just to set the stage a little: don Quijote sets out at the age of 50ish to change the world by restoring the lost practice of chivalric knighthood, along with his reluctant squire Sancho Panza: (rough translations will follow) "to go throughout the world with his arms and horse to find adventures y to behave in such a way as to imitate all that he had read that the former errant knights did, righting every class of injustice, and putting himself in occasions of danger so that he would earn eternal fame." whoa, DQ, take it easy!
so for most of the book he's a comedic character. he thinks windmills are giants and so he attacks them, unsuccessfully. he thinks an innkeeper is the lord of a castle and thus he has found a worthy man to bestow him with the office of knighthood, which the innkeeper happily and laughingly does. he challenges a charging herd of sheep to a duel only to find that they were not the great army that he had seen approaching. as he lay trampled and toothless, he reminds his squire: "you must know, dear sancho, that it is a very easy thing for these enchanters that pursue me to make anything appear to be anything else. this evil enchanter who pursues me, envious of the glory that he saw to be within my grasp in this battle, has turned the enemy legions into flocks of sheep!" lol, DQ!
the thing that really gets me about DQ is not his comedy of errors, although there is constant fodder for laughter here -- just after the herd tramples him, sancho asks, unsure:
"how many molars do you normally have in this part of your mouth?"
"four!," responded don Quijote, "except the wisdom tooth, all are whole and healthy."
"look carefully what you say, my lord," responded sancho.
"i say four, if not then five," responded don Quijote, "because not in my whole life have they taken a tooth or molar out of my mouth, nor have any fallen out from infection or lack of care."
"but in this part below," sancho said, "your mercy has not more than two molars and a half; and in the part above, not even a half, not even one, it is all as flat as the palm of my hand."
"what awful luck!" cried don Quijote, hearing the sad news that his squire gave him, "i would have rather they tear off my arm, as long as it would not be my sword-weilding arm."
anyway, the thing that really gets me is not DQ's comedy of errors, it's who he represents. and who he represents for me is a man with ideals, beliefs and hope who ultimately fails to see any of them realized. don Quijote is a tragic figure who embodies