Study Guide

Don Quixote Mortality

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Mortality

Death lurks everywhere in Don Quixote, and who can be surprised, considering how Don Quixote himself constantly challenges people to deadly duels? In fact, when you consider how much trouble he gets himself into, it's a surprise that the guy doesn't die within the first 100 pages.

But death is more than a punch line to the humor of Don Quixote's adventures. It's also something that characters in this book like to wax poetic about. For Sancho especially, death represents the great equalizer, the thing that eventually happens to everyone, whether they're rich and powerful or humble and powerless. For him, death helps give people a good perspective on how fame, wealth, and power really don't mean as much as we think they do. We all end up in the same place.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why does death tend to come up a lot in the love songs and love poems we encounter throughout Don Quixote? Is there some kind of basic connection between love and death in this book? If so, what is it?
  2. Why does Sancho like to talk about death so much? What main lesson does he take from the thought that all humans die? Use specific examples from the text to support your answer.
  3. Why do you think Cervantes chose for Don Quixote to die at the end of this book? Do you agree with the decision? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think this book treats death as a serious subject, or as something that people should joke about? Or both? Use examples from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In Don Quixote, death is the only true cure for madness as strong as Don Quixote's.

For Cervantes, death is never a solution for anything. If someone you love doesn't love you back, move on.