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Don Quixote: A Peculiar Knight but A Knight After All

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Don Quixote: A Peculiar Knight but a Knight after All

Sir Gawain, a character from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is an exemplar of chivalry and courtesy and whose actions of chivalry, at times, are perfect to be used as reference to determine whether if Don Quixote should be considered a knight errant or if he should not. For many, Don Quixote is a figure whose perception as a knight errant is distorted due to his comical behavior and way he became a knight. As once discussed in class, though for another topic, intentions may speak louder than actions; Don Quixote's intentions are of a knight errant whose will is to follow the codes of chivalry that involves traits such as courage, honor, courtesy, and loyalty, even though the context and the way he does it conflicts with what is real and his perception of reality. Don Quixote should be considered a knight because, despite his illness, he possesses traits of an authentic knight.

King Arthur has given a charge to the Knights of the Round Table where he states a code by which a knight should abide. The code states what are the right and wrong things to do and among these it forbids outrageousity, murder, treason, cruelty, battles for a wrongful purpose, failure in charity, abstinence, and truth, envy, hold a lady against her will, and anything that dishonors the fair name of Christian knighthood; on the other hand, it states that knights should be courteous, gentle, and kind, one should keep your word, defend and protect rightness, know good from evil, and help fellow knights when endangered ("Charge Given to the..."). The description provided by King Arthur of a knight's proper behavior, is clear and simple enough to determine that Don Quixote's behavior possesses characteristics that can prove his knighthood.

Gawain, an authentic knight, evidenced his flaws when he showed courtesy to Lady Bertilak and fell on her trap even though he meant well all along. Gawain shows courtesy and politeness when he was approached by Lady Bertilak the first morning he woke up at the castle and she offered her body to fulfill Gawain's wishes; Gawain responded, "In good faith, my gain is the greater... to arrive at such reverence as you recount here. I am one all unworthy, and well do I know it. By heaven, I would hold me the happiest of men. If by word or by work I once may aspire to the price of your praise - 'Twere a pure joy!" (Pearl Poet III: 33-34). Gawain wanted to make Lady Bertilak know he was aware she was more important than him and, in that particular offer; he would gain more than she would. Later, Lady Bertilak demands a kiss for goodbye and convinces Gawain who responds, "Good lady, I grant it at once! I shall kiss at your command, as becomes a knight, and more, lest you mislike, so let be, I pray" ( Pearl Poet III: 35). As the code states, Gawain proved to be courteous by doing what a lady demands.

When Don Quixote confuses an inn with a castle, he proved to be courteous when he also confused the merry maidens with a pair of beautiful damsels. The ladies were not used to be called that way and fled when they saw Don Quixote in armor. Don Quixote reacted by saying: "Do not flee, your Ladyships. You need no fear that any wrong will be done you..." the ladies laugh and Don Quixote continues, "Modesty well becomes those with the dower of beauty, and, moreover, laughter that has not good cause is a very foolish thing. But I do not say this to be discourteous or to hurt your feelings; my only desire is to serve you" (Cervantes II: 1659). The code of King Arthur is evidenced when Don Quixote proves to be polite and courteous to the ladies who feared him by letting them know he has good faith and is there to serve them in the same way Gawain did with Lady Bertilak when she was trying him

Courage is another characteristic of chivalry and Sir Gawain manifested his courage when he accepted the Green Knight's challenge in presence of other knights and King Arthur . Gawain takes credit for courage when he asked his uncle, King Arthur, "If I without discourtesy might quit this board, And if my liege lady misliked it not, I would come to your counsel before your court noble. For I find it not fit... When such a boon is begged before all these knights, Though you be tempted thereto, to take it on yourself, While so bold men about upon benches sit... I am the weakest... and of wit feeblest..." (Pearl Poet I: 12). Gawain has shown he is courageous by accepting the challenge of the Green Knight; the rest of the knights approved the idea and Gawain's courage helps releasing pressure



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