Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Chapter XIV
The poem is read to the company. Entitled "The Despairing Lover," it expresses the grief and pain of a rejected love. The murderess herself suddenly appears at the top of the rock and answers the accusations of the entire company. "Just because I am beautiful," Marcella says, "I am not obliged to love everyone who loves me. I have never encouraged, promised, or deceived any of these importunate young men, but rather I have warned and admonished them. Thus you can see that she who has never pretended to love, cannot cause willful mischief, and a free and generous declaration of my fixed resolution not to marry cannot be considered as hate or disdain." Marcella disappears after her speech, causing everyone to admire not only her beauty but her discretion and honesty. Don Quixote now resolves to search for the shepherdess and offer his services to protect her to the utmost of his power.
In this chapter, Cervantes portrays another character whose strong will emboldens her to seek an independent way of life. Marcella lives as if she were in the Golden Age that Don Quixote tries to reestablish in the world. Therefore the knight is committed to protect the girl's way of life against any intrusions from those who wish to involve her in a more realistic way of life, that of being bound to a husband and family. Marcella's life as a shepherdess is parallel to Don Quixote's life as a knight-errant. Both individuals exemplify the nobility of free will overcoming society-dictated reality.