While the first part of Don Quixote was certainly amusing in it’s satire of chivalrous literature, the second part of Cervantes novel fins the comedic duo of the eponymous character and Sancho Panza in a number of more humorous situations. In addition to the normal pickles they find themselves in, there is an added level of awareness in the characters as to their construction as literary personas. This is brought about as in both in real life and in the world of the book there was publication of a “Don Quixote: Part 2”. This is a cause for anxiety on the part of the aged and delusional itinerant knight as well as his squire. A number of times they must combat others false perceptions of them while at the same time combating the apparitions and illusions sent by the “sorcerers”.
Additionally I found a number of other aspects to be superior. For one, while in the first one there is recurrent reference to a number of slapstick events in the patter between master and servant – such as when Sancho was thrown in the air on a sheet after being beaten and when they were both beaten by the men along the river protecting their horse from Rocinante – in the second there is less of this. It wasn’t unfitting for these to be constantly brought up by Panza in their adventures, he was after all trying to maintain some control over his master. They were, less repetition of the past in the one. While there is recurrent emphasis on the fact that Quixote’s Dulcinea has been “transformed,” it does not reach the same level of redundancy. Additionally, I found a number of the adventures that transpire to be more amusing.
The armed combat with the Knight of Mirrors is, when fully revealed, quite absurd and the length to which a Duke and his wife proffering hospitality go in order to amuse themselves on Quixote’s behalf is quite engaging. I found the section wherein Sancho is the governor to be exceptionally worthwhile – for after his character had been established as the near-incarnation of folk knowledge seeming him succeed so well in his role despite the undermining of those around him was positively edifying. Not merely because of Quixote’s written imprecations to Panza, but also the way that he acts unto his own. Also, the sub-plot gave much needed fulfillment to the curiosity I’ve had as to whether or not Panza would achieve the goal he’d set for himself at the beginning of the adventure.
The story of Camacho’s Wedding was indicative of a thread of criticism towards the nobility that I noticed more in this book than in the other. In the case of this tale a poor man fools a rich man into paying for his wedding. In the Adventure of the Distressed Duenna the nobility exclaims that squires and servants are natural enemies of their masters as they see them in all of their human frailty, they “haunt the antechambers and keep an eye on us every minute when we’re not saying prayers, which is often enough, they spend their time whispering about us, digging up our bone, and burying our reputations.” Also, in part 2 Sanco Panza is here much more aware of his master’s madness and while often willing to play along is much less likely to unquestioningly follow him.
Cervantes closes his book stating that his intention with writing it was as follows: “I have had no other purpose than to arouse with abhorrence of mankind toward those false and nonsensical stories to be me with in the books of chivalry.” As to whether tales of this type are no longer told is debatable. It seems to me that a number of fantastic exploits showcasing the valor and temerity of a hero continue to be made and successfully reproduced, however not necessarily in the same form. The superhero genre seems to be a variation of this, which is worth pointing out as I feel that the recent film Bird-Man seems almost as if it is a satire of this particular genre in the same way Quixote was of chivalric books.