Upon returning to his village, Don Quixote announces his plan to retire to the countryside as a shepherd, but his housekeeper urges him to stay at home. A Duke and Duchess, and others, deceive Don Quixote for entertainment, setting forth a string of imagined adventures resulting in a series of practical jokes.
But along the way his desire has become contagious: his simple manservant Sancho Panza is no longer merely at the bidding of his unreflecting passion for food or wine: at one point he asks for the governorship of an island.
Sancho naturally resists this course of action, leading to friction with his master. When Don Quixote only sees the peasant girls, Sancho pretends reversing some incidents of Part One that their derelict appearance results from an enchantment.
They get the help of Dorotea, a woman who has been deceived by Don Fernando with promises of love and marriage. This is the paradoxical core of the novel: Cervantes asks us to acknowledge that imitation is the force behind cultural integration as well as the impulse that threatens to engulf it.
The comic opposition of the short, fat peasant to the tall, lean would-be knight errant — a juxtaposition never developed by Cervantes — emerges early in book illustrations.