Cannon of Toledo
General Description- The Cannon of Toledo first materializes on the road back to La Mancha when Don Quixote is encaged in an oxcart. Gripped by curiosity, the Cannon of Toledo asks the priest “why Don Quixote is being transported so rudely?” Upon learning that he is imprisoned in an oxcart so that he does not do himself any harm, the Canon wonders why Don Quixote is so different than the normal sort of man. After a brief conversation, the Cannon and the priest ride ahead of the others to discuss the cause of Don Quixote’s insanity, when it began, and what to do about it. This talk leads to an action-plan to take him back home to cure his madness. After the Cannon hears Don Quixote’s backstory, he says that “so-called” books of chivalry are prejudicial to the public good because they are absurd stories, depicting impossible events, without a clear relation between the parts and the whole. Despite his strictures on tales of chivalry, however, the Cannon finds that “they provide subject matter with which a good intelligence can express itself, describing shipwrecks, storms, skirmishes and battles on a broad and spacious canvas on which the pen can wander freely.” In fact the Cannon has written more than a hundred pages of his own chivalry book, which incorporates his ideas on what makes for verbal artistry. As he sees it, since the state of literature in 17thcentury Spain is more fashionable than substantive, the verbal arts are in deep need of fundamental reform. To correct this shortfall, the Cannon suggests that there should be some sensible person in Madrid to scrutinize all plays before they are performed so that good plays can be discovered and endorsed by the authorities.
Later on, the Cannon arranges for Don Quixote to be freed from his cage (provided that he does not try to escape) so that they can talk freely about life and literature, and what a gentlemen, like him, should, and should not, read. While the Canon tries to convince Don Quixote to give-up chivalry novels in favor of devotional or historical books, Don Quixote tries to persuade the Cannon that reading about knight errantry is worthwhile because such stories are inspiring, amusing, and instructive. At the end of their conversation, the Cannon asks the priest to keep him informed about whether Don Quixote recovers from his madness, or not, and if his mind continues to be deranged by chivalry.