Don Quixote Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''Don Quixote'' is wildly entertaining and critically important in world literature, but it can be a lot for students to handle. These discussion questions can help your students connect to the themes and ideas of this novel.

Don Quixote

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?

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