Don Quixote

1. What is the function of the prologue to Don Quixote? How does it compare with other prologues we've read? What kind of a book does the author claim he has written? What is the point of his conversation with the intelligent friend?

2. In what ways is this text self-conscious about itself as a narrative? What do you make of the references to publication of Don Quixote's adventures by Cide Hamete? Why does the text repeatedly refer to Hamete's version of the story? What do these references say about storytelling in general, as it is conceived by this text?

3. What is the function of travel in Don Quixote? Why do Don Quixote and Sancho need to leave La Mancha for their adventures to occur? How does the role of the journey in this text compare with other texts where journeys play a central role? What happens when the two return?

4. What is the role of the imagination in the narrative? What is the relationship between imagination and the "real" world? Why do characters imagine things to be different than they are? Are some fantasies more valid than others? How does Cervantes' representation of the power of the imagination compare with Montaigne's discussion in "On the Imagination"?

5. What is the role of romance in Don Quixote? How does this text play on the conventions of romance as we've experienced them in other texts? Pick one episode and describe the way it revises the stock characters and situations of chivalric romance.

6. How do you understand Don Quixote's "repentance" at the end of the narrative? Consider his repentance in relation to other characters we've encountered this semester: is he closer to the deep regret of Saint Augustine, or the false words of Ciapelleto? How does the ending alter what has come before? How do you read the narrative differently once you come to its conclusion?

7. What is the role of reading in this text? In what ways is reading dangerous or corrosive? Does the narrative endorse those characters who criticize the reading of romances? Or is the narrative voice more critical of their position? What is the relationship between reading and imagination? Are some kinds of reading valorized over others?

8. What is Sancho Panza's role in the narrative? Why is it important for Don Quixote to have a companion? What part does Sancho play in his adventures? What is the relationship between Sancho's social class and the parts he plays?

9. To put the question more broadly, how does this narrative deal with issues of social class? What kind of a person is Don Quixote? What is the relationship between his class position compare and the courtly life he is so nostalgic for? What are the differences among social classes drawn by this narrative?

10. Pick one important passage and analyze it in detail, commenting on its significance to the work as a whole.

11. Pose your own question and answer it. Include the question at the top of your paper.