In The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, is Sancho Panza depicted as a flat or round character? According to “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” Manfred Jahn describes a flat character as being a one-dimensional figure who has a limited area of “speech and action patterns” (N7.7). Also known as a static character, these roles don’t develop throughout the story. On the other hand, a round character is a three-dimensional figure that is “characterized by many, often conflicting, properties.” (N7.7). As a dynamic character, this role develops throughout the story. Taking these terms into consideration and not basing Sancho Panza’s character role solely on him being Don Quixote’s sidekick, which forces him into the category of being a flat character, I believe that Sancho Panza is indeed a round character. In The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Sancho tells Don Quixote:
For God’s sake […] didn’t I tell you to be careful what you were doing,
didn’t I tell you they were only windmills? And only someone with
windmills on the brain could have failed to see that? (Cervantes 64)
Sancho was recruited by Don Quixote to be his faithful squire that will accompany him on his great adventures. Sancho is introduced to us as obtaining an obedient sidekick role, a character that will succumb to Don Quixote’s every demand, a role that embodies a flat character. This quote is said by Sancho after Don Quixote has imagined the large windmills as monstrous giants, only to be flung off his horse after his attempt to stab it. Sancho steps out of his sidekick boundaries and firmly tells Don Quixote how insane he is for thinking that the windmills were giants. He raises his voice to Don Quixote, his master, and demands to know why Don Quixote didn’t believe him after he clearly told him that he was only imagining the battle with the giants. In this example Sancho proves that he is a round character that isn’t limited to subservient speech or actions. He will tell Don Quixote when he’s wrong and has no problem teasing him about it, hence getting beat later in the story when he laughs at Don Quixote. As a round character, Sancho has conflicting character layers as well. After this incident I didn’t know where Sancho’s loyalty with Don Quixote laid, since he has already proven to me that he will stand up to him but in their next sally where Don Quixote attacks the Benedictine friars, Sancho runs over to the friar on the ground and “began to strip him of his habits”(Cervantes 68). Here Sancho shows that he is a dynamic character, because he switches to his duty and loots the friar as the treasures of Don Quixote’s win, even though he knew the friars’ were innocent. I believe Sancho is a complex character in this book, and even though he is initially portrayed as a sidekick stereotype for comical effect, I think that Don Quixote embodies the role as the typical comical character more than Sancho does.