By: Bagrat Sakhvadze

A hero is a man of great strength and courage admired for his exploits, qualities and achievements; he is thought of as an ideal or a role model. Heroes in literature include Ulysses, a brave warrior who fought the Cyclops; Hercules, noted for his physical strength and courage in accomplishing the Twelve Labors; and Jason, who fearlessly successfully completed amazing tasks in order to regain his Greek kingdom. The character Don Quixote is an antihero. An antihero is a person who is not admirable; he is unqualified, incompetent, unfit and inept. Don Quixote is an antihero because of the traits he exemplifies, including an inability to learn from his mistakes, cowardice, and incompetence. For example, he does not learn from adverse experience when his homemade cardboard helmet visor falls apart. In addition, when villagers attack Sancho, his squire, Don Quixote first tries to help, but then runs away. Finally, Don Quixote is ineffectual when he intervenes while Andres, a young lad, is being whipped.

Don Quixote is unable to learn from adverse experience. While cleaning an old suit of armor to use for his adventures, he finds that the helmet’s visor is missing. He makes a visor out of cardboard; when he tests it, it falls apart, thus offering no protection. He fabricates a second visor just like the first. He declares it to be the best ever made without determining whether or not it works. (Chapter 1) He simply does not acknowledge his problems or mistakes. Therefore, Don Quixote cannot learn to develop appropriate solutions.

Don Quixote is a coward. When angry villagers attack Sancho, his squire, Don Quixote first comes to his rescue. However, as the villagers turn their attack from Sancho to him, he immediately flees. Sancho is left alone to defend himself. (Chapter 27) Don Quixote demonstrates that he is not brave.

Don Quixote is ineffectual. He intervenes while a farmer is whipping a young lad, named Andres. Don Quixote frees Andres and instructs the farmer to stop beating him. However, once Don Quixote has left, the farmer not only resumes the beating, but also taunts Andres by mocking Don Quixote. Later in the story when Andres reappears, Don Quixote leads him before a group of travelers to recount the story of being saved from the beating. Andres relates the tale, indicating how ineffectual Don Quixote was in helping him. (Chapters 4 and 31) In this manner, rather than having his actions glorified, the antihero is humiliated due to his incompetence.

As an antihero, Don Quixote illustrates the traits of being unqualified, incompetent, unfit and inept. His actions are those of an antihero. He fails to acknowledge problems and therefore cannot adequately address them. He is a coward in battle. He is ineffectual in helping people. In my opinion this story is quite interesting and through the descriptions of the adventures of Don Quixote, successfully conveys the characteristics of an antihero.