Don Quixote de La Mancha: Cervantes' protagonist and main character throughout the work, for which the book is named, travels throughout Spain, searching for adventures and opportunities to protect the defenseless and right the wronged. Though for most of the book he mistakenly believes that he is helping those around him by his chivalrous deeds, by the end of the story he realizes his madness and rejects the books of knight-errantry on which he based his life.
Sancho Panza: Quixote's neighbor and eventual squire, follows his master on his adventures, hoping to secure the position of governor of an island someday. Sancho, as opposed to the Don, who lives in a world of idealism, usually symbolizes realism (though most critics overemphasize this point, forgetting the countless times that Sancho himself is convinced of his master's words). This is most clearly shown when Sancho tells his master, "I sometimes think that all you tell me of knighthood, kingdoms, empires and islands is all windy blather and lies" (Book 1, Part 15). Sancho also generally serves as comic relief throughout the novel. He too, finally returns to his wife and children at the end of the story, after Quixote has resigned as a knight-errant.
Teresa: She is Sancho's wife, who runs the house with their two children while he is gone.
Dulcinea del Toboso: Also known as Aldonza Lorenzo, Dulcinea, Don Quixote's esteemed princess, is described as a "good-looking country lass." Though she doesn't even know Quixote or anything about knight-errantry, her name is brought up throughout the work in the tradition of platonic, chivalrous romance.
Curate, barber, housekeeper, niece: Don Quixote's friends and family appear from time to time throughout the work, usually trying to persuade him to give up his ideas about knight-errantry.
Cardenio, Lucinda, Dorothea, Don Fernando: These characters appear through much of the work. They are involved in a subplot of romantic love.
Maritones, innkeeper, innkeeper's wife, innkeeper's daughter: These characters also appear off and on in Don Quixote. They are greatly amused with the Don and his squire, and enjoy comic interaction with them.
Samson Carrasco: This man tries twice, and is successful his second attempt, in defeating Quixote in knightly battle in order to make him return home.