Essay Sample on Don Quixote: A Hero or Not?

Posted on June 18, 2010

The Webster Dictionary defines a hero as a person that is courageous and performs noble deeds. Many people would argue that Don Quixote falls under the category of being a hero because of the fine line that is drawn with Webster’s definition. Unfortunately, some close examination of the text will show that he really isn’t a hero.

Part of Webster’s definition for a hero states that the person must be courageous and takes courageous actions. Don Quixote definitely does take many courageous actions. One of these examples would be when he attacks the windmills. This is definitely a courageous act. He could have easily been hurt or even killed. Many people would say that this would show his heroics. He also shows his courage when he decides that he wants to fight the lions. Anyone that would want to try and fight a lion most definitely has courage. Luckily for Don Quixote, the lion did not want to fight, but rather wanted to rest. Once again Don Quixote showed his courageous side however. At the end of the story, Don Quixote decides to try and defeat the Knight of the White Moon to show his heroics. He is very courageous for doing this because at his older age, one blow could do very much damage and it does, as we all know. Anyone that would ride a horse and take a chance of getting hit with a lance has some serious courage.

With all these examples of courage, one automatically will think that Don Quixote is a hero. This is not true, however. By calling Don Quixote a hero, many people are just using the first part of Webster’s definition. The whole definition must be fit before we can call Don Quixote a hero. The whole definition reads that one must be courageous and also perform noble deeds. The second part of the definition is very important when it comes to Don Quixote. Many of his deeds are not noble at all. In fact, many of them are the exact opposite. When we look at the same examples as used earlier, it is very clear that Don Quixote’s actions have little nobility in them. The first example was when he attacked the windmills, thinking they were giants. Yes, it is courageous, but there is absolutely no noble deed in this action. It is more of a fine line of stupidity than it is heroism. The next example was when Don Quixote wanted to duke it out with the lion. Once again, he felt he was being noble to the King by doing so but this was not the case. First of all, the King probably would not have appreciated hearing that one of his lions was slain.

Second of all, by requesting that the cage must be opened, Don Quixote was putting many peoples’ lives at risk for no appropriate reason. Finally, his duel with the Knight of the White Moon was not noble either. He had no reason to fight him, and if he would have won, it was for nothing. He didn’t save anyone or anything noble like that. He was flirting with a fine line of stupidity once again.

As can be seen, the definition hero does not apply to Don Quixote’s actions. In order for Don Quixote to be a hero, he must fulfill the entire definition of the word instead of just part of it. People should refer to Don Quixote as “The Adventurer” rather than a hero.

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