Don Quixote Chapter 74: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Joseph Altnether

Joe has taught college English courses for several years, has a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a Master's degree in English literature.

Don Quixote is on his deathbed in chapter 74 of this novel. During his illness, a dream provides him insight into final judgment. He takes confession and drafts his will. The narrator concludes the novel by confirming Don Quixote's aversion to stories about knight's gallantry.

Don Quixote Falls Ill

Fictional characters have a tendency to escape death. Very rarely will authors kill off their popular characters. Even when they do die, their stories seemingly live on forever through their stories. Author Miguel de Cervantes doesn't believe that. He is of the opinion that death comes for everyone, and even Don Quixote has ''no privilege from Heaven exempting him from the common fate.'' As the final chapter of Don Quixote opens, Don Quixote lies on his death bed.

Don Quixote appears to contract an illness that has him laid up in bed for six days. When the doctor comes to check on him, he mentions that ''melancholy and despondency were bringing him to his end.'' Don Quixote does not suffer from any sort of illness, but disappointment of his hopes for Dulcinea that stem from the fact that his vision of Dulcinea does not exist.

Don Quixote's Dream Reveals Final Judgment

His friends and companions attempt to cheer Don Quixote, even reminding him of the pastoral life that awaits him. This is a reference to his future life in the country, where he can raise whatever crop or animal he wishes. The bachelor even tells Don Quixote he has ''already composed an eclogue.'' This is simply a pastoral-themed poem.

None of these attempts provide any relief to what ails Don Quixote. He asks them all for some quiet so that he might sleep. Upon waking, he cries out that God has revealed all to him in a dream. He now recognizes that the books about chivalry are filled ''with absurdities and deceptions.'' He sees that the life he has lived to this point has been worthless and a farce, or ridiculous act. This sudden realization provides a bit of irony, considering all the adventures Don Quixote has had in the name of chivalry.

Don Quixote Drafts His Will

His friends are in disbelief over Don Quixote's words. They don't understand how he can toss everything aside as he nears the end of his life. Don Quixote confirms this when he tells them that his name is no longer ''Don Quixote de la Mancha...but Alonso Quixano the Good.'' As a result of all this, the friends believe that he has gone mad. Instead, Don Quixote finds that everything to this point of his life has been nothing but ''idle tales.'~'

Knowing that he will soon die, Don Quixote asks for a confessor and a clerk so that he might draft his will. The priest comes and finds that Don Quixote, now Alonso Quixano, is of sound mind and able to proceed with his confession. The friends leave so that the confession might take place. When they return, Don Quixote reads them his will.

He leaves to Sancho all that he promised, plus whatever is left over after payment. He also asks forgiveness for ''causing you to appear mad, like me.'' Sancho tries to tell him the knight's errand was true, but Alonso Quixano dismisses it as madness. Next, he leaves his estate to his niece, on the condition that whomever she marries has heard nothing ''about books of chivalry.'' If the man she wants to marry knows of these books, she gets nothing. Alonso Quixano is adamant about the dangers of these books.

The Narrator's Final Words About the Story of Don Quixote

After reading his will, Alonso Quixano faints and passes away three days later. The priest quickly prepares notification in order ''to deprive any author...(from) falsely resuscitating him and writing interminable histories of his deeds.'' The death certificate will keep others from taking Alonoso's character and creating more adventures.

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