Chapters 17-25 of Don Quixote seem to be Cervantes running out of ideas because he is too focused on proving that his novel is the real one, therefore, there are recurring themes that were presented in the first volume including arms vs. letters, love, and theater.
Arms vs. Letters
In volume one of the novel don Quixote talks about how there is a debate as to which is better those who are soldiers and are physically strong or those who are scholars and are intellectually strong. Don Quixote leans toward the side of arms being better than letters because he believes that as a knight he has to be strong. In the second part this theme is presented again when there are two students dueling and don Quixote is the umpire, one believes he will win with his skill and knowledge of swords and the other believes he will win with his strength. The one with the skill wins the duel which showing that knowledge is better than strength.
Previously in the novel Marcela had men dying for her, the priest read a story of lovers, and the inn reunited lovers that were meant to be together and got separated; this theme is imitated in the second part with the story of Quiteria, Camacho, and Basilio. Basilio and Quiteria are in love, however, she is to marry Camacho, at their wedding Basilio stabs himself and makes Quiteria promise to marry him. It is revealed that he didn’t actually die and him and Quiteria end up together with Camacho being somewhat okay with it because, as most of the other characters from part one failed to realize, even if they were together Quiteria would have always loved Basilio.
Volume one displayed a lot of theatrics from those who were don Quixote’s “friends” trying to formulate plans that would trick don Quixote and bring him home. In the second volume the theme of theater is portrayed in the excessive fake death at the wedding, the puppet show that is about to be given in the coming chapters, and by don Quixote’s dramatic and false story from the Cave of Montesinos. Don Quixote goes out of his way to tell Sancho and Basilio’s cousin this insane story about what happened and what he saw while in the cave, Sancho believes it is fake. The story is later revealed by don Quixote to have been false, “but I can find no way I can accept this one about the cave as true because it’s so far beyond the bounds of reason. But to think that don Quixote would lie, being the most truthful gentleman and the noblest knight of his time, is not possible, even if they were shooting him with arrows. On the other hand, considering that he related and told it with all those details, he couldn’t make up such a mass of nonsense in so short a time… although it’s said that at the time of his end and death, he retracted it and said that he’d invented it all, since it seemed to him that it was appropriate and fit in well with the adventures that he’d read in his histories. (Chapter XXIIII).
This theme of dramatics and theater is also shown in the movie (Lost in La Mancha). The movie is a documentary about the failed attempt to make a Don Quixote movie, in it the director is continually referred to as don Quixote by those who work with him. The image he had for the movie was too over the top and expensive, this is where the idea of theater comes in because the director was just as theatrical as the novel and don Quixote himself. Overall, the movie was cancelled due to many obstacles that they couldn’t overcome (such as losing the main actor). Since then the director and others have tried to make a movie, but it ends up failing every time.