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Don Quixote Chapter 1: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you are reading ''Don Quixote'' you might be wondering what happens in the first chapter in the story. Check out the following lesson to get a summary and analysis of the characters and events in this chapter.

Superheroes

If you remember wanting to be a superhero when you grew up, you will understand what's up with our main character in Chapter 1 of Don Quixote. Follow along as we get an introduction to the characters and are drawn into the strange and exciting world of Don Quixote.

Introductions

Chapter 1 of Don Quixote opens by telling us about a man who lived in a village in La Mancha. A village whose name is apparently unimportant since the narrator doesn't tell us. This man is about fifty years old and is wealthy enough to have a housekeeper and an errand boy. Just like the name of his village, the man's last name is also described as being better left unsaid, as it is unimportant to the story.

If we take an analysis approach to this early information we can see that the past and identity of the man may not be as important as his future. This philosophy (that the future trumps the past) could be a personal or even political statement that the author is interested in sharing.

Decisions

Our main character likes to read. He especially enjoys ''Feliciano de Silva's composition, for their lucidity of style and complicated conceits were as pearls in his sight.'' He spent many nights mulling over the meanings of de Silva's writings. Stories about knights and dragons also begin appeal to him. Eventually he decides ''should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest of adventures.'' in other words, he decides to become a knight.

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The man gets his great-grandfather's old rusty coat of armor to wear. The suit only had a morion, or open helmet, so he fashioned it into a closed helmet himself. Since he knows he needs a horse, he gets his own old horse ready. He thinks for four whole days before renaming his horse ''Rocinante,'' a name worthy of his new character. He takes eight more days to decide on a new name for himself - Don Quixote of La Mancha.

For this part of the story, an analysis suggests that our main character is reinventing himself. Despite his advanced age (and the advanced age of his horse) he has take on the role of a knight - a profession which was normally granted to young men.

The name of the horse is also worth taking a close look. The word rocin means ''old horse.'' We can see this as either a reflection of Don Quixote's ignorance or perhaps even his sense of humor. The fact that it took him four days to come up with the name suggests a lack of creativity or awareness.

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