Can heroes be foolish? Can fools be heroic? Throughout the story, Don Quixote has made foolish decisions that have led to many ridiculous predicaments and bodily harm. He is completely dedicated to the ideals of chivalry as he fulfills quests as a self-proclaimed knight-errant. Some, like Sancho, view him as heroic, a dreamer who is courageous enough to pursue his ambitions. They admire his dedication. However, to many, like the brotherhood, he is an insane, old man spouting nonsense about chivalry and unnecessarily risking his safety. Perhaps Don Quixote is an interesting mixture of both, the hero and the fool.
A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage and noble qualities. Don Quixote definitely has courage. Not many would leave his home and the life he has known to launch himself in pursuit of a life he has only read about in books. Few would allow their dreams to control their lives and continuously place themselves in harm’s way. Don Quixote’s courage is demonstrated by him remaining steadfast to his beliefs about chivalry and willingness to endure physical harm for the sake of honor. He is a loyal person, which is another trait of a hero as he remains faithful to Dulcinea. He repeatedly states his commitment to Dulcinea when confronted with situations like that of the hunchback woman from the inn who lands in his bed. Don Quixote is admirable in that he maintains his beliefs when he life would contain less physical pain and mental anguish if he lost his desire to be a knight-errant.
In other ways, Don Quixote can be viewed as more of a fool than hero. Many characters like the innkeeper believe that Don Quixote brings more chaos than order. Throughout the first volume, Don Quixote is perceived as highly gullible. In chapter forty-six, characters in the novel created a plan to lure and transport Don Quixote home. “They made a cage with wooden bars, large enough to hold Don Quixote comfortably, and all the servants of don Luis and the officers, together with the innkeeper, cover their faces, and disguise themselves in different ways, so that Don Quixote would think they were not the people he had seen in the inn.”(Saavedra, Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote (Signet Classics) (p. 445).The plan devised by the barber and the priest seems very implausible, but Don Quixote, being the gullible man that he is, falls for it.
Perhaps, there are times when a hero behaves foolishly, and a fool demonstrates courage in the face of fire. Don Quixote is lost in a world that may only exists in his mind, but he holds tightly to his noble beliefs, which is admirable. Fighting sheep and wineskins is asinine, but fighting for the sake of what is honorable is admirable. Don Quixote exhibits duality in that he is often foolish, but he has the mindset of a hero.
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