The priest calms members of the Holy Brotherhood by making them understand that Don Quixote is mad and cannot be held accountable for what he does. Don Quixote still believes that Dorothea is the Princess Micomicona, and he informs her that it is now time for them to continue with the journey to her kingdom so that he may kill the giant. Sancho objects to this plan, announcing to everyone that he has witnessed Dorothea kissing Ferdinand. He insists this means that she cannot be a princess. Don Quixote is angered by Sancho’s insolence. Dorothea calms him by claiming that Sancho must be under an enchantment that made him think he saw the young woman kissing Ferdinand. Don Quixote decides to forgive Sancho, who claims he thinks the inn must be enchanted because of all the strange things that have occurred. Sancho also says, however, that he remains certain that the blanket-tossing he experienced was something that real people did to him. Don Quixote tells him that the blanket-tossing was only an enchantment, too. He explains that this is the reason he hasn’t avenged it. Sancho secretly disbelieves him. The priest and the barber come up with a plan to make Don Quixote go back to their village without the assistance of Dorothea and Ferdinand. They construct a cage, capture Don Quixote and bind him, and them put him in the cage. They put the cage with the gentleman in it on the back of an ox cart. The barber then takes on the persona of a sage, exclaiming the prediction of Don Quixote’s glorious return to his village, as well as his reunion with Dulcinea and marriage.
Don Quixote accepts that an enchantment is affecting him but is confused as to why he travels so slowly. He thinks that enchantments must be different than in the old days, when knights were quickly transported on clouds and brought places at high speeds. Don Quixote doesn’t believe Sancho when he tells him that he isn’t enchanted. The group sets off, and the innkeeper provides the priest with some papers taken from the unknown man’s trunk. The priest is eager to read them. While on the road, the group comes across another priest. He is a canon of Toledo, and he travels with the group for a while to discuss Don Quixote’s hometown. Sancho tells the barber he knows that the priest and the barber have captured Don Quixote and taken him captive. The barber threatens to put Sancho in the sage as well. The canon declares to the priest that he thinks books of chivalry to be full of ridiculous lies and that they are harmful to the population. Additionally, he criticizes the books’ style, stating that they ought to be banished. The priest indicates that he agrees with his overall sentiment but that he is still able to appreciate them.
The canon tells the company that he started writing a book of chivalry but ceased because he found that authors are compelled to write either good books that most people dislike or low-quality books that critics scorn. He goes on to complain about the state of the theater in Spain, suggesting that there ought to be a government official that can oversee decisions about the plays that do and do not get produced. Sancho informs Don Quixote that the priest and the barber have been lying about the enchantment from jealousy of his glorious deeds. Sancho inquires whether Don Quixote requires the bathroom. The gentleman replies that he does.
Sancho explains the reason for his question, saying that as enchanted people do not have bodily needs, the fact that the gentleman needs to use the bathroom shows that he is not really enchanted. Don Quixote says that there are new types of enchantment but declares nonetheless that he will try to free himself. As the party stops to have some lunch, the priest allows Don Quixote out of his cage. Don Quixote and the canon then argue on the topic of chivalry. The canon is amazed at how Don Quixote mixes fact and fiction with no apparent concern about the difference.
Don Quixote conveys the tale of the Knight of the Lake. It is a fantasy story of enchantment, and he says it demonstrates the fascinating and delightful nature of knight-errantry stories. Don Quixote additionally informs the canon that since he became a knight-errant, he has been well-bred, courteous, and brave, enduring the trials of many enchantments and adventures.
A goatherd is in pursuit of a goat that has walked into the area of the group’s picnic. The group is amused by the fact that the goatherd speaks to his animal. The goatherd says that while he is a peasant, he is able to have conversations with both man and beast. The priest declares that is isn’t surprised.
The goatherd’s name is Eugenio. He explains that he and his friend Anselmo were forced to adopt the simple shepherd’s life by a beautiful and wealthy young woman called Leandra. Leandra is from their town. She ran away with a malicious soldier who robbed her and then abandoned her, leaving her in a cave in the forest. Eugenio says that the area’s woods have many sounds of the sobbing of shepherds who love Leandra. Leandra has been put in a convent by her father. This was done in hopes that she could one day recover her honor.
When the goatherd insults Don Quixote, the two men brawl. The group cheers them on. Don Quixote then notices a group of penitents bearing an icon of the Virgin Mary. They are going to pray for rain. Imagining that these innocent people are rogues who have kidnapped a lady, he launches an attack. He endures a beating from one of the group. Sancho believes that Don Quixote is dead. He mourns his master with an eloquent elegy. His words energize Don Quixote, who says he will go home until he has better luck. When Sancho and Don Quixote get home, Sancho’s wife (who is now referred to as Juana) asks what present has been brought for her. He tries to put her off, indicating that he will be a governor soon and that he can offer stories that she will find amusing. Don Quixote is welcomed home by his housekeeper and niece. They are still worried about his madness and the possibility that he will disappear again. Cervantes tells the reader that he will. Cervantes brings an end to his story by claiming that he has searched everywhere for additional manuscripts about Don Quixote but couldn’t find any until he came across an aged doctor who discovered a leaden box within the remains of an ancient hermitage. This box held numerous parchments with epitaphs and sonnets dedicated to Don Quixote, Dulcinea, and Sancho. Cervantes reproduced them. Finally, he informs the reader that he has discovered an account of Don Quixote’s third expedition and is eager to publish it one day.