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Sancho Panza

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Sancho Panza
Don Quixote character
Statue of Sancho Panza in Madrid
(Lorenzo Coullaut Valera, 1930)
Created byMiguel de Cervantes
Portrayed byIrving Jacobson
Tony Martinez
Bob Hoskins
Ernie Sabella
James Coco
Jacob Batalon
In-universe information
OccupationPeasant / Squire
SpouseTeresa Cascajo de Panza
ChildrenMaría Sancha Panza Cascajo, Sanchico
ReligionRoman Catholic

Sancho Panza (Spanish: [ˈsantʃo ˈpanθa]) is a fictional character in the novel Don Quixote written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605. Sancho acts as squire to Don Quixote and provides comments throughout the novel, known as sanchismos, that are a combination of broad humour, ironic Spanish proverbs, and earthy wit. "Panza" in Spanish means "belly" (cf. English "paunch," Italian "pancia", several Italian dialects "panza", Portuguese and Galician "pança", French "panse", Romanian "pântec", Catalan "panxa").

Don Quixote[edit]

Bronze statues of Sancho Panza (L) and Don Quixote (R) at the Cervantes Birth Place Museum

Before a fit of madness turned Alonso Quijano into Don Quixote, Sancho Panza was indeed his servant. When the novel begins, Sancho has been married for a long time to a woman named Teresa Cascajo[1] and has a daughter, María Sancha (also named Marisancha, Marica, María, Sancha, and Sanchica), who is said to be old enough to be married. Sancho's wife is described more or less as a feminine version of Sancho, both in looks and behaviour. When Don Quixote proposes Sancho to be his squire, neither he nor his family strongly oppose it.

Sancho is illiterate and proud of it but by influence of his new master, he develops considerable knowledge about some books. Sancho provides the earthy wisdom of Spanish proverbs, surprising his master. During the travels with Don Quixote, he keeps contact with his wife by dictating letters addressed to her.

Sancho Panza offers interpolated narrative voice throughout the tale, a literary convention invented by Cervantes. Sancho Panza is precursor to "the sidekick," and is symbolic of practicality over idealism. Sancho is the everyman, who, though not sharing his master's delusional "enchantment" until late in the novel, remains his ever-faithful companion realist, and functions as the clever sidekick. Salvador de Madariaga detected that, as the book progresses, there is a "Quixotization" of Sancho and a "Sanchification" of Don Quixote, so much that, when the knight recovers sanity on his deathbed, it is Sancho who tries to convince him to become pastoral shepherds.

In the novel, Don Quixote comments on the historical state and condition of Aragón and Castilla, which are vying for power in Europe. Sancho Panza represents, among other things, the quintessentially Spanish brand of skepticism of the period.

Sancho obediently follows his master, despite being sometimes puzzled by Quixote's actions. Riding a donkey, he helps Quixote get out of various conflicts while looking forward to rewards of aventura that Quixote tells him of.

Don Quixote, Part Two[edit]

Honoré DaumierDon Quichotte und Sancho Panza (c. 1868)

Sancho's name[edit]

Cervantes variously names Sancho in the first book Sancho Zancas (legs); however, in the second book, he standardizes Sancho's name in reply to the "false" Avellaneda Quixote sequel. At one point, Sancho alludes to the "false" Avellaneda book by addressing his wife (standardized as Teresa Panza) using the wrong name. The Sancho name does not change, but he calls his wife various names throughout the first part of the volume, and her 'true' name is not revealed until almost the end of that portion of the novel.

The promised insula[edit]

Don Quixote promises Sancho the governance of an ínsula, or island. However, Sancho has never heard of this word before and does not know its meaning. Sancho has long been expecting some vague but concrete reward for this adventure and believes the word to signify the prize that will make the trouble he has been enduring worthwhile.

The two later encounter a duke and duchess who pretend to make Sancho governor of a fictional fief, la ínsula Barataria (roughly "Isle Come-cheaply"; see Cockaigne). He eagerly accepts and leaves his master. In a letter, Don Quixote gives Sancho provincial advice on governorship gleaned from the romances he has read, thought to have been inspired by the Diálogo de Mercurio y Carón attributed to Alfonso de Valdés (c. 1490-1532). Cervantes may intend Quixote's simplistic and romantic understanding of government as an allegory[2] satirizing the lack of practical learning on the part of philosopher-doctors placed in positions of power.[citation needed] One view sees the advice as a "serio-comic twist on Machiavelli's advice for nonhereditary rulers who newly acquire kingdoms".[3]

The Duke's servants are instructed to play several pranks upon Sancho. Surprisingly, Sancho is able to rule justly (mostly), applying common (if occasionally inconsistent) sense and practical wisdom in spite of - or because of - the simplistic advice that Don Quixote has read about. As Sancho is abused in these staged parodies, he learns how difficult it is to rule, and "resigns" to rejoin Don Quixote and to continue the adventure.


Sancho laments the fall of his master.

Sancho encounters Ricote ("fat cat"), his former Morisco neighbor, who has buried a small fortune. Ricote, like all Moriscos, was expelled from Spain and has returned in disguise to retrieve the treasure he left behind. He asks Sancho for his help. Sancho, while sympathetic, refuses to betray his king.

When Don Quixote takes to his deathbed, Sancho tries to cheer him. Sancho idealistically proposes they become pastoral shepherds and thus becomes 'Quixotized'.

Other appearances of the character[edit]

Broadway musical[edit]

In addition to stage and screen adaptations of the novel itself, Sancho Panza is a major character in the play within a play in the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha, and in the film of the same name. In Man of La Mancha, the newly imprisoned Cervantes recruits his fellow prisoners to portray characters from his novel, with Cervantes himself playing Don Quixote and his manservant playing Sancho. Sancho sings the title song as a duet with Quixote, solos "The Missive", "I like him", and "A Little Gossip", plus ensemble numbers "Golden Helmet of Mambrino" and "The Dubbing". Actors who have played Sancho in the play include Irving Jacobson (who also sang on the original cast album), Tony Martinez (1977 and 1992 revivals), and Ernie Sabella (2002 revival). James Coco played the character in the 1972 film.


Sancho Panza of Boston was an 1855 medium clipper ship of 876 tons, built in Medford, MA by Samuel Lapham, and owned by John E. Lodge & Co. The ship was renamed Nimrod in 1863, upon sale to British owners, resold to German owners, and re-rigged as a bark. Sancho Panza was bound for Liverpool, having left Pictou, N.S. on Oct. 31, 1890, but was not heard from again.[4]

Additional appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also known as Teresa Panza and Sancha, a probable nickname derived from her husband's name. Later in the book, though, she is sometimes named Juana Gutiérrez, in an example of continuity failure.
  2. ^ Pyburn, K. Anne (2006). "Sanchismo". In Löfgren, Orvar; Wilk, Richard R. (eds.). Off the Edge: Experiments in Cultural Analysis. Ethnologia Europaea - volume 35. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 151. ISBN 9788763505093. Retrieved 13 July 2023. Don Quixote can be understood as irrational, possibly insane, or rational, possibly allegorical, but most likely both.
  3. ^ Triplette, Stacey (16 February 2021). "Cervantes's Sources and Influences". In Kahn, Aaron M. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Cervantes. Oxford Handbooks Series. Oxford University Press. p. 502. ISBN 9780198742913. Retrieved 13 July 2023. [...] island of Barataria as a 'serio-comic twist on Machiavelli's advice for nonhereditary rulers who newly acquire kingdoms [...].
  4. ^ Gleason, Hall (1937). Old Ships and Ship-Building Days of Medford. Medford, MA: J.C. Miller. p. 78.
  5. ^ "Impacting into the asteroid - Don Quijote concept". ESA NEO. Retrieved 22 September 2010.

External links[edit]