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A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
11. Although there are many elements of fantasy in Don Quixote, the story was realistic for its time. The author introduces a wide variety of characters from different regions of Spain and many walks of life. He comments on problems of his day, such as the expulsion of the Moriscos or the state of the theater. Perhaps most important, Don Quixote and Sancho are full-bodied characters who change and grow over the course of the story. They cannot be summed up by any one-line moral or disposed of by a convenient happy ending.
12. The priest and the barber Nicholas create the elaborate story of "Princess Micomicona" in order to lure Don Quixote back home. Sampson Carrasco twice dresses up as a knight to trick Don Quixote into giving up his quest. The Duke and Duchess create elaborate illusions just to see how the Don and Sancho will react. Sancho makes up the story of Dulcinea's enchantment so Quixote won't find out that he never delivered the letter to Dulcinea. All of these characters' motives are rational, yet self-serving to some extent. They contribute to the confusion between illusion and reality. Yet, we do not come to love them the way Sancho loves Don Quixote, who is completely crazy.
13. In addition to the story itself, the narrative structure of the novel creates different planes of reality. The history of Don Quixote is supposedly a true story, written by an Arab historian named Cide Hamete Benengeli. This historian is really an invention of the author, who uses the imaginary Cide Hamete as a commentator on the action. The comments of the "author" himself may or may not reflect the actual opinions of Cervantes. In addition, in Part II the Don and Sancho realize that their adventures in Part I have become the subject of a book. They know they are characters in literature.
14. Some readers would argue that despite some exceptions, the Don shows courage throughout the story. Others would argue that true courage cannot grow out of ignorance and delusions. A third point of view is that the nature of the Don's courage changes over the course of the story. In Part I, the Don's courage often seems to be false, just as much of an illusion as the giants he sees around him. For example, when Sancho is being tossed in a blanket by some ruffians, the Don doesn't help. He later blames the wicked enchanter for his inability to come to his squire's aid. In Part II, however, the Don confronts a real lion. He has no way of knowing beforehand that the lion is not going to attack him.
15. Like Shakespeare and other writers of his time, Cervantes used lower-class characters for comic relief. Sancho's crudeness, even his greed, are sources of humor. Yet in Part II, when Sancho is given an "island" to rule, he turns out to be wise and just. It is the Duke and Duchess who seem petty and unfair. Most readers feel that the sheer variety of ordinary people, good and bad, in the novel shows Cervantes' understanding of and sympathy for the common people of Spain. In answering this question, consider not only Sancho's performance as governor but the Don's statements about him-for example, his speech on the nature of nobility at the end of Part I.