Alonso Quixano A fifty-year-old hidalgo, the lowest level of gentry, of La Mancha in rural Spain, he has long since given up running his modest estate and has begun selling off some of his property in order to buy books. These books all relate to chivalry, a subject that is about to drive Quixano over the edge of reason, where he will take on the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha. A spavined dray and hack horse, Rosinante, becomes his steed.
Sancho Panza A local laborer who is enlisted to serve the newly dubbed knight, lured principally by the promise of his own island to govern. His primary means of transportation is an ornery mule, Dapple.
Teresa Panza's wife, who runs the household and cares for the couple's two children while Sancho is off in his chivalric pursuits with Quixote.
Aldonza Lorenza A young country girl who barely knows Don Quixote, she nevertheless becomes the newly dubbed knight's womanly ideal.
John Haldudo, the Rich The rich man who, in Quixote's first knightly adventure, is castigated by Quixote for beating his servant-boy.
Andrew A young apprentice whom Quixote attempts to help, in the process causing more trouble.
Antonia Quixote's loving niece, who is conflicted by her desire to keep her uncle safely at home and her wish for the old gentleman to enjoy himself at his new preoccupation.
Muñaton A scholar whom Antonia accuses of stealing Quixote's library
Samson Carrasco A young student from Quixote's village. He believes that by providing Quixote with adventures, he will make the "knight" tire of chivalric pursuits. Carrasco is a key character; he appears in many guises, especially as knights-at-arms, and finally is the cause of Quixote's return home.
The Duke and Duchess A pair of decadent, high-ranking nobles who become amused by Quixote and Panza, orchestrating lavish and complex pranks as a source of amusement. They are frequent causes of pain and humiliation for the pair from La Mancha.
Cid Hamet Benegali The Arab translator of Don Quixote. Appearing as a satiric character, he is constantly being accused of dishonesty by Cervantes in authorial asides.
Cardenio ("The Ragged Knight of the Sorry Countenance") A young man whose heart is broken when his lover, Lucinda, marries Don Fernando. He and Dorothea apprehend Don Fernando at the inn, late in Book I. Cardenio ends up with Lucinda in the end.
The priest A good friend of Quixote, who tries to be supportive but who also engages in plans with other of Quixote's friends, notably the barber, to bring Quixote to his senses.
The barber Another friend, interested in Quixote's well being.
A barber Not Quixote's barber friend. "A man on horseback, who had on his head something which glittered, as if it had been of gold," he is, in fact, wearing a basin on his head because it is raining. Quixote attacks this barber and steals the basin, believing it to be "the helmet of Mambrino."
Dorothea ("The Princess Micomicona") A woman who has been deceived by a man, Don Fernando, who promised to marry her, but married Lucinda instead. Disgraced, Dorothea leaves her village disguised in men's clothing. She conspires with Cardenio to hunt down Don Fernando, and she also helps the priest and barber bring Don Quixote home. She pretends to be the Princess Micomicona, winning Quixote's promise to slay a giant so that she might regain her kingdom. With the Princess's help, the priest is able to get Quixote under his control.
Tinacrio the Wise and Queen Xaramilla Father and mother of the Princess Micomicona.
Lucinda The woman Cardenio hoped to marry. She instead marries Cardenio's friend, Don Fernando, who is the son of a Duke. Lucinda marries Don Fernando to appease her parents but she truly loves Cardenio. Lucinda and Cardenio are reunited late in Book I.
Don Fernando Betrays his friend, Cardenio, by marrying Cardenio's lover, Lucinda. Don Fernando has also taken Dorothea's virginity, only to break his promise to marry her.
Innkeeper #1 He performs the dubbing ceremony n which Quixote is given his knightly name.
Innkeeper #2 An innkeeper whom Quixote patronizes in Chapter 16 and again in Chapter 32. Quixote believes that his inn is a castle and that Innkeeper #2 is the lord of the castle.
Innkeeper #2's daughter A beautiful young woman whom Quixote takes for a princess. At length, he convinces himself that she is romantically interested in him.
Maritornes A nearly blind, hunchbacked woman who works at Inn #2.
Friston The "sage enchanter" who figures as Quixote's arch-nemesis. Quixote accuses Friston of stealing his library and robbing him of a victory by transforming giants into windmills just as Quixote was on the verge of victory against them.
Marcella A beautiful young shepherdess who comes from a wealthy family. She refuses to be married or courted and lives in the wild, hoping to avoid the advances of men.
Galley slaves A chain-gang of violent criminals, are on their way to being executed. Quixote sees them as helpless victims and helps them escape. When Don Quixote suggests that the galley slaves present themselves to Dulcinea, the criminals beat the knight merciless and then escape in different directions.
Gines de Pasamonte One of the most violently ungrateful of the galley slaves, he steals Panza's mule, Dapple, in the Sierra Morena.
Holy Brotherhood Officer #2 An officer who intends to arrest Quixote for "setting at liberty" a group of "galley-slaves." The priest dissuades the officer on account of Quixote's insanity.
The canon A religious figure who once tried his hand at writing a tale of chivalry, though he now condemns this literary art form. After discussing literature with Quixote, the canon marvels at the knight's easy ramblings between lucid intellectualism and ridiculous foolishness.