Category Archives: The Picaresque and Don Quixote

Picaros Don Quixote

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The gallery of rogues in Don Quixote shows readers that a strong element of Picaresque realism runs throughout the narrative. While picaresque novels usually feature casteless, amoral, outsiders who feel inwardly unrestrained by societies prevailing mores and only appeal to conform to them when they think it suits their needs, Roque Guinart, a violent highwayman, and Gines de Passamonte, a gypsy thief, are a bit different.  They rob less money then they can, feel situational frustration and even come to regret their crimes.  Unlike Don Quixote, however, whose aim is to do “good to all and harm to none,” these picaros wander about from place to place under the cover of darkness, preying on people to survive. Never soiling their hands with an honest days work, Roque Guinart and Gines de Passamonte murder, deceive, and steal to survive.

In the end, however, Gines de Passamonte, a galley escapee, is chased by the Holy Brotherhood, lest they send him back to jail.  To avoid being captured, first, he assumes a gypsy disguise.  Then, Gines de Passamonte, extracts people’s money as a one-eyed pupeeter named master pedro.  But Don Quixote, mistaking him for a moor, almost lops his head off on stage. Indeed, if Gines de Passamonte he had not ducked and made himself into a ball he would have been decapitated by a swift sword slash.  So he ends up wandering the lawless hinterlands of the Sierra Morena dodging the authorities lest they send him to the galleys. 

Roque Guinart, on the other hand, has to sleep in places his men cannot find out about since the bounty placed on his head by the Viceroy of Catalonia is so large that he is left nervous and apprehensive that his men may either try to turn him into the authorities to reap a large monetary reward, or kill him to usurp his position.