In the Second Volume don Quixote encounters the Knight of the Forest, also known as the Knight of the Mirrors, who serves (ineffectively) as a reality check for don Quixote by physically reflecting Don Quixote’s delusional behavior back to him. Similar to don Quixote, the Knight of the Mirrors has his own squire, identical Sancho Panza’s role in don Quixote’s fantasy. Sansón Carrasco, of course, plays the part of the Knight of the Mirrors, and seems to be attempting to fulfill his own supressed fantasies of adventure while inadvertently echoing don Quixote’s mannerism and strange pursuits. In addition, the Knight of the Mirrors serves to reveal to don Quixote, as well as the reader, that his obsession with being a knight-errant, besides being outdated and ridiculous, is for younger, stronger men. The reality of the situation is that don Quixote an elderly man and knight-errantry is not only taking over his mind, but also his physical state. He continually endangers himself by having unnecessary and violent confrontations with younger, stronger men. The mirrored armor on the Knight of the Mirrors is not only useful as a tactical device which blinds the opponent, but also employed by Cervantes to juxtapose don Quixote’s frailness against his younger, stronger opponent.
Simply for the sake of messing with don Quixote, Sansón claims, “I swear in heaven’s name, I fought with don Quixote and conquered and overcame him–he’s a tall man with a withered face, his limbs are lanky, and tanned, hair turning gray, an aquiline nose with a bit of a hook, and with a long drooping black mustache” (603). Despite pretending to have already fought don Quixote, Sansón is honest in his description of don Quixote’s withering features, highlighting his old age and suggesting that he is inferior. Don Quixote ends up disregarding Sansón’s intimidations, proceeds to fight him, and wins. Yet, he fails to see Sansón’s point, that he is old, weak, and not fit to pursue knight-errantry. Throughout the novel, don Quixote consistently has trouble seeing what is directly infront of him, which will most likely end up contributing to his downfall.
In the same way that don Quixote completely misses the implications of Sansón’s remarks, he fails to recognize his own metaphorical reflection in Sansón’s behavior as well as his physical reflection in the mirrors on the armor. If he had the agency to notice either of these reflections, he would realize the absurdity that lies within both of them, and thus in his own actions and attitudes. Don Quixote’s confrontation with the Knight of the Mirrors exemplifies his inability to see himself as others see him and his denial of the contraints of time and age.
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