Don Quixote Plot Summary
Prior to his reinvention of himself, Don Quijote's name was Alonso Quijano, owner of an estate in La Mancha. After years of obsessively reading books of chivalry, his mind finally snaps and he decides to become an actual knight errant like those in the tales he has read.
He initially ventures forth alone with only his horse, Rocinante and his hand-me-down armor and helmet. All the knight errants in the tales he has read had a lady love that they worshipped and Don Quijote decides he will be no exception and chooses Aldonza Lorenza (a peasant girl from a nearby village of Toboso to whom he has never spoken) and reinvents her into Dulcinea del Toboso, a lady.
He returns home from his first adventure where he injures innocent muledrivers in order to better prepare himself with money and a squire. He convinces Sancho Panza (a poor married farmer with children) to become his squire and they set out to right wrongs and perform great deeds. Instead, Don Quijote generally injures the innocent and wreaks havoc everywhere he goes; getting him and his squire beaten up in the process.
Sancho stays out loyalty and his own growing delusion that his master will be able to secure a governorship of an island for his squire as he has promised. Eventually, his friends -- the village priest and village barber -- from his village travel to rescue him. They arrive on the scene just after Don Quijote has finished mimicking a lover gone insane butt naked in the mountains. Through the help of a wronged maiden named Dorotea who volunteers to play Princess Micomicona they lure him out of the mountains, back to civilization and finally trap him in a crate and carry him home. That's the end of Volume 1.
In Volume 2, a new character enters the story -- Samson Carrasco. He is a university student who seeks out Don Quijote after reading of him in a published book of he and Sancho's adventures written by a Moor named Sidi Hamid Benengeli. Squire and master sneak off again to pursue their delusions and dreams. This time Don Quijote wants to see his idealized lady love, Dulcinea, before his adventures and asks his squire to lead him to her. Sancho who lied through his teeth about having delivered a message to her in Volume 1 has no idea where she lives and instead points out a homely girl from Toboso claiming that he sees a beautiful Dulcinea. Don Quijote believes that the evil magicians who persecute him have placed her under an enchantment that (initially) only causes her to appear homely to Don Quijote's eyes.
Aside from creating a minor skirmish with some puppets, most of their adventures this time result from people recognizing them; with the fallout coming down on their own heads. They meet up with a Duke and Duchess (who read and loved the book about them) who adopt the pair as their own personal playthings and with their imaginative steward create practical jokes, adventures and disasters
for Sancho and Don Quijote. They devise stories and assemble servants to play the necessary parts. A sampling of their choreographed creations includes: cursed bearded ladies-in-waiting, an enchanted Dulcinea who now needs the squire to whip his bare buttocks 3,300 times to free her, an "island" Barataria where Sancho finally gets a chance to govern, and a lovesick maiden who dies from her unsatisfied love for Don Quijote whom Sancho brings back to life by enduring some prescribed physical abuse.
Sancho grows in wisdom and self-esteem throughout this volume. Don Quijote is brought down to reality when the disguised Samson Carrasco challenges him and wins; forcing Don Quijote to go home.
Feeling like a failure as they return home, Don Quijote, perks up as he begins reinventing himself as a romantic pastoral shepherd. However, it is not to be, for after he is home he soon becomes gravely ill; but returns to sanity and reality and reclaims his former name and identity -- Alonso Quijano, and dies soon after.