The story begins in the small Spanish town of La Mancha. There, a middle-aged, otherwise rational thinking gentleman Alonso Quixano takes his passion for books—particularly chivalric romances—to a delusional, sense subverted level.
As Alonso becomes engrossed in this world of knights, chivalry, castles, and jousts; reality slips away and he imagines himself to be Don Quixote, a brave and honorable knight.
Donning a ragged suit of armor and recruiting the simple-minded laborer Sancho Panza as his squire, Quixote begins his quest to seek adventure and to right the wrongs of the world. While the world may mock him for attempting to do what cannot be done, Quixote continues to dream his impossible dream. On his many adventures inns are castles, windmills are giants, and sheep are attacking armies all in the romantic regions of his imagination.
It is only in the end, after enduring much deception and manipulation that a defeated and melancholic Quixote returns to his wits, and rejects his ideas of chivalry.
“I now enjoy my judgment undisturbed, and cleared from those dark shadows of ignorance, in which understanding hath been involved by pernicious and incessant reading of those detestable books of chivalry. I am now sensible of the falsity and folly they contain; and nothing gives me concern, but that this conviction comes too late to give me time sufficient to make amends, by reading others, which would enlighten my soul.”
For Quixote—as with the aspiring actress in this painting—some dreams may indeed seem impossible. But to give up on our imagination (as Quixote did), is to choose death. Better to remember that imagination is life. And that dreams are always as possible as we chose to make them.