Don Quixote Comparison to Movie “The Old Man and the Sea” Essay

December 8, 2020 by Essay Writer


The film The Old Man and the Sea was based on a short novel authored by, Ernest Hemingways. Although the original story was quite short for a movie, it did not stop John Sturges and the protagonist Spencer Tracy from cinematizing it.

This was mainly due to their excellence in that field, having had a vast experience in film making and acting. The story revolves around an old man with his ally, a young boy, a helper.

Most of his numerous years were lived on fishing. He is 84 years old and has experienced the most mean of times in his life with no catch at sea for several months.

This, however, does not stop him from visiting the sea for fish, even though people increasingly discourage him; the younger ones are thinking he is cursed, while the older sympathizing. This is the situation that he allows his boy to seek a job on other boats.

One day, he manages to catch a fish; however, using some evil design, he is attacked by sharks and enforced to fight until the end. The results are not as successful as he expected to get: he returns home with a huge skeleton of the fish he caught and has nothing to do but continue dreaming.

Don Quixote is a novel authored by Miguel de Cervantes; it revolves around an aged man known as Alonso Quixano.

He is portrayed as a retired person who loves reading chivalry books which are “with enchantments, with quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, amorous plaints, loves, torments, and follies impossible” (Cervantes 3). His setting is in La Mancha. He lives with both his niece and a housekeeper.

He becomes obsessed with his chivalry books and ends up believing every word in them. This gradually transpires into his day-to-day life as he loses his mind, or at least to his neighbors.

This is mainly because most of his new beliefs from chivalry are fictions and therefore practically unrealistic. This obsession sets him into quests, seeking for that which is only understood by him, unrealistic imaginations from chivalry novels.

Through his work, he acquires a friend and several enemies in Sancho Panza and traders from Toledo. His obsessed life is full of intrigues and dramas, with deception coming out as one of the paramount themes.

He plots two unfruitful escapes to pursue his obsessions and eventually comes back home with his friend from a failed mission, tired and in a great melancholy. He renounces chivalry with renewed restoration but continues in melancholy.

It ends in a sad note, as the protagonist dies, broken and sane.

Both stories, The Old Man and the Sea and Don Quixote have a number of common features as they are based on all those characteristics inherent to men who are challenged the world they live in; the conditions under which the characters live to make them put in a question the reality and everything they have to believe in; in this paper, a comparison of two characters from different stories will be developed to prove how life may play tricks with people who fall in love with it.

Common features in both The Old Man and the Sea and Don Quixote

Several features are portrayed in both stories, starting with the setting, Quixano is said to stay in La Mancha, but the exact place is not given.

This is same with the old man’s tiny house, only referred to as a hovel, they are peasants, living among peasants and face the challenges of poverty, and they struggle to make something out of it.

The two characters are in pursuit of something throughout the story. While Quixote seeks an imaginary life read from a book of chivalry, the old man keeps his faith in one day returning to winning ways in terms of catching more fish.

Even through scorns and massive discouragements are experienced, as seen from neighbors, this does not stop them.

Another feature that is quite common in the society set up is connected with the fact that the events which happen to Don Quixote take place in Spain, while the old man lives in Mexico.

These two places share several features and cultural interactions, which in turn could be thought to influence the theme of these stories. Pretentious happenings in the story of the old man as well as deception portrayed in Don Quixote’s story are considered to be integral.

It is also quite important to note that in both settings, people are poor, and suffers from the peasantry, as they do not get enough, even to eat.

This is how the authors make us, the readers, “augment our identity and refresh our stale store of experience in the act of surrendering to fictional lives far more intensely” (Gilman 8).

The characters have loyal allies, in the case of Don Quixote, it is Panza, while for the old man has the boy. They seem to follow their own will, and no one controls them.

In both cases there seem to be something out of reach that they seek, Quixote follows fictions in chivalry, while the old man follows his ‘dreams of lions’.

Quixote seems burrowed in books, his novels, which link him to chivalry fictions. These books are considered to be the main evil sources which promote the wrong perception of reality and inabilities to tough with reality (Allen 37).

Sancho-Esque and Quixotic Characters

Quixotism is the act of believing in unrealistic ideals; it may also be referred to as over-idealism, those who believe in ideas beyond facts and reality, this moves them to adventurous episodes, which in most cases fail.

This element is considerably bold in the two stories, with Don Quixote displaying it in most characters.

There is a clear elaboration of Quixote’s quixotic ideas, which seems to possess him; other characters are also caught up in this, thereby unraveling several intriguing events, which are quite unrealistic even to the neighborhood (Bloom 4).

Several characters display quixotism in the whole passage and both stories. Chief among them is Don Quixote, who becomes over-idealistic in his beliefs on chivalry; he shows no regard for reality and ends up seeking what is ideal and unrealistic.

This could also be seen in the old man’s fight with sharks for fish, carrying a skeleton of fish is quite unrealistic of a man of vast experience in fishing. These ideas are shared with other characters in the stories such as Panza, who keeps fighting to retain quixotic-ego even after his influencer.

In The Old Man and the Sea, the boy adds an element of quixotism to the man and helps him fight against all odd which take place around.

Secondary characters

Sancho, an ally of Don, is a clear example of other characters whose interactions with the protagonist, gradually shapes into quixotic characters.

This is well elaborated in their return after the second quest where, Sancho tries to reinstate his faith, even moving further to re-ignite Quixano’s quixotism.

This is also conveyed when he goes in search for Dulcinea, Quixote’s ladylove, but comes up with three peasant girls. He even gets an imaginary governorship, proving more of his quixotic nature.

Other characters conveying Quixote element in the passage include the innkeeper who meets Quixote during his first quest for adventure. The innkeeper is said to dub him a knight just as Quixote had done to him.

The three girls brought to Quixote as his lover and her house cleaners also seem to portray a similar character; they come in as impersonators with illusions and over-idealism.

The element of deception that is brought by the secondary characters also helps to grasp the idea of live preferred by the characters.

Motivation for characters

In exploring Don Quixote, it is clear that his motivation is driven by his need to live a better life; it seems like he hates his current situation and wants an adventurous life that seems so interesting to the extent of obsession to him.

When he reads chivalry and keeps re-reading, he tries to convince himself that such a life is possible, this motivates him, and the thought of an adventurous quest further compounds the matter.

He, therefore, keeps with his motivation. Similarly, even though Sancho looks dull and manipulate, he later gains motivation and seeks quixotic renewal, although this fails.

In the old man’s story, he keeps the fight even amidst fierce challenges which include discouragements, realities on the ground as well as the sharks; he keeps dreaming.

Without considering all those doubts which appear in the lives of characters, the boy remains to be loyal to the man as well as Panza believes in Don Quixote.

Quest for the characters

Cervantes’ story covers a protagonist who is obsessed with chivalry and their lifestyles, he, therefore, escapes twice in search of such a world, but the reality comes back when he fails. Even though the failure seems expected, his quest is quite strong; the urge pushes him.

This is the same as the old man who explores his knight-errant in the sea, fighting to keep his fish against equally handy sharks, he also fails, but the hope is not lost. This is portrayed in his carriage of a skeleton of fish and dreams of loins.

These quests are also dissimilar in that, Quixote seeks a fiction, something unreal, while the old man seeks something real, he has been fishing his whole life, he seeks what he knows better, something he has spent his whole life and experience doing.


The two stories are similar in their settings, and their character’s personality in seeking their missions, this is seen in Quixote’s unrivaled quest for chivalry life, similar to old man’s quest for fish even in times of scarcity.

They both go out of their ways to find their needs, even though luck is notwithstanding.

In terms of what is sought, it is quite ironical and to some extent unrealistic in both cases, for the sea and nature to be so unfair to the old man, and a retired gentleman to turn mad, chasing the wind, all because of a library of books read.

The stories, therefore, contain elements of fiction, deception, pretentiousness, among others. These stories are admirably adapted, classic and consuming as they portray the lives of common people in the traditional society, featuring Spanish life and Mexican that are quite close given their interaction.

Works Cited

Allen, John. Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? Part II. Gainesville: University of Florida, 1979.

Bloom, Harold (Ed.) Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Modern Critical Interpretations. Chelsea House Publishers. 2000.07. 10. 2010.

Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote de la Mancha. BilbioBazaar, 2008.

Gilman, Stephen. The Novel According to Cervantes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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