Don Quixote begs Sancho to whip himself to break Dulcinea’s enchantment. Sancho, however, declares he does not think that his whipping will assist the woman. Don Quixote then decides that he will work as a shepherd when he is retired. He and Sancho start to fantasize about living simple and pastoral lives.
In the middle of the night, Don Quixote wakes Sancho to again beg him to whip himself. Again, Sancho refuses. Sancho talks about the nature of sleep with such eloquence that is amazes Don Quixote. Don Quixote uses one of Sancho’s proverbs, astonishing Sancho. When some hogs being sent to a fair trample over Don Quixote, Sancho, and Rocinante, Don Quixote refrains from trying to fight the hogs. He feels that the trampling might be punishment for the fact he was defeated by the Knight of the White Moon. At almost dawn, ten horsemen arrive. They capture Don Quixote and Sancho, and bring them to the Duke’s castle.
When the horsemen force Don Quixote and Sancho into the courtyard of the Duke’s castle, Don Quixote sees Altisidora on a funeral bier. She seems to be dead. The courtyard has been made into a sort of court. The Duke, the Duchess, and two old judges called Minos and Rhadamanthus are sitting above the other people. A poem is being sung by a musician. Don Quixote realizes it is an adaptation of the work of another poet’s work—it indicates that Altisidora died as a result of unrequited love for Don Quixote3. Rhadamanthus says that Sancho must endure a beating to make Altisidora come back to life. Sancho declares that he is tired of taking beatings for the sake of Don Quixote’s lovers. Nevertheless, he endures the beating. Altisidora comes back to life.
Cervantes tells us that Cide Hamete Benengeli explains how the Duke and Duchess were able to find Don Quixote: while making his way to Don Quixote, in order to defeat him in the guise of the Knight of the White Moon, Sampson stopped at the Duke’s castle. Sampson was aware that Don Quixote and Sancho had been staying at that location because he had been informed of the fact by the Duke’s page, who had gone to Teresa Panza to bring her Sancho’s letter. Find out that Sampson meant to end Don Quixote’s career, the Duke and Duchess decided to enjoy one more bit of fun and set up the funeral sequence. Cervantes declares that at this point in the story, Benengeli says that he thinks the Duke and Duchess are almost more insane than Don Quixote and Sancho for making fun of fools.
Altisidora appears in Don Quixote’s bedroom. She tells him about her strange trip to the gates of hell, saying that she witnessed devils playing tennis and using books for balls. This includes the fake sequel to Don Quixote. The devils stated that the fake sequel ought to be thrown into hell. The musician from the previous evening appears. Don Quixote asks him why he decided to use the work of another poet to describe the situation in which Altisidora has found herself. The musician explains that people often take one another’s literature in the current age. He refers to the practice as “poetic license.” When Don Quixote and Sancho begin to leave the Duke and Duchess, Don Quixote suggests that Altisidora do more chores so that she will not spend all her time pining away for knights who are not in love with her.
Don Quixote again makes the suggestion that Sancho whip himself. Sancho refuses. Don Quixote offers to give Sancho money if he will do it. Sancho heads into the woods and whips a tree. This is so his master will believe that he is whipping himself. The two men later stop at an inn to rest for the night. This is where Don Quixote thinks aloud about the paintings on the walls. He says that he hopes that he might be the subject of one of these paintings one day.
While they’re at the inn, Don Quixote and Sancho see Don Alvaro Tarfe. Don Quixote recalls him from the false sequel. Don Alvaro says that the false Don Quixote was once his best friend. He admits, however, that the Don Quixote he sees before him now is the true Don Quixote. Don Alvaro attests to his account in front of the mayor, who makes an official record of it. They spend the night in the woods. Sancho finishes the whipping, which is still only whipping the trees.
When Don Quixote and Sancho get to the village, they overhear two boys arguing and see a hare running away from greyhounds. Don Quixote sees these signs as being bad omens, but Sancho disagrees with this idea. Sancho heads home to his family. Don Quixote finds the barber, the priest, and Sampson. He informs them about his retirement plans and his wish to become a shepherd. They offer enthusiastic support of his plan. They also think up jokes they will play on the gentleman, in spite of the protests of the housekeeper and the niece, who only wish to feed Don Quixote and put him safely in bed.
For me alone Don Quixote was born and I for him. His was the power of action, mine of writing.
Don Quixote becomes ill with a terrible fever. He is in bed for six days. Sancho stays with him the entire time. When Don Quixote wakes on the seventh day, it is found that he is sane again and knows that Alonso Quixano is his real name. He casts aside all books of chivalry and regrets the things that he has done in their name. Sampson, the priest, and the barber visit. They try to persuade Don Quixote to go on more adventures, especially for the sake of reversing Dulcinea’s enchantment. Don Quixote, however, only wishes to make his will. He decides to leave all he has to three people: his niece, his housekeeper, and Sancho. In the document, he also instructs his friends to ask the fake sequel’s author to forgive him for giving the writer with the opportunity to write such nonsense. Don Quixote dies.
Don Quixote’s death is mourned by Cide Hamete Benengeli. He says that he and the gentleman were born to complement one another. Benengeli wrote, and Don Quixote acted. Cide Hamete Benengeli also asserts that his only purpose in writing the story was to inspire contempt for the “fabulous and absurd stories of knight-errantry.”