Remember the novel – by Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra – Don Quixote? It was about a fellow disappointed by the society in which he lives because he can find no true chivalry.* So he decides to undo all the wrongs of society and to restore justice and righteousness. Hidalgo is the main character’s name, but let’s just go with Don – or Donald – or the Donald!
by Charlie Leck
Our protagonist has something of a reckless and unreasonable mind that wanders and wavers; and Don lives in this real world in a disconnected and rather simplistic fairy tale manner.
One thing you learn very quickly about this amazing character is that he is shaky of mind and easily fools himself into thinking he is being heroic and very successful in his efforts to return the character of the world to norms of chivalry. In the very first days of his adventure, riding off on his knight’s horse, Rocinante, he makes an utter fool of himself, but he is not able to recognize how hopelessly stupid he really appears to be to all around him.
Now, mind you, the Don is not a young man as he sets out to establish this land of chivalry. The ancient suit of Armor he digs up must be a great weight upon him and he must have poured a lot of energy into just moving around with it on. He takes a farm girl from a neighboring piece of land as his wife – calling her his ‘lady-love’ and changes her name from Aldona to Dulcinea del Tobos.
The Don is declared a knight by the manager of an inn in which he chooses to spend the evening of his first day out to reform the world. The declaration of knighthood is made because the Don makes such a fool and pain-in-the-ass of himself in the embarrassed in-keeper’s establishment – making the prostitutes think they are ladies of the kingdom. The Don gets into a number of bothersome arguments and fights with workman who cannot stable their mules because the Don and his horse and armour are taking up all the space in the stables.
In these early adventures, the poor maimed-of-mind Don toys with majestic fantasies. He sets free a young boy who is being mistreated by his father. Of course, the boys finds the freakish adventurer silly and mindless and returns instantly to his master’s care.
Soon after, the Don encounters some gentlemen travelers who insult his Dulcinea and he challenges them to a fight to reestablish her honor and dignity. He’s severely beaten and is later found at the side of the road by one of the other peasants of the neighborhood. The kind man gets the Don up and back to his humble home.
It takes awhile for the Don to recover from his beatings, if he ever really does recover, and he finds another demented fellow, Sancho, to join him in his efforts to reestablish chivalry and they are soon off to attack and battle some windmills that they believe to be vicious colossī.
I could go on and on here and tell you about one adventure after another into which the Don’s distorted and ill-informed mind leads him – only to have each of the exploits end up badly for the demented man and his foolish follower, Sancho. Again and again the Don and Sancho insult people of every level of society and life because they believe in some kind of unrealistic world that exists only in the mind of the Don.
Beaten, whipped and finally understanding that he has been living in an imagined world where chivalry no longer really exists, the Don realizes what a fool he has been and he apologizes, just before his death, for all the great harm and damage he has done during his quest.
Burlesque might be the best word to describe the adventures of the Don.
However, you must be warned that there are a great many readers of the story who seemed to be attracted to the demented Don and think he might have something in his quest for a world that does not exist; and these followers (we can call them Sancho and friends) are even willing to join him in his ferocious and tragic fight with windmills.
*Chivalry – the rules and customs of medieval knighthood
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