Tag Archives: Maritornes in Don Quixote

Maritornes (The Inn’s Scullery Maid)

henri tanoux una maritornes francia 1892

Maritornes’s Job DescriptionMaritornes is a tavern scullery maid whose main source of income is cleaning up after travelers. Basically, her job is to wash the dishes; remove the crockery; lay table settings; do the laundry; change bedding; sew clothing;
clean the attic; clean bedrooms; feed the animals; and replenish the water trough.  Besides these duties, Maritornes supplements her income, a bit, by prostituting herself to muleteers.   

Maritornes’s Mental Qualities– Though Maritornes has very little formal education; she is shrewd in the ways of the world. 

Maritornes’s Physical Appearance– Maritornes has broad jowls, a flat-backed head, a pug nose, is blind in one eye and cannot see very well with the other.  Posturewise, Maritornes is stoop shouldered, since she has a slight hump in her back, which makes her look down at the ground more often than she would like. Despite her physical flaws, however, she has a very firm and shapely body, which offsets her unattractiveness, a bit.  Heightwise, she is rather short:  less than five feet tall.  

Maritornes’s Bad BreathSometimes, when Maritornes does not brush her teeth, she has bad breath.  For example, when she stumbles around a starlit barn her mouth reeks of stale piccalilli[EG1] :  Evidently, the leftovers of past meals rot her breath at times. 

Maritornes’s Honesty– When Maritornes “promises something [she] always keeps her word, even if she gives it unwitnessed in the middle of a moor.”     

Maritornes’s Believes She Is A Hidalga– Though Maritornes is a mere housemaid at an inn, she prides herself on being a Hidalga, or a Spanish noblewoman of the lowest rank.  In fact Maritornes does
not consider it dishonorable to serve at an inn, because she thinks that unhappy events have reduced her to her current situation, despite being born in somewhat better circumstances. 

Maritornes’s Kindness– At times Maritornes can be tender-hearted. For example, seeing that Sancho Panza is hot and frustrated and out of sorts after being blanket tossed, Maritornes comes to his rescue with a jug of cool water from a deep well.  However, when Sancho Panza wants wine instead of water, Maritornes is very happy to oblige, even paying for it herself. 

Maritornes Ties Don Quixote’s Hand – Maritornes tricks Don Quixote to pass the time listening to his funny speech about Dulcinea. Therefore, she pretends that the innkeeper’s daughter is so taken with Don Quixote that she would like his hand in token of her esteem and affection. When Don Quixote obliges, Maritornes ties his hand with Dapple’s halter to a bolt in a hayloft door, so that he is caught in a rather ridiculous pose standing atop Rocinante with one hand suspended up in the air.  Then, Maritornes makes her escape in a fit of laughter, induced by Don Quixote’s loud howling.  In the morning, when Maritornes hears Don Quixote’s painful bellows, she rushes out to the barn, and unties him, so that he plops to the ground in a sprawling heap.

Maritornes’s Sexual
Escapade With A Muleteer
– In the middle of the night Maritornes
enters the attic where Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and a travelling Muleteer sleep.  Hunched-up in silence Maritornes creeps forward with her arms held out in front of her in search of her client.  But when she bumps into Don Quixote’s arms by mistake, he seizes her by the wrist and pulls her towards him and makes her sit on his bed.  Dismayed at seeing herself in Don Quixote’s clutches, Maritornes struggles to break loose of his iron
grip.  This imbroglio causes the muleteer to creep up to Don Quixote’s bed and “deliver such a punch to his lantern jaw that his mouth begins to stream blood.” Since Don Quixote’s rickety bed cannot bear the weight of Don Quixote, the Muleteer, and Maritornes, together, at once − the trio “crashes to the ground.”
Awakened by this noise the innkeeper rushes to the tavern’s attic calling out to Maritornes:  “Where are you, you little tart?  I know this is all your doing.”  During this commotion Maritornes falls on top of Sancho Panza who is woken-up from a nightmare in which he is battling some insolent knight.  Thinking that he is under attack, Sancho Panza begins to flail about and punches Maritornes several times with his fists. Maritornes, seeing herself so rudely treated, throws all modesty aside and begins to grapple and wrestle with Sancho Panza in the “funniest and fiercest skirmish imaginable.”  This rowdy brawl continues until a member of the Holy Brotherhood of Toledo enters the fray commanding the combats to stop fighting in the name of the law.  Since it is dark, this peace-officer grabs Don Quixote’s beard, even though he is unconscious, and yanks on it to get him to stop fighting.  But when Don Quixote does not budge, the peace officer, thinking that Don Quixote has just been murdered, commands everyone to stay where they are because a man has just been killed.  This ultimatum scares Maritornes, which causes her to stop fighting Sancho Panza. 

Maritornes is From Asturias– Maritornes comes from Asturias, which is a region in north-west Spain, whose inhabitants have a reputation for being wild and uncouth. 

Maritornes’s Opinion of Don Quixote– Maritornes is greatly confused by Don Quixote’s high-flown language, since she is not used to such sophisticated talk.  Therefore, when Don Quixote delivers a variety of set pieces about knight errantry, Maritornes wonders why he is not like normal men.  When she discovers that Don Quixote is possessed by the fantasy that he is a knight adventurer, Maritornes asks him about chivalry and knight errantry to learn more about his odd fancy. 

Maritornes’s Appeal
to Don Quixote To Protect the Innkeeper
– When two muleteers
try to leave an inn without paying, the innkeeper asks them for his money as they sidle out the door, yoking them up by their collars for good measure. To free themselves from the innkeeper’s iron hold, the muleteers pound the tavern owner with their fists, until he is black-and-blue all over.  This, in turn, prompts Maritornes to ask Don Quixote to fight to get the money owed to the innkeeper, even if this countermands the rules of knight errantry. Despite Maritornes’s blandishments, however, Don Quixote does not intercede on the Inn Keeper’s behalf because he thinks he
must first win back Dorotea’s Kingdom.   

Maritornes’s BedroomMaritornes sleeps in a garret above the inn.    


 [EG1]Piccalilli- A
pickle relish consisting of chopped vegetables with mustard, vinegar, and
spices.