Don Quixote

Literary Hero

Born: 1605
Birthplace: Fiction
Best known as: The crazy knight who tilted at windmills
Don Quixote is the hero of Don Quixote, the early 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Quixote is a dreamer and a gentle buffoon, an aging gentleman who sets out from his village of La Mancha to perform acts of chivalry in the name of his grand love Dulcinea. He rides a decrepit horse, Rocinante, and is accompanied by his "squire," the peasant Sancho Panza. Quixote's imagination often gets the better of him; in once famous incident he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants. Throughout his many adventures Quixote often seems ridiculous, yet he maintains his staunchly hopeful attitude and belief in chivalry. (The term quixotic now describes anyone who takes on an idealistic or foolish quest against great odds.) The book Don Quixote inspired the 1959 play Man of La Mancha, in which Quixote's quest is summed up in the song "The Impossible Dream."

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