Who can explain our four-century attraction to Don Quixote? The book is hard reading and dull, full of inconsistencies, and confusing. A little like the Bible. And yet Don Quixote is the second most widely-read book on earth; second only to, yes, the Bible.
But look closely and you may see Jesus in Don Quixote:
We are Dulcinea to his deity.
We are Sancho Panza to his humanity.
And the long-armed windmill is Death.
Open the gates of your imagination and walk with me into that world.
In his spirit, Don Quixote is a knight on a mission. In his flesh, he is just a man.
And throughout the book we are never sure which is the true Quixote.
Early in the book Quixote charges the windmill and is defeated.
Lifted up on its wooden arms, he is broken and slammed into the ground.
But then he rises, and the journey is begun.
The second most vivid image of Don Quixote is the brass barber’s basin on his head. He looks, of course, ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as if he were wearing a crown of thorns.
Of the many feats performed by Quixote, his freeing of the galley slaves from the hands of their captors is perhaps the most revealing. Addressing them as “my dearest brothers,” Quixote endures it patiently when the freed captives turn and begin pelting him with stones. The savior is rejected by those he has rescued.
All of Quixote’s exploits are carried out for Dulcinea, his beloved. Yet the common-as-dirt village girl in whom Quixote sees great beauty and worth is completely oblivious to him. She goes about her daily routine unaware of his great love.
Who will carry the message to her?
Greedy and simple Sancho Panza is given the task, but never completes it. As Sancho wavers between faith in Quixote’s knighthood and utter disbelief, he clings to Quixote’s promise of a kingdom as his reward.
Sancho’s logic tells him Quixote is only Alsono Quijano, a man of the region. But his heart tells him Quixote is a knight, sent from the King. Though full of doubts, Sancho goes with him.
Did anyone look past the dirt to see great beauty and worth in you? If so, you are his Dulcinea.
Call me delusional, but I believe our magnetic attraction to the odd story of Don Quixote is due to the echo of the much older story it contains.
Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
Roy H. Williams
“One man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this.” – Joe Darion