almost always combine to form one syllable (e.g.,
Dónde_estás, as above).
Capítulo 5. Identity problems (for both Don Quijote and Cervantes?)
Capítulo 6. The "scrutiny" in the library.
What is this "scrutiny" is an obvious parody of? How do the priest and the
barber come off in the novel?
Again the literary theme! You do not have to remember the individual titles
and authors mentioned in this scene (with the exception of Amadís
de Gaula, Tirante el Blanco, and La Galatea). Instead of
considering this scene as a critique of individual literary works, you might
look at it as expressing more of Cervantes' literary or artistic philosophy.
What ideas, techniques, and styles is Cervantes condemning or praising? How
does this tie in with the writing or purpose of Don Quijote?
Capítulo 7. Sancho Panza is finally introduced.
Here --and in the rest of the novel-- look at how Sancho is portrayed. How
is he compared to or contrasted with Don Quijote? How or why does his inclusion
benefit the novel?
Start of the second sally (i.e., journey).
Capítulo 8. The windmills (the single most famous adventure
of Don Quijote).
The fight with the Basque. To whom does Don Quijote commend himself before
his (mis)adventures? Why? Why are so many of his adventures disastrous?
Capítulo 9. This starts part two (of Part I, the 1605 volume).
Typical Cervantean technique: interruption. Why does he use this technique?
Why does Cervantes interject himself as a character? Who is the real author
of the novel???
Capítulo 10: P. 73: Read pp. xviii and xix of the introduction,
concerning the wrong chapter title (epígrafe).
P. 73: The Santa Hermandad ("Holy Brotherhood") was a type of rural
police force or highway patrol, as indicated in footnote #7; it was NOT related
to the inquisition.
Pp. 74-76: In the conversation between Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, note
how Cervantes sets up for Don Quijote (and the readers) future adventures,
such as the bálsamo, el yelmo de Mambrino, los
ejércitos (de ovejas), etc.
What, if any, comparisons might be drawn between Cervantes and Don Quijote?
What aspects/situations are humorous? Why?
Abbreviations which may well be used in future handouts (and which you might
want to use in tests):
DQ - Don Quijote (the character)
SP - Sancho Panza
C - Cervantes
DQ - the novel Don Quijote
DQI - the part of the novel published in 1605
DQII - the part of the novel published in 1615
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