“Everybody’s looking for something.” – Sweet Dreams, Eurythimics.
But what does Don Quixote want? Fame, money, beauteous ladies? Don Quixote has a very different motivation from the average person. Then again, Don Quixote is not your average knight in any category: he’s living two hundred years after the time of knights and chivalry, he’s way to old over fifty, and he has no idea what a knight truly is. That is not going to stop him however, he’s going to be a knight, his knight, a knight who he wants to be.
Throughout the first two parts of the first volume, Don Quixote does a lot of what he calls chivalry, but what’s consistent is that he when they are women involved, he gets very heroic, and bold. But is his reward saving the maiden, who really is just regular woman as is everyone else in the book, from something that is not what Don Quixote thinks it is. But first, we need to consider if Don Quixote is really insane, or is just trying to act like a knight yet knowing he’s not.
The book makes constant references of Don Quixote’s insanity, so we’ll have to assume he thinks he’s a real knight, which means he thinks the women are noble ladies, and anyone accompanying them (friars, Basque, etc) are evil creatures right out of the fairy tale. But it seems Don Quixote thinks noble ladies have to be beautiful. Marcela even tells Don Quixote in chapter fourteen (with other people with them) “… if the heavens that made me beautiful had made me ugly instead, and, such as it be fair for me to complain that none of you loved me?”(Grossman). She says much more, and if you know Don Quixote’s shallow appearance of characters: friars are wicked creatures and windmills are giants, so therefore beautiful women must be noble maidens. But while women were a big excuse for adventure, did Don Quixote go on this adventure just to save noble maidens? No, it was after he started the journey seeing Dulcinea, remembering the tales of chivalry, saw her as a maiden. Don Quixote’s motive was not noble maidens.
Money is definitely not a motive, he lived fairly well, being what what we call in a middle class. Plus this would probably be the closest thing to a vacation in their time, and vacations are expensive, he was not going to make any money on this trip. But does he know that? The book says nothing about it, so he probably didn’t know, and probably wasn’t even thinking about expenses. The book mentions nothing, so Don Quixote’s motive was not money.
Fame is definitely the real motive for the adventure, he read so much, and got so obsessed, people burned some of his books to try to help him retrieve his sanity back. He read all the tall tales of knights and dragons, and damsels in distress. This the reason Don Quixote left in the first place, to be a valiant knight, destroy giants and then save the maidens. Don Quixote wanted to be as famous as King Arthur himself, and was willing to do anything to get there.