On Don Quixote as knight errant

This man thinks he’s a knight errant out wandering in the world, righting wrongs, protecting damsels, slaying dragons, and dying for the love of his lady, and that is exactly what he attempts to do. The problem, though, is complex because he is a living anachronism, a knight in a time when knights no longer exist if they ever existed at all. The problem of the mere existence of Don Quixote is aggravated by the fact that all of Quixote’s information about how knights act has been gleaned from a series of fiction novels about knights and their adventures. The crusades have been over for centuries, and the figure of the knight has been rendered irrelevant by the invention of gun powder, lead shot, and the blunderbuss. By the time Cervantes writes about the ingenious hidalgo, the era of knight errantry has been over by more than a century. Most of Spain’s military is now pursuing new aventures in the new world, and central Spain, La Mancha, specifically, has become a social backwater where the locals raise grapes, wheat, and olives, and not much else. Whether don Quixote has read too many old adventure novels and gone crazy, or if something else is motivating his actions may be irrelevant. What is important are his actions while he purposefully reorganizes his identity, rebuilds his armor, changes his name, and sallies out on a new adventure, knowing full-well that there are no knights anymore. He is older, in his fifties, perhaps has a little too much free time, has no clear career or life objectives, and is clearly suffering from a mid-life existential crisis–if he doesn’t do something now, he never will. Instead of being young and virile, tough and toned, he’s skinny, got poor muscle tone, and is running on good intentions only. The question though is exactly that: are good intentions enough in the rough and tumble world of 1605, the cusp of modernity, the kryptonite of the knight errant.