Don Quixote Chapter 4: 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.

'Don Quixote' is an interesting tale of one man's adventure and delusions. If you are reading through the story, you may appreciate the lesson below, where we summarize and offer an analysis for Chapter 4.

The Best Intentions

If you have ever tried to help someone but ended up hurting them instead, you will know what's up with Chapter 4 of Don Quixote. In this Chapter, Don Quixote goes on his hero's mission, but nothing seems to go as planned. Let's take a look.

In Chapter 4 of Don Quixote, our main character is dubbed a knight by a random landlord. No matter how unreal it seems, Don Quixote is now galloping around, ready to be a hero to anyone in distress. When he hears someone crying out in the woods, he discovers a master beating his servant and intervenes. The master claims that the servant (who is in charge of watching his sheep) is careless and loses at least one sheep everyday.

Don Quixote ignores this explanation, demanding the master release his servant and pay him wages for the past nine months. The master explains that he doesn't have any money, but promises to go home and get it right away. Don Quixote is satisfied with this, and tells the man that if he does not pay the wages, he will come back and annihilate him.

Naively, Don Quixote takes this man's word for it, even though the servant tries to explain that his master will most likely kill him. Still in his delusions, Quixote believes the man will honor his word. However, as soon as Don Quixote leaves, the master beats the servant even worse than before.

As Don Quixote is riding away and patting himself on the back, he comes across a group of traders on the path. Don Quixote jumps off his horse, stands in front of the group and demands they proclaim that Dulcinea del Toboso is the fairest maiden. The men respond by saying they cannot make such a proclamation without seeing her - even a picture would suffice.

Don Quixote doesn't appreciate their lack of faith and gets ready to attack. Rocinante trips and causes Don Quixote to fall as well. One of the men attacks him and breaks his lance into pieces. They leave Quixote battered and on the ground.

Analysis

Aside from the ongoing comedic tone of this story, there are a few serious elements in Chapter 4 that are important to look at. First of all, Don Quixote's interaction with the servant suggests some foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is when an author gives a hint about what might happen in the future of the story. For example, since Quixote's interaction with the master and servant ends up backfiring, we can assume that this might happen again in the future.

Don Quixote's plans do end up backfiring. When he interacts with the men on the path, he gets beaten up. Don Quixote's interaction with the traders also offers another literary element worth analyzing. While we can't read our author's mind, there is something awfully familiar about what Don Quixote wants from the traders. In the story, he wants them to profess (out of faith) that Quixote's crush is the fairest maiden. More importantly, he wants them to do this without any proof.

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