Don Quixote faces many challenges throughout his adventures, which often result in humiliation coupled with a physical and mental anguish for the knight-errant. In chapter seventeen, Don Quixote challenges the king of the jungle. He survives the would-be confrontation unscathed. Is this a true victory for the hero, or did the king of the jungle give Don Quixote the hand (or in this case, the paw)
In chapter seventeen of Don Quixote volume two, Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Don Diego were walking when passed by a cart. Don Quixote, being the curious man that he is, questioned the driver about the contents of the crates. Within one crate, there was a lion. Don Quixote saw this as an opportunity challenge to demonstrate his bravery by defeating the king of the jungle. Who in his right mind would challenge the king of the jungle to a battle? No one in his right mind would. Maintaining his questionable sanity, Don Quixote does. He instructs the driver to release the lion. The driver acquiesces after advising against the confrontation and removes himself as far away from the fight scene as possible with Sancho Panza and Don Diego hot on his trail. In response, Don Quixote says, “O, you of little faith in me!” Faith? Don Quixote has a great track record for inviting danger and a poor record for escaping it. One can hardly blame the others for fleeing. Once the crate is opened, “The first thing the lion did was to turn around in the cage, where he’d been lying, extended his claws, and stretched all over.” indicating his utter disinterest in interacting any way with Don Quixote.
Don Quixote was lucky not to have become the lion’s meal. Animals are instinctive. In this case the lion possibly could sense just how lost and out of sorts Don Quixote is. Though Don Quixote may have felt he defeated the king of the jungle, he should have considered himself lucky to not have been shredded by the claws and teeth of a beast.
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