Being Sancho Panza in the Novel Don Quixote

Tuhfe Toçoğlu Akgül
3 minutes

Most people who have held a pen and licked some ink can say something when they hear the word Donkishot. At least that’s what I like to think. So if everyone has an opinion, what do I say? In fact, I want to draw attention to something other than general judgments. Without Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s assistant, this work, which is the beginning of the novel genre, would not have such an important place, or in other words, the secondary hero Sancho Panza is as valuable and necessary as the protagonist Don Quixote.

To prove my point, I can first summarize some general information about the novel. Don Quixote is a novel of a protagonist’s adventure, influenced by Cervantes’ knight stories, the first of which he published in 1605 and the second in 1615. His sidekick is Sancho Panza. If you do a little bit of an internet search on both characters, you’ll see that the same things are generally repeated about them. What they have in common is that Donkishot is a dreamer and noble; Sancho Panza is a cunning peasant. Now what do you think I am going to tell about a cunning peasant? Of course he wasn’t. From whose point of view is it understood as cunning.

I don’t know whether it was because he helped Don Quixote in exchange for a promise, or because after a while Don Quixote got tired of saying that what Don Quixote saw was not true and accepted what Don Quixote said… But I think the most important characteristic of Sancho Panza is that he always tells the truth. An example of this truth-telling is the well-known story of the windmills. Thinking himself a knight, Don Quixote sees the windmills as giants and attacks them. Seeing this, Sancho Panza states that they are not giants but windmills, but he cannot convince Don Quixote. In short, Sancho Panza is the one who says don’t you see the king is naked and this continues throughout the novel. Even when he thinks that what Don Quixote says might be true, he tells the truth, how? Don Quixote perceives the oncoming flock of sheep as an enemy army and says that Alifanfaron, the ruler of Serendib Island, is at the head of the army. Sancho Panza, on the other hand, tells him that at least he cannot see the giants and knights that Don Quixote says are coming. Sancho is still not afraid to express what he cannot see himself because he is the truth teller. Then they must find Dulcinea, the lover Don Quixote created in his mind as part of the fiction of knight stories. Sancho’s statement that the first peasant girl they see is the lover they are looking for is usually associated with Sancho’s being a trickster, but it is clear that Sancho is only saying this peasant girl to complete the missing piece in Don Quixote’s world. Sancho himself knows very well that this girl is not the princess they are looking for. Sancho has now begun to keep the truth only to himself, what matters is the pure happiness of his master, Don Quixote.

Sancho’s self-righteous attitude actually made the fiction ironic and opened a new era in Spanish literature, which was steeped in knight stories. In short, a hero portrayed as cunning is in fact the epitome of truth and righteousness, and is the starting point of the novel genre, which today dominates all literature.

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