Study Guide

Don Quixote Manipulation

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Manipulation

There was none of the beholders but was ready to burst into laughter, having a sight of the master's madness and the servant's simplicity. (1.4.3.2)

When they meet Don Quixote, people can't believe how easy it is to trick the guy, as long as they stay within the boundaries of knight adventures stories. What's even more amazing, though, is that Don Quixote's madness is actually reinforced by Sancho Panza's gullibility.

It happened that the management of this affair was committed to a steward of the Duke's, a man of facetious humour, and who had not only wit to start a pleasant design, but discretion to carry it on. (2.1.44.3)

There is no one in this book who likes messing with Don Quixote more than the Duke. And when it comes to messing with Sancho Panza, the Duke actually assigns one of his most trusted servants to oversee the project. In other words, the Duke wants to manipulate both Don Quixote and Sancho, even though he can't be in two places at once. That's one efficient prankster. Why is he so into pranking? Is he just bored?

These letters were admired, and caused a great deal of laughter and diversion. (2.1.52.15)

The Duke and Duchess like to intercept the letters that Sancho Panza and his wife Teresa send back and forth to one another. They get a real kick out of seeing how two illiterate country bumpkins try to grapple with the fact that Sancho has now suddenly become the governor of an island. This, of course, is all a giant scheme orchestrated by the Duke and Duchess, and it's pretty mean for them to take such pleasure in the ignorance of others. What's even stranger about all of this, of course, is that Sancho is a pretty good governor. In a way, the joke's on the Duke and Duchess. Maybe Sancho and his wife seem funny to them, but there's way more to the Panzas than they realize.

[The] Duke and Duchess were within a hair's breadth of being thought fools themselves, for taking so much pains to make sport with the weakness of two poor silly wretches. (2.1.70.3)

At this point, even Cervantes seems to have had enough of the Duke and Duchess's pranks. He calls them out for being downright jerks and suggests that they might be just as crazy as Don Quixote is for taking so much pleasure in tricking others. But hey, Dukes and Duchesses don't have to work, so they probably get really bored sitting around all day. Hey, by the way: how much are we readers like the Duke and Duchess? How many hours have we spent laughing at Don Quixote and his misadventures? Is there a difference?

"In that equipage […] we will go to Don Quixote, and feigning myself to be a distressed damsel, I will beg a boon of him, which he, as a valorous knight-errant, will not fail to promise me," (1.3.12.6)

The curate and the barber from Don Quixote's village feel like the only way to help their friend is to get him home to bed, but they don't want to drag him forcefully. So they figure that the best way to get him home is to trick him with a phony quest. This kind of manipulation doesn't seem as mean as other types in the book because the curate and barber honestly want what's best for their friend.

"'Tis Fate's decree that Sancho, thy good squire / On his bare brawny buttocks should bestow / Three thousand lashes, and eke three hundred more." (2.1.35.1)

As the second half of the novel unfolds, it seems that every one of the Duke and Duchess's pranks involves Sancho Panza getting hurt in some way. The most hilarious of these pranks, though, has to be Merlin's command that Sancho Panza take 3,300 lashes on the bum to lift the curse on Don Quixote's beloved Dulcinea. Why do these people keep wanting to put Sancho in pain's way? Is it funny?

He was about four-and-twenty years of age, round-visaged, flat-nosed, and wide-mouthed, all signs of a malicious disposition, and of one that would delight in nothing more than in making sport for himself, by ridiculing others. (2.1.3.2)

This is our introduction to university grad Sansón Carrasco. We hear that based on his physical appearance, you can tell that he's a jerk who takes pleasure in ridiculing others. This description sets him up to be one of the meanest people in the text. But by the end of the book, the guy actually seems kind of nice. That doesn't change the fact, though, that it was on his instigation that Don Quixote ventured out on a second quest for adventures.

[F]alling on his knees before him, "Admit me to kiss you honour's hand," cried he, "most noble Don Quixote; for, by the habit of St Peter […] you are certainly one of the most renowned knights-errant that ever was." (2.1.3.2)

Sansón Carrasco can lay it on pretty thick when he's manipulating Don Quixote. Some of it even makes you want to cringe. Worse yet, he doesn't indulge Don Quixote's fantasies for good reasons, like the curate and barber do. He does it purely because he likes making fun of the old man.

The voice answered in the same key, "Thou and they wife, two of thy friends, and two of hers, a famous knight called Don Quixote de la Mancha, and his squire, Sancho Panca by name." (2.1.62.8)

The dude named Don Antonio has this weird metal head in his library that can apparently talk on its own and tell people all about themselves. The thing is, though, that it's just an illusion created by Don Antonio for his own amusement. What's up with all these pranks? Why is everyone trying to trick everyone else?

The knight being mounted, they pinned to his back, without his knowledge, a piece of parchment, with these words written in large letters: "This is Don Quixote de la Mancha." (2.1.62.5)

Don Antonio is nice to Don Quixote. But that doesn't change the fact that he's just as willing as anyone else to have a good laugh at Don Quixote's expense. When he trots Don Quixote through the streets of Barcelona, for example, he pins a message to Don Quixote's back without Don Quixote even knowing it. This, of course, makes Don Quixote a big joke to everyone he passes.