Don Quixote is a changed man in the second part of the story. He is wiser, less crazy, and more compassionate toward those he meets. The incident with the lions exemplifies this change in his nature. He doesn’t attack the mule driver for contradicting him and he doesn’t insist on agitating the lion. The Don Quixote of the first part would definitely do both. Don Quixote’s discussion with Don Lorenzo about poetry reveals a deep intellect that readers rarely see in the first part. Sancho also matures into a much wiser character. In the second part, we learn about Sancho’s family, fears, and greedy nature, but we also see his loyalty to Don Quixote. Both Don Quixote and Sancho more frequently engage in conversations with other characters, fleshing out the deeper aspects of their personalities.
Whereas Don Quixote often appears alienated from the main plot in the first part, in the second part he remains involved in the action even when the action imitates the style of the first part. Camacho’s wedding is one of the few events in the second Part that strongly recalls the first part does not alienate Don Quixote. As in each of the subplots in the first part Cervantes presents the relevant characters, whose lives prove important because they influence the outcome of the novel and inform its major themes. Camacho’s wedding talks about the greatness of love, one of Don Quixote’s obsessions, and about the wisdom of stepping outside of one’s social class. Don Quixote’s breaking up of the brawl by nonviolent means involves him in the event and illustrates a change in him that is constant with him maturing. Camacho’s wedding bears directly on Don Quixote’s character and plot advancement, unlike, for example, Anselmo’s story. The second part, on the whole, is more fluid than the first part precisely because Don Quixote involves himself in the events.
In these chapters, we see that Benengeli’s perspective on Don Quixote’s actions begins to differ from Cervantes’. Benengeli’s praise of Don Quixote’s bravery in the battle with the lions, for instance, contrasts with Cervantes’s own reference to Don Quixote’s “childish bravado.” These competing author’s perspectives highlight the underlying need for us, as readers, to judge Don Quixote’s fantasies by ourselves. In the second part, as characters start to change their behavior according to Don Quixote’s ideas and as Don Quixote impacts the other characters less harshly, Cervantes emphasizes the positive sides of Don Quixote’s faith. Whereas Don Quixote’s personality is dangerously dated earlier in the novel, it now appears endearing and quaint.
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