Don Quixote thinks wistfully that he might have won some good spoils had he attacked the actors, like the queen’s crown and the angel’s wings, but Sancho reminds him that actors’ props are made of tinsel, not real gold. Quixote sadly compares the falseness of theater to life’s role-playing. When Sancho tells him the comparison is clichéd, Quixote admires his good sense. Sancho agrees that Quixote’s intelligence has rubbed off on him. They spend the night in the forest near El Toboso.
Quixote believed that the barber’s basin was Mambrino’s gold helmet, just because it shone. Now, he has learned to distinguish real and false gold. Why did he trust his instincts so completely, in the beginning? Chivalry books and fairy-tales usually follow one hero’s perspective. Books like that teach readers that there is one right perspective.
Just as they’re falling asleep, two men on horseback approach them. The man in armor lies down on the grass and sings a forlorn love song. Then he speaks rhetorically to the fickle beloved, wondering whether it isn’t enough that he has forced every knight of La Mancha to admit that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Suddenly the Knight of the Forest hears voices and walks over to the two friends. He talks to Quixote about love and knighthood while their squires have a conversation of their own.
Cervantes’ novel, on the other hand, combines many contradictory voices into one imperfect whole. When we realize that our perspectives and personalities are choices instead of necessities, we become aware of playing the role of ourselves. Playacting becomes very important in this part of the novel. Quixote recognizes the stranger as a knight because he is carefully performing knighthood.