In Malory’s literature, men were knights, ladies were damsels, and magic was preponderant. By the time that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, men got real jobs, the innocent damsel had become a myth, and magic was reduced to superstition.
These works both examine the chivalric ideal: “physical prowess, courtesy, truth in love and friendship, tenderness, humility, gentleness” (The Legend of Arthur in British & American Literature, p. 65) and remark much on it. While they both find
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showed last 75 words of 678 total
shining armor, evening the scales and battling giants reduces bystanders to fits of laughter. Tragically, Don Quixote can never be like Amadis de Gaul and El Cid, who are the heroes he would like to imitate. The time that heroes like that walked the earth, if they had ever, had passed long before Don Quixote mounted Rocinante. So if Quixote is so chivalrous, and morally irreproachable, then why doesn’t he seem to be heroic?