What is identity? A person’s identity defines who they are, what they believe, and how they interact. Identity is developed and impacted by early interactions and experiences. Don Quixote desperately tries to change his identity at the age of fifty. He teeters on the edge of insanity and fearless adventurer. His identity evolves as he desires to live the life of a knight-errant. In an attempt to become something more than that of an average middle-aged man, “he came up with the strangest idea ever concocted by a crazy man, and that was that he thought it right and necessary, both to increase his honor and to serve the republic, to roam the world on horseback, dressed in his armor, seeking adventures.” (23) Don Quixote is experiencing what could be considered a mid-life crisis and therefore attempts to create a new identity by becoming the fictional characters he reads about in his books about the fantastical life of knights which would be humorous if it did not put him in harm’s way.
This would be laughable if Don Quixote was not in constant danger of hurting himself or others. Don Quixote continuously puts himself in perilous situations. When Don Quixote makes a stop at an inn from a daylong trip, he mistakes the innkeeper for a king of a castle and two prostitutes as princesses to fit his fantasy. As Don Quixote is guarding his armour with hopes of being dubbed an official knight, a carrier removes Don Quixote’s armour from the cistern. Don Quixote did not appreciate his armor being touched. As a result, Don Quixote struck the carrier in the head with his lance knocking him to the ground seriously wounding him. This happens a second time causing a disturbance. The other carriers respond by throwing stones at Don Quixote putting him in danger of being seriously hurt. At first the scene may be construed as humorous, but two men were injured and Don Quixote was in danger of being struck by stones. Upon returning home hurt and exhausted after six days of travel and adventure, the priest and barber search Don Quixote’s library as he recovers. They decide to burn the books that might encourage Don Quixote to continue to seek a life of adventure as a knight-errant, which would be dangerous for Don Quixote. Another example of Don Quixote being a danger to himself is when Don Quixote mistakes the windmills for Giants. Don Quixote and Sancho approach a field of windmills. In the eyes of Don Quixote, they are the giants who have taken his books. Don Quixote charges full speed lance in hand at the windmill and is thrown off his horse. The windmill scene is initially comical until Don Quixote is seen as being a danger to himself again.
I may have altered my behavior depending on the environment or audience. Unlike Don Quixote, I have not thought to change my identity completely. I have never attempted to leave behind a world of reality and immerse myself in fantasy. It may be entertaining for a moment, but the consequence of sustaining a lie can be dangerous as seen in the case of Don Quixote and the perilous situations in which he finds himself even if he does not recognize the danger.
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