Summary and Analysis
Overthrowing the Knight of the Mirrors restores Don Quixote's faith in himself. He would be the happiest knight in the world, he thinks, if he could only find a way to disenchant Dulcinea. A green-clad gentleman on a fine mare overtakes them, at this point, and Don Quixote introduces himself. In his turn, the gentleman describes his own manner of life sober, pious, intelligent and tells the knight about his young son, a student at Salamanca. The boy has chosen to study poetry, although his father wishes he would select a useful scientific discipline. Don Quixote delivers himself of an eloquent speech on the virtues and delights of poetry; the sciences are adornments and enrichments and polish for the center, poesy. The gentleman is amazed at the madman's sensible opinions.
Having spied a wagon, decorated with flags, Don Quixote investigates this new source of adventure. In answer to his questions, the wagoner replies that he is conveying two huge lions to the king, a present from the general of Oran. Don Quixote insists he must fight with the beasts, for they undoubtedly are sent here by enchanters. Threatening the carter with instant death, Don Quixote has him open the lion's cage, ordering everyone to clear the field. Bravely, the knight stands and stares at the beast. The lion, however, after getting to his feet to look out of the cage at his opponent, turns his back to the opening and lies down once more. Quickly the wagoner closes the cage door and hitches up his mules again, while Sancho and the gentleman in green return. Don Quixote, now the Knight of the Lions, accepts the gentleman's offer of hospitality, and they repair to his house.
Heroes of epic adventures have always sought glory at the risk of their lives, and Don Quixote is no exception. His challenge to the lion is an example of pure courage, and the victory was an important one for it completely restored his self-confidence, so bruised at seeing his Dulcinea so vulgarly enchanted.
Furthermore, in challenging the lion, Don Quixote personifies a favorite Spanish knight, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as the Cid. In Poema de Mio Cid (written in 1140), the hero confronts a loosed lion, and the beast turns away in shame before the proud bearing of his challenger. With this precedent in mind, we must consider that the lion turned from Don Quixote because he was ashamed before the imposing courage of the valorous knight.