In Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Don Quixote is the peerless knight of La Mancha, traipsing about the countryside of Spain performing mighty feats of valor – flaxing fearsome foes, enthusiastically enlightening elementaries in the enigmas of ‘errantry, and delivering damsels in distress. With him he has brought his carefully contrived helmet, his trusty lance and sword, a sort of body armor, and his ever-faithful stallion Rocinante. After his first sally ended in none too few broken ribs, he convalesced in his home for a few weeks. When he was ready to venture forth again, he realized that he did not have a squire, an indispensable increase to his impedimenta.
After mulling his problem over for a while, he set his sights on Sancho Panza, a simple farmer of La Mancha, who was a good man “but without much in the way of brains”. Quixote managed to convince this Panza that he was a magnificent knight-errant who was about to win a kingdom, but needed a squire, whom he would reward with an island to govern. Sancho naively fell for this, and soon joined forces with the eager knight-errant.
Riding haphazardly across the woodlands and through the glades of Spain, the two of them talked with each other as friends and neighbors would, and enjoyed many a hearty meal together. As time went on, though, Sancho became ever more familiar with the knight, and let his tongue fly a little too freely for Don Quixote’s tastes. The Don began to restrain the relationship between them, and eventually forbid Sancho from speaking unless spoken to, since no good squire in the famous books of knight-errantry ever spoke to his master. Sancho complied, although it was much to his dislike, until they were going through a very empty and lonely part of the country, and he asked his master to allow him to speak. Quixote acquiesced, and the two resumed their conversations. However, at one point the conversation turned to Don Quixote’s nonpareil lady, Dulcinea of Toboso. Sancho knew her for what she really was, a strapping farm girl, and began to crack some jests about her, but Don Quixote silenced (and flattened) him with a couple hard blows to the back with his lance. Don Quixote would not take any nonsense about his lady from his mere servant.
In conclusion, what was the nature of the relationship between the two, and how did it progress? It began as just a common friendship between two adventurers; Don Quixote, however, tried to force it to conform to his convoluted theories of what the relationships between knight-errants and their squires should be – subservience from the squire, loftiness on the part of the knight, and no words between the two – but he did not succeed. Sancho Panza would always remain, through thick and through thin, a loyal friend.
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