Madman or Idealist?
In my judgement, Don Quixote is and idealist. He lives in a time of Machiavellian beliefs and wants to escape these characteristics. He fantasizes about the way things used to be in the times of the knights, and the code of Chivalry, and wishes that he too could live in this time period. Some may argue that he was a madman due to his attack on the windmills, but he just seems to suffer from a slight mental illness, which does not in turn qualify him as a madman.
Don Quixada is a man of about fifty years old; he was born of nobility and therefore, could not get a job after his wealth was spent. At this age it did not seem that he had much of a future, the majority of his life was in the past, but he wanted to do something about this and somehow change the destiny of his future. He had a great interest in medieval times; he spent a lot of time reading about the knights and codes of chivalry. He wanted himself to be a noble knight, to ride out on his horse with his trusty sidekick and to be a hero. So he decided, being the idealist he was, that he could accomplish these things even though he now lived in the Renaissance time.
Idealists dream, and then turn their dreams into a reality, which is what Don Quixada did when he transformed himself into Don Quixote. He knew the things he needed to make his dream come true. He needed a horse, a trusty sidekick, and a woman to love. He attained all these items, but they were not quite up to par. He renamed everyone on his journey, to make them all seem a little more dream worthy. His horse was renamed Rozinante, the name spruced up the old dilapidated horse. His sidekick, Sancho Panza, was merely after wealth and land in this journey, and was attempting to desert his wife and children. His love interest, Aldunza renamed Dolcinea, was not your typical high class sophisticated woman, she was a rough country girl. It took a great deal of imagination on Don Quixote?s part to turn these aspects into his fantasy.
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza set out on their adventure very late one night, so that no one would notice them leaving. The next day they arrived at a point where they could see thirty or forty windmills. Don Quixote imagined them as being giants, and attacked them. He did this out pure wit and excitement, not out of lunacy and derangement. He all along knew that they were not really giants, but thought that it would be fun to be in some sort of battle.
In my opinion, Don Quixote is an idealist, not a madman. He simply dreams of a different life for himself, rather than facing his fate that is thus far set out for him. Being an idealist, he turns his dream into a reality, suits up in his armor and heads out on his horse into the sunset.