Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
Contributed by Jerrold Mcmenamin

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2-Chapter XLII–XLVI
Summary

Chapter XLII

The Duke and Duchess are pleased by the reactions Don Quixote and Sancho show to the encounter with the Countess Trifaldi. They say they’ll send Sancho to his place of governorship immediately. Sancho declares he’d prefer a piece of the sky to an isle, but the Duke explains an isle is all he can give him. The Duke and Duchess dress Sancho in better clothes and send him to a town, which he thinks is an isle. Don Quixote provides Sancho with advice on ruling and tells him never to feel shame about his humble background. He also says that he ought never to worry about getting injured when in confrontation with an enemy, to marry a woman who will never take bribes, and to show leniency and pity to criminals.

Chapter XLIII

Sancho is warned by his master not to eat onions and garlic, as it is only peasants who eat such things; to walk in a slow and deliberate manner; to eat only little; not to drink excessively; not to belch; and to refrain from using so many proverbs. Don Quixote is worried about Sancho’s illiteracy, but Sancho claims he will stop anyone from finding out about it by pretending that his writing hand is paralyzed. Sancho asks his master whether he believes he will be a good governor, as he would rather just stay as he is rather than put his soul in peril by being a bad ruler. Don Quixote says that he will do excellently precisely because of that attitude.

Chapter XLIV

Cervantes interjects, saying that the “real original history” states that Cide Hamete Benengeli completed this chapter in the form of a complaint directed to himself for having authored such a dry story and failing to include the same number of digressions he did in the First Part. As Sancho departs for his governorship, he mentions to his master that one of the stewards who will accompany him looks and sounds just like the Countess Trifaldi. However, Don Quixote dismisses the implication. Once they have said a sorrowful farewell, Sancho leaves. Perceiving that Don Quixote misses his friend, the Duchess remarks that she has many maids in her service who will help with his melancholy. Don Quixote refuses he offer and heads directly to bed after dinner. He wants to be alone to keep himself away from temptation. Don Quixote hears the voices of two women arguing under his window. They are disputing whether one of them, Altisidora, ought to sing a ballad to a man she loves. Altisidora goes ahead and sings the ballad, making Don Quixote believe that she is in love with him. He regrets his fate that he may not fall in love. In the meantime, Cervantes informs us that Sancho hopes to begin governing and awaits our presence.

Chapter XLV

Sancho is received by the townspeople. They put him in the governor’s chair, where they have included a proclamation that Don Sancho Panza was given the governorship on a certain date. Sancho asks for the proclamation to read to him. He then asks that he not be called “Don,” as he is not a “Don.” He sits in judgement on a series of cases, each one involving a form of trickery, that are brought before him by the townspeople. Sancho shows wisdom and wit in resolving each of these. The town is impressed with his ability to govern.

Chapter XLVI

Don Quixote passes Altisidora in the morning. She pretends to faint. He request that a servant put a lute in his room that evening so that he may express and ponder his adoration of Dulcinea. Altisidora is eager to play a trick on the gentleman and she tells the Duke and Duchess about his plan. All three of them listen to Don Quixote’s ballad to Dulcinea that night. As he sings, a servant lowers a rope with bells, as well as a bag of cats with bells on their tails onto the balcony positioned above the gentleman’s window. The cats and bells make a horrible noise, scaring Don Quixote and everyone else in the house. A couple of the cats make their way into his room. One of them leaps at his face, attacking his nose and clawing him. The Duke has come up to the room to see what is happening, and he takes away the cat. Altisidora bandages Don Quixote’s face. She tries to woo him as she does so.

Analysis

In this part of the boo, we see Don Quixote and Sancho grow in intelligence and sensitivity. This is when they are taken away from situations involving chivalry. Don Quixote displays a remarkable degree of sense and compassion in the advice he gives Sancho on how to run a government. Sancho shows similar sense in how he handles issues brought to him by the townspeople. Even though he is illiterate, Sancho demonstrates his striking ability to see through the tricks of the Duke and Duchess. He is now distanced from his master for the first time since the conclusion of the First Part, and he no longer attributes anything to the forces of knight-errantry or enchantment. Don Quixote goes much in the same direction. In contrast to his misinformed attitude towards Altisidora, the advice he gives Sancho regarding political matters is sensible and would be useful for any governor. The fact that Don Quixote advises Sancho not to try to put on any airs of good breeding and the fact that Sancho accepts this advice is very different than that attitude we see in Don Quixote’s need to believe he is a knight-errant. Effectively, he advises Sancho to be himself. On the surface, this seems to conflict with everything we know about the gentleman. The fact that Don Quixote has failed to read the historical account of his own adventures (the First Part of Don Quixote) is indication that does not want to see his actions from the perspective of any other person. Simultaneously, however, he refrains from deliberately deceiving others. Unlike everyone who exploits his madness in a belittling way, such as the Duke and Duchess, Don Quixote always presents himself in sincere spirit. There is such an exaggerated nobility in all his intentions that when he believes Altisidora has fallen in love with him, he immediately attempts to make it clear that he is already devoted to someone else in order to avoid her heart being broken. The incident involving the cats is first of several in which the Duke and Duchess’s wish for self-amusement leads to physical harm for Don Quixote. At first it seems like a harmless prank, but it becomes a haughty and cruel act. It is no longer possible for us to ignore how negatively the Duke and Duchess’s lack of concern for other people affects Don Quixote. In a way similar to how Don Quixote’s inability to realize that his actions would nearly cause the death of the farm boy in the First Part, the Duke and Duchess demonstrate no regard for the consequences of their actions for Don Quixote’s well-being. However, in contrast to Don Quixote, who would likely put an end to any idea that he knew could cause harm, the Duke and Duchess force Altisidora to woo him even as she tends to his injuries. It is in this way that the two, who seemed so courteous and kind when we first came across the, gradually become the villains in this part of the book.

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