Don Quixote

Known for his witty remarks while riding a donkey, Sancho Panza is a character in which literary work?  

And the answer: Don Quixote.

Written in the early 1600s by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote is considered the first modern novel, as well as the most translated novel of all time. Throughout the story, Sancho Panza makes observations to his friend that are a combination of ironic Spanish proverbs, broad humor, and pragmatic wit.  

Photo credit: public domain. 

The squat, lovable, witty Sancho Panza serves as a foil to the idealism of his master, Don Quixote. Many famous proverbs come from Panza's character, as Cervantes used the disconnect between idealism and realism to explore its complex intersections. Cervantes used the two characters to ultimately attempt to symbolize the duality of man, as their varied impulses work together and conflict with one another. As Panza lovingly reminds us:

"Make yourself into honey and the flies will eat you up."

Thanks, Panza. While other characters play along with and exploit the madness in Don Quixote’s world, Panza often lives in and adores it, sometimes getting caught up in the madness entirely. On the other hand, though, he's not above berating Don Quixote for his reliance on fantasy, as a character with two firm feet on the ground at all times. Effectively, Panza humanizes the story, bringing the depth of compassion and poise to the forefront when Don Quixote attempts to eschew such notions altogether.

We'll leave Panza on this note:

“'Señor,' replied Sancho, 'if your grace thinks that I’m not right for this government, I’ll give it up right now. I love the tiniest part of my soul more than my whole body, and I’ll survive simply as Sancho with bread and onions than a governor with partridges and capons. And what’s more, when they’re asleep, everyone is the same—the grandees and the little folk, the rich and the poor, and if you think about it, you’ll see that you alone made me start to think about being a governor. I don’t know any more about governing ínsulas than a vulture does, and if you think that if I become a governor the devil will carry off my soul, I’d prefer to go to heaven as Sancho than to hell as a governor.'"

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