Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Miguel de Cervantes' 17th-century novel The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest works of literature. It introduced some of the most iconic characters in fiction and is even credited as helping establish the modern concept of the novel. It is packed with plot, satire, symbolism, and social commentary, and this can make it a challenge for many students to get through on their first read. These discussion questions can help your students unpack Don Quixote and develop a greater appreciation for the novel.
Questions About Plot And Character
- What is the basic plot of Don Quixote? What is the central conflict? How is this conflict established?
- Who is the main protagonist of Don Quixote? How is Quixano first introduced to the reader? What is significant about this? What is ironic about this?
- Why does Quixano/Quixote embark on his quest? Is there a literary MacGuffin that motivates the plot? Does there need to be? Why is it appropriate that Quixote's quest never has any real objectives besides questing for honor and chivalry?
- Who are the other major characters of Don Quixote? Describe Rocinante and Sancho. How are they introduced? How are other characters introduced? How do they appear to Quixote, and how do they appear to us, the reader? Nearly every character in this novel is presented within some context of irony or social commentary. Can you find evidence of this?
- What role does literature play in this literary work? How is Quixano influenced by literature? What kind of literature influences him? What happens when his library is burned? What does this reveal to us about various characters?
- List and describe Quixote's various quests. What does he think he's doing in each quest? What is he really doing? How does this blend the romantic and fantastical with the mundane? Which ends up being more dangerous for Quixote?
- How does Don Quixote end? What is significant about this ending? Is there an irony to it? Is it bitter-sweet? Why?
Questions About Structure
- How is Don Quixote structured? How is the story organized? What does it focus on, and what does it exclude?
- Don Quixote is sometimes called the first modern novel; why do you think that is? What is a novel? How does the story of Don Quixote differ from the stories read by Don Quixote? Is there a contrast between the chivalric tales of medieval knights and the presentation of this story?
- How does the narrative structure of Don Quixote let the author juggle various locations, events, and characters?
Questions About Themes
- What is the tone of Don Quixote? How is that established and maintained? What are the main themes of Don Quixote? How are those introduced and explored?
How do various characters, settings, and events contribute to these themes?
- This story was written in the early 1600s, as Spain was fully entering the Early Modern period. How is Spain's cultural transition out of the medieval era captured in Don Quixote? How does the eponymous character reveal an inability of parts of Spanish culture to move out of a medieval mindset?
- Why does Miguel de Cervantes begin Don Quixote by claiming that this story is taken from the archives of La Mancha and the works of a fictional Moorish scholar? What impact does this have on the novel? Why would Cervantes pass this fictional story off as fact? Is he trying to trick the audience, or achieve something else? How does Miguel de Cervantes explore the connection between the past and present in Don Quixote?
- Is Don Quixote a comedy or a tragedy? Why?
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack